Lizzie Zobel helps public schools, Shell CEO on oil smuggling

BULL MARKET, BULL SHEET - Wilson Lee Flores (The Philippine Star) - November 19, 2012 - 12:00am

To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.  Douglas Adams

Whoever claimed that the free enterprise system is not capable of producing idealistic leaders championing social reforms and progress was mistaken.

Apart from Manny V. Pangilinan’s Gabay Guro campaign, Metrobank boss George SK Ty honors outstanding teachers yearly; the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce & Industry, Inc. (FFCCCII) donates public school buildings nationwide. And now, entrepreneurs/ philanthropists Lizzie Zobel and Margarita Delgado lead a new educational cause called Teach for the Philippines (formerly Sa Aklat Sisikat Foundation) to promote education equality in the Philippines.

On Nov. 16 at the Peninsula Manila Hotel in Makati City, the UBS Optimus Foundation, led by board member Kathy Shih, committed a substantial grant of one million Swiss francs (P43.3 million) over five years to Teach for the Philippines to fund a leadership development program that trains high-potential leaders to teach at high-need schools.

The UBS Optimus Foundation is an independent grant-making organization funded by clients and employees of UBS, the 158-year-old Swiss financial services giant known for wealth management and investment banking. UBS also supports sports and culture causes, such as contemporary art and classical music.

TFP cofounder and Boston College philosophy graduate Elizabeth “Lizzie” Eder Zobel is the wife of business leader Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala and a descendant of Colombian Jewish sugar industry pioneer James Martin Eder (whose wife was Elizabeth “Lizzie” Benjamin).

One of Lizzie’s dreams as cofounder of TFP predecessor Sa Aklat Sisikat Foundation was “a vision that we would build slowly but surely a nation of readers.”

In 1998, Lizzie helped establish the Friendly Care Foundation, an organization dedicated to providing general health care and family planning services in six clinics located all over the Philippines. She believes that family planning is “a powerful instrument for breaking the cycle of poverty.”

In June 1993, Zobel helped set up Museo Pambata, a children’s museum on Roxas Boulevard, Manila, with interactive exhibits that was the dream of Nina Lim-Yuson and Estefania Aldaba-Lim.

Teach for the Philippines was founded by Zobel, Margarita Liboro Delgado and Clarissa Isabelle Delgado. Clarissa was the special projects director at Sa Aklat Sisikat Foundation and a graduate of the College of William and Mary.

Margarita is CEO of Teach for the Philippines and also a board of trustees member of International School Manila and the vice president for quality enhancement at Delbros, Inc. Her husband is Delbros president Jose Eduardo L. Delgado.

Founded in 1949 by brothers Antonio, Francisco and Jose Delgado, Delbros, Inc. is a logistics and supply chain solutions company. The Delgado Brothers Hotel Corp. used to own the Manila Hilton Hotel (now the Waterfront Manila Pavilion Hotel & Casino owned by William Tiu Gatchalian) on United Nations Avenue, Manila.

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Shell success secrets & concern about oil smuggling

Recently, I had a long chat with engineer Edgar O. Chua, Shell Companies in the Philippines’ country chairman — a self-made man and business/civic leader.

Sharing the success secrets of the century-old Dutch multinational shell, Chua said, “I think what makes Shell great are the people and the culture. Our culture encourages innovation. We need to keep innovating, because we’re selling a commodity.” 

He expressed concern about a major issue that needs to be addressed: “Oil smuggling in the Philippines is a serious problem. We estimate that the government’s losses in tax revenues every year due to oil smuggling is P20 billion to P30 billion.”

Chua explained that oil smugglers evade the 12 percent VAT on imported finished petroleum products, on top of the P4.35-per-liter for gasoline imports. He said, “They bring in tax-free oil via Subic or other free ports of the Philippines like Bataan, the Phividec in north Mindanao. They enter using coconut oil storage facilities of former coconut oil exporters all over the country. These are big-time oil smugglers.”

Chua, who is also chairman of the Philippine Business for the Environment and the Energy Council of the Philippines as well as the Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc., said, “I advise motorists to buy fuel only from reputable companies so they can be assured of quality and quantity, and that proper taxes are being paid the government.”

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If a deal is too good to be true, it probably is! Beware of “get-rich-quick” Ponzi schemes or pyramid schemes! The latest is the Aman Futures investment scam with some 15,000 victims in Mindanao losing around P12 billion!

Ponzi and pyramid scams lure investors with promises of high interest rates not available through traditional investments like bank deposits. A Makati executive told me his bank gives him less than three percent in annual interest earnings. 

Why are they called Ponzi schemes? In the 1920s Charles Ponzi promised investors profits of 50 percent in the US, but his strategy was using subsequent investors’ funds to pay so-called “dividends” to his earlier investors. Eventually, this scam collapsed when he was no longer able to convince more investors to give him money.

A pyramid scam is similar to a Ponzi scheme; the only difference is pyramid schemes recruit people and money by giving out “commissions.” Pyramid scams are sometimes called “franchise fraud,” “multi-level marketing” or a “chain referral scheme.”

Top broadcast journalist Karen Davila recently expressed concern to me about recent cases of financial scams. When I inquired where she sets aside her earnings, Karen said, “I invest in real estate properties and mutual funds managed by reputable firms.”

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Thanks for your feedback! E-mail willsoonflourish@gmail.com or follow WilsonLeeFlores on Twitter, Facebook and http://willsoonflourish.blogspot.com/.

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