CHANGING TIMES

Business Forums and events as milestones

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FOR 119 years, The Manila Times has been through various milestones and innovations. In keeping up with the changing times over the past three years, the country’s oldest newspaper has been sharing news and information beyond its print and digital pages through various forums and events. This has enabled the paper to bring the right and credible resource people up close and personal to its partners, advertisers, readers and subscribers.

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Business forums
Held on October 28, 2014 at the Dusit Thani Manila Hotel, in Makati City, the Times’ first in a series of business forums aimed to explore the issues on Philippine-Chinese business and economic relations, in spite of their territorial disputes over the West Philippine Sea(South China Sea). Dubbed “Business as Usual in Unusual Times,” the forum had the country’s former president, Fidel V. Ramos, for its keynote speaker.

Among the other speakers were the then-Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan; Roberto Romulo, former foreign secretary; Rodger Baker, vice president for East Asia-Pacific Analysis of Stratfor, an American intelligence platform and publisher; and Scott Qian, director of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) China; and PwC Philippines (Isla Lipana & Co.) Chairman Alex Cabrera.

The Times “2nd Business Forum,” held July 22, 2015, also at the Dusit Thani Manila, had the theme “The Integrated Asean Regulatory Environment: Seizing Opportunities and Managing Risks.” Discussions were about the complex regulatory issues involved in the region’s drive toward the integration of Asean, or Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and the challenges these issues present to policymakers, businesses and investors from member economies.

The speakers were Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua; Tan Sri Dato’ MohdMunir Abdul Majid, co-chairman of the 2014 Asean Business Advisory Council (BAC); Truong Trieu Duong, Vietnam Ambassador to the Philippines; Philippine Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo; as well as top business executives and experts, such as Credit Suisse Bank Senior Vice President Jose Isidro Camacho. The panel discussions were led by Cossette Canilao, director for public-private partnership (PPP) at the Philippines’ NEDA, or National Economic and Development Authority, and Cabrera.

The “3rd Business Forum,” with the theme “The Philippine Economic Outlook for 2016,” was held at the New World Manila Bay Hotel, on February 26 of that year. The day saw the gathering of high-caliber guests led by Amando Tetangco, the then-governor of the country’s central bank, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), who was the keynote speaker. He was joined by Shanaka Jayanath Peiris, resident representative of the International Monetary Fund; World Bank Lead Economist Roger van den Brink; and Marife Zamora, chairman of Convergys Philippines, a provider of customer management and information-management products to large corporations.

Equally stellar were the reactors to the discussions on what transpired in 2015 and the economic forecasts for various business industries for 2016. Consider, for instance, the managing partner and CEO of Deloitte Phils./Navarro, Amper & Co., (the late) Greg Navarro; Ben Kritz, Times’ business columnist and World News editor; Marivic Españo, chairman and CEO of P&A Grant Thornton; PwC’s Cabrera; Eduardo Francisco, president of the BDO Capital & Investment Corp.; and Hans Sicat, president and CEO of the PSE, or Philippine Stock Exchange. About 250 delegates from the business and political sectors from the Philippines and other Asean economies attended the event.

On June 22, 2016, the Times held its “4th Business Forum,” at the Manila Marriott Hotel, in Resorts World Manila, Pasay City. The forum tackled such timely topics as the “Philippine Banking: Does Size Matter?” and “How to Survive the Tide of Competition, Cyber Threats and Money Laundering.” Discussions also focused on why a developing economy like the Philippines needed to strengthen its banking system as it opened up to foreign competition and exposed itself to the risks brought about by a borderless cyber world.

The speakers included Luisito Pineda, president and country general manager of IBM Philippines; Thiam Hee Ng, principal economist at the Asian Development Bank (ADB); Aftab Ahmed, CEO and Citi country officer of Citibank Philippines; WB Senior Financial Sector Specialist Nataliya Mylenko; Palmer Mallari, head agent at the Philippines’ NBI, or National Bureau of Investigation; and Stephen Cutler, chief compliance officer, Omnipay.

The reactors, on the other hand, included George Chua, president and CEO of Bayan Automotive Industries Corp.; PwC Consulting Director Jonathan Uy; Angelica S. Reyes, SVP at the Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company; Flor Tarriela, chairman of the Philippine National Bank; Abelardo Cortez, independent director of First Metro Investment Corp., the investment banking arm of the Metrobank Group; Joey Regala, VP-Information Security Department of the United Coconut Planters’ Bank; and Emiliano Librea 3rd, CIO and partner at the Advisory Services of P&A Grant Thornton, an audit, tax, advisory and outsourcing firm.

And then the “5th Business Forum” came last February 10 and held at the Marco Polo Davao, in Davao City, the first time the Times held this kind of event outside Metro Manila, with no less than President Rodrigo Duterte as the keynote speaker. Attended by about 400 businessmen, government officials and diplomats, the forum also witnessed the conferment of “The Manila Times Man of the Year Award” to Duterte.

With the theme “The Philippine Economic Outlook for 2017: Peace Toward Sustainable Prosperity,” the forum discussions delved on how the country’s economy and businesses could manage well in the face of domestic and external challenges that the coming year might bring. Valuable insights were set forth by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua, PwC’s Cabrera, and Corazon Guidote, SVP for Investor Relations and Corporate Communications at the SM Investments Corp.

On August 18, the Times had its “6th Business Forum,” again at the Manila Marriott Hotel, and it was another well-attended event. Focusing on the economic impact of the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program, the forum had “The Philippines 2021: Steering Toward the ‘Golden Age of Infrastructure’” for its theme. Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno was one of the speakers. Those who also shared their expert knowledge on the subject included WB Country Director for the Philippines Mara Warwick; Vince Dizon, president and CEO of the BCDA, or Bases Conversion and Development Authority; Sheila Lobien, regional director and head of Project Leasing at Jones Lang LaSalle, in Manila; Bienvenido Chy, general manager of the Philippine Retirement Authority; Lars Wittig, country manager of Regus Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia; and Ricardo Penson, chairman and CEO of Penson & Co., Inc.

‘Model Cities’
Wanting to promote the need for more of the most-livable cities nationwide, the Times created and organized an award-giving event, and held this at the New World Manila, on May 11. Touching on best practices in urban planning and sustainable development for the Philippines, the forum also tackled, among other matters, the need for community developments that are conducive to work-life balance.

The world-class Filipino architect, urban planner and environmentalist Felino Palafox, managing partner of Palafox Associates and a Times columnist, as well as one of the builders of modern Dubai, led the pack of noted speakers. The other speakers were WB’s Vickram Cuttaree, program leader for Sustainable Development; Lea Roque, principal and head of Tax Advisory & Compliance, P&A Grant Thornton; and Michael McCullough, managing director of the KMC MAG Group.

Dubbed “Philippine Model Cities: Beyond the Most Livable Urban Centers,” the event also granted awards to the cities that had excellent records in peace and order, social services and livelihood and employment, among other criteria.

Palafox doubled his role as one of the judges, and was joined by Convergys’ Zamora, P&A’s Roque, and Rosemarie Bosch-Ong, senior EVP and COO of Wilcon Builders’ Depot.

‘Women’s Circle’
As a tribute to women, the Times held “Women’s Circle,” a biannual gathering of accomplished women in their respective fields of expertise, at the Marco Polo, in Ortigas, Pasig City, on June 22, 2016. The guests spoke on issues relevant to their personal and professional endeavors, and how these affect them vis-à-vis their hectic schedules at home and in the office.

What had been initially conceptualized as an informal but intimate gathering of a select number of accomplished women, “Women’s Circle” ended up as having almost 100 attendees. With the theme “Breaking Down Barriers: Empowering Filipino Women Leaders,” the event held discussions and activities revolving around what women leaders could do to “break the glass ceiling” and “how they could thrive in the boardroom,” but still managed their daily routine with family and work. The keynote speaker was Agnes Gervacio, president of NEC Philippines.

There was a second special luncheon that aimed to network with today’s power women, held at the Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria, in Ortigas, on November 18, 2016. Eliza Blanche Alay-ay, an OB-Gyne specialist from the Healthway Medical, talked about women’s health during the event, whose theme was “A Better You Today: The Health & Beauty Forum.” Ian Laurel, a dermatologist, also from Healthway, talked about women’s skin and beauty, while the company’s VP for Sales and Marketing Carmine de Leon shared her knowledge on pursuing a lifestyle of SEED, or sleep, eat right, exercise and de-stress.

Golf tourneys
Well-rounded business people have to have some physical activity outside the boardroom. And so the Times launched its golf tournament last year, starting off with “The 1st President’s Cup,” at the Aoki Course of Eagle Ridge Golf & Country Club, in General Trias, Cavite, on July 22. This was followed by “The Manila Times Golf Tournament,” held at the South Forbes Golf Club, in Silang, Cavite, on December 2.

Upcoming events
On November 17, the Times will have a forum titled “Stem Cell Therapy: Medicine of the Future,” featuring Ma. Theresa Barzaga, of the Department of Pathology, Lung Cancer of the Philippines. To be held at the Discovery Suites, in Ortigas, the forum will also have as guests Mia Fojas, associate professor at the College of Medicine, University of the Philippines-Manila, and an endocrinologist at the Medical Center Manila; and Jiwu Wang, CEO of Allele Biotechnology.

“The 2nd President’s Cup,” on the other hand, will be held at the same venue—Eagle Ridge Golf & Country Club—on November 29, while the “7th Business Forum,” with the theme “The Philippine Economic Outlook for 2018,” will be held on February 23, 2018, with the venue still being scouted.

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