Life, at times, would bring existential twists. And once you are usurped by Divine prerogatives, you can either be knocked down or you can take that injunction of helping others – so they too may live on and thrive.
That became the guiding light for billionaire and San Miguel Corporation President Ramon S. Ang, who revealed to the nation on Wednesday (February 17) during the 2021 BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue) Tax Campaign Kickoff that he was pounded thrice by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infection – and as he declared, it was one “humbling experience” that had stricken him, along with the death of his son in the early part of last year.
“Ang natutunan natin ay maging humble. For the first time in my life, I’ve experienced ‘yong mga masasakit na pangyayari — mga nangyari noong 2020. Namatayan po ako ng anak. Tatlong beses ako tinamaan ng Covid (I learned to be humble. For the first time in my life, I had to weather painful experiences in my life in 2020. I lost a son and I was hit thrice by Covid,” said the business magnate, who is also famously known as “RSA” to corporate peers, friends, SMC employees and the media covering him.
Instead of him getting wobbled by those tragic events, Ang noted he had instead found higher purpose in life: to help save more lives in a country that’s also being pummeled by a global pandemic – and he does that by ensuring employment for more Filipinos via the SMC businesses; and in initiating several corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs that will help address health and well-being of many; as well as aided in the provision of livelihood to segments severely battered by the health crisis.
“I was able to overcome coronavirus. And what that revealed to me was: God still has a mission for me,” he asserted, noting that such helped ease the pain and he embraced that as an enlightenment through life’s daily battles.
To recall, SMC as a conglomerate made an announcement in April last year that its more than 66,000 employees will keep their jobs. The company was also among the businesses that aided the government in setting up Covid-19 testing laboratories; while the array of companies under the SMC group helped various sectors deal with the economic blow of the pandemic – such as giving out personal protective equipment (PPEs) and medical supplies to frontliners; and distributed food packs to the less-privileged families especially during the toughest times of lockdowns last year.
Petron Corporation, in particular, extended free fuel to frontliners; and it also offered its gas stations as drop-off points to the farmers so they can sell their products within more accessible locations to the consuming public.
RSA admitted that the operations and financial performance of their businesses had also been affected, but as he resolutely stated: “at this point, what is important are lives, not money. We can make money again, but life – once you lose it, it’s gone forever. So between life and money, I will choose life.”
Triumph over Covid
Ang narrated his first Covid-19 infection was in March 2020 where he experienced symptoms similar to what many had come across relating to the disease. It is worth noting that the initial wave of infections in the country happened around that time when the Philippine medical frontliners were still grappling also on how to deal with the pandemic then.
The second infection, he said, happened in July. And it occurred at another distressing time — because that was just several weeks after, when RSA had to be racked with another cycle of loss with the death of SMC Chairman Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco in June, whom Ang had always looked up to as a “father figure” not just in business, but also in his personal life.
His third bout with Covid infection came later on, but that has not stopped the SMC top honcho from pushing the conglomerate’s various businesses forward.
RSA goes to the office everyday, and he indicated that he takes RT-PCR swab tests every week. “I have always been very careful, cautious and I strictly follow health protocols,” he noted. And he adheres to that not just in his office but also in their home so he can protect his family. “I have my own room at home where I can isolate, because I don’t want my children getting infected,” he said.
Nevertheless, he recounted that in the typical grind of running a business, he would normally have to meet with various groups – six or more meetings in a day – and these are combination of physical and virtual engagements.
Ang said he shared his story not to scare off anyone – especially the investors, but it is more of him to let on about a ‘new light’ he was able to discern in life despite the extreme blow of adversities. And by being healthy, a person can beat the infection.
Having won over the disease, not just once but thrice, RSA said he wants to focus now on more positive things. “Let’s talk about happier things. Don’t worry, I am here and I’m healthy, that’s what is important,” he stressed.
His health triumph also enabled him to donate blood to the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), “and that’s a testament that I am healthy, otherwise, I would not have been allowed to donate blood,” he said.
Ultimately, for the diversifying SMC conglomerate, RSA’s business acumen regenerates with stronger push for much-needed infrastructure projects. These include the recently completed Skyway-3 project; the blueprinted New Manila International Airport in Bulacan; new power plant projects as well as other ventures that will make life better and of higher quality for all Filipinos in particular; and as economic underpinning to the country in general.