ESG: Walking the talk on ensuring sustainability


Sonny Coloma

In keeping with its commitment to serve as an exponent of Philippine progress, the Manila Bulletin is conducting its first Sustainability Forum that focuses on the environmental, social and governance (ESG) framework that has been adopted by many corporations.

ESG builds on the concepts of corporate social responsibility (CSR) that advocates active involvement in seeking to improve the quality of life in communities and nations where an enterprise conducts its business and affects the lives and well-being of the people.

The work of attaining – and ensuring – sustainability goes on 24/7; even as we pause from it, harsh realities set in. Forest fires break out in California and in Brazil’s Amazon forest; destructive floods kill thousands in Pakistan and China; levels of greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise unchecked despite avowed national commitments pledged at high-profile global summits.

These are events that we record and report on daily in the Manila Bulletin in all our platforms.

By inviting our partners to join us in this forum, we are raising our involvement to the next level.

Last month, we revived our face-to-face Sketchfest involving children, youth and budding professional artists in Davao, Cebu and Metro Manila with the theme, Saving the Earth. The images they produced impel us to reflect: 

Are we are sufficiently aware of the breadth and depth of the sustainability challenge – or as former US Vice President Al Gore cautioned the world nearly two decades ago, are we still looking away at an inconvenient truth?

For two days this week, we are reaching out to a national audience, together with organizations that have joined cause with us: our co-presentors: Coca-Cola, Unilever, and Wilcon. We are also joined by our supporters: City of Dreams Manila, Arthaland, BPI, Filinvest, Grohe, ICTSI, Megaworld, SM Investments, Watsons, and Airspeed. SGV is the technical adviser.

I would like to share with you, too, how we at the Manila Bulletin, walk the talk on ESG.

We do our part in sustaining the environment.

We use soy-based ink. Soy-based ink is made from soybeans oil mixed with ink pigments. Compared to traditional petroleum-based ink, soy-based ink is accepted as more environmentally friendly. While slower to dry than many inks, it provides more accurate colors and makes it easier to recycle paper.

We optimize our operations, in terms of production schedules and working hours, to reduce energy use.

Visitors to our head office in Intramuros would witness for themselves how our endeavor to be an environmentally-conscious organization is reflected in some unique features of our building.

We upcycled fluorescent bulbs at the end of their lives into new lighting fixtures by turning them into chandeliers. We also upcycled used printing plates into office decor elements such as seat cushions and ceiling design.

We also upcycled wood from our transport crates and turned them into office dividers. This could be seen on the ground floor that houses our advertising, subscription accounting, and human resources offices. Unsold newspapers were upcycled into egg crates.

For the past few years, we have been conducting an annual Christmas tree-making competition where the participants use old newspapers in creatively portraying how Filipino families cherish Christmas traditions. Interestingly, the past winners have been typically the work not just of artistic individuals but entire families. Aside from promoting sustainability, this contest has also promoted family solidarity.

We also believe that, as a business, we have a social responsibility.

Every time calamities such as typhoons and floods hit the country, we participate in relief efforts through our Bag of Hope signature project that involves collaboration with our related companies including Centro Escolar University, the Manila Hotel, Philtrust Bank and Euro-Med. 

 We conduct an annual junior journalist program whose goal is to develop the next-generation journalists of the country. Young students, including those still in grade school, participate in a program that gives them the opportunity to interact with our editors and senior writers. They also witness our news staff at work through the day and until tomorrow’s newspaper is “put to bed” and mounted on the printing presses.

Above all, we believe that as a news media organization, it is our primary social responsibility to ensure that the stories we publish are truthful, factual and accurate.

We believe that a well-informed citizenry would be empowered to make choices and decisions that are beneficial to their families, communities and ultimately, to the country and society.

On living the tenets of good governance, we follow the laws of the land and fulfill our duties as a good corporate citizen. Manila Bulletin has been regularly cited as one of the city of Manila’s leading taxpayers.

We put up green walls around the office to promote the well-being of our people at work.

We do not discriminate against gender in our hiring and practices. We observe gender equality and fairness. Two women, Pinky Colmenares and Isabel de Leon, who have been with MB for over two decades serve as executive editor and news editor, respectively.

We welcome inclusivity and diversity in our workforce. We have members of our organization who affiliate themselves with the LGBTQIA Plus principles; we honor and respect their beliefs.

We continually embark on a process of innovation, in our products, services, and processes, in an effort to adapt to this ever-changing world. We aspire to do our part in the creation of a more sustainable tomorrow.

In sum, MB believes in and practices E-S-G and promotes it as a way of life.