The SOPI History
Mr. Otto Kohlmoos, vice president for engineering and construction of San Miguel Corporation was authorized by Don Andres Soriano to head the committee and in a meeting held at the SMC’s POLO plant on October 20, 1959 attended by the civic minded and prominent figures in the field of safety from government and private sectors, the Safety Organization of the Philippines Inc. (SOPI) was born. After several meetings, the civic, non-profit, non-political and non-sectarian organization was registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission and incorporated on November 19, 1959. San Miguel Corporation was the first and principal incorporator. Its By-Laws were patterned after the National Safety Council of the United States of America and has for one of the objectives, the passage of a charter nationalizing the SOPI.
The incorporators were Bernardino Bantiqui, Henry Brimo, Aurelia A. Castro, Cipriano D Cid, David M. Consunji, Luis A. Flores, Daniel M. Gomez, Mariano C. Icasiano, Juan T. Ilagan, Karl Otto Kohlmoos, Benito F. Legarda and Ruben Santos. The rest were Vicente Ramas, Frank C. Abano, Sergio Mendoza, Jose D. Regala, Gregorio S. Imperial Jr., German Bautista, Esteban Portacio, Valente Delos Reyes and Antonio Patricio.
SOPI’s objectives of saving lives and conserving properties through accident prevention, gathering and disseminating information and educational materials on safety, promoting and generating interest in safety as a discipline and making safety a way of life increased the awareness on safety not only in industry, but also in homes, schools, on the road, in the air at sea.
The first election of officers and members of the Board took place in January 1960. The Board composed of members who are responsible for the general policies and programs of the SOPI with an executive committee serving as the overall coordinator. The SOPI staff is headed by the executive director; he is concern with the operation of the national office.
Elected to the Board were men of integrity who accepted serving SOPI without compensation and at sacrifice, since often than not, they had to spent their own funds to help propagate the cause of safety. In its initial period of operation, the SOPI officials have been able to push through various projects despite of financial constraints, under the able leadership of Mr. Otto Kohlmoos. In 1962, it was able to add four new institutional and 12 additional individual members to its increasing roster of members, while the technical staff conducted 12 general safety appraisals in the premises of 12 member institutions in addition to safety training classes. Other activities included publication and distribution of SOPI’s Newsletter (first published in June 1962) and the presentation of awards to different industrial establishments for fine safety records.
Ever since SOPI’s inception the San Miguel Corporation has provided considerable finances and leadership in the promotion of safety in the country through SOPI. The country’s safety movement annual record such SMC’s executives as: Mr. Kohlmoos, Eng’r Luis A. Flores, Eng’r Valente delos Reyes, Eng;r Manuel M. Monserrat, Eng’r Claudio D. Hidalgo and Eng’r Dominador Policarpio Jr.,who assumed responsibilities and dedicated leadership in the Board shaping the SOPI to what it is today. In fact we doubt if the SOPI would have reached its renowned position it has acquired where if not for the firm belief in safety of one man- Don. Andres Soriano.
As mentioned above, SOPI started with the Secretary’s Office of San Miguel Corporation. Then it occupied a table space at the headquarters of the Philippine Association of Mechanical and Electrical Engineers, before it moved to the Guido-Ver building in España in front of UST. In the SOPI’s early years of operations it was housed at 112 JP Laurel St., San Miguel, Manila and at room 203, Valson Building, Intramuros, Manila.
For many years, it maintained its office at the Guido-Ver Building, until Goldilocks bought the building. The new owners drove out all its tenants, so SOPI was housed temporarily at Alta compound South Superhighway.
Ever since its organization, SOPI had been working hard to obtain by donation a piece of land in which to erect its own building. In 1963, The City of Manila donated a two hectare land in the corner of Dakota and Vito Cruz right were the Harrison plaza and Century Park Sheraton Hotel are located. A groundbreaking ceremony was held with all the government officials, guests and members attended the activity. The 1964 set of officers did not pursue the plan to construct the building and a safety town in that lot due to financial constraints, so the city government recalled the land. As all the vacant lots in the whole Metro Manila are earmarked for government installation, it is now difficult for civic organizations to secure lot by donation.
The 1980 SOPI Board of Directors initiated and passed the resolution to purchase a 558 sq m. lot located at Cordillera Street at the heart of the Municipality of Mandaluyong. In 1981, the incumbent set of officers purchased the said lot that was owned by Eulogio Rodriguez. The funds came from donations of private individuals, industrial and commercial companies.
The Board organized a fund raising committee chaired by the then Hon. Jesus Hipolito to solicit from among the members and various sectors involved in the field of safety voluntary contributions in cash or building materials. Many who believed in SOPI’s cause contributed in kind, like cements window glasses, electrical wirings, toilet facilities and others. The building’s construction could truly be called a labor of love-love for safety.
On October 17, 1981, the ground breaking and cornerstone laying ceremony was held. On the same year, construction was started. On March 31, 1982, the building was ready for occupancy. It is certainly to the credit of Mr. Cardenas’ group that SOPI was able to purchase the lot.
And so on the 25th year of existence the organization acquired its building and facilities costing over a million pesos. The facilities include a conference/seminar room, the secretariat office and theParking area. It was inaugurated on July 23, 1983, Saturday 4 PM on time for the celebration of its Silver anniversary.
The SOPI Building is a monument to the dreams of all safety professionals, civic minded persons both in government and private sectors who have at the heart the prevention of accidents and other causes of losses to make our country a pleasant progressive and safe place to live in.
In 1961, Col. Jose D. Regala joined the SOPI. A military man who manifested keen interest in the promotion and propagation of the safety movement. In between his hectic schedules, he has managed to participate actively in the activities and meetings of SOPI, which he helped, organized in 1959. He was elected as the organization’s president in 1965, but his term was cut shortly by his appointment as a military attaché in London, a position he held from 1968-1970. On his return from a three-year stint in Great Britain, Col. Regala decided to end a colorful military career that spanned over 30 years.
Col. Regala made these assessments in his message published in the Safety Advocate, commemorating its Silver Anniversary in 1984: “ With media’s help, we educated the general public on safety. Through our seminars on Occupational Safety and Health and Loss Control, we have contributed much to increase in number the competence of safety practitioners who implement the laws on safety and health. The International Loss Control Institute has indeed given SOPI a great opportunity and privilege being recognized by the ILCI as the sole agency on Loss Control and International Safety Ratings System”.
Prior to his untimely death, on February 28, 1986, Col. Jose D. Regala was the president for 15 consecutive years. He lived the basic values of honesty, patience and hard work for the cause of safety and accident prevention in the Philippines. Other Presidents who dedicated their knowledge and life in serving SOPI were, Ruben F. Santos, Alfredo B. Zamora, Luis A. Flores, Juan T. Ilagan, Oscar O. Yu, and the past president Geruncio H. Ilagan.
As a tribute to the man who has given much of himself spreading the gospel of safety the 1986 officers unanimously approved a resolution renaming the SOPI building to Jose D. Regala Memorial Building.
The turning point on the safety movement in the Philippines came on November 17, 1966 when President Ferdinand E. Marcos, noting the undisputable evidence of a consideration rise in accidents, issued Proclamation No.115-A declaring the year 1967 and every year thereafter as Safety and Accident Prevention Year and each month of the year to be devoted to a particular aspect of safety and accident prevention in our various fields.
The Department of Labor was tasked to organize and coordinate activities in the connection with this proclamation. The then Labor Secretary Emilio Espinosa Jr. in turn appointed SOPI as the National Executive Committee to carry out the proclamation. Since then, the SOPI has been mustering all the resources it can and orchestrating the efforts and activities of the government agencies and officials, private industrial, commercial and agricultural enterprises, concerned citizens and civic organizations in carrying out the month to month observance of safety in the country.
In just almost three decades, the SOPI under the able leadership of its officers and the untiring commitment of its members, had attained the fulfillment of our people’s longing for truly civic and non profit organization conceived as expressed in the Presidential Proclamation No. 115-A, as the unifying and sole implementing arm of the National Safety Movement. In the pursuit of its noble mission of saving lives and conserving property through accident prevention, SOPI has gained recognition not only locally but also in many other countries.
In the provision in the Labor Code of the Philippines, PD No. 442 as amended and implemented in the Occupational Safety and Health Standards, SOPI has been accredited by the BWC to conduct safety training programs to increase the supply and improve the competence of personal qualified to practice Occupational Safety and Health.
SOPI has reached out far and wide through the various information dissemination, media publication, seminars, workshops, awards, trainings, speeches, etc. keeping the people aware of safety in all aspects of life.
In 1984 Five Star International Program was been offered for the first time in the Philippines, outside the US and Europe, enhancing safety professionals to qualify as a safety consultant for a certificate of accreditation by the BWC.
For the four decades of corporate existence the SOPI has undertaken various activities to ensure the accomplishment of its objectives. Efforts are concentrated on education and training. A Safety Training Institute, planned and designed to help attain most of its objectives particularly that of arousing safety consciousness by disseminating information and educational materials on safety through training courses, seminars and symposia, were established. It is manned by a number of professionals with the actual field experiences concentrated on safety. This assembly of technical experts brings about interplay of rich and current ideas, techniques and approaches to safety management.
SOPI underscores strongly the necessity of education and training in any safety effort. Safety education deals primarily with the developing and broadening one’s knowledge and understanding of accident prevention and conservation of resources.
Annual conventions are held by the major safety divisions such as fire, road safety, sea safety, farm safety and industrial safety to address current issues and problems, which are the concern and interest to safety practitioners. These conventions usually produce a number of resolutions, which are in turn endorsed by SOPI to the agencies concerned for the appropriate actions. SOPI continues to monitor actions taken on these resolutions, and the results are reported in the next conventions.
A regular feature of the annual work program of SOPI is the safety inspections and survey rendered free to institutional members by a pool of safety inspectors. Safety films are shown and safety pointers suggestions or recommendations are discussed during these inspections.
Other activities that are continuously undertaken are: Conduct safety slogan and poster contest; sponsorship of competitions such as Industrial/ Commercial Fire Brigade Team Competitions, Barangay Fire Brigade Team Competition and First Aid Team Competition.
SOPI has institutionalized the individual safety award system. Yearly, a number of companies received the award for outstanding achievement in safety. Safety awards are likewise given to institutions and individuals for their outstanding accomplishments in the field of safety and accident prevention.
In pursuit of its major role in the dissemination of information SOPI published the “ Safety Newsletter” of information (bimonthly). Safety posters, bulletins, circular and memoranda are periodically issued. The SOPI library maintains inventory of safety films, slides, devices, books, periodicals, magazines and other reference materials for the use of its members.
To develop interest and encourage participation of the youth in health and safety undertakings, SOPI offers its facilities and expertise to schools, both public and private, in the organization of school safety council, fire brigade, safety patrol and junior traffic aids.
In September 29 and 30 1985, SOPI represented the Philippines in a meeting held in Singapore. The meeting was attended by 6 organizations from Australia, India, Philippines, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore with the objective of a forum for mutual cooperation for the improvement of safety and health in the region and the APOSHO was born. Asia Pacific Occupational Safety and Health Organization originally known as Asia Pacific NSC Coordinating Committee has grown from its 6 founding countries to 24 as of year 2000.
The World Safety Organization (WSO) was founded in 1975 as a result of an international conference organized by the SOPI in Manila. Over 1000 delegates of this international conference agreed on the need for a worldwide exchange of information, programs, research and methods in areas of safety environment and associated fields. WSO operation was moved to the WSO World Management Center in 1989 and only a WSO chapter remains in the Philippines, continues in making safety a way of life worldwide.
In addition to its regular activities SOPI participates in the special activity such as coordination with the Bureau of Working Conditions on Occupational Safety and Health Standards; with establishment of vehicle safety inspection stations and Bureau of fire protection among others. And in the year 1991, the Philippine Society of Safety Engineers (PSSE) was organized. This organization was composed of safety practitioners in their different fields and acts as the technical arm of SOPI.
The SOPI needs to sustain its influence and maintain impact on the national safety movement by keeping abreast with steady and significant growth of safety management. Now, as never before in the history of industrial age, management faces an overwhelming complex situation on its effort to prevent and control occupational injury and illness, property damage, including fire and explosion, security breaches, pollution and product liability. This complexity has come about because of advances in technology, the increasing role of government and government agencies, increasing awareness on the part of individuals and communities of human rights, occupational health problems, environmental problems and the economic constraints of the past few years. This complex environment is here to stay thus, it is imperative that management understand and accept its role in making the workplace as safe and healthy as possible as well as preventing and controlling all other associated losses.
The safety information drive shall be directed gradually towards the small and medium sized enterprises, many of which are operating below prescribed safety standards of work. It is hoped that a greater number of these establishments will recognize the integrated nature of safety quality, productivity and cost control; that the human and economic aspects of safety need not be in opposition; that safety, like quality production, must be cost effective.
The organization of SOPI Chapters nationwide and Safety Councils in every municipality and cities through out the country is another major plan of SOPI. Their creation is aimed to arouse awareness among the people up to the grassroots level. Now SOPI has 16 chapters nationwide, including the newly organized chapter in Cavite.
Other plans such as the setting up of research and statistical unit of monitor loss control data and laboratory testing facilities to evaluate safety devices and equipment will be pursued as soon as the funds are available. The present limited resources of the organization are just enough to sustain its on going activities.
SOPI look forward to greater activities in the coming years. With the untiring and unselfish support of our members and friends and the proven efforts of our officers, safety divisions, special committees and SOPI chapters who are responsible for the success of the organization throughout four decades of service, we face the future with greater hope of success to make this country of ours a safe, peaceful and prosperous place to live in.