, AUGUST 10, 2010 (STAR) By Joan Orendain - Two prominent gentlemen from the business community worthy of emulation were picked to receive an award named after a pioneering nation builder, Ramon V. del Rosario, Sr.

Development banker Jesus Tambunting and agribusiness manager Senen Bacani are the recipients of the 1st Ramon V. del Rosario, Sr. Award for Nation Building, sponsored by the Junior Chamber International Manila (Jaycees), and the Asian Institute of Management’s RVR Center for Corporate Social Responsibility.

During Bacani’s watch as Agriculture secretary (1991 and 1992), the country was self-sufficient in rice, corn and sugar, exporting all three commodities in one year. Beyond that accomplishment, he established a number of agribusinesses in Mindanao, notable among these is La Frutera, Inc.

The first large-scale banana plantation in Muslim Mindanao, La Frutera in Maguindanao has transformed the lives of hundreds of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels who, in 13 years, have been given the opportunity to lay down their arms and earn decent livings for their families, empowering our Muslim brothers and fostering peace. “The reason there is no peace is because there is no development,” Bacani said in his acceptance speech. “Providing jobs, especially in the rural areas, is a sustainable way to alleviate poverty and strife.”

For his part, Tambunting is the chairman and CEO of Planters Development Bank, the leading bank for small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Belief in his work is reflected in the roster of the bank’s prestigious international shareholders: the Asian Development Bank, the Netherlands Development Finance Company, and the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank.

Accepting the award on behalf of the men and women of Plantersbank, the former ambassador told of how, purchasing the small Bulacan development bank in 1977 with assets of P500,000, he had thought to grow it into a Makati-based commercial bank.

Plantersbank “stumbled” into their development mission by helping their existing clientele of small businesses and corporations with “purposive but prudent financing.” In the process, he said, “we discovered that we could help these SMEs manage their accounts better. Above all, we were able to teach them how to make finance a vital tool for growing their businesses.”

Initially, it wasn’t a comfortable fit – “we had no models to follow…we learned by trial and error.” The bank’s success became the subject of a study by the Harvard Business School, which cited it as one of only three development banks in the world to have successfully pursued “double-bottom line banking,” and contributing to alleviating poverty. The development banker was well appreciated by the community of Filipino workers in the United Kingdom when he was Ambassador to the Court of Saint James. He entertained them regularly in his home and helped them with their problems at the embassy – a man to the manor born, albeit with a common touch.

As for the man for whom the award – which will be given out annually henceforth – is named, Ramon del Rosario, Sr. was the Manila Jaycees’ founding chapter president in 1948, and national president in 1949. In 1951, he became the world president of the Junior Chamber International, the first Asian to be thus elected.

On the business front, from the ravages of World War II, del Rosario became the first Filipino general manager of IBM Philippines in 1946, at age 29. He was executive vice president of Philamlife in 1953, then with his brothers set up Del Rosario Brothers, Inc., manufacturers and distributors of household appliances rendered affordable by allowing purchases on installment. “Filpride” was Filoil Refinery Corporation’s slogan when he and Filemon Rodriguez established the first Filipino oil company in 1959 – the largest Filipino-owned firm in its time. Three years earlier, both men had incorporated the Philippine Investment and Management Consultants (PHINMA), today a group of 23 companies engaged in energy, education, roofing, financial services, and the property and shelter sectors. Its present chairman is Oscar Hilado, and RVR’s son, Ramon del Rosario, Jr., is its president and CEO.

The tie-up with the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) began in 1954, when del Rosario, Sr. brought Harvard Business School professors here to teach – a program that eventually led to the creation of AIM, where he was one of the founding trustees. In turn, AIM honored him with the creation of the Ramon V. del Rosario Center for Corporate Social Responsibility and the Ramon V. del Rosario-C.V. Starr Center for Corporate Governance. De La Salle University, his alma mater, also named its graduate school of business after him.

A friend of Ambassador Tambunting, he also was ambassador from 1979 to 1992 to Canada, then Germany, and finally, to Japan.

Roberto Claudio, Jr., the 2010 president of JCI Manila, congratulated Tambunting and Bacani at the awarding ceremonies held recently at the Tower Club in Makati City. “May you continue to inspire us all to think of others and the country first, as you show us the true meaning of nation building,” he said.

Except for Corazon de le Paz-Bernardo, the president of the International Social Security Association, all other members of the board of judges were present at the awarding ceremony. They include retired Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban (chairman); Washington SyCip, founder of the SGV Group and a founding trustee of AIM (vice chairman); Oscar Hilado, PHINMA chairman; Jose Cusia, Jr., Philamlife vice chairman; Victor del Rosario, executive vice president and chief strategy officer, PHINMA; and Edilberto de Jesus, president of the AIM. Together with the awardees, they made a star-studded list of nation builders.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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