A Personal Testimony by Bro Jun Saret, BCBP Bulacan, delivered during the Grand Breakfast, BCBP’s National Anniversary Celebration, April 24, 2010, in Davao.
I used to think success was only about attaining my goals and ambitions. This changed once I joined the BCBP and decided to include God and His purpose in my life.
My work in Pascual Laboratories and my relocation to Balagtas, Bulacan were big blessings to me. I met my wife Nancy there and became involved in BCBP Bulacan. Career wise, I rose from the ranks up to my current position as Vice-president for Supply Group (Supply Chain Management, Manufacturing, Product & Process Development, New Business Initiative and Herbal R&D) and Chief Innovation Officer. Additionally, I was designated as President of Leonie Agri Corporation, a plantation of medicinal herbs based in Nueva Ecija.
On my first promotion as Plant Manager, I sought out opportunities to bring Christ into my place of work. For example, we always started our meetings and company affairs with a prayer. Our Plant HR conducted “compulsory” Life in the Spirit Seminars (LSS) for new employees and values formation seminars and religious activities as part of our Human Resource Development Programs in the manufacturing plant. We cleaned up all our transactions with government agencies, suppliers and contractors; we correctly paid taxes and strictly complied with regulatory requirements.
Every day, I always prayed that the Lord would guide me to do the right things and lead me how to do it right because heading my job exposes me to many temptations that can compromise my convictions.
I cannot forget the time someone who was trying to pin us down for allegedly not paying the right real estate taxes. I shared my faith and explained to him that we practice truthful business practices and dealt with him transparently. I assured him that if we had really been remiss in paying our correct obligations then we would pay the taxes and the corresponding penalty. Still, he charged that we had not paid the new provincial real estate tax regulation. In that particular case, our municipal assessor and even the mayor intervened for us because they knew that we declared everything correctly during annual inspections. They brought me to the Provincial Board to present my case and explain how serious we were in honestly running our operations. Both parties agreed to conduct a joint audit. There, we discovered that our company – being a manufacturer of essential commodities, should have been enjoying a 50% discount in municipal tax. Thus, it came out that the government in fact owed us due to excess tax payments.
In order to live out Pascual Laboratories’ corporate value of moral uprightness, God sends people who can help us. Our Facilities Engineering supervisor even entered politics in reaction to the threats of annoying firemen. He is now a member of BCBP and the vice mayor of Balagtas, Bulacan.
God is convicting Nancy and me through scriptures that we must participate in His mission as “fishers of men”. During a one-to-one dialogue, the readings from Mathew 28:19 came strongly to us: “Go, then, to all peoples and make them my disciples… And I will be with you always”. Thus, when God brings people across our path, Nancy and I always consider that He wants to work on their lives. That’s our partnership; she invites friends, neighbors, officemates, suppliers and customers to the Breakfasts, while I talk to them about God and BCBP. Our love for God is our greatest motivation in inviting people. Nothing else we do will ever matter as much as leading people establish a deeper personal relationship with God. I feel privileged that Pascual Laboratories Inc has become the regular venue of BCBP activities in Bulacan. Also, together with BCBP brothers & sisters in our subdivision, we have initiated weekly masses and led in the construction of a chapel at Rocka Executive Village, to bring the Church into our neighborhood.
I am convinced that our life in community is part of something bigger. Col. 1:16 says, “everything got started in God and finds its purpose in Him”. When I prayed about the additional responsibilities that our top management was giving me as the president of our herbal farm subsidiary – Leonie Agri Corporation (LAC) on December 2006, in addition to my concurrently handling 6 different functions as Vice-President of Pascual Laboratories, I was complaining to God. You see, town folks called LAC’s main farm at Sta Rosa Nueva Ecija as “LUPANG ISINUMPA” because the land was very dry and unfertile. The place was far and the road going there was rough. The company also had labor problems and business was unprofitable. I prayed harder and sensed God was assuring me through the readings in 2 Chronicles 31:21 that “He is pleased to prosper those who serve the Lord with all his heart”. Being touched by God’s words, I resolved to love this additional work and the people God would bring to me. I offered to God these responsibilities and sought His guidance in implementing the principles I learned from the BCBP Businessmen’s Retreat.
My first order to our Farm manager was to attend the BCLP of BCBP Cabanatuan. Then, we conducted spiritual type team building sessions and trained our staff in the concepts of Entrepreneurship and Total Quality Management. God inspired us through Psalm 23- “the Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I want” to continue implementing organic farming methods although it seemed impractical due to our poor soil condition. So, we relied on God! In everything we did we started with prayer, dedicating our farm to the Lord and declaring Jesus as our ultimate boss.
Little by little we saw the transformation that no human effort could possibly do. We were able to convert our farmers cooperative into self-directed business teams that gave our management staff more time in developing new systems. We applied an integrated organic agriculture system. In between rows of Lagundi and Sambong herbs, we raised vegetables and livestock. This practice enabled us to go beyond our regular business mandate; we were able to promote biodiversity and offer healthier food to people as well.
As I sensed during a prayer time, I suggested naming the farthest end of the farm as Isaiah 43:19. It reads, “I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland…to give to my people so that they may praise me, says the Lord.” After doing that, we were able to afford renting a bulldozer to clean up the hard to reach arid areas. There we discovered several ugly trees lined up near our perimeter fence. A visitor told us those were Bangkal trees with deep roots that sip water underground. Hence, to address the lack of water, our employees dug and interconnected the ponds expanded coming from those Bangkal Trees, which became almost a kilometer long man-made stream. We called the opposite end of the stream where the last Bangkal tree is located as ‘Salmo Uno’. Today, the nearby river outside has dried up due to El Nino but the water level of our stream has been maintained. We use it for irrigation.
Our employees are continuously beautifying unpleasant places of the farm. They inscribed bible verses on rocks and wood planks, which eventually became names of roadways and rest areas thus overtly proclaiming God’s words. For example, we named the major road as Beatitudes. Our people have already memorized the verses because they read them as they pass by. Many visitors are touched by the biblical passages and how these are presented at finely landscaped areas.
By relying on God’s promises and using organic farming methods, the barren land has become fertile and now is 10 times more productive than its 2007 level. Thus, our business became profitable (Return on Total Assets in 2009 was 159%). More importantly, LAC was able to meet the fast growing orders of Pascual Lab, thereby supporting the high growth of its natural medicine products – Ascof and Releaf. We have also implemented a “Be a Blessing Today” program, which has boosted creativity and the commitment of our people. Moreover, because we are paying correct taxes and contributing to the progress of the barangay, the local government is fully supportive of us.
Praise God, the farm’s culture has been transformed into a God-centered enterprise. Every Monday, our people start their work by reciting a communal prayer and the company’s mission/vision/values, which are displayed side by side at the entrance of the office. With God’s help, the once upon a time discontented laborers are happily working to convert this cursed land into a land flowing with blessings. As a result, the Department of Agriculture bestowed us a National Award as “Best in Organic Farming Initiative” in 2008 and a certification for “Good Agricultural Practices” in 2009. We were also nominated to the Asian Corporate Foundations’ Corporate Social Responsibility contest last year for sharing our environment friendly methods and giving livelihood to small farmers and indigenous tribes. LAC has been featured in newspapers and television with high emphasis on its Godly ways of conducting business aside its pioneering works in herbal medicine and sustainable environment and pro-poor programs.
Bros and sisters, I believe God wants us to experience the TRUTH of His WORD and be His agents of righteousness in our places of influence. I am convinced that being God’s witness is not an option or something I must try to do over time. It is an obligation, mandatory for me because I say I am a Christian. I know that at the end of time, God will ask what I did with the gifts and talents, which He entrusted to me. He won’t care about my positions. God will even look beyond my godly habits, moral lifestyle and church involvements. He will search into my heart. What a joy it will be to hear Him say: “WELL DONE, GOOD & FAITHFUL SERVANT…COME SHARE YOUR MASTER’S HAPPINESS”.