How this Gawad Kalinga mentor learned everything he knows about charity from his grandfather
Lolo Benny helped me get in touch with my spiritual side. Not that I wasn’t a nice guy, but he opened the doors to what God was for me. I was with him for two years in Rome. I studied there and we were able to travel to so many countries all over Europe.
Lolo and Lola were quite active with the business back then so they would go on a lot of retail trips and no matter what city we were in, every day Lolo Benny would go to mass and, being a good grandson, I would go with him. Besides, it was fun to go with him. He always had a missal in the language of the country we were in and he would get one for me too.
When you grow up with your grandparents and they give you an experience of something, it’s normally positive. Going to church with Lolo Benny was a meaningful thing. He made it not a pain and his discipline and dedication set the stage for me. So whenever I would get into a rut or something as we normally do in our younger years, church was always the place to go to gain back the momentum.
When my Lola passed, it shook the family— it could’ve broken. But every year, Lolo Benny would celebrate his birthday and back when he was much younger, like 80, he would find a way to make sure everybody showed up. He would make it easy for you, like send you the ticket. That’s why my son, a fourth generation Tantoco, is so close to his second cousins. Lolo Benny kept us together.
I’m always looking at two things my Lolo taught me. One is the value of audit. The other is the value of charity.
I don’t have any active operational duties in the family business, unlike my cousins and even my brothers, but in the things I’m involved in, like in the board, I’m always looking at two things my Lolo taught me. One is the value of audit. The other is the value of charity. Audit was important, not to catch people, but to make sure the numbers were right and the facts were correct. And charity was always the purpose. You grow the company because it gives jobs. If you make more money, then you find a way to share it. And if you feel more blessed, you share it more, like with the church. In my personal life, that’s how I try to do any project I’m given. I also like to get very active with things like Gawad Kalinga. I believe the same is true for every single person in this family, down to the fourth generation.
Throughout the day, there are certain things that Lolo Benny does for himself, meaning he takes care of himself so he can take care of others. The whole day isn’t about himself, but there are moments throughout the day. For example, he always took a nap. He always had some sort of massage for his blood flow. He’s very diligent with going to the doctor. I believe this is how he’s able to live long and happy. Showing up or being disciplined is not something he finds difficult. It is just him. And when we do ask him, “How can you keep doing that?” he says, “That’s just what a man does.” He knew his role, he knew what a husband had to be, he knew what a father had to be, he knew what a chairman had to be, he knew what an ambassador had to be, and he just made sure he was what he was supposed to be.
The author is director and member of the board at Rustan’s Group of Companies.