‘Do right and do good’: Don Emilio Yap’s legacy

Published February 1, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Isabel De Leon

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Don Emilio T. Yap
Don Emilio T. Yap

Doing what is right and good is the core of the lessons learned by Manila Bulletin employees from their late Chairman, Don Emilio T. Yap:

“Do good and it will come back to you in ways you can’t imagine.
“Be good. Be kind. Be true. Be honest.”

Believing that reputation and credibility are very important, among his constant reminders to his people were:

“Always be fair and accurate in your reporting. There are always two sides – sometimes, even three – to a story.”

He emphasized further:

“It takes a lifetime to build a reputation, but bad news reporting could destroy it quickly.”

His sense of fairness is rooted in his belief in giving people a second chance:

“When a person or institution is already down on its knees, you don’t join those who are kicking him or maligning it. You extend a hand to help the person or institution stand up again.”

“Papa’s teachings cut across all platforms of the Manila Bulletin. They guide our people in doing what is good and right,” said Chairman Basilio C. Yap, who assumed leadership of MB and related companies after Don Emilio passed away in 2014.

“I am what I am because of him. He was very strict. He instilled loyalty and discipline among us. He always said: ‘Do not criticize your superior. If you can’t be loyal to a person or a company, just leave’,” Chairman Basilio said.

Loyalty is a trait that is imbued in those employed in the corporations owned by the Yap family. Many workers have risen through the ranks and stayed on with the company, even past the normal retirement age.

Don Emilio was also a person imbued with a long-term perspective. From humble beginnings, he rose to become one of the country’s respected taipans.

He worked at a young age as a sari-sari-store helper, cut t-shirt patterns, then learned the ropes of selling scrap metal, and used military vehicles after the war. Years later, he built his own conglomerate made up of a shipping line, a newspaper (Manila Bulletin), a pharmaceutical manufacturing firm, a university, a bank, a hotel, and various dining establishments.

Despite the trappings of wealth, Don Emilio remained humble and simple.

On account of his staunchly pro-country stance, the Manila Bulletin has projected itself as “the exponent of Philippine progress” and continues to highlight the Philippines’ sustained growth as one of Asia’s emerging economies.

The Manila Bulletin has always demonstrated a propensity for publishing the good news, stories that project the goodness of the Filipino people – while hewing closely to the norms of responsible journalism.

Captains of industry and national leaders held Don Emilio in high esteem.

While watching the news on television, he heard then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo sniffle and let out a cough while replying to a reporter’s question. He sent her traditional medicines and wished her well. President Arroyo expressed her appreciation that Don Emilio was “taking good care of me like a father.”

Indeed, Don Emilio was like a father to all his employees, including this writer.

He asked how our family members were doing. He believed in keeping the family intact, and was saddened every time he learned that a member of an employee’s family had to leave for another country to earn a living.

He loved giving gifts, big and small. But the greatest gift he ever gave was of himself: his genuine concern for the well-being of those who worked with him, and his abiding love of country and the Filipino people.