At UCPB, we believe that businesses should create opportunities for marginalized sectors in society so they can live better lives and create better places to live in. This has always been our corporate social responsibility (CSR) philosophy.
For decades now, we have been supporting causes that empower people and communities. We are doing it, not as an investment for future gains, but purely out of a deep sense of corporate citizenship.
In 2017, we supported various development lending, scholarship, free reconstructive surgery, and reforestation programs that directly benefited a total of 12,344 individuals. These programs aimed to help alleviate poverty, provide access to quality education, address medical needs, and preserve the environment. These are aligned to the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which we continue to support.
Non-profit organization Operation Smile Philippines mounted 20 medical missions in 2017, treating 1,477 children and young adults with cleft lip and cleft palate. UCPB clients and our associates were actively involved in one of the missions in Davao City and raised P2.25 million for the surgery of 150 oral cleft patients.
Operation Smile, an international children’s charity, has been holding free surgical missions in the Philippines to repair oral cleft among indigent children since 1982. UCPB continues to be its long-standing partner in the country. Since 1986, the Bank has been extending donations, sharing executive time, employee-volunteers and office space in UCPB’s Makati headquarters. It also helped organize the counterpart local foundation, Operation Smile Philippines (OSP), and during its early years, UCPB CEOs and senior executives concurrently served as Chairman and Executive Director, respectively of the OSP.
Over the past 35 years Operation Smile has provided free surgeries to over 31,000 indigents afflicted with oral cleft. The congenital deformity severely disfigures the faces of the afflicted and impairs their speech. If left untreated, the patients may lose their self-esteem, drop out of school, and grow into adulthood uneducated and without any work or social skills to fend for themselves.
For the past 15 years since we started, our reforestation program, UCPB had no report of encroachment or forest fire in its 33.3-hectare site. This speaks volumes of the vigilance of our forest guardian, who patrols the perimeter every day, and the 800 people living in the nearby Sitio Pulang Panyo in Antipolo City who help keep watch over the site.
Our reforestation site, which lies atop a hill inside the critical Upper Marikina River Protected Landscape Watershed, has been a source of pride for years, not only for UCPB, but also for our employee volunteers who actively took part in the reforestation effort, and the people in the outlying community who benefited tremendously from the program.
When the program was launched in 1990, the site was brown, bare, and parched. Thick red mud tumbled down the slopes after heavy rainfall. We tapped our employees and the people in the community in preparing the land, in growing seedlings, transplanting them, and setting up fire lines. Now, the area is verdant and teeming with wildlife. The once-dry stream never runs out of water even at the height of summer. Mudslides have become a thing of the past. The grateful community has helped us protect the forest ever since.
Aside from this program, UCPB also partnered with Haribon Foundation and participated in a tree planting activity in a portion of Mt. Banahaw–San Cristobal in San Pablo, Laguna Some 42 associates joined the activity to plant 500 seedlings donated by the Bank to Haribon Foundation.