Asia Symbol Pulp & Paper Co., Ltd., doing business in Shandong and Guangdong, China, is one of the companies that make up the RGE Group, the $15 billion family of natural resources, energy, and manufacturing companies under the direction of CEO and founder Sukanto Tanoto. The Indonesian-born entrepreneur and philanthropist espouses sustainable environmental and business practices, and works to provide for the social welfare of the communities in which he does business. In light of this, volunteers from Asia Symbol participated in the 2014 celebration of the Chong Yang Festival in the Rizhao Development Area by honoring elderly residents of local nursing homes.
During the festival, members of Asia Symbol’s volunteer association visited the senior adults to show respect, provide companionship, and distribute staple foods like rice, oil, and grain, as well as gifts of clothing such as warm gloves and scarves. Since its founding in 2005, Asia Symbol has emphasized not only practical and sustainable business models, but outreach to local communities. The company and Mr. Tanoto’s own nonprofit foundation work to provide assistance with education, medical needs, social services, and disaster relief.
The Chong Yang Festival is also called the “Double Ninth,” since it occurs on the ninth day of the ninth month in the Chinese lunar year. Because the number nine is the highest odd numeral, the two nines together symbolize longevity. This makes the Chong Yang Festival particularly appropriate for honoring the many contributions of senior citizens and older family members. Families in China make the holiday an occasion for get-togethers and outdoor excursions. They remember the hard work and sacrifices of their ancestors and take particular care to express appreciation for loved ones and friends.
Because the Chong Yang Festival falls at the beginning of winter, it has also historically been a time to recognize that older family members need warm clothing to protect them from the cold. The concept has extended to include deceased ancestors as well. To honor their memories, people often visit loved ones’ graves and make offerings of burnt paper clothing.