Ben Chan on Bayanihan: ‘It is at this time of crisis that people of power and influence must show compassion’ - Lifestyle Asia

The Bench head believes that we all have a responsibility to lift each other up.

To be a citizen during a time of national crisis is a difficult situation to be in. But to run a business during a time of national crisis has its own unique host of issues and pressure.

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For retail magnate Ben Chan, supporting Filipinos during the COVID-19 pandemic is well within Bench’s brand vision of loving local.

More than promoting photo-worthy travel destinations, amazing food, and other Filipino trademarks, to love local is to support the society that functions beneath the pulsating vibrance of our culture.

To love our travel destinations is to support the community inhabiting it. To love our food is to support its cooks. And so it follows that to love Bench as a brand is to support the Filipino people who patronize and work for it.

Brand values

The COVID pandemic we are experiencing now is unprecedented. That being said, the steps that big businesses need to take are uncharted territory as well. It is during times like these where a brand’s business acuity and sincerity are put to the test.

For Suyen Corporation—aside from following government protocol and re-aligning their internal process to keep the organization up and running—there was also an active team set up to extend support to frontliners, “i.e. health workers, police force, security guards, and janitors by ensuring the continuous supply of hand sanitizers and alcohols to Malacañang, various hospitals, LGUs, military camps, and government offices.”

Bench’s CSR efforts have reached Northern Samar, Pasig, Quezon City and other areas within the metro. Along with these efforts are the tags “#BSafeBHomeBHealthy” and “BenchCares.” To walk the talk, times like these are opportunities for brands to emphasize their sincere desire to better their consumers’ and even employees’ lives.

But of course, at the end of the day, the business must continue to operate within some capacity. “In a crisis like this, we are of course expected to make some belt-tightening measures,” Chan says.

It is, of course, a necessary consideration. Chan says they have discussed with their partners and suppliers on how to manage the cost side of our businesses. This includes reviewing the budget of their merchandise production and purchases, he explains.

Empathetic decisions

Despite not being obligated into service, Chan reiterates that “it is at this time of crisis that people of power and influence must show compassion.”

This is why Bench joined the business community’s call to help the economically displaced. Together with the top conglomerates in the country, they raised P1.5 billion last year to be able to distribute gift certificates to one million households in the poor communities of the Greater Manila Area.

“With this effort, we now know that moving forward the business community and government can come together in devising a more rapid response to such a crisis in the future,” Chan shares.

While the private sector is not obligated, it is inspiring to note how big business owners like Chan consider their places of power a platform to help lives get better–whether it’s through a quality cotton shirt or active donation drives.

Bayanihan—this is the time we show this Filipino spirit and help each other, help the frontliners in whatever way we can,” he says.

This story originally came out in the April-May 2020 issue of Lifestyle Asia.

Banner Photo bu PAOLO PINEDA

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