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Marinela Neri Velez: The Kagay-anon Opera Cognoscente as Patroness of Classical Music

July 19, 2019

Marinela Neri Velez is a professional, expert, cognoscente, and aficionado of classical opera. Better known as Girlie to her circle of friends, she has two passions in her life: opera and travel. As a volunteer with the Los Angeles Music Center Opera, she was co-chair of final dress rehearsals. She witnessed the final recitals of opera divas Maria Callasand Renata Tebaldi, and the farewell opera performance of Beverly Sills in Die Fledermaus with Joan Sutherland. Girlie travels constantly for opera: to Washington D.C. for theWorld Premier of Giancarlo Menotti’s GOYA with Plácido Domingo; Tulsa, Oklahoma for the US Premier of Rossini’s ARMIDA, and Kiev, Ukraine for the opera version of TARAS BULBA. While working for the Music Department of Paramount Pictures Corp., she had the opportunity to watch the recording sessions of Barbra Streisand, Diana Ross and Sarah Vaughn; scoring sessions of John Williams, Maurice Jarre and Jerry Goldsmith. On the classical side, she attended concerts conducted byLeonard Bernstein, Carlos Kleiber, Zubin Mehta and Riccardo Muti. Girlie is a regular fixture at Arena de Verona, Torre del Lago Puccini, and Rossini Opera Festival in Italy; Staatsoper unter den Linden in Berlin, Germany,and the Salzburg Festival in Austria. In December, she attends opera performances at Teatro Real in Madrid,and Les Arts Reina Sofia GeneralitatValenciana (Valencia Opera), both in Spain; and the New Year’s Eve Operetta Die Fledermaus and New Year’s Day Concert at Vienna State Opera in Vienna, Austria. Girlie was recently invited to attend a performance of Actéon by Marc-Antoine Charpentier and Pygmalion by Jean-Philippe Rameau at the Royal Opera in Versailles, France. She is the only Filipino member of the International Council and a donor of the Metropolitan Opera in New York, a member of the Amici di Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro, Italy and a benefactor of Opera Atelier in Toronto, Canada. After she retired, Girlie started travelling non-stop and has visited 150 countries. The journey continues to this very day. She plans to visit many more in the future. “She has always been an opera lover just like her parents who introduced her to the world of opera at a young age. It has always been a lifelong passion for her.  She followed this through after her graduation from college and when she left the country to work in the US,” said long time bosom friend Vinny N. Veloso. “In fact, she was present during her favorite tenor, Plácido Domingo's debut shot at the Met 50 years ago,” she added. “She was also back at the Met earlier this year to watch Plácido’s50th Golden Jubilee as a Met performer.” With such a hectic opera schedule, one would surmise she has time for little else outside opera. But what many don’t know is Girlie is an avid patron of classical music for her home city of Cagayan de Oro. On December 4, 2013, the MarinelaNeri Velez String Program was launched at the Lourdes College auditorium, when an announcement was made during Girlie’s December Rhapsody Concert. That night, the famed Manila Symphony Orchestra gave a performance that left the audience begging for more. Girlie donated through the Paterno Velez Foundation (named after her late father) string instruments that included violins, cellos, violas and double basses for the Marinela Neri Velez String Orchestra. The orchestra is a social enterprise and auditioned musically gifted indigent intermediate and high school students from the city’s public schools then trained them to play classical music in a string orchestra.   Initially based at Lourdes College, the orchestra later moved to the alma mater of her late father, the Misamis Oriental General Comprehensive High School to which she also donated a piano for the school’s use and training of musically gifted students.   Subsequently, the orchestra was renamed the Cagayan de Oro Symphony Orchestrain 2018 and is now based at Liceo de Cagayan Universitythrough an arrangement with another music patroness in Liceo, Chair Emerita Rafaelita Pelaez. The orchestra members are trained with the Liceo Music Conservatory of Music, Dance and Theatre under the watchful eye of renowned composer and conductor Horst Hans Backer.   In her latest endeavor, Ms. Velez sponsored A Recital featuring “The Filipino Baritone” Cipriáno Mercádo de Guzmán, Jr. with NAMCYA 2018 finalist Soprano Carmina Lourdes D. Atienza as guest artist with Consuelo M. Escudero at the piano.   Held at the Lambago Hall of N Hotel last July 7th for an exclusive audience of a hundred of Cagayan de Oro’s classical music aficionados, the event was touted as the commencement of a regular season of classical music performances in Cagayan de Oro featuring Cagayan de Oro’s best musicians and visiting maestros as well.   De Guzman is a multi-awarded Filipino Classical singer having won 7 International Vocal Competitions in New York, London, Tokyo, Osaka, Yokohama, and Bangkok. He is a two-time 1st Prize Winner of the 2016 and 2017 American Protégé International Vocal Competition at Carnegie Hall (Weill) in New York City, USA, the first Filipino to win twice in that competition. He has twice been awarded the Ani Ng Dangal (2018 and 2019) Philippine National Arts Recognition) by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (Office of the President of the Philippines) which recognizes Filipino artists for their wins in overseas competitions. Zip finished two Masters Degree in Music: Master Oficicialen Interpretación de Ópera at Conservatori Superior de Música del Liceu in Barcelona, Spain under the tutelage of renowned Baritone Joan Martin-Royo; and Opera Interpretation under renowned Mezzo Soprano Maestra Teresa Berganza. He also finished Master of Music in Vocal Performance with the highest distinction(St. Cecilia Award equivalent to Summa cum Laude)atElisabeth University of Music Japanunder Baritone HiroharuOrikawawith full scholarship grant through the Loyola Memorial Foundation and Japan Association of Catholic Universities. For this recital, we were treated to an awesome demonstration of Zip’s vocal range and linguistics which has made him a multi-awarded vocalist here and abroad, from Bizet’s Toreador, En Garde! (from Carmen); Jurame (a Mexican love song composed y Maria Grever), O Sole Mio (by Eduardo di Capua), Santa Lucia (by Teodoro Cottrau), Agustin Lara’s immortal Granada, Stars(by Claude Michel Schonberg from Les Miserables), I Have Dreamed (from Rogers and Hammerstein’sThe King and I)  and Balikbayan (by Ernani C. Cuenco). Guest artist Carmina Lourdes D. Atienza, all 17 years of her, is a senior high student at Corpus Christi school and also plays violin with the Cagayan de Oro Symphony Orchestra. She started voice lessons in 2012 with Maestro Benjamin Santos and MaestroMarvin Gayramonfrom 2016 to 2017. She next studied classical singing with Maestro Michael Paseno of the Liceo de Cagayan Music Conservatory and recently garnered 3rd prize at the 2018 NAMCYA(National Music Competition for Young Artists). Although she will be a BS Computer Science freshman at the Ateneo de Manila this August, Carmina plans to cross-enroll at University of the Philippines-Dilimanto continue her classical music training. She is the second child of Martin Ch. Atienza and Sheilah del Fierro-Atienza. We were regaled by Carmina with her rendition of Art is Calling for Me (from Victor August Herbert’s 1911 hit operetta The Enchantress); and were in for a treat with her duets with Zip: All I Ask of  You (from Phantom of the Opera) by Andrew Lloyd Weber;  and Lippen Schweigen (from The Merry Widow) by Franz Lehar. For their encore, the pair rendered a trio of Filipino favorites including the immortal Bisayan love song Usahay (recently correctly credited to its original composer the late Gregorio Responso Labja); Ikaw Ang Mahal Ko, a romantic ballad by VST & Co. (penned by songwriter Joey de Leon with music by Tito Sotto andSpanky Rigor) and Mike Velarde’s Dahil Sa Iyo written in 1938 for the movie, Bituing Marikit and sung by the King of the Philippine Movies Rogelio de la Rosa.  So after this Recital, what’s next for Cagayan de Oro Opera Cognoscente? Travels to countries she hasn’t been to yet, and of course, another set of operas to enjoy. August is opera tour time in Europe. The Cagayan de Oro Symphony Orchestra will be recruiting more members from the Cagayan de Oro community for the additional instruments Girlie plans to augment it with. Allizwell!

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In pursuit of banking excellence

July 19, 2019

BAIPHIL supports the banking industry through continuing education, research, and information exchange while upholding the values of good governance, competence and integrity, service, teamwork, and innovation. Newly-inducted President Blesilda P. Andres, (Head of BPI’s Regulatory Compliance) pledged to carry on BAIPHIL’s legacy and sustain the vision “to be the leader in pursuit of banking excellence, aiming to be one of the best in the Asia Pacific Region”.  BSP Governor Benjamin E. Diokno, who was both the inducting officer and guest speaker, reminded BAIPHIL of the challenges faced by the industry given the ongoing digital transformation of the banking system.  Diokno cited the urgent need for collaborative governance to manage technological opportunities and disruptions.  Here is where  BAIPHIL could be a strong catalyst “to support and reinforce the banking industry’s seamless transition into the digital age”, Diokno said.  For BSP’s part, Diokno reaffirmed the central monetary authority’s  commitment to providing a proactive, enabling environment that will usher the efficient delivery of digital financial services and promote greater financial inclusion.  Also Inducted as BAIPHIL officers  were Restituto C. Cruz, (BSP Assistant Governor) First Vice President; Myrna E. Amahan, (FVP/Chief Audit Executive, Union Bank) Second Vice President; Romel D. Meniado, (FVP, Robinsons Bank)  Secretary; Arnel A. Valles (SVP, United Coconut Planters Bank) Treasurer.  Inducted as Directors were: Marilou C. Bartolome (SVP, Metrobank), Mary Jane C. Japor, (AVP, Australia New Zealand Banking Group); Racquel B. Mañago (VP, Philippine Veterans Bank); Estrellita V. Ong, (Chief Internal Auditor, BDO); Edeza A. Que (FVP, Philippine Savings Bank); and Edel Mary Vegamora (EVP, RCBC). Immediate past president Dom B. Gavino, Jr. (ING Bank NV) joined BAIPHIL’s Advisers who include  Ma. Dolores B. Yuvienco (BPI), Josefa Elvira E. Ditching-Lorico (BSP), Antonio V. Viray, (Chief Adviser for Legal Affairs) and Rhoneil S. Fajardo (Deutsche Bank).  Named to various committees and sub-committees were: Dom B. Gavino, Jr. (ING Bank NV),, Godofredo L. Martinez (UCPB), Carol P. Warner (SBTC), Ma. Bernadette T. Ratcliffe (Maybank), Maria Victoria P. Ronquillo (UCPB), Iñigo L. Regalado III (BSP), Mardonio C. Cervantes ( Associate Life Member ), Belinda C. Rodriguez (PBB), Irene DL. Arroyo (PDIC), Amelita G. Cua (Philtrust), Carlota A. Bacani (Australia and New Zealand Banking Group), Maria Rachelle A. Fajatin (Equicom), Francis B. Albalate (Union Bank), Leila P. Paz-Aguba (Union Bank), Emma B. Co (PSBank), Josefa Elvira E. Ditching-Lorico (BSP), Teresita L. Andres (Associate Life Member), Susan R. Alcala-Uranza (former president BAIPHIL ), Reginald C. Nery (Bank of Commerce) and Shirley G. Felix (PDIC). Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Assistant Governor Restituto Cruz traced the roots of BAIPHIL, which even antedated the Central Bank of the Philippines.  BAIPHIL was founded in 1941 as a non-stock, non-profit corporation under the name National Association of Bank Auditors and Comptrollers (NABAC), primarily with the goal of increasing the efficiency and uniformity in bank accounting, auditing and operations among banks. It metamorphosed into the Association of Bank Audit, Controls and Operations, subsequently the Bank Administration Institute (Philippine Chapter) and finally into the Bankers Institute of the Philippines. From a small circle of accountants and auditors, the Institute has evolved into a prestigious and respectable bankers’ organization.   It now boasts of 62 institutional members composed mostly of universal, commercial, foreign, thrift and government banks, the BSP, PDIC, PCHC, BANCNET, and more than 300 key bank executives as associates and sustaining life members.

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The Malasag Indigenous Driftwood Sculptors of Cugman

July 19, 2019

Sometimes serendipity can lead you to paths you never dreamed you would be passing through, but the future often holds surprises which more often than not, exceed your expectations. Thus, when Smart Telecommunications began the process to secure the Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) from the Higaonon community in Sitio Malasag, Barangay Cugman in Cagayan de Oro to renew the lease on their cell site located within the tribe’s ancestral domain, it triggered what has turned out be a most rewarding experience for both parties involved in the transaction. By virtue of Republic Act 8371 (Indigenous People's Rights Act of 1997  or IPRA) which recognizes and promotes the rights of Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples of the Philippines, Smart was required to secure the consent of the IP community which hosted their 1,000 sq. m. cell site area since it falls within the tribe’s ancestral domain. Following the initial consultation last February, 2019 with the Malasag Higaonon Tribal Council represented by Datu Ireneo Jabiniar (tribal chieftain), Smart signed a Memorandum of Agreement for the renewal of the cell site lease for another 25 years. “As part of the terms and conditions, our council requested Smart to conduct a training in wood carving for our members, as a livelihood project,” said Datu Masikal “Jude” Jabiniar, who site as the appointed 9th kagawad representing IPs in the Cugman Barangay Council. Barangay Cugman has two rivers which provide them with a constant supply of driftwood as raw materials. More driftwood could also be sourced from the barangay’s seashore. After conducting appropriate rituals at the cell site area requesting permission from resident spirits to approve the agreement, 15 Higaonons started training with expert wood carvers Arnel Rebate, Wilfredo Durano and Marichu Calzado from the Banglos Community Artists of General Nakar, Quezon, last May 28-30 for basic skills and assignment of projects; then again on June 27 for finishing and polishing of the completed works. Smart also donated to the community tools such as grinders and sanders.  The Banglos wood sculptors were themselves recipients of Smart’s livelihood assistance, being trained by famed sculptor Rey Paz Contreras who taught them the art of sculpting forest wood as an alternative source of income after their homes were devastated by flash floods following heavy rains caused by Tropical Storm Winnie in 2004, killing over a thousand people in  General Nakar, Infanta and Real.  The Banglos sculptors’ works have been featured at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the Furniture Festival at Megatrade Hall, Go Negosyo fair at Market! Market! in Taguig City and in various Smart functions. The Higaonon artists were taught the basics of driftwood sculpture, how to use the tools of the trade, and how to bring out art from driftwood, based on its natural shape and textures. Aside from being a source of livelihood, the sculptures also aim to showcase Higaonon culture. "A lot of the pieces here have come from wood that no longer had any use - maybe only to be burned for charcoal. The artists have been taught to see the beauty in them and bring this out. We Filipinos, we thekatutubo, can also ask ourselves: "Are we charcoal, or are we works of art?"", said Darwin Flores, Head, Community Partnerships Department, Smart - Public Affairs.  One of those who underwent the training was Datu Masikal’s cousin Jeffrey  C. Alia, an industrial electrician by trade, who lives along the seashore of Cugman with his fisherman father. While he has no formal training in the arts, he learned drawing basics from his father Pedro B. Alia whose latent artistic skills enabled him to earn additional income through drawings and printed signs on the side. “I won artistic competitions as grade school student and did automotive drafting in high school but shifted to GRCO due to lack of financial means to finish my automotive,” Alia recalls. Eventually he became a licensed industrial electrician for commercial/industrial buildings, and joined the training during a lull between his projects. “The training revived my interest in the arts, and I was inspired to carve  many wood sculptures,” Alia said. Among the wood sculptures he finished was a  fisherman in his baroto (dugout canoe) inspired by the Recto Bank incident where a Filipino fishing vessel was rammed by a Chinese one. “This shows the fisherman was free to carry on his trade without fear,” Alia explained. Turning to another  of his works, he said the  bird’s nest signifies that birds are still abundant within their ancestral domain. “Every one of my works has a story.” From July 1-6, 2019, the Malasag Indigenous Driftwood Sculptors held the Malasag Sculpture Exhibit at the Sky Park at 5th floor of the SM Cagayan de Oro Downtown Premier in partnership with SM. A  constant partner of Smart for past projects like Earth Hour, SM  provided the exhibit venue, lights and fixtures for the group’s first exhibit. Next, the group plans to display some small sculptures at Ginama, the pasalubong center of LGU Cagayan de Oro at Gaston Park. “Smart plans to continue supporting the tribe by providing capacity building trainings such as social media marketing, mobile photography and ideography,” said Judee Dizon Chaves, Smart CommunicationsPublic Affairs Manager for North-West Mindanao.   Meantime, interested buyers who wish to commission or order some of their works can visit and contact them through their Facebook Page Malasag Indigenous Driftwood Sculptors of Cugman (URL:https://www.facebook.com/Malasag-Indigenous-Driftwood-Sculptors-of-Cugman-472330183554427/) Photos by Mike Baños & Smart Communications Public Affairs for North-West Mindanao.

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The Malasag Indigenous Driftwood Sculptors of Cugman

July 19, 2019

Sometimes serendipity can lead you to paths you never dreamed you would be passing through, but the future often holds surprises which more often than not, exceed your expectations. Thus, when Smart Telecommunications began the process to secure the Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) from the Higaonon community in Sitio Malasag, Barangay Cugman in Cagayan de Oro to renew the lease on their cell site located within the tribe’s ancestral domain, it triggered what has turned out be a most rewarding experience for both parties involved in the transaction. By virtue of Republic Act 8371 (Indigenous People's Rights Act of 1997  or IPRA) which recognizes and promotes the rights of Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples of the Philippines, Smart was required to secure the consent of the IP community which hosted their 1,000 sq. m. cell site area since it falls within the tribe’s ancestral domain. Following the initial consultation last February, 2019 with the Malasag Higaonon Tribal Council represented by Datu Ireneo Jabiniar (tribal chieftain), Smart signed a Memorandum of Agreement for the renewal of the cell site lease for another 25 years. “As part of the terms and conditions, our council requested Smart to conduct a training in wood carving for our members, as a livelihood project,” said Datu Masikal “Jude” Jabiniar, who site as the appointed 9th kagawad representing IPs in the Cugman Barangay Council. Barangay Cugman has two rivers which provide them with a constant supply of driftwood as raw materials. More driftwood could also be sourced from the barangay’s seashore. After conducting appropriate rituals at the cell site area requesting permission from resident spirits to approve the agreement, 15 Higaonons started training with expert wood carvers Arnel Rebate, Wilfredo Durano and Marichu Calzado from the Banglos Community Artists of General Nakar, Quezon, last May 28-30 for basic skills and assignment of projects; then again on June 27 for finishing and polishing of the completed works. Smart also donated to the community tools such as grinders and sanders.  The Banglos wood sculptors were themselves recipients of Smart’s livelihood assistance, being trained by famed sculptor Rey Paz Contreras who taught them the art of sculpting forest wood as an alternative source of income after their homes were devastated by flash floods following heavy rains caused by Tropical StormWinnie in 2004, killing over a thousand people in  General Nakar, Infanta and Real.  The Banglos sculptors’ works have been featured at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the Furniture Festival at Megatrade Hall, Go Negosyo fair at Market! Market! in Taguig City and in various Smart functions. The Higaonon artists were taught the basics of driftwood sculpture, how to use the tools of the trade, and how to bring out art from driftwood, based on its natural shape and textures. Aside from being a source of livelihood, the sculptures also aim to showcase Higaonon culture. "A lot of the pieces here have come from wood that no longer had any use - maybe only to be burned for charcoal. The artists have been taught to see the beauty in them and bring this out. We Filipinos, we the katutubo, can also ask ourselves: "Are we charcoal, or are we works of art?"", said Darwin Flores, Head, Community Partnerships Department, Smart - Public Affairs.  One of those who underwent the training was Datu Masikal’s cousin Jeffrey  C. Alia, an industrial electrician by trade, who lives along the seashore of Cugman with his fisherman father. While he has no formal training in the arts, he learned drawing basics from his father Pedro B. Alia whose latent artistic skills enabled him to earn additional income through drawings and printed signs on the side. “I won artistic competitions as grade school student and did automotive drafting in high school but shifted to GRCO due to lack of financial means to finish my automotive,” Alia recalls. Eventually he became a licensed industrial electrician for commercial/industrial buildings, and joined the training during a lull between his projects. “The training revived my interest in the arts, and I was inspired to carve  many wood sculptures,” Alia said. Among the wood sculptures he finished was a  fisherman in his baroto (dugout canoe) inspired by the Recto Bank incident where a Filipino fishing vessel was rammed by a Chinese one. “This shows the fisherman was free to carry on his trade without fear,” Alia explained. Turning to another  of his works, he said the  bird’s nest signifies that birds are still abundant within their ancestral domain. “Every one of my works has a story.” From July 1-6, 2019, the Malasag Indigenous Driftwood Sculptors held the Malasag Sculpture Exhibit at the Sky Park at 5th floor of the SM Cagayan de Oro Downtown Premier in partnership with SM. A  constant partner of Smart for past projects like Earth Hour, SM  provided the exhibit venue, lights and fixtures for the group’s first exhibit. Next, the group plans to display some small sculptures at Ginama, the pasalubong center of LGU Cagayan de Oro at Gaston Park. “Smart plans to continue supporting the tribe by providing capacity building trainings such as social media marketing, mobile photography and ideography,” saidJudee Dizon Chaves, Smart Communications Public Affairs Manager for North-West Mindanao.   Meantime, interested buyers who wish to commission or order some of their works can visit and contact them through their Facebook Page Malasag Indigenous Driftwood Sculptors of Cugman (URL: https://www.facebook.com/Malasag-Indigenous-Driftwood-Sculptors-of-Cugman-472330183554427/) Photos by Mike Baños & Smart Communications Public Affairs for North-West Mindanao.

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MYBL launched in CDO

July 18, 2019

The first-ever MVPSF Youth Basketball League (MYBL) was launched last July 13 in Cagayan de Oro City at the Corpus Christi Gymnasium.   Thirty one teams from different schools of Cagayan de Oro, Bukidnon, Iligan, and Misamis Oriental are competing in the MYBL's three categories : 12-under, 15-under, and 18-under category . City Mayor Oscar S. Moreno expressed his joy and gratitude to the private groups and government organizations which brought this initiative to the city to show support to the youth in the field of sports.   The league was made possible through the collaborative efforts of Manny V. Pangilinan Sports Foundation (MVPSF), Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), Local Government of Cagayan de Oro City, Cebu Landmasters, Inc., Smart Communications, Inc., Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), Balibago Waterworks System, Inc., CDO Basketball Federation, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) and Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security (CORDS-X). In his message, Atty. Jang Moreno, MVPSF Community, Sports and Youth Development Head, said that Cagayan de Oro was chosen as the venue for the MYBL because of its ideal and strategic location as well as the proliferation of talents and potentials of the aspiring young players in Northern Mindanao. Sidelights to the opening ceremony and launching,   Famous personalities from the Philippine Basketball Association like James Yap, Beau Belga, JV Mocon and PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial mingled the participants in a meet and greet. Also on hand to toss the inaugural jump ball of the fledgling league were SBP Operations Head Butch Antonio and SBP Executive Director Sonny Barrios. MVPSF Youth Basketball league is just one of the numerous programs lined-up by the private sector especially MVP Sports Foundation and the local government to further improve and develop the performance of the region in the field of sports. (CIO)  

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Bank of the the Philippine Islands @ 165

July 18, 2019

At 165 years and counting, Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) -  the country’s first bank - continues to notch many “firsts” in the banking and financial  industry.   Originally named Banco Espanol de Isabel II ( after Spain’s then reigning monarch), BPI  was established  in August 1, 1851,  by the Junta de Autoridades. The Junta was a Manila-based committee of civil and ecclesiastical officials,  which was created in 1828  by royal decree of King Ferdinand VII.   The bank’s original capital was provided by Obras Pias – which handled charitable contributions to the Catholic Church.  Among the original stockholders was prominent businessman Antonio de Ayala, forebear of current BPI Chair Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala.   During simple rites commemmorating the bank’s 165th anniversary earlier this month, Cezar P. Consing, BPI President,  described  the bank’s evolution and growth, as follows:    “The Church was the dominant shareholder until 1968, when Ayala became the bank’s largest shareholder.   Some of the best names in global finance have been BPI shareholders:  J.P. Morgan, taking a 20% stake in 1974, DBS buying J.P. Morgan’s stake in 1999, and the Government Investment Corporation of Singapore acquiring a portion of DBS’ stake in 2014.”   Acquisitions complemented organic growth. “..in 1974, People’s Bank; in 1980, Comtrust; in 1984, Family Savings Bank; in 1996, Citytrust; in 2000, Far East Bank; and in 2005, Prudential Bank.”   Consing enumerated the many “firsts” in BPI’s glorious  history.   1851 – BPI made its first loan to a Filipino-Chinese merchant.   1864 – BPI lent money to the colonial government to build Arranque Market and Hospital de San Juan de Dios.   1888 – BPI financed Jacobo Zobel’s Companie de Tranvias de Filipinas, the steam operated railway that replaced horse-drawn carriages.   1896 – BPI issued the Phippines’ the very first bank note.    By royal decree, BPI was given the monopoly of  issuing  notes to extent of three times its capital stock of 1.5 million pesos. “Its bank notes were designated as Pesos Fuertes, in denominations of 5, 10, 25, 50, 100 and 200, payable in Mexican or Spanish-Filipino silver coins.” ( from Money and Banking in the Philippines)   The bank notes were jointly used  with Mexican peso coins, Alfonsino pesos, Spanish coins and  Manila-minted Spanish-Filipino silver coins.   1982 – Pioneered in electronic banking.   1990 – Established the first ATM network.   2000 – Established the first bancassurance company.   2009 – Established the first mobile microfinance institution.   2013 – Built the first solar-powered bank branch. ( Ayala Avenue Extension Branch)      2016 – BPI, together with ADB and Credit Guarantee Investment Facility (CIGF) issued the first Climate Bond certified in emerging markets for a single project.  This P12.5B transaction was provided to Aboitiz Power Renewables, Inc .   Despite massive volatilites faced by international and financial institutions in 2015,  BPI had another good year. The numbers showed significant improvements across all metrics, eg.,  total assets, loans , deposits, asset yields, assets under management, capital adequacy and  market capitalization. Particularly impressive was BPI’s CASA ratio – a barometer of client loyalty and cost competitiveness – which is now the highest among peer institutions.   In addition, BPI continued to engage the community in several fronts.   -BPI Foundation directly engaged and advanced financial wellness, financial inclusion, financial literacy and sustainable development.   -The BPI-DOST Science Awards continued to provide the country’s brightest students a platform for presenting and implementing science and techonlogy-based business concepts.   -BPI Sinag continued to  empower young Filipino entrepreneurs via a complete program of  social entrepreneurship boot camp, mentorship and access to incubation financing.     -BPI also nurtured the civic spirit of its employees through the BPI Bayan Volunteerism Program.  In 2015, as  in previous years, BPI staffers contributed thousands of volunteer hours to  assist targetted communities in conceptualizing, organizing, fund-raising and implementing self-help projects.   Consing attributed BPI’s longevity and prosperity to its faithful adherence to its Credo:   “BPI has prospered throughout its long history because it has never shirked from its primary responsibilities: to our Clients—we do well when our clients do well; to our People—fair rewards for integrity, professionalism and loyalty; to our Shareholders—superior risk-adjusted returns and prudent management; and to our Country—inclusive and responsible nation building.”   (Disclosure: This writer was an officer of BPI prior to joining government in 1986. He  recently  rejoined BPI as an independent director.)

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