Stewardship, Social Purpose: Lifeblood of LH Foundation

FINDING synchrony between social purpose and sustainable impact has always been among the key driving forces behind the LH Paragon Group, a Cebu-based holding company with businesses in fashion retail, wood distribution, real estate, food retail and healthcare services.

Parallel with the businesses, the Group’s philanthropic arm, LH Foundation Inc. (LHFI) established in 2007, continues to uphold and implement the vision and values of the Group’s founders, Knight Leo Lim Liu and Dame Norma Liu, to remain responsible stewards and servant-leaders responding to the varying needs of the community, creating effective change and lasting impact that ripple across generations.

In a recent interview with SunStar Cebu, LH Paragon Group chief finance officer and LH Foundation Inc. president Edmun Liu shares how the Group’s advocacies complement their entrepreneurial spirit, anchoring on the core value of stewardship, transcending beyond business by creating key opportunities for the community not just through products and services, but more so, through employment and livelihood generation for the workforce, and by carrying out their social purpose through four main advocacies, namely: religious, education, heritage and medical.

Grounded on stewardship

In the last two and a half years, when the world experienced a global reset while struggling to understand the Covid-19 pandemic and manage its economic implications, the LH Paragon Group faced the same daunting uncertainties. It was however, in these most complicated and trying of times, that simplifying and going back to the basics of reinforcing the Group’s core values, allowed them to navigate their way through the crisis and come out stronger.

The LH Paragon Group and LH Foundation, Inc. Founders, Dame Norma Liu and Knight Leo Lim Liu.

“Our parents, our founders instilled in us the value of stewardship. Knowing that we are all passing through [this life], that everything is fleeting, we must be responsible stewards of the resources entrusted to us and leave this world a better place than when we came, even if it is just one life made better. Most recently, during the Covid-19 pandemic, even if just one person breathes better because of you, that already makes a world of difference,” Liu said.

With unemployment rates reaching record highs during the pandemic, it was clear that sustaining livelihoods and ensuring employment continuity and job security was the Herculean challenge for most businesses despite mounting odds and other external economic factors.

Throughout the Group’s businesses, this translated to the livelihood and continued employment of more than 6,500 employees and indirectly, their immediate families and dependent households.

Even before the pandemic, as good stewards paving the way for future generations, the Group had already set the foundations to future-proof operations across its businesses. The pandemic just fast-tracked and accelerated certain efforts and revealed key opportunity areas especially in the digital space as consumers shifted to online channels and other platforms due to the lockdowns, particularly for fashion and food retail. For real estate, it was prioritizing and investing in safety equipment, improving airflow and ventilation, and repurposing enclosed spaces to al fresco venues. In the wood distribution business, being keen to customers’ needs and changing behaviors allowed them to shift and adapt swiftly during the pandemic. More so, recognizing that the primary healthcare needs of the Filipino market remain largely underserved, the Group accelerated their partnership with a global healthcare brand to help meet this pressing need.

Guided by social purpose

“When the pandemic happened, we accelerated a number of things. We discarded things that are no longer applicable. It goes back to being prepared, having the right mindset, and a long-term vision. These are all part of good stewardship,” Liu said.

This also holds true for the Group’s social advocacies and philanthropic arm. As a parallel component complementing the Group’s efforts in nation-building beyond the businesses, LH Foundation quickly mobilized to assist in the creation of much needed isolation and temporary treatment facilities, swabbing centers, and in the roll-out of the national vaccination initiative alongside public-private partnerships like Bayanihan Cebu and Project Balik Buhay at the height of the pandemic in 2020, serving at the forefront of Cebu’s Covid-19 response efforts until the culmination of the vaccination initiative in March 2022.

LH Foundation, Inc. helped save lives and restore livelihoods through the Project Balik Buhay Vaccination Program, vaccinating over 130,000 employees and their dependents in Cebu.

“Long before [2007], our parents had already been supporting several causes and helped several beneficiaries, but they didn’t want people to know it was [from] them. Eventually, word got around as the family continued to support several causes and organizations.” Liu went on to explain that it was not until 2007 that LH Foundation Inc. was made official and more organized so that “we can honor their legacy by impacting more people, supporting greater causes and more importantly, ensure that the impact is encompassing and far-reaching, not just for temporary and short-term relief, but to enable and empower beneficiaries to sustain the impact beyond themselves, by impacting others, and creating meaningful changes that last for generations,” he said.

Today, LH Foundation continues to support various religious programs across different parishes and congregations in Cebu and across the country and has been instrumental in providing much needed insight, guidance, and continuing education for Philippine Bishops by supporting their annual group subscription to the Vatican journal, La Civilta Cattolica, among others.

LH Foundation, Inc. supports the continuing education for our Philippine Bishops by providing the annual group subscription to the Vatican journal, La Civilta Cattolica, among others.

As part of its Heritage advocacy, LH Foundation has assisted in the rehabilitation and construction of three Jesuit Retreat Houses across the country to aid in the spiritual formation of the priests, religious and lay community, in need of spiritual guidance and respite amid the daily struggles: the Cebu Center for Ignatian Spirituality-Jesuit Retreat House in Banawa, Cebu; Mirador Jesuit Villa Retreat House and Eco Park in Baguio City; and the Loyola Retreat House Spirituality and Art Center in Angono, Rizal. Most recently, LHFI supported the renovation of the St. Therese of the Child Jesus Chapel in San Carlos Seminary.

LH Foundation, Inc. supported the renovation of the Cebu Center for Ignatian Spirituality-Jesuit Retreat House in Banawa, Cebu City.

After all, love must be organized

In the encyclical Deus Caritas Est (God is Love), Pope Benedict VXI wrote “If it is to be an ordered service to the community, love must be organized.”

Beyond the numbers and statistics, programs and projects, are people and families, whose lives and livelihoods have been impacted in one way or another through LH Foundation Inc. and that is stewardship by example and love in action by all accounts.

Continuing the advocacy and legacy of the LH Foundation, Inc. Founders are the Liu Family’s second generation.

From left: Edmun H. Liu, Bernie H. Liu, Doris Liu-Ong, Alfredo Go and Charlie H. Liu.

The LH Paragon Group and LH Foundation Inc., through its second generation of leaders headed by Group Chairman Bernie Liu, continue to remain steadfast in honoring and upholding their Founders’ legacy by instilling and living by the values of good stewardship, God-centeredness, and building a strong foundation anchored on mutual trust and integrity and even more transcendently, being of continued and consistent service to the community, living out their social purpose through deliberate acts of love and organized service.