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ADVOCACY MINDANOW: Another Sy Generation

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/26 March)– I took the SM private plane back to Davao from Manila the other day with Mr. HANS SY of SM for the inaugural opening of PARK INN BY RADISSON hotel at the SM Premiere area in Lanang.

Seated across in front of me for the 2-hour flight was 25-year old HARVEY SY, one of the four children of Hans. He just finished architecture abroad. Young and articulate, I was surprised — and impressed — at his thoughts. Expecting that he would immediately be taking on a high position in the Sy business empire, I asked which position he was assigned to handle by his Dad Hans.  His answer: “I now work abroad in a small company where I should earn my spurs and gain some experience.  I’m just here for a short break.  Maybe later, when I’m ready, I may be back here but for the moment, I still have to prove myself.” He talked of how he lives abroad with some cousins just like any ordinary student having to prepare his own things, at times cook, wash and all the works. He has been there for 8 years. And still counting.

He related how his workaholic Dad raised them. “He would show us some good side of life but that was just to tempt us to work hard to get and earn it. No shortcuts.”

He described the information technology implosion as “both good and scary”.  Why scary? Because of its implications to privacy. Example? One gets so attached to a cell phone or a computer that it becomes an extension and the personification of the person; a repository of the user’s data, both personal and otherwise and the danger that it can be invaded by others. “The technology has not yet developed a foolproof mechanism of protecting itself,” he explained, referring to “hacking“. And notice how one gets uncomfortable or agog when the favorite cell phone or computer is lost, misplaced or nowhere to be found. “You seem like losing a part of you,” he added.

When will he be ready to take on an important role in the burgeoning family empire? “When I am ready. In the meantime, I’m just here to bond with my Dad whom I don’t get to see often.”

The old-fashioned values still there for the next Sy generation.


THOSE JESUITS –The new pontiff, His Holiness Pope Francis, inspires a resurgence of faith with the way he does things.

Central in this is His Holiness’ oneness with the poor and the unfortunate and underprivileged.  The usual image of the Vatican as so remote, aloof, so ceremonial and traditional, at times controversial and seemingly far removed from the ordinary mortals like you and I, is suddenly shattered.

It’s about time.


The fact that the new pope is a Jesuit or an “SJ” (Order of the Society of Jesus) must have something to do with this.

“SJs” are a breed of their own. They have been around for a long time principally to teach and mold, betting that their vision for an enlightened and critical mind in the young may pay off for the future. They are pioneering and innovative. They preach – and practice – excellence and not content with the status quo but always searching, experimenting – at times unconventional and irreverent but forthright. And with intrinsic integrity at every turn.

I had the privilege of being mentored by the Jesuits during my college days until law school at the Ateneo de Davao. Somehow, Ateneans could not get away from the unending mantra: ” be a man for others”.

Call it “brainwashing” Jesuit style. Looking back, I had no regrets being brainwashed that way!

Lawyer Jesus G. Dureza was government peace panel chair in the negotiations with the MILF under the Arroyo administration from 2001 to 2003 and was later named Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (2005 to 2008). He heads Advocacy MindaNOW Foundation, Inc. and was recently named publisher of the Davao City-based Mindanao Times. This piece is from his syndicated column, Advocacy MindaNOW).

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