‘Nice guys finish last’ is the phrase often used to reference the general lack of incentive/respect provided by society for virtuous behavior, and rewarding those with more superficial qualities. So perhaps it takes a global pandemic for us to finally recalibrate that viewpoint, and give recognition for the Good Guys who find simple, yet meaningful, ways to show proper care and concern for their employees, their stakeholders, their consumers, and us – their public.  

 Since the onset in March of the COVID-19 Community Quarantine, SM Prime Holdings, Inc, and two of their major subsidiaries, SM Supermalls & SM Development Corporation, have led the way in showcasing Corporate Social Responsibility at a time when their integrated development revenues would take a hit. While there was a saving grace of the first quarter of 2020 seeing growth for SMDC, the overall picture for SM Prime saw them absorbing a second quarter 80% downturn compared to the same period in 2019. And yet, given the ongoing economic & health crisis, it was a time to look beyond the bottom line, follow the lead of the Sy family, embrace the SM Core Values, and find ways to be of service to the Government and the entire population. 

As SM Prime President Jeffrey C. Lim was ready to point out, one of the best decisions made during this national health crisis has been converting the MOA Arena to a mammoth swab testing center for returning OFW’s. The recognition was made that it was not fair to assume the Government could solve the problem by itself; and it needed the all-out support of the private sector. Continuous employment of SM Prime personnel was emphasized; and whether the numerous SMDC properties or the SM Supermalls‘ 74 Malls all over the country, strict safety protocols were strictly complied with. 

At SMDC, President Jose Mari Banzon was proud to say that uninterrupted service by the on-site staff was guaranteed, as transportation was provided. Weekend markets to provide residents access to fresh produce were organized, as were personal shopping services for the elderly and PWD residents. There were bloodletting activities to foster voluntarism; and webinars created, focusing on mental health, cyber security, fitness and wellness, and even promoting entrepreneurship. 

As can be expected, it was SM Supermalls hardest hit by the prolonged Community Quarantine. As Steven Tan, SM Supermalls President recounts, 70% of their tenants are SME’s with no recourse to deep pockets, and rental concessions were arranged. As the Malls gradually reopened under GCQ, it was crucial that the safety of Mall-goers was ensured; and this included anti-microbial copper film for elevator buttons, and UV light disinfection for escalator hand rails. 

In the provinces, where 3rd party delivery systems aren’t strong, SM reached out to the displaced jeepey drivers, recruiting them to effect deliveries. Online shopping, and said deliveries or take-outs, became the norm as SM were looking for ways and means to support their tenants and help them get through this tough time for all. Viber Groups kept the SM Malls community abreast of what was available, and how it could get to you. 

Read more: Manila Bulletin