Predicting Amando Tetangco Jr.’s destiny
EYES WIDE OPEN - Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star) - December 16, 2019 - 12:00am

A fortune teller made a bold prediction sometime in 2005. Or was it 2004? I can’t quite remember the year, but I remember the prophecy. The seer saw it in her cards, or so she said. The next governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) after then incumbent Governor Rafael Buenaventura would be a male outsider or one who is not a homegrown central banker.

But she got it all wrong. On July 4, 2005, long time central bank insider Amando “Say” Tetangco Jr., or AMT in the business circles, took his oath as the third Governor of the BSP, the country’s sole monetary institution.

What happened? Did the fortune teller have the wrong cards? Or was she just a bogus seer? Maybe or maybe not.

Looking back at the time, I now realize it’s not the seer’s fault.

Perhaps some people can really see what the future holds, but maybe not when it comes to Gov Say’s destiny.  Who would have thought, for instance, that he would be the first BSP Governor to be appointed twice? President Benigno Aquino III reappointed him in 2011.

I bet no fortune teller would have seen that. 

You see, with Gov. Tetangco, it’s not just about luck. What really determines his fate is his hard work and brilliance, and many have recognized this. He is touted as one of the world’s best central bankers, recognised many times by international bodies. In September 2016, New York-based banking magazine Global Finance awarded Gov. Say his eighth “A” grade in its annual scorecard for central bank governors’ handling of their nations’ respective economies.

Order of the rising sun, gold and silver star

And to this day, he continues to reap recognition for his hard work at the central bank.

On Wednesday, Gov Say received the the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star from the Japanese government in a conferment ceremony held at the Japanese ambassador’s residence.

The award, conferred by Ambassador Koji Haneda on behalf of His Majesty the Emperor of Japan, was given in recognition of AMT’s invaluable contribution to strengthening the relations between Japan and the Philippines in the financial sector.

In his congratulatory message, Amb. Haneda lauded the leadership of Gov. Say as the Governor of the BSP for 12 years and expressed his appreciation “for his strong support on the full liberalization of foreign banks’ entry into the Philippines in 2014.”

Gov. Say, the Ambassador said, also actively played his part in regional finance stabilization by promoting both regional and bilateral financial cooperation led by Japan, including the bilateral currency swap arrangement and joint working group on financial cooperation between Japan and the Philippines.

In his acceptance speech, Gov. Say said that more than the recognition, the award underscores the importance of cooperation in promoting the stability and prosperity of both Japan and the Philippines.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the award reaffirms our conviction that cooperation can, indeed, result in the ‘whole being larger than the sum of the individual parts.’ It is indeed a great honor to be conferred this recognition and join illustrious previous awardees who share the same values and ideals,” Gov. Say said. He also shared the award with a host of other individuals, including his former colleagues at the Monetary Board.

North Star

It’s a recognition well deserved by the man I fondly call “Guvernurrific.”

I missed the conferment because the U2 fan in me chose to brave the traffic to the Philippine Arena to watch my favourite Irish rock band of all time, but I am sure it was a momentous, heartfelt evening for Gov Say, his wife Elma, their family and friends.

Congratulations, Guvernurrific! As I learned from you in one of your speeches when I was covering the central bank, we should always follow our North Star to know which way we’re headed.

Indeed, one’s destiny may not necessarily be written in the stars. It’s really in our hands. All we have to do is to find that North Star -- the Stella Polaris -- so we don’t get lost in the dark.

AMT definitely followed his North Star and along the way he got everything else including the Rising Sun.

Iris Gonzales’ email address is Follow her on Twitter @eyesgonzales. Column archives at

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