Millennial finds calling as CEO at Cocolife

For most people, finding a career and pursuing a passion aren’t always the same thing. More often than not, it’s the mind that is focused on the career while the heart stays firmly for passion. But for a select few, the blessing is finding that special something that lights them up early in life.
Such is the case of Atty. Martin Loon, or simply Martin, president and CEO of Cocolife. As the head of the biggest Filipino-owned stock life insurance company, Martin is the man steering the ship, maintaining the company’s prominent market leadership position in the insurance industry.
In legacy industries like insurance, millennials’ presence in top leadership echelons is uncommon, but in Cocolife, the set up works and functions well. Martin sits down with The Philippine STAR and talks about the law profession, his venture into insurance, and the leadership decisions he had to make in order to help clients, employees, agents and other stakeholders realize their dreams.
Martin believes that the law is meant to be a tool to ensure that everything we do is within the bounds of justice in a world where people with many diverging interests coexist with each other. He learned this from his grandfather, a lawyer who inspired him to take the same career path. He recalls that there were two reasons he wanted to take up Law.
“First, my grandfather was a lawyer. He was a very honest man. I felt then that I could lead a respectable and decent life with this profession. Second, I’ve witnessed a lot of injustices early in my life. I’ll probably talk about it some other time. I promised myself that as a lawyer, I will always help others especially the poor and those who cannot fight for themselves,” Martin shares.
Martin is the youngest to hold the top position at Cocolife. Previously, he held the position of director. He founded his own law firm — Aquende Yebra Aniag Loon and Associates, that in 2019, was named the best new law firm in the Philippines by the Asia Business Law Journal. He also serves as confidential assistant to a respected business leader in the country. His colorful background in the field of law and business makes him one of the most promising young millennials today.
Before his stint at Cocolife, Martin became the youngest member of the Consultative Committee tasked to review the 1987 Constitution after being appointed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte. He is also an independent director of Cyberbay Corporation.
In the academe, he served as a professorial lecturer both in International Security Studies and Politics & Governance at the Ateneo de Manila University (Ateneo) and currently in Insurance Law at the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Law and in the Master of Laws program of the San Beda University School of Law.
With Georgetown University classmates
He obtained his Masters of Laws degree from Georgetown University Law Center, Washington DC. Martin studied law at the UP College of Law and earned his Juris Doctor degree. Martin was also a member of the Order of the Purple Feather (UP Law Honor Society), University Student Council and a proud member of the UP College of Law Sigma Rho Fraternity. Prior to this, he took his Bachelor of Arts Degree from Ateneo.
As the top person in management, Martin relies on his vibrant team for support. He also talks about the working relationships that help steer the ship at Cocolife.
“Having a board composed of people with deep experience, intelligence and stature was a challenge especially with some of the most respected former Justices of the Supreme Court or what we lawyers call “gods of Padre Faura” on board. But I guess when they see integrity, passion, ability to learn fast, hard work and good intentions, they appreciate that. Age never worked against me because I always treat people, young or old, with the respect they deserve. Regardless of your position in the company or in life, I treat people with importance. I consider this responsibility a mission in this chapter of my life — to help improve lives and create a positive impact in the lives of the people we serve,” Martin says.
When it comes to leadership, he admits that he is rather headstrong and follows a straightforward style. “I trust my people 100 percent. When I trust, I trust completely. Work to me is an integral part of who we are — what we give defines us. I’d rather keep giving more, and try to not count what I give, may it be time, skills, effort. By some mysterious way, all the effort come back in a very good way. At the same time, it’s good to just keep things simple, no frills, just be who you are,” Martin explains.
“I handle things head on. I never delay in addressing problems — my team knows this. If something comes to my attention at midnight, I make phone calls that very minute to try and find solutions. I don’t wait for the morning to come when a problem can be solved before daybreak. I’m also very persistent; I never give up on a problem. I try to create roads even where there are none,” he says.
Martin admits that he never expected to land a career in the insurance industry. But nonetheless, he stepped up to face the challenge of higher leadership. “No, I never expected to land here. But I go where I am called and just give my best. I will use this experience to prepare me for my next journey or assignment, but I plan to stay in the private sector for the long term” he explains.
Back when he was younger, Martin dreamed of joining government but now relishes the simpler things in life in the private sector. “I’ve always wanted to be a politician or government servant. But today, I’m happy just going 虚拟货币交home, watching Netflix with a glass of wine and sleep soundly at night with a clear conscience. These are the priceless things in life,” he says.
The youngest president of Cocolife also vows to take care of his people, especially in difficult times like today. “I treat our people like family. I make sure everyone is alright and no one is left behind. We live in an imperfect world and certain disagreements cannot be avoided but I always choose to look at the bright side of things and find the good in people. I take care of them the way I would my own family members,” Martin expresses.
Young Martin with mother, Pong Azcarraga Querubin
His definition of success is also quite different from other business leaders. “Success isn’t the size of your bank account or the paintings on your wall or the cars you drive or the properties you’ve purchased — but the lives of the people that have become better because of you. I want to see those I’ve mentored and work with reach their fullest potential and see their lives improve for the better. I just want to see the people close to me succeed and be their best selves and experience the best of life. My siblings, my students, my fraternity brothers, everyone I work with and the people I serve — I really want the best life for them. Not necessarily in terms of material things alone, but in terms of things that money cannot buy – fulfillment, happiness, peace of mind, honor, courage. If I see that in them, masaya na ako, ”Martin expresses.
Cocolife chairman Justice Bienvenido Reyes attests to the youthful leadership at Cocolife. “Young leaders like President Martin Loon have significant advantages. They exhibit boundless concepts and skills at presenting their goals. They are dynamic and have the courage to take risks. They are full of optimism about their proposals for variations. With the unrelenting progress of Cocolife, Atty. Martin Loon has proven that he is indeed a good leader. He has an open mind and takes into consideration others’ ideas and points of view. He makes good leaders as well. He initiates good example and motivates his subordinates to excel in their craft,” Justice Reyes exclaims.
At the Georgetown University Library
The former Supreme Court associate justice also shares one important advice. “My advice to him, never let the fear of making the wrong choice or decision hold you back. Seek other opinions and weigh them conscientiously. Value them no matter how minute or crucial. This is how you build trust and respect. And explore your young life as this will make you more in tune with the people who rely on you, on your leadership, and on our company,” Justice Reyes states.
Cocolife board member and Cocogen chairperson Justice Arturo Brion also shares the same admiration towards the top man in the company’s leadership. “President Martin is a company president who is very young, very energetic, very imaginative, and I would say very daring. He would go into areas where his gut feeling tells him that it would be for the good of the company, and I am seeing a lot of these things right now. And I wish he would continue what he has been doing and do more. I have always likened him, his approach to things, to the approach of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, whom I served as secretary of Labor. President Arroyo has been a very energetic president. She calls you several times day and night, she wants answers, but yet she is very patient and she is very understanding. This is the type of trait that I am seeing now in president Martin,” Justice Brion expounds.
“I know personally president Martin Loon and he’s one guy I admire. For somebody very young, President Loon is almost half my age, but in terms of wisdom, I see a lot of wisdom in what he has been doing,” Justice Brion confides.
Founded in 1978, Cocolife has seen its fair share of crises: natural calamities, political unrest, the 1997 Asian financial crisis, and the global financial crisis in the late 2000s. The company weathered all these, thanks to the core values of reliability, excellence, teamwork, integrity and empathy that have guided Cocolife for the past 42 years.
With a clear understanding of the plight of fellow Filipinos, the company — led by its youngblood president — continues to honor its commitment to its clients and partners during the darkest and most trying times, serving them with heart, mind and integrity at all times.
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  • Carrying the mark of leadership

    Monday, December 28, 2020

    Carrying the mark of leadership

    Much is expected of leaders, especially during times of crises. Cocolife President and CEO Atty. Jose Martin A. Loon had held his title for about a year before the pandemic hit, being the youngest to hold the position in the company’s history.


    He had done much to get this far, of course. He had graduated from the University of the Philippines College of Law and passed the bar examinations in 2014. He earned his Master of Laws in National Security from Georgetown University the following year, and then accepted a slew of public and private leadership roles before becoming appointed as Cocolife’s chief.



    Martin during his 2015 graduation at Georgetown University


    When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, Martin, along with all the other leaders of the world, had to bring all this skill and experience to bear. Dubbed as the biggest global challenge since World War II, COVID-19 has decimated parts of society all over the world, killing millions and putting so much more out of work. Many businesses crumbled under the weight of the pandemic, and being in the health and insurance sector did not help ease the pressure off of his shoulders.


    “From the very start, the priority has always been the safety, financial security, and peace of mind of our people in these uncertain times. We have made huge strides as a company to ensure that our clients and stakeholders will continue to have timely access to our services at a time when they need us the most,” Martin said in an interview.


    Fortunately, before the crisis, Cocolife had already begun the streamlining and digitalization of its internal processes to enable its entire workforce to continue working efficiently from 虚拟货币交home. In fact, in response to the call of government to reduce the processing time of all COVID-19 related claims, the company had successfully ensured that its hotlines remain accessible 24/7 to approve requests for medical procedures and hospital admissions.


    Additionally, working closely with the company’s established network of hospitals across the country, Cocolife has ensured that they would have enough financial resources for the procurement of new medical equipment, PPEs, and support their expanded operations.


    “Our various initiatives for our clients, employees, and the Filipino people through our donations to COVID relief efforts have enabled our company to live up to our ideals and to confidently claim that we have played our role well – that we have not shirked away from our commitment to our clients and to the Filipino people to be there for them in their time of need,” Martin said.


    “We continue to believe in the resiliency and ability of the Filipino to bounce back from seemingly insurmountable odds, in the same way we know that the choices we have made as a company has already set us on the path to recovery.”


    Even before this, Martin had been committed to enacting sweeping systemic changes to Cocolife. He spearheaded reforms within the company to institutionalize good corporate governance – emphasizing the importance of integrity, transparency, efficiency, and ethics to streamline internal processes and comply with external regulatory requirements. He also led efforts to transform the operations of the old and outdated company to be at par with global standards, recently receiving zero audit findings from its latest ISO Audit for the first time in its history.


    Martin shifted the paradigm of the employees from a day-to-day work mindset into a value system centered on service, sacrifice, and people’s welfare, aiming to inspire their workforce to believe in their capacity to serve the people and be aware of their role in nation-building as providers of life insurance.


    He had to conquer numerous challenges in his short time as Cocolife’s CEO, and this time he was facing his biggest challenge yet. Looking back, he recalls how he took inspiration from his mentors and from how his parents had raised seven children while juggling work “that made the country and its people part of their lives”.


    Martin in his early years with his mother Pong Azcarraga-Querubin


    “Being among the young CEOs in the corporate world, I find myself blessed to have mentors whose response to the pandemic has set a clear example of how the business and private sector can become a reliable partner of the government in crisis management and nation-building,” he said.


    The training he had gained from Georgetown University was also extremely valuable in that it guided him in his approach with the crisis.


    “I constantly found myself reverting to my training on ‘scenario building’ and led the management discussions to focus on analyzing and understanding the current trend in health and insurance claims, possible changes in direction of government policy, consumer behavior, and employee morale. This then enabled us to have a clear picture of possible future scenarios and to develop and identify possible pathways toward the direction and initiatives we wanted to take as a company,” he added.


    Doing so allowed Cocolife to establish and maintain well-paced operations that is poised to deliver within their expected output for 2020, overcoming the setbacks and challenges of the pandemic. All while ensuring the continued employment of all Cocolife employees with “no one left behind”. Cocolife will also provide free COVID-19 vaccine for all its employees and their families once vaccine is already available.



    The challenges are far from over. “I believe that in 2021 and perhaps even a few years after, we would feel the full impact of COVID-19 and eventually reap the consequences of the decisions that we have made to address the challenges brought about by the pandemic,” he said.


    “Life will definitely not get any easier and we need to be ready for more complex challenges that we have to face head on. This year has shown that the best-laid plans and strategies can easily be thrown out the window by black swan events – or those that no one could predict or could fully comprehend the impact. Complacency does not have a place in our time. In approaching 2021 and the coming years, it would be important for me to deal with problems immediately, while being continuing to be flexible, innovative, and daring but always remaining grounded by my core values.”


    Martin noted that he remains committed to transforming Cocolife for better in the years to come, intending to lead the company through whatever other crises looming on the horizon by sticking to their core values and helping more Filipinos.


    “Cocolife plans to further strengthen its digital servicing even better by establishing efficient customer portals for its policyholders and potential clients. We have already initiated and worked on the needed updates in our core system and we’re looking at going full speed with the technological improvements by 2021,” he shared.


    He added, “With our enhanced product development efforts, we also aim to launch more products and services that are responsive to the changing landscape and consumer needs.”


    Read the full feature on BusinessWorld here.


  • Cocolife releases “Tuloy Pa Rin Tayo” featuring Kiefer Ravena as tribute to the Filipino People

    Friday, December 18, 2020

    Cocolife releases “Tuloy Pa Rin Tayo” featuring Kiefer Ravena as tribute to the Filipino People

    Cocolife has released their latest music video, “Tuloy Pa Rin Tayo”, in time for the Christmas season. The inspirational song was composed as tribute to the hardships of the Filipino people this 2020. It features everyday Pinoys who were displaced by the recent Taal Volcano eruption, as well as those who were affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.



    In January, 2020, Taal Volcano erupted unexpectedly, leaving many Filipinos in the Calabarzon area under a state of calamity. Although casualties were low, many people were forced to evacuate from their 虚拟货币交homes. It also had a big impact on the economy.


    Amidst the panic from the natural calamity, people from all over the world started to focus on an emerging infectious disease. On January 31, 2020, the first case of COVID-19 was officially recorded in the Philippines. Since then, the whole country has been acclimating to the new normal. The pandemic has affected every facet of Filipino life.


    Throughout these hardships, Cocolife continues to serve and inspire Filipinos. They started a donation drive and formed the Taal Relief Operation Team to help those who were displaced by the eruption. The company also donated an RT-PCR machine to make mass testing more available to the people. They also organized relief operations for those who were affected by the recent Supertyphoon Ulysses.


    Cocolife’s new music video, “Tuloy Pa Rin’ Tayo”, is another effort to inspire hope in the Filipinos during this trying time. It features real people who have overcome adversity – COVID-19 survivors, breadwinners, and families who were affected by calamities. It also shows current Cocolife President, Atty. Jose Martin Loon and PBA star Kiefer Ravena in action as they distribute much-needed relief goods to the needy.


    Watch the music video here: 



    Read the full feature here. 

  • 5 adulting tips Kiefer Ravena swears by to stay on top of his game

    Friday, December 18, 2020

    5 adulting tips Kiefer Ravena swears by to stay on top of his game

    There are millennials who take adulting in a breeze, while there are some still struggling to get a grip, especially in this time of pandemic. Whichever of these two you resonate with, here’s a tip: preparation is always key.


    Take a cue from PBA star Kiefer Ravena, who plays point guard for NLEX Road Warriors and was appointed team captain of Gilas Pilipinas earlier this year. That, aside from being the brand ambassador of financial services and insurance provider Cocolife.


    Ravena keeps a good balance between his responsibilities on and off the court by doing small practices today that would gear him up for the demands of tomorrow.


    To inspire you, the 27-year-old athlete lists down pointers that would help you win the real-life game of adulting at any point in your life.


    Tip #1: Prioritize your health both for yourself and the people around you.


    Keeping fit is vital not only for your health but also for the welfare of the people you live and work with. Ravena explains, “I continue to work out, eat healthily, and stay healthy. As a professional athlete, may responsibility kami to our professional team na ready kami, nasa kundisyon kami, just in case anything comes up.”


    His workout routine includes planks, bench press, and 10-kilometer stationary bike exercise, which he does every day even during the quarantine.


    Ravena continues, “Prioritize it (health) kasi we might be at the comfort of our 虚拟货币交homes, but sometimes we forget that our health is also important. So as much as possible, we must try to work out and sweat it out. Watch our eating habits.”



    View this post on Instagram

    A post shared by Kiefer Ravena (@kieferravena15)


    Tip #2: Look after your mental health, too.


    Aside from keeping you in shape, Ravena recommends exercising regularly because it can also do wonders to your mental health and more so, turn us into capable adults.


    “Kaya sinasabi natin na kailangan ang healthy lifestyle kasi hindi lang physical health ‘yung natutulungan natin, pati mental health din,” he says. “Every time you workout and you stay healthy, your mental health comes with it, nae-excercise din ‘yan, we become mentally sharp, mentally ready, and mentally present.”


    The basketball player also recommends sticking with people who would “keep you sane,” especially amid the global crisis.


    “Talk to people, [as] it also exercises our brain. Kahit ‘yung mga random things na nare-realize natin, importante ‘yan na meron tayong mga taong natatakbuhan para maikwento ang mga bagay na ‘yan,” he notes.


    Tip #3: Find ways to grow money outside your day job.


    Chances are, you have probably spent most of your salary this quarantine in online sales and food deliveries. But who could blame you if there are just too many irresistible deals, right?


    Ravena, for one, admitted that he used to be guilty of hoarding rubber shoes. “Ang hirap pigilan kasi kapag may bagong [lumabas na] sapatos, parang mapapabili pa rin kahit binibigyan ka na ng libre. So doon ako nagi-guilty,” he reveals.


    While there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself every once in a while, a responsible adult should also learn to do away with living paycheck to paycheck.


    View this post on Instagram

    A post shared by Kiefer Ravena (@kieferravena15)


    One way of doing that is by finding ways to earn money besides your 9-to-5 job “kasi we don’t have to be stagnant, we have to evolve, and we have to do different things, hindi lang puro basketball,” Ravena says.


    To get started, the Gilas Captain suggests, “Look at the current news, talk to business people if you can. ‘Yung mga friends na may small businesses dyan, marami din tayong matutunan sa kanila. Nage-expand and nagiging wide ‘yung knowledge kung ano ‘yung mga do’s and don’t’s in terms of putting up a business. Swerte na tayo kasi everything is online, we can listen to people online, manood ng webinars para ma-increase din ‘yung network natin, marami din tayong makilalang iba’t-ibang tao.”


    Tip #4: Make small and smart investments.


    After you have beefed up your knowledge about finances, Ravena recommends making “small and smart investments.”

    “The return might not be that high initially but if you are consistent , sigurado kang may babalik sayo,” he says.


    And just like the PBA star, you don’t need to go farther than your own network in finding a good investment.


    He elaborates, “I’m involved with [sports] teams that are managed by my friends. We are trying to make an events group that could cater to different sports events. Kami ‘yung mag magma-manage. Naputol lang dahil sa pandemic so ngayon puro planning ang nangyayari.” 


    He adds, “I’m trying to be involved sa Women’s Basketball League kasi I am an avid fan of women’s basketball and I believe that it’s about time to put up a league for the women ballers para meron din silang nilu-look forward to after college, hindi lang nage-end ‘yung sports career nila sa college. We want to help, hopefully, it would work out in the future.”


    Aside from those, the PBA star would also like to pursue an investment in e-sports.




    Tip #5: Seek the advice of experts.


    Once you have decided to get into investments, Ravena recommends that you learn how to calculate your risks.


    “[Dapat] malakas din yung pigil mo kasi some investments might be enticing pero sa umpisa lang. ‘Pag dating sa dulo, mas malaki pa pala ‘yung talo mo,” he says.


    “Consult professionals and experts para matuto ka and maging sigurado talaga. Actually madali naman maglabas ng pera, wala naman problema ‘yan, pero dapat sigurado ka na may babalik sayo,” he concludes.


    To aid Ravena in achieving good returns, he consults with his trusted financial adviser Cocolife. 


    Cocolife offers FLEXI SERIES plans which are payable in five to 20 years that give you the freedom to design your plan based on your goals in life. Take your pick from various options: FLEXI-Investment helps you grow your money for major purchases, FLEXI-Education supports the education of your children, FLEXI-Retirement would take care of your funds in time for your retirement, and the FLEXI-Protection will provide you and your family with funds if you get sick or incapacitated.


    Find out which FLEXI SERIES plan suits your lifestyle here:






    Read the full feature here.