Olivia Villaflores Yanson, the Matriarch of the Yanson Group of Bus Companies, accepts an Honorary Doctorate Degree from the University of Negros Occidental–Recoletos on August 30, 2023 in Bacolod City.
“I wholeheartedly thank you for this acknowledgement and honor. Will treasure this PhD degree as a testament of my achievements and my legacy to the world. I am so honored to be Dr. Olivia Villaflores Yanson,” she said in her acceptance speech.
Giving of Honorary Doctorate Degree
Yanson was conferred with Doctor of Philosophy in Business Management (Honoris Causa) in recognition of her contribution to the world of business. She received the award from UNO-R president Rev. Fr. Joel Alve. The ceremony was attended by her children Ginnette, Leo Rey and their families as well as company executives and employees.
Fr. Alve stated that Yanson received an honorary doctorate for her invaluable contributions to the business sector. Also to her philanthropic efforts in aiding the less fortunate as part of her corporate social responsibility.
Together with his late husband Ricardo Yanson Sr., Olivia, a nurse by profession, established Vallacar Transit Inc. (VTI) in 1968 which grew to become the largest public transport company in the country operating 4,800 buses nationwide manned by 18,000 employees.
Yanson said her journey to entrepreneurship began as a nurse with a calling to serve humanity. Compassion and caring as the basic core elements of her profession. She studied nursing at Silliman University in Dumaguete City. Practiced the profession after college, before she and her husband decided to form a bus company.
“My husband, the late Ricardo Yanson and I started a transportation business in our own humble way. Dreamed that someday the business will blossom into something more. Being more profitable, serving more people who needed to be transported into places to attend to their own lives,” she said.
She said it was never easy at the beginning, as they faced hardships and challenges including financial difficulties. They persevered until the business flourished and created more jobs in the communities.
“In the course of our transportation business, there were numerous opportunities such as providing jobs to people. Witnessing the realities of life for people who helped us in our business such as our employees and their families. I have witnessed first-hand my employees’ struggles with their own lives as they continued to help us succeed in our business. I became so involved with their worries as well as their successes. Realizing that I was and I am a big part of their lives,” she said.
Being a nurse, Yanson found ways to give back to communities by sponsoring a group of physicians and surgeons from Pennsylvania in the US to come and perform surgery to the needy families with children who had cleft lip and cleft palate in the Philippines.
“That was a very rewarding mission as I saw the happy faces of children who were once withdrawn and shy because of their deformity transform into more confident children. This is God’s work and not mine. I am merely a vehicle for the Almighty God’s work here on earth,” she said.
Other Yanson’s Deeds
Yanson also helped support education by providing buildings. Especially, educational resources to schools and colleges and funding the education of underprivileged children. “I believe that through education, they will have a bright future and will be able to become better citizens of this country,” she said.
She said while the business aspect is a major role for her, the humanity aspect of it is even bigger because human lives are at stake and that is precious.
“I speak for the past and the present because I feel and I know that I am needed here in this life to serve humanity. Being a nurse, a businesswoman, a mother, a grandmother, a good friend, a relative all amount to loving and serving humanity with compassion and caring. Touching people’s lives as I am there for them in God’s will.” Said Yanson, a woman of strength, dignity and resilience who has a generous heart and who is committed to her life’s work.