A century in the Philippines
Follow the journey of one company and one country building a nation together.
In 1914, Henry Ford made his Model T on an assembly line and the first ever commercial flight took off across the Atlantic. So the world’s hunger for energy continued to grow.
In that same year, an English businessman started selling kerosene in the Philippines. Today that small enterprise has grown to become Shell, one of the largest companies in the world; and the Philippines is now one of the most dynamic nations in Asia. This film follows the journey of one company and one country, building a nation together.
In 1914, Henry Ford made his Model T on an assembly line and the first ever commercial flight took off across the Atlantic. So the world's hunger for energy continued to grow.
Title: A century in the Philippines
Duration: 10:04 minutes
In 1914, Shell arrived in the Philippines.
It's been a century of wars...
...placing the entire Philippines under martial law.
But a hundred years on, Shell has become one of the world's largest companies...
...and the Philippines one of the most exciting and dynamic nations in Asia.
Today, the Philippines is booming. With 98 million people, it is one of Asia's fastest-growing economies, and by 2050, predicted to be the world's 14th largest. But when Shell first arrived, it was a very different time.
An English businessman, Marcus Samuel, began by selling kerosene in the country. He built tankers that carried fuel from the West to ports in the East, and started naming the fleet after his father's seashell collection, a tradition that the company still carries on today.
Most of your kerosene dealers were also at the same time dealers in rice, in salt, in all sorts of commodities. So they were not exclusively petroleum dealers, and that's how the business has been in the past.
The oil industry has been an indispensable part of any kind of progress. Without oil, or without gas, you can't power the factories. You can't move people in cars or in trains, or whatever.
Cesar Buenaventura joined Shell in 1958, straight out of university.
In the early 50s, the Shell Group embarked on a policy of bringing up locals to responsible positions in the company. They made a very conscious effort to recruit what they would like to think of as the best and the brightest.
He went on to become the first Filipino chief executive officer of Shell and was eventually awarded an OBE for his distinguished service.
It's one of the highlights of my career.
When Cesar was just a child, the Second World War broke out. The Japanese bombed towns across the Philippines. Shell had a critical role, supplying fuel to the Allied Forces. Medical corps troops in finance buildings.
Before the war, we were almost completely agriculture. There was hardly any manufacturing in the Philippines, so immediately after the War, when there were opportunities to start building manufacturing facilities, Shell, in the company of Filipino shareholders built our own refinery in the early 60s.
The country became less reliant on imports for its energy. But with the 70s came political upheaval that resonated worldwide.
I find Proclamation number 1081 placing the entire Philippines under martial law.
The president, Ferdinand Marcos, presided over a long era of civil unrest. Profits for the oil industry plummeted, and many of the oil giants pulled out.
I think Shell stayed because they felt that, even under those conditions, there was a way by which you could be part of progress in the Philippines. There was potential, there was a promise in the Philippines of a future and that even this dictatorship and martial law will pass.
It took 20 years, but it did pass, bringing new opportunities for the country and the companies that had remained. In 2001, Shell developed Malampaya, its biggest project.
I always felt that there was petroleum somewhere in the Philippines. If you look at Malampaya, it's a major discovery. It wasn't an easy field to develop because it was in 1,000m of water.
Today, Malampaya provides no less than a third of the country's total energy demand, so crucial that the capital, Manila, would be in darkness without it.
Over recent decades, however, as the Philippines' population has exploded, the gap between the rich and poor has grown. Nearly 22 million people now live below the poverty line and slums in major cities are increasingly common.
Nation-building is a 24-hour, 7-day effort that has to be done by everyone.
Of course, you don't get out of poverty unless you are trained or you're educated.
An organisation called Gawad Kalinga, meaning to 'give care', is facing this challenge head on.
Tony Melato, Gawad Kalinga
[Tony Melato, Gawad Kalinga]
Thirty per cent of the people here used to be drug dealers, users and also involved in some crime.
This is the Shell training centre. Shell is seen that they go beyond social responsibility. They're actually investing in helping us build the future market.
Shell also shares their resources to build 250 homes in the first two Shell villages, and make the poor not victims, but productive citizens.
Its mission is to end poverty for 5 million families by 2024.
Gawad Kalinga is just one of many Shell social enterprises in the Philippines.
Another is the Pilipinas Shell Foundation whose biggest success story is the fight against malaria.
When we started the Malampaya, development in Palawan, we were in a place where there was a lot of malaria mosquitoes. So we said, 'Well, why don't we look at helping the population get out of this?' So we started the programme called Movement Against Malaria.
When the programme started, there were only three doctors in the whole province. They trained villagers to use microscopes and identify infected blood.
[Lady from the Movement Against Malaria programme]
When we started there were 59,000 confirmed cases and today, we are at only 8,000.
The programme was so successful, it was extended across four more provinces, eradicating malaria in thousands of households and saving untold lives.
Being part of the community also means wading in when things go wrong.
I am so grateful because we are getting some food.
And, in this, the centenary year, as a mark of recognition, the Philippine government has honoured
Shell's contribution to the country by including its famed Pecten on a special edition banknote.
To show gratitude to Manila and the Philippines, the Shell Eco-marathon was staged for the first time to celebrate the first one hundred years.
More than 100 student teams from 15 countries took on the challenge to see who could go the furthest on the least amount of fuel.
[Shell Eco-marathon student]
I was inspired by World War Two planes. We like to go with wood because it's different from the other competitors.
The ultimate energy efficiency competition brought together the smartest young minds in Asia.
The winner is from the Philippines!
[Edgar Chua, Shell]
The winner is from the Philippines!
When I see all of you here, I see that you are truly the hope of not only your respective countries,
but the hope of our world, for the future.
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