Your Company traces a long and colorful history. Almost 40 years ago, your highly renowned and well-respected founder, Ambassador Antonio L. Cabangon Chua, whom I greatly admire, had the vision to organize a company that sought to develop and maintain first-class memorial parks in key provinces. Now, four decades later, the company has branches in 10 locations: Caloocan City, Dagupan City, Binan City, Balagtas in Batangas City, Lipa City, Naga City, Cabanatuan City, Santa Rosa City, Concepcion in Batangas City and Cagayan de Oro City. And with men and women like you and with Chairman Edgard at the helm, there can be no doubt that Eternal Gardens will continue to expand and scale greater heights.
Over the years, the Company had undergone a lot of changes in keeping with the times. Just like any other organization, it had its highs and its lows. There were many significant achievements but also some disappointing setbacks. Developments in the industry and advances in technology have caused adjustments to be made in the direction and activities of the organization. Notwithstanding all these changes, however, the Company has remained anchored on the original vision and values espoused by its founder, Ambassador Cabangon Chua, which is to provide its clientele the best memorial parks and services while maintaining the highest standards of professionalism, integrity and business ethics in all its dealings with the community.
Your pioneering efforts and advocacy in pre-need memorial planning have benefitted many of your clientele who purchased memorial properties even before there was a need for them. This has helped them prepare in advance and protect their families from future financial concerns and anxieties brought about by the untimely demise of family members and loved ones.
Truly, Eternal Gardens has gone a long way from its simple and humble beginnings. Currently, the Company has around 30 agency managers, 70 unit managers and 200 counselors. Tonight, we gather to honor the cream of the crop from among them. We recognize the valiant efforts, strong commitment, deep loyalty and hard work demonstrated by all of them.
You could not have chosen a more appropriate theme for tonight’s Grand Annual Awards than “Our Pillars of Success”. Indeed, the men and women we honor tonight are the pillars of success of the Company. They are the pillars on which the company has anchored its programs as it continues to build on success after success.
An event such as tonight’s provides, not only the awardees but all of us, a very good opportunity to reflect on the many blessings we have received from God and how much we have to be grateful for. This occasion is as good a time as any to think on how we can share these blessings as good stewards of everything that God has given us.
In the Parable of the Talents, we saw how our Lord Jesus Christ showed us that we are all stewards of God’s blessings and that if He gave us more blessings than others, God expects us to share these blessings with the less privileged. We are all called to share what we have received. We should not bury our treasures and keep them for ourselves. Rather, we should use them not only for our own personal needs and wants but, more importantly, to help those who are in need. Drawing from this parable, we hear loud and clear the exhortation that: “To whom much is given, much more is expected from.”
I am sure that all of you, in your own respective ways, have used and continue to use your time, talent and treasure in the service of God and fellowman.
In closing, please allow me to share with you a very important lesson I learned early in life. God allows us to excel in certain aspects of our lives for a reason. The awardees we have tonight have been blessed with the opportunity to accomplish many of the things that others merely dream of. They have been set apart from their peers because of the hard work they have put in and the dedication they have committed to their work. This success, however, carries with it a price and a calling. Our success does not entitle us to be just leaders. Rather, we are called to be “servant leaders”. No matter who we are and what we have achieved, we are all called to be servant-leaders in our families, communities, parishes, schools, places of work and recreation, and in places where we touch other people’s lives. And this is what I have learned about servant-leadership.
I have learned that in order to lead, one must serve. Leadership is no longer about being on top of the heap, barking out orders, cracking the whip and making others follow your commands.Leadership is about standing side by side with your fellow members, walking the same journey towards the same goal, working together to achieve the same objectives, jointly performing the tasks at hand and relishing together the victorious feeling of realizing your dreams together.
The leader must give more than he takes, must offer more than he receives and must serve more than being served. It is no longer enough to be a leader. One must be a “servant-leader” to be a leader in the true sense of the word. Being a servant-leader means putting others before one’s self. Chapter 19 of the gospel of Matthew is very clear, “Many who are now first will be the last, and many who are now last will be first.”
A servant-leader is one who leads by example and is willing to do more even if it means giving up his privileges and comfort. The only thing that sets the true leader apart from the rest of the team is that the leader works harder, comes earlier, stays longer, does more, complains less, walks the extra mile, takes full responsibility and serves the most. He does not enunciate what others must do. He does it first. If he says everybody should start early, he is there first. If he says the job must be done, he stays until it is done. If he says this is not good enough, he does it all over again. He is always ahead of his team or with his team, never staying back to let others do the work. A servant-leader shows integrity. He does not cheat his team members out of their just rewards. He gives everyone his due.
A servant leader shows competence and always gives his best. The servant-leader studies what must be done, lays out the appropriate plan and executes the same with his team. A servant-leader shows dedication. He infects his teammates with his enthusiasm and motivates them to move on in the direction of their goal. A servant-leader shows perseverance. He does not give up in the face of difficulties. He shows his teammates that no matter how big the obstacles along the way, the goal can be achieved if everybody works together as a team to attain their common goal. A servant-leader does not have to do great things. He just needs to do ordinary things extraordinarily well.
A servant-leader is sure to leave a legacy. He does not have to consciously plan it. His life of leadership by example already assures that he will be remembered long after he is gone, in the same way that Ambassador Cabangon Chua is honored and remembered. His reputation and image will continue to live beyond his mortal life. His very own life will be the testament and the monument by which he will be remembered. He will be loved not only by his followers and teammates but by his opponents and critics as well.
I cannot think of a perfect example of a true servant-leader other than our Lord Jesus Christ. He was not born of nobility, he was born to a carpenter and an ordinary maiden; he was not born in a magnificent palace amidst royalty, he was born in a manger amidst animals and ordinary shepherds; he was not educated by philosophers and learned men, he learned his values from his simple parents; he did not grow up in the splendor of the court being pampered by courtiers, he grew up in simple surroundings learning the trade of his father-carpenter; when he became a man, he did not ride into battle at the head of his army, he went from village to village with his small band of disciples preaching the good news, curing the sick and helping the needy; he did not come into this world to be served, he came to serve; and at the end of his life, he made the ultimate sacrifice of serving others by giving up His own life to redeem us. May we all learn from the example of our Lord how to become true servant –leaders.
Atty. Antonio M. Bernardo
Ambassador Tony Cabangon, chairman emeritus and founder; Mr. Edgard Cabangon, chairman and CEO; Mr. Rodrin, president; and Mr. Benjie Ramos, vice chairman of Eternal Gardens, officials, staff and sales producers of Eternal Gardens, ladies and gentlemen, good evening.
We are gathered here today to celebrate the Grand Annual Awards Night honoring your company’s Most Outstanding Sales Producers. Thank you very much for inviting me to share this memorable occasion with you.
The memorial industry is an essential component of society because passing away is an inescapable fact of human life. We may seek to delay death through healthy eating and exercise and medical treatments, but it is inevitable and comes to everyone. With death come grief, loss, and the emotional suffering of those left behind. Being prepared for this difficult time will somewhat ease the burden and this is where you come in, the sales producers of Eternal Gardens.
As of 2010, according to the annual survey of Philippine business and industry, the revenues of the memorial industry reached nearly 3 billion, with about 700 companies handling nearly half a million consumers each year. Eternal Gardens, an industry leader for almost 40 years, helped shape the preneed mindset in this regard, to make sure that loved ones are prepared for this occurrence.
Thus, you, the sales producers, of Eternal Gardens, have an important job because you provide peace of mind to your clients and assurance that their needs would be well met. As you offer the services of your 10 memorial parks in Baesa, Dagupan, Binan, Lipa, Naga, Cabanatuan, Santa Rosa, Cagayan de Oro, and Barangays Balagtas and Concepcion in Batangas, to our kababayan, you have proved yourself to be united, unmatched, unstoppable.
In all that you do, I’m sure that you infuse compassion and caring for your clients. Your job is not easy. Sometimes you have to deal with emotional clients. You have to take into account their various religious belief and cultural conditions, and guide through all the steps those who have never had this experience before.
Similarly, we at PCSO deliver services to our kababayan who are upset or distraught because of their or their loved one’s ill health. Our social workers practice compassion and caring everyday as our agency annually dispenses over 4 billion in medical and health care related assistance nationwide.
As we in government fulfil our mission to care for our fellow Filipinos, so do you in the private sector. The sales producers of Eternal Gardens pursue your own mission. Ask yourself, what is your mission, exactly? Is it to increase your sales? That is only part of it. The truth is that an integral part of what you do is to practice compassion and caring to provide peace of mind in the sense of being prepared for the inevitable fact of life and to give solace and comfort during sorrowful times.
You provide a valuable service to your fellowmen. And I’m sure that as you look forward to the years ahead, as you set your goals and targets, you will all be united, unmatched, and unstoppable in bringing to your work a heart of service and love for others.
Congratulations to the most outstanding sales producers honored tonight and good evening to all of you. Maraming salamat po.
*transcribed from a recording of the actual speechAtty. Jose Ferdinand "Joy" M. Rojas II
First of all, it is a real honor to have been invited to grace your occasion. This is the first time that I am meeting Ambassador Cabangon Chua and his family, but I have heard so much about you, ambassador, from my husband. He only had kind words about you. So when I met the Cabangon-Chua family downstairs, I decided to do away with my prepared speech tonight. I know that I am expected to keynote your affair, but I think, as our chairman said, we really feel a special bond with Eternal Gardens, not only because it is the final resting place of my husband, but because we have really been treated as family by the Eternal Gardens family.
Hindi po naririnig ng mga taga-Naga, pero kanina ko pa kayo bini-buildup sa mga boss. Ang sabi ko sa inyong mga boss, talagang walang tatalo sa serbisyo n’yo. Sabi ko, spoiled na spoiled kami sa Eternal Gardens family. But you know, I still remember, shortly before my husband died, I do not know if it was a year before or several months before, he was telling me that he wanted to buy a family estate. He and his siblings would want to buy a family estate for his parents. Kontrang-kontra po ako. Para sa akin, may term diyan yung taga-Naga. Ang term po namin diyan, “palisok.” Parang pinapangunahan mo. Kontrang-kontra ako, and, in all the 25 years that I was married to my husband, lahat naman ng sinasabi kong hindi, sinusunod niya. But this was the first “hindi” na hindi niya sinunod. Bumili parin po silang magkakapatid nung family estate. And, you know, given the privilege of hindsight, I think it was the most practical thing that they did. Kasi nung namatay yung asawa ko, parang it was only then that you realize how important investing for these things really is.
Hindi na rin po linggid sa kaalaman ng marami na, the plane crash that took my husband’s life away was really very unexpected. My husband was only 54, we just celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. He was the center of our family. He was the center of our lives. He was the center of my children’s lives. And for us, for the longest time that we were together, he seemed invincible. Parang walang mangyayaring masama sa kanya. But you know God has strange plans for us. And it is only faith that will strengthen us. We have been blessed with the kind of faith that did not question at all.
Ang namamatayan po mahirap talaga. Palagay ko lahat naman tayo namatayan na, whether the death was unexpected or whether it was expected, mahirap pa din because death is very final. So I do not think I could describe what kind of grief my family felt when the plane crash happened. Talagang mahirap. We were never prepared for it. Hindi nga siya kasama dun sa mga kinatatakutan mo na in the future. Tayo po may mga (kinatatakutan), di ba? Natatakot tayong magkasakit. Natatakot tayong eventually mamatay. Parang kami, ang layo-layo pa namin noon. So it wasn’t really in the short range of our, of the things we have been preparing for, but it happened. And that was when you start being grateful for people around you. It is when you start appreciating the many things that you have not appreciated before.
Nung itinayo yung Eternal Gardens, naalaala ko, it was very welcome because we felt that it was time that we have another memorial garden. Maganda yung pagkagawa. I think your branding is excellent. Yung inyong (Transfiguration), ano talaga yon, it was beyond brilliant to have thought of that. So nung nagkaroon syempre, mayor pa noon yung asawa ko, masaya kaming lahat. But you never really truly appreciate the value of having Eternal Gardens in the city until my husband died.
Nung namatay po yung asawa ko, ang term ko sa sarili ko, I was catatonic. Parang I was just breezing through the days that went on. Una nawawala siya, masyadong maraming tao. Sunod nahanap na siya after three days, ang dami-daming tao. People from Naga knew that I was never active in my husband’s work on politics. I was a very hands-on mother to my three girls. I was a practicing lawyer but I was never really involved in his work except during elections when I would take a leave from work and help him. So nung nangyari yung nangyari, bago sa akin lahat. Bago sa akin yung ako yung haharap sa tao. Bago sa akin yung maraming malalaking tao na pumupunta. Bago sa akin lahat. Masyadong malaki yung papel na ginampanan ni ambassador saka yung kaniyang pamilya, saka yung Eternal Gardens. When it comes to helping the family deal with grief, because of your help sir, we did not anymore enjoy the privilege of thinking of the more mundane things, like looking for a memorial plot, you know, preparing for the funeral, etc. Masyadong maraming nangyari.
I remember, the day that my husband’s body was found, the president went to Naga. The president went to Naga and was offering to have the body of Jesse buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. ‘Yung sa akin po, ano yun eh, parang it was not really an option for us. Jesse was a Nagueño through and through. It would have been a privilege. ‘Di ba meron ngang nagpupumilit pang malibing sa Libingan ng mga Bayani? But knowing my husband, he wouldn’t have wanted it. So sinabi po namin sa president na salamat sa offer, pero palagay namin gusto ng asawa ko na dito sa Naga. And you know, it seemed that everything just fell into place.
Kung nakita nyo po yung, ambassador have you ever been there po? Kung nasaan po yung libingan ng asawa ko ngayon, kasi parang napaka strategic. Actually yung libingan po ng asawa ko, katabing-katabi nung binili nilang magkakapatid for their parents. Pero pag tinignan mo po siya nasa center sya ng image ni…kahilera nya po, directly kahilera niya yung image ni Virgin of Peñafrancia saka ni Sto. Niño on the right and on the left is the Basilica. So parang ano eh, parang everything just fell into place and we really appreciate how the Eternal Gardens family took care of our family when we needed help the most. Talagang wala po kaming inasikaso noon. Wala kaming inasikaso…ayun Richard (branch manager). Bini-buildup kita sa boss mo. Talaga pong si Richard saka yung kaniyang staff, saka yung mga sales people sa Naga. Lahat po sila tulung-tulong, na talagang pinagaan yung aming burden. And I think an occasion such as this is really fitting to, not only to recognize, but to give thanks to people like you, who I think is the very core of what Eternal Gardens is all about. Siyempre nagpapasalamat tayo sa mga may-ari, pero palagay ko po kung wala kayo, wala rin yung Eternal Gardens.
Alam nyo po yung asawa ko ang kuripot eh. Alam yan lahat ng mga taga-Naga. Pero sa husay ng mga sales people ng, ikaw ba Alice (general sales agency manager) ‘yon? Sa husay ng sales pitch ni Alice, nakumbinsi yung asawa kong bumili. At mabuti nalang na ganun sya kahusay, at mabuti nalang na nakumbinsi yung asawa ko, kasi sabi ko nga, with the benefit of hindsight, that was one of the best decisions that he made.
Ang problema lang po, I lost three important people in my life, one after the other. After Jesse died, kabababang-luksa ko lang, I went to Canada for a speaking engagement, paglabas ko lang po ng eroplano galing Pilipinas, I was met with the news that my father died. Yun na. Si Richard ulit yung nag-asikaso. Tinawagan lang si Richard, Richard pwede bang, bakante pa ba yung katabi ni Jesse? Pwede bang, parang nakalaan na nga yun para sa iba, ano lang, brinaso lang naming si Richard na ibenta sa amin para magkakatabi na yung lote. Yung katabi po ni Jesse sa parents ko na din. Dun po nilibing yung daddy ko. My dad died a year and two months after Jesse died. And two months after my dad died, the mom of Jesse also died, on New Year’s Day. Kaya New Year’s Day po walang bakasyon sila, at hinalughog nanaman namin yung Eternal Gardens Naga kasi namatay nanaman nga yung mother-in-law ko.
So I think from somebody who not only lost an important person, but for somebody who lost three important persons in a row, I can fully appreciate what you do to the rest of the country. And we are proud of you. We thank you, we want to take this opportunity to tell you that we do appreciate the role that you play in our lives, and in the lives of so many people who lose loved ones. We also would want to thank the Cabangon Chua family for being very valuable, ayoko pong sabihing negosyante eh, kasi parang hindi naman kayo yung negosyante in the real sense of the word, but for being very valuable citizens, who not only make our business environment very exciting but who are meaningful contributors to the progress of our country. So congratulations to everyone. Maraming salamat po sa pag-imbita.
*transcribed from a recording of the actual speechHon. Leni G. Robredo
Eternal Gardens is the best memorial park in this side of the country.Naga City Mayor John G. Bongat
What I like about memorial parks like Eternal Gardens is that, they are not only beautiful but also provide an environment for prayers, rest, and tranquillity.Most Rev. Rolando Tria Tirona, O.C.D., D.D., Archbishop of Caceres
The park is very beautiful, clean and most of all, secure.Germogenes Correo, Jr., whose daughter is interred at Eternal Gardens, Naga
We find Eternal Gardens so beautiful and very peaceful, which makes it conducive for family gatherings in remembrance of our dear Calvin.Zenaida V. Chua, whose son is interred at Eternal Gardens, Dagupan