Levy P. Laus: Sharing Hope-A A +A
Friday, August 16, 2013
VISIONARY. Taipan. Tycoon. Corporate statesman. Public servant. Community volunteer.
Humanitarian. Action man.
These are but of few of the labels tagged to Levy P. Laus, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Laus Group of Companies, founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Pampanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc., head of the San Fernando Heritage Foundation, and the spirit behind a host of non-government organizations that has lifted Pampanga off the ground for the longest time.
Sun.Star Pampanga General Manager Jun Sula put it aptly in one of his stories on the man whose name has become a byword in the countryside, and inarguably, across the country.
“It seems each time Levy P. Laus marks his birthday, there is a new label waiting for him. I haven't been in many of the celebrations in his first three scores, but it's safe to say he has piled up quite a rich trove of honorary titles. Just to name a few, he's been called a visionary, taipan, tycoon, and corporate statesman. He even dipped his fingers in constitutional tinkering sometime in the past, for which he earned presidential honors. That, too, may be added to the long, interesting list.”
“The latest label of distinction came just as he has started his journey into the next three scores of his life. Mr. Laus looks at life in a continuum, not stages, more mindful of the future than of the past because that's where the action and challenge are, and that's where he makes a living, after all. It came from a surprise admirer: former Sen. Richard Gordon. In a letter, he defined Mr. Laus as ‘truly a great humanitarian.’ Like all other titles, Mr. Laus has truly earned this one. In the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that struck Japan, Mr. Laus made a donation to the victims through Gordon's Philippine Red Cross. I am not at liberty to make a full disclosure as to the size. But, if Gordon's liberal praise is enough indication, it was a sum that is as big as a soul that can merit such a distinguished label. It is a life-defining title, not a hand-me award for some kind of earthly success. If success precedes significance, then Mr. Laus is one of those that have definitely discovered the true meaning of success after giving up a part of it. If he pursues the path, he will be in good company. Walter Buffet and Bill Gates, not to mention, the Rockefellers, whose wealth diminished in proportion to their philanthropic and humanitarian acts.”
“The impression you get from him is, man, this isn't just about making money. I heard him say a few times that one doesn't get comfort simply to be comforted but to comfort others. That's St. Paul's admonition, and he probably heard it more than once in those birthday masses. He is also wont to say that he works hard to keep his multi- businesses open, let alone growing, because so many people depend on him. It's paternalism akin to humanitarianism. At this point in Mr. Laus' continuum, there's already a strong, solid legacy to talk about for himself, especially in his home city
where obviously his name would become part of the lore. For one thing, the epical struggle that he led to save it from lahar destruction is now immortalized in the book "Pinatubo: Triumph of the Kapampangan Spirit." Maybe it's fair to say that he, along with the others, embodies that spirit. This, too, is a praiseworthy label not unfit to wear. From being a humanitarian, what could be the next possible label?”
“Action Man,” colleagues, friends and even men on the street say, is most fitting, with Laus’ relentless involvement in community affairs, where the high regard for the lives of others is foremost on his mind. Optimism abounds in him.
In 1988, he founded PamCham’s forerunner--- the San Fernando Chamber of Commerce of Industry--- to bring people to a new level of awareness and involvement in the development of their community. The deep grounding of SFCCI in the development of San Fernando led to the changing of the organization’s personality to something as endearing as its new name conveyed: Lugud San Fernando Movement. Eventually, this grounding would be further challenged with the biggest and most daunting test ever to face the capital town since its founding nearly 250 years ago, when the devastating Mt. Pinatubo eruption in 1991, followed by the onslaught of lahar in 1995, pushed the group towards a more critical role not only in promoting business in the capital town but in protecting it from the adversities brought about by the huge calamity.
“The community must be saved from lahar devastation first before anything else,” stressed Laus. In the face of the awesome challenge, Lugud evolved into the Save San
Fernando Foundation, Inc., and the rest is unforgettable history for Kapampangans.
With Pampanga bouncing back on its feet, Laus organized PamCham in 2003 to boost countryside development.
On land, up in the air or wading in deep floodwaters, Laus and his circle of businessmen cum volunteers, acted fast and furious on impending calamities and disasters, an example of which is the Habagat of last year.
“It’s a disaster waiting to happen” was how he described the current condition of Guemasan and Cupang dikes in Arayat town, where he immediately sought for government’s help for engineering interventions to save thousands of lives and millions of pesos worth of properties.
Laus and his group jump into action each time communities are put to risk, but each time too, he looks back at every occasion with optimism and untiring resolve.
“Crises after crises, like saving San Fernando from the devastation of Mt. Pinatubo, had driven me to continually grow. These challenges allow you to shift gears and share hope with others,” he shared.
Looking back, Laus furthered, it was his sheer love for Pampanga that has driven him passionately to serve his Kabalens: “I am but a simple son of San Fernando. I was your typical ‘palengke boy’ who sold sweepstakes at the public market where my parents’ modest dry goods store was located. It was both my playground and classroom where I learned the rudiments of life. Even with the lure of better opportunities elsewhere, I chose to stay in Pampanga, starting small and overcoming challenge after challenge. Lessons were learned the hard way and I discovered success has its price.
But the daring and the passion to take risks has its rewards, too, which we now share with all. I am proud that I am from the countryside and a son of San Fernando.”
“Peace of mind is the root of happiness and contentment. I am happy with my friends, family and the community of loved ones that I have worked with or met in the past many years. I also wish them happiness and assure them that I will remain the humble servant as I am,” concluded Laus. (Jovi T. De Leon)
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on August 17, 2013.