It was the American civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jnr who said that the most urgent question in life was “What are you doing for others?” This month, we present those who have stepped up to answer that question with great visions, projects, and programmes geared towards improving the lives of their fellowmen. This year’s list includes magnanimous individuals, corporate foundations, and organisations created for specific causes—several of whom have also gained international recognition for the work they have in the service of the greater good. There are many who say that philanthropy is high art: that the act of giving to those in need is something that all may practice. However, there are a few who truly shine as examples to all the rest of us. Those who made it to this year’s list may well be considered virtuosos in the art of giving back and are worthy to be emulated by those around them.

Ballet Philippines Foundation

Not only does the Philippines’ premiere ballet company produce world-class talents, but it serves to uplift the lives of gifted children who would not normally be able to study dance. Under MARGIE MORAN as president, Ballet Philippines annually gives 200 scholarships to young people from across the country, to train with some of the Philippines’ finest dancers and choreographers. In return, these scholars have won accolades both here and abroad through their participation in both productions and competitions.

George Yang

Music has always been a passion for McDonald’s-Philippines founder and chairman. In fact, Yang is a tenor trained by one of the country’s top sopranos, Rachelle Gerodias. Yang extended this love for music to support gifted young musicians unable to avail of proper training due to financial constraints. His Klassikal Music Foundation enables these children to get a proper education through some of the best schools here and abroad as well as give them an outlet for their talents via concert productions.

Zenaida "Nedy" R. Tantoco

Best known as the doyenne behind powerhouse luxury retailer Rustan’s, Tantoco has long been a quiet but active patroness of the arts through her stalwart support of institutions like the Cultural Centre of the Philippines (CCP) and the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra (PPO). As president of the Philippine Italian Association (PIA), Tantoco both initiates and supports numerous projects in order to build up an endowment fund that would enable Filipino musicians to perform both here and overseas. Her generous support of the PPO was a key factor that made their historic 2012 tour of the United States possiblea feat that was repeated in 2016. A long time aficionado of classical music and opera, Tantoco also helped bring global talents like conductor/composer Luciano Bellini, piano virtuoso Christian Leotta, and operatic tenor Gian Luca Pasolini to the Philippine stage.

Haribon Foundation

Founded in 1972 by Celso Roque and currently chaired by JOHN LESACA, Haribon Foundation takes its name from the majestic Philippine eagle and tirelessly promotes biodiversity conservation. It has been instrumental in the preservation of endangered indigenous species including the rufous hornbill and various forms of marine wildlife. Today, it continues to work with various sectors to develop sustainable resource management strategies and encourages the public to live an eco-friendly lifestyle.

Aurelio Montinola III

When he was named chairman of the board of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)-Philippines in 2015, Montinola stated "We must work together to transform the country into a living space our children will appreciate." Together with WWF-Philippines president Jose Palma and Vince Perez, currently chairman of the organisation's National Advisory Council, Montinola continues to push for such measures as the implementation of marine protection areas in key provinces along with initiatives related to wildlife care and conservation.

Tony Tan Caktiong

The fast-food magnate has gone above and beyond satisfying the cravings of hungry urbanites by nourishing students in public elementary schools. Since 2007, Busog Lusog Talino, the feeding programme he initiated via the Jollibee Group Foundation, has focused on meeting the nutritional needs of students in public schools. In recent years, the Foundation has further expanded its focus to include food provision and sustainability in disaster-stricken regions.

Ricardo S. Po Snr

“I know how it is to be hungry” is a personal statement that doubles as the impetus behind this canning magnate’s ongoing feeding programme for underprivileged children. Po grew up poor in Guangzhou, China and it was only when he moved to the Philippines that his fortune took a better turn. Today, the patriarch of the Century Pacific Food, Inc gives back to the nation that adopted him through the CPG-RSPo Foundation which provides over 3 million nourishing meals a year to underprivileged children in public elementary schools.

The Ayala Foundation

It is an organisation that has become synonymous with bringing out the best in the Filipino. Best known for promoting Filipino culture both here and abroad through the Ayala Museum and the Filipinas Heritage Library, the Ayala Foundation has been championing the creative abilities of the nation for over half a century. Currently chaired by brothers Jaime Augusto and Fernando Zobel de Ayala, the Foundation has also gone beyond arts and culture through its drive to improve education, youth development, and sustainable livelihood.

The Aboitiz Foundation

For this particular organisation, it’s all about helping people help themselves. Self-reliance through sustainable livelihood, proper education, and enterprise development within even the smallest communities are what it works on. Likewise, it also believes in community empowerment through environmental conservation and various health and fitness programmes. Currently chaired by Erramon Aboitiz, the shipping company’s corporate social responsibility arm has donated nearly Php 800 million in order to help improve the lives of those in impoverished areas

The LBC Foundation

LBC Express’ CSR arm has pedalled its way to minimising the drop-out rate among public high school students thanks to its annual cycling event Ronda Pilipinas. The spirit of play has also been a big part of its initiatives, as its localisation of the football-centric One World Play Project helps push for sports development among the Filipino youth. The Foundation also has projects related to community development and disaster relief.

The Angelo King Foundation

More than just a prime mover in the hospitality sector, hotelier Angelo King also has a reputation for changing the lives of the less fortunate. Since 1978, he and the organisation that bears his name provide grants for numerous initiatives regarding education and sustainable livelihood. Over the years, it has been instrumental in the construction of classrooms in far-flung rural public schools as well as scholarships for the children of farmers and indigents.

The Cebuana Lhuillier Foundation

Walang kapantay magpahalagaessentially translated as “No one puts more importance on your value than we do”is the motto of one of the country’s leading pawnshops. But the words go beyond the fi nancial and material aspect as the CSR arm of the PJ Lhuillier Group of Companies also sees the value of each and every Filipino. Since it was established, the Foundation has promoted continuing education through its Alternative Learning System (ALS) for out-ofschool youths. Likewise, it plays a vital role in the fi eld of sports development as it builds the capabilities of Filipino athletes through its support of both athletic teams and individual athletes for global competitions.

ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation

The Kapamilya Network’s slogan has always been “In the Service of the Filipino People” and this is certainly embodied by the work done by its CSR arm which is one of the most visible philanthropic organisations in the country. Currently headed by ABS-CBN chairman of the board EUGENIO GABBY” LOPEZ III, Lingkod Kapamilya has pushed for numerous initiatives related to children’s welfare, environmental protection and sustainability, and poverty alleviation through opportunities for education and livelihood.

Enrique "Ricky" Razon Jnr

Always one to keep moving forward, the man known as the Ports King was instrumental in bringing much-needed relief provisions to the victims of Typhoon Yolanda in 2013. Today, his ICTSI Foundation provides educational and livelihood support for various communities, as well as schools and day-care centres in disaster-hit regions.

John Gokongwei Jnr

Considering how poverty and his father’s untimely passing forced him to end his education early on, Gokongwei has more than made up for it through his generous endowments to some of the country’s best schools, including De La Salle University and the University of San Carlos in his home province of Cebu. In honour of his generosity, Ateneo de Manila renamed its School of Management after him in 2002. Aside from endowments made in his own name, he formed the Gokongwei Brothers Foundation with his three siblings. Today, this organisation aims to help improve tertiary education in the Philippines through institutional endowments for colleges and universities, as well as the provision of scholarships for deserving individuals.

Henry Sy Snr

The patriarch of the clan behind retail superbrand SM has given a total of around Php 284 million through numerous projects under the SM Foundation and the eponymous Henry Sy Foundation. The former is concerned with education, religious formation, welfare outreach, and health; the latter is focused on Philippine social development through the empowerment of the Filipino youth.

Manuel V. Pangilinan

Popularly known as MVP, he has a philanthropic zest that covers areas as diverse as his business interests. Through the PLDT-Smart and One Meralco Foundations as well as the eponymous MVP Sports Foundation, the mogul has extended assistance for education, livelihood training and provision, disaster relief and recovery, and sports development.

Andrew Tan

The mogul behind Megaworld has long believed that every person deserves to live a good lifeone that is balanced and one where all of the body and soul’s needs are met. Keeping that in mind, Andrew Tan has given amply back to society through donations worth over Php 45 million for various initiatives under the Megaworld Foundation. Through this endowment, the Foundation helps the people by way of scholarships, donations to diff erent charitable causes, along with medical missions and community feeding programmes.

George SK Ty

His is a name that is synonymous with that of one of the Philippines’ leading commercial/investment banking institutions. But Ty is more than just about GT Capital or even Metrobank. For decades, this hardworking captain of commerce has given generously to causes related to education, healthcare, the arts, and environmental preservation through the three foundations he established. Today, the Metrobank Foundation is best known for supporting young Filipino artists and recognising local leaders of society and industry, while the GT Foundation is focused on the provision of livelihood support for impoverished communities. The third organisation, the Norberto & Tytana Ty Foundation which was named in memory of Ty’s parents, is primarily focused on education.

Ramon Del Rosario Jnr

The founder of Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) is a staunch believer in the alleviation of poverty through the provision of livelihood measures for those in impoverished communities. Since 1970, his organisation has promoted effi ciency and self-suffi ciency among the urban poor and other marginalised communities as a way of uplifting their lives as opposed to standard charitable measures.

Chuchu Madrigal & Ging Montinola

Her granddaughters are keeping the legacy of the late society doyenne Chito Madrigal- Collantes alive by making sure that her Consuelo “Chito” Madrigal Foundation (CCMF), established in 1997, continues to uplift underprivileged Filipinos through livelihood programmes, microfi nancing, improved education, as well as early learning measures for very young children.

Jose Maria "Joey" Concepcion III

“Mag-entrepreneur ka!” (Be an entrepreneur!) This statement is something of a battle-cry that Concepcion always raises when he talks about self-reliance and prosperity through entrepreneurship. Since 2005, his GoNegosyo programme has grown from a grassroots initiative to a nationwide advocacy that continues to promote a spirit of entrepreneurship among Filipinos as a way of building both confi dence and self-reliance. Today, GoNegosyo continues to promote its goals through a series of seminars and workshops to impart critical knowledge and business skills to those seeking a better life.

Ramon S. Ang

As a way of addressing the need for competent farmers and agricultural professionals, San Miguel Corporation’s biggest shareholder has made it his business to encourage Filipinos to consider agricultural education as a stepping stone to a better life and a satisfying career. Through the San Miguel Foundation and Ang’s numerous personal initiatives, a new generation of Filipino farmers are able to get the necessary vocational training in order to keep the sector alive and to take it into a new age of development.

Jose Mari "Butch" Albert

The chairman of FILA Philippines is also the man behind Operation Compassion (OC,) an organisation focused on providing post-disaster assistance by way of emergency response, medical missions, psychosocial counselling, refugee camp management, as well as spiritual formation and livelihood building.

Felino "Jun" Palafox Jnr

Referred to as the Philippines’ prime mover for sustainable urban development, Palafox has given his and his firm’s planning, design, and construction services for the development of low-cost housing for underprivileged communities. He has also been known to offer services pro bono for the refurbishment or reconstruction of calamity-hit churches in depressed areas.

The Virlanie Foundation

Since 1992, Virlanie has worked unceasingly to uplift the lives of street children, orphans, and children rescued from abusive situations in the Philippines. Founded by French humanitarian Dominique Lemay who chronicled his work in the 2015 book They Did Not Choose the Streets of Manila, the organisation provides safe havens for these children, giving them opportunities for education and guidance to become happy and responsible adults in the future. Aside from their welfare, Virlanie also safeguards and upholds the rights of children and supports the activities of the Manila Youth Reception Centre, a shelter for children in conflict with the law. The Virlanie Foundation was also the primary beneficiary of the Philippine Tatler Ball in 2015.look to the future with hope and a brighter outlook.

Katrina Legarda, Bernadette Madrid, Irene Martel Francisco

Through the Child Protection Network (CPN), these three women are able to save thousands of abused children. Founded in the Philippines in 2002, CPN plays a key role in these children’s rehabilitation by providing much-needed medical assistance, psychiatric therapy, legal service, and psycho-spiritual counselling. This holistic solution helps these children look forward to the future with hope and a brighter outlook.

Jeannie Goulbourn

Hers is an advocacy that has helped her through the dark days that followed the loss of her beloved daughter. Known in the fashion industry for helping bring Philippine haute couture to the global scene, Goulbourn has been raising public awareness regarding mental health and related issues through the Natasha Goulbourn Foundation (NGF.) Today, the NGF provides education regarding mental illness and suicide prevention. In doing so, it sheds light on a health issue that has long been held taboo by society and enables those suffering from it to get much needed treatment and support.

David Zuellig & Daniel Zuellig

Cousins David and Daniel are at the helm of the Zuellig Family Foundation, the CSR arm of the pharmaceutical company that bears the family name. Despite the fact that we now live in the 21st century, many communities in the Philippines are still in the dark ages with regard to the state of their health. The Foundation provides medical care and health education to those in rural areas. It also empowers the residents of these communities through governance and leadership guidance, mass vaccination, mobile paediatric clinics, and nutritional counselling.

Robert "Bobbit" Suntay

His late wife Jackie’s bout with cancer turned Suntay into an advocate for helping cancer patients through the Cancer Resource and Wellness (Carewell) Community Foundation, Inc, which he co-founded with Jackie in 2005. As Carewell’s executive director, Suntay honours his wife’s memory by providing education, support, and hope to cancer patients and their families through various programmes for over a decade.

Pink For Life

Founded in March 2000 by Philippine Tatler managing director Irene Martel Francisco, dr diana cua-balcells, and Sigalit Djemal, Pink for Life assists breast cancer survivors with a largely discounted cost of the medicine Femara which, for especially the underprivileged, would be staggeringly unaffordable. Over the years, its subsidised treatments programme has been supported through various fundraising initiatives. Apart from Martel Francisco and Cua Balcells, its current board of trustees includes Dr Vicki Belo, Mario Katigbak, Mons Romulo, and Joy Wassmer.

Libet Cu-Unjieng-Virata & Tang Antonio Singson

These two indefatigable ladies are survivors and warriors in the fight against the Big C. Virata and Singson, chair and president respectively of the ICanServe Foundation, fight breast cancer by educating women about the disease. ICanServe pushes for early detection through high-impact information campaigns and community-based screening programmes. It also provides psychological and moral support for patients, survivors, and their families. As Singson once put it, “I could ask any question under the sun; I could share my fears and my pain.”

Mariquita Salimbangon-Yeung

Giving others a better shot at life through improved health is something that drives this Cebuana philanthropist. Her eponymous foundation has long been Operation Smile’s partner in Cebu, bringing medical assistance to those with congenital facial deformities. Likewise, she has been responsible for the improvement of public parks in the province through her involvement with the Cebu Beautification Movement.

Illac Diaz

Providing a roof over the heads of those who need it the most has long been Diaz’s advocacy. Since 2001, his MyShelter Foundation has served as a model social enterprise due to its emphasis on devising and delivering solutions for alleviating homelessness among the urban poor. Prior to the creation of MyShelter, Diaz was already actively providing housing solutions for transient workers by way of Centro Migrante. Beyond the provision of shelter, however, Diaz has also delved into providing light and power into the homes of the poor through his highly innovative and sustainable Litre of Light initiative.

Habitat For Humanity

A decent roof and ample shelter for everyone is considered one of the most fundamental human rights. However, the dual spectre of poverty and the growing lack of liveable spaces in urban areas have defrauded many Filipinos of the right to a safe and secure home. Since 1988, Habitat for Humanity Philippines has been working to address this fundamental need by building homes for the less fortunate in some of the country’s more distressed regions. Under the leadership of Mike Meaney who took over as its Philippine managing director in May 2017, qHabitat has been helping build houses and self-reliant communities together with volunteers from various corporations and organisations.

Antonio "Tony" Meloto

Meloto’s name has become synonymous with Gawad Kalinga (GK,) an organisation that puts an emphasis on sustainable community building in order to address issues related to livelihood, housing, education, and the environment. GK’s multifaceted approach to sustainable development has led to an improvement in the lives of the communities it works with, enabling them to become self-sufficient. Over the years, GK’s scope has extended to include sustainable agriculture and agribusiness initiatives.

Felipe "Fil" B. Alfonso (+)

Indigenous peoples tend to get the short end of the stick when it comes to their welfare. At the same time, their culture often fades into the background when civilisation creeps in. For the late Fil Alfonso, former president of the Asian Institute of Management, establishing the Cartwheel Foundation was a way of preserving the rich heritage of native tribes. Today, Cartwheel upholds Alfonso’s legacy by striving to strike a balance between these communities and the outside world. In doing so, it helps preserve the rich cultural heritage of our indigenous peoples.

Gianna R. Montinola

Seeing the need for immediate mobilisation and cooperation during critical times, Montinola founded Hands-On Manila together with Sandy Prieto-Romualdez. Hands-On Manila empowers individuals by providing a variety of flexible volunteer opportunities. In doing so, various NGOs are supported with ample manpower for various humanitarian initiatives.

Emmanuel "Manny" Pacquiao

Having come from a background marked by poverty and hardship, the former fighting pride of the Philippines has long been known to give generously to those in need, particularly those living in impoverished areas, as well as those displaced by natural disasters and armed confl ict. Today, through the Emmanuel and Jinkee’s Heart Foundation, named after himself and his wife, the athlete turned politician is fighting a tougher opponent poverty itself in a much larger ring through educational grants, the provision of permanent shelter, as well as initiatives for relief and livelihood.

Manny and Cynthia Villar

The Villars are best known as the family behind Camella, one of the country’s leading real estate companies, but not many are aware that they are also one of the country’s catalysts for change by way of community empowerment and sustainable livelihood. Their Villar Social Institute for Poverty Alleviation and Governance (Villar SIPAG) expanded its reach beyond the welfare of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families to include livelihood measures for the urban poor which include skills training and classes in entrepreneurship.

Loida Nicolas-Lewis

Lawyer, businesswoman, and civic leader: Nicolas-Lewis wears many hats and wears them well, and one of them also happens to be that of philanthropist. She is, at present, the founder and president of a school named in honour of her late husband: the Lewis College in Sorsogon. This institution was created in order to provide quality education to Bicolanos who would, under ordinary circumstances, be unable to afford college. Apart from the Lewis College, another of Nicolas-Lewis’ pet advocacies is her daughter Christina Lewis-Halpern’s All-Star Code, a programme geared towards giving vocational training and opportunities for young men of colour in the United States.