Cory Aquino’s speech for MkMS in 2006

Transcription of the speech of Former President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino during the Induction of New Officers of the Makati Medical Society last June 23, 2006, Hyatt Regency Hotel, Pasay City, Philippines
You may listen to the speech here. (soon)

Dr. Martin Moreno, Dr. Jojo Sabili, officers and members of the Makati Medical Society, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, good evening to all of you, the officers and members of the Makati Medical Society and all your guests. Thank you Dr. Martin Moreno for inviting me to speak before you tonight.

Doctor’s are among my favorite people. In fact, Ninoy and I have always hoped that one of our children would become a doctor, or that one of them would marry a doctor (audience chuckles).

When Ninoy’s wish wasn’t granted, we prayed that God would send us friends who were doctors. And God did answer are prayers as Ninoy and I were blessed with many friends who were doctors when we were living in exile in theUSA. And after Ninoy’s assassination, and even without my asking, the good Lord sent me the “Doctor’s for Cory,” who helped in the restoration of our democracy.

Doctor’s are wonderful people, and very patient people. I feel sorry for doctors who forever have to listen to the problems of others. They have to listen patiently to tales of woe (audience chuckles), of body aches and pains of their friends and acquaintances even during social functions. Every Sunday, our family doctor, Dr. Alex Ayco, who is here tonight, joins me, my children and grand children for our lunch reunion in my home in Quezon City. We try our best to wait until after Alex’ has finished eating before we consult him with our medical problems (audience chuckles). Thank God Alex likes the food in my house and he continues to join us every Sunday even if there is a possibility of having to listen to our stories of aches and pains. I believe that doctors can almost always make us feel better, but they cannot do it alone. We are to cooperate with them and follow their instructions. In other words, doctor’s help us help ourselves.

Many of us here, doctors, as well as non-doctors, have committed ourselves to helping others, specially the poor. Two years ago, my balae, Howard Dee of the Assisi Foundation, invited me and the Aquino Foundation to establish the ASA Philippines Foundation and engage in Microfinance projects. Allow me to share with you the vision and mission of ASA Philippines Foundation.

Our vision, “We are devoted to the poor for them to fight against growing poverty with the most cost-effective sustainable microfinance services and with the highest portfolio quality and management efficiency in order to eventually grow as the best managed and lowest-charging microfinance service provider in the Philippine market.” ASA Philippines Foundation has made this commitment to 3 sectors. The first is a commitment to the marginalized poor sector for which the foundation exists. The second commitment is to the staff who are dedicated to the foundations’ mission/objectives. The third commitment is to the incorporators to make the program the best and most self sustainable microfinance institution in the country. And therefore, our missions are; “To deliver the most cost effective, efficient and client-responsive microfinance service to the entrepreneurialial poor in the cheapest way; To create a best place to work where every staff member has the chance to live in dignity, develop a career path within the foundation and will have the satisfaction of changing the quality of life of poor people and of themselves; and thirdly, To be self-sustainable and the best-knowledged microfinance institution in the Philippines.”

For those of you who are not familiar with microfinance, let me just briefly explain of how the system works. When the target area is identified, the loan officers go there and meet with the women residence. They inform the women on how they can become clients of ASA Philippines. The women are told that they have to save P50.00 a week for four weeks and deposit the same amounts plus P100.00 insurance pay with the loan officers to qualify as clients of ASA Philippines Foundation. The women have to explain to the loan officers, what livelihood project they would engage in. Once the women have complied with the requirements during the four weeks, they would then receive their loans which then range from P3,000 to P6,000. The following week, the women will start paying back in 23 weekly installments with the loan officers, the amount they had borrowed plus the interest. They would do this on the same day of each week.

After two years of existence, ASA Philippines Foundation now has 22,948 clients in 30 branches which are located in KaloocanCity, PasigCity, Manila, Parañaque, Quezon City, Las Piñas City, Makati, MandaluyongCity, Marikina, Taguig, San Juan, and Bulacan, Bataan, and Rizal provinces. Our recovery rate has been 99%. The clients are all women and the reason for this is that women have proven to be better borrowers than men (audience chuckles). I was told that when men have extra money, they usually spend it on gambling or on alcoholic drinks. I’m sure that male doctors do not do that (audience chuckles).

I have met with some women clients in Payatas,Quezon Cityand Dinalupihan inBataan. I have been inspired by their hard work and dedication to their livelihood project. They also seem happy and sounded confident as they explained their work to me. Most of them are into cooking and selling food; breakfast, lunch and dinner. I was told that many households just buy their meals instead of cooking at home especially if both husband and wife work outside the home. They also told me that since the cost of LPG has gotten up, it is cheaper to just buy the cooked food.

I, at present, am trying to get more people in microfinance projects by putting up their own foundations or donating some money to existing foundations. The advantage of helping microfinance project is that your donations will continue to help the poor for a long long time since the clients will be paying back whatever was loaned to her plus interest. I believe that even after I leave this world, whatever donations I gave to help a microfinance client will continue to help either that same client or some other client. We are not giving ‘dole-outs.’ We are in fact, helping the poor, help themselves.

I often ask if I still feel optimistic about the Philippines. And I say yes. Because there are many good Filipinos. Filipinos who are always ready to help their fellow Filipinos. And so I hope that all of us here will continue to help others. Let us help our fellow Filipinos help themselves. Thank you to all the officers and members of MkMS. God Bless all of you. Mabuhay! (audience applauses).

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