//Off The Court
photo 2022 09 09 10.57.40 1

Lighting The GAME’s fire from the torch of the late Sari Yap

Legacy can be defined in many different ways. Putting what comes next in proper context, I have chosen to stick with this definition of legacy. It is the number of lives that one has touched.

For most, if not all of our readers and followers, The GAME launched just last August 24, 2022. But to a handful of people whom I have had the privilege to tell the story of this brand’s roots, they know that this started as early as 2016. One of the first people to know about this was our company’s late Founder, Sari Yap.

The GAME: Origin story

Let me tell you this story in the shortest way possible. Back then, I was with One Mega Group’s Advertising Department. And as one of the leaders of that group, naturally, I had some airtime with Ms. Sari Yap. While these come rather few and far between, they were always memorable for a variety of reasons.

Taking our focus back to the origin story of The GAME, it started with a one-on-one session wherein I presented our numbers and shared my insights and suggestions to better them. Back then, the numbers showed us a plateau coupled with internal competition among our company’s roster of homegrown media brands. 

As she would, she asked a very direct question which also posed as a challenge.  It went something like, “So as one of the heads of the advertising department, what do you suggest we do about this?”

Having anticipated this question, it was almost my knee-jerk reaction to immediately pitch the concept of The GAME, as I’d already had it in my back pocket for some time. As a lifelong sports fan who had a good appreciation and understanding of the mission of the company that I worked for, it was pretty clear-cut that the next frontier to set our sights on as a prestige media company was the sports industry. Doing so would not only expand our readership to a different audience (sports fans and followers) but also broaden our advertiser base in the process.

But instead, I held back for a bit and said, “I have some ideas ma’am but is it okay if you let me run it by boss (current One Mega Group Chairman and CEO Archie Carrasco) first?” To which she readily agreed.

Why did I hesitate, you ask? It was because I understood that I had one shot to make a good impression so I naturally wanted to prepare for it.

And so, with the help of my boss, who I’m also very privileged to consider as my mentor, I was able to put together a presentation material that was not only able to impress Ms. Sari but also merit her approval as she gave the nod to bring this concept to life as a media brand under One Mega Group.

In a recent Instagram post by our Chairman, he reveals a bit of this by sharing that The GAME was the last media brand approved by Ms. Sari Yap. He also mentioned the rather playful fact that the words MEGA and GAME had the exact same letters, which I made sure to point out to her during my concept presentation.

Change the plan, not the goal

So if it was approved last 2016, why the long wait? It’s no secret that the entire print industry went through tough times towards the latter part of the last decade. And while One Mega Group and our leaders had the foresight to transform itself into a multi-platform media company some few years earlier, the magazine business remained to be one of our main pillars.

The GAME was caught up in the process. Inevitably, it took a back seat to the more pressing need for a full-scale digital transformation. But the curveballs didn’t stop there. Another global phenomenon came about with the outbreak of COVID-19, along with all the challenges and repercussions that it brought with it.

Despite all this, the company remained strong and resilient. Like a ship out at sea, it weathered the storms thrown its way. And like always, it found a way to come out on the other side ready to brave the open water once again.

And so here we are, 2022 and The GAME has been introduced to the general public and is a few days away from releasing its first cover.

Walking a mile in her shoes

Truth be told, now that I have been put in a position to build my own media brand, I can honestly say that my admiration and respect for her and what she has built grows by the day. The decision of continuing the founding of The GAME with the understanding that this was the last approved media brand concept by Ms. Sari Yap was always going to be accompanied by immense pressure. On the one hand, it cannot be denied that it feels good to be able to get the blessing of such an outstanding pioneer. But on the other hand, also comes the responsibility of making sure that it upholds the standards which she has set.

One Mega Group founder Sari Yap

Fortunately, we can continue to be guided by the core values put forth by our late founder: integrity, innovation, and excellence. These, coupled with the company’s mission of being the standard for Filipino media excellence, remain to be a powerful source of inspiration and influence and therefore serve as our north star. These strong ideals are taken to heart by those whom she has passed the baton to and I believe that this continues to be a big reason for the company’s sustained success.

In one of her most notable interviews, Ms. Sari goes on to say, “I think of when I started and what I’ve become, and how I’ve evolved with the magazine. Some people might feel sad about it when they realize that their time or their job is done, but with me, I don’t feel that way. It’s because I feel that I have truly done what I was supposed to do, which was to make sure MEGA, my legacy outlives me. And I think that’s the hallmark of a good founder.”

While Ms. Sari Yap may have passed three years ago, her legacy lives on. Circling back to how we defined legacy to be the number of lives that one has touched, it’s safe to say that those of us who were left behind continue to carry out the mission and touch even more people with the fire from the same torch that she passed on.