Sunday Lifestyle

No politics here - just a Harvard reunion

- Teodoro Kalaw IV -

MANILA, Philippines - The school colors may be crimson, but all hues of the political spectrum were visible during the revival by the Harvard Club of the Philippines of its alumni and fellows reception for new senior government officials. The fellowship was held at the Army Officers Clubhouse in Fort Bonifacio last Aug. 11. Led by incumbent HCP and Kennedy School Association president Angie Reyes (MPA ’90), former Defense and Environment Secretary, alumni and graduate fellows recognized their respective members who recently transitioned into public service this year. 

Attending honorees were led by Vice President Jojo Binay (HKS Fellow ’92), Chief Justice Rene Corona (LL.M. ’82), and Tourism Secretary Bertie Lim (MBA ’73 and MPA ’90), who each gave the responses for alumni and fellows from the Kennedy, law, and business schools respectively. Joining them on stage to receive their plaques of recognition were Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo (MPA ’99), Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje (HIID ’94), Social Welfare and Development Secretary Dinky Soliman (MPA ’98), and Solicitor-General Joel Cadiz (MPA ’09). Given their nomination by their respective school clubs, the HCP Board of Trustees also recognized Senate President Johnny Enrile (LL.M. ’55), Budget and Management Secretary Butch Abad. (MPA ’94) and Presidential Management Staff Secretary Julia Abad (MPP 05) during the evening.

Aside from the University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University, no other university here or abroad continuously provides more alumni that serve in senior government positions. Assisting the club trustees in restarting the event, last held in 1998, were the officers and members of the club’s three active local associations: The Law School Association under its new president, SGV managing partner Vic Noel (LL.M. ’92), the Kennedy School of Government Association, and the Business School Club currently under co-presidents Jose Barroco (MBA ’96) and investment management specialist Mikko Perez (MBA ’00). 

The HCP trustees themselves personally attended to the numerous details of the event to ensure its success. It was therefore not surprising to see nothing but warm smiles emanating during the evening from HCP secretary and Villaraza Law partner Sylvette Tankiang (LL.M. ’96), former TRANSCO CEO Art Aguilar (MPA ’86), Philippine coffee pillar Techie Capellan (Ed.M. ’88), health management expert Esther Go Barroco (MBA ’96), society and business heavyweight Atom Henares (MBA ’79), and architect Nestor Mangio (GSD ’05). HCP treasurer and marketing whiz Sheila Ines-Ramos (MBA ’93) teamed up with Equitable-PCIB EVP Jun Naranjilla (MBA ’82) to smoothly emcee the recognition rites. Jollibee corporate communications head honcho Carina Agarao (MPA ’04) also volunteered to promote the fellowship to fellow alumni.

Arriving early to demonstrate their moral support to the organizing team were members of the HCP Board of Advisers, business taipan and First Philippine Holdings chair emeritus Oscar Lopez (AB ’51 and MPA ’55) and civil society guru Jaime Alip (OPM ’07). Another early arrival was Institute of Corporate Directors Chair and former Finance Secretary Jess Estanislao (Ph.D. ’81). Further lending an international flair to the evening was Ambassador Xenia Stefanidou (HKS Fellow) of Greece.   

Far outstripping other schools in the attendance roll were alumni from the Kennedy School of Government. Spotted circulating during the night were former Interior and Local Government Secretary Raffy Alunan (MPA ’97), former Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Vic Ramos (MPA ’93), congressional rising star and House of Representatives Assistant Majority Leader Benjo Benaldo (HKS Fellow 2009) of the first district of Cagayan de Oro City, former general and counter-insurgency expert Victor Corpuz (MPA ’90), Assistant Solicitor-General Karl Miranda (MPA ’98), BCDA Legal Counsel Arnel Casanova (MPA ’07), Agrarian Reform Assistant Secretary Lorenzo Reyes (MPA ’01), AIM Professor Mario Lopez (MPA 75), Consultant Hector Soliman (MPA 98), IBM Government Programs head and former Defense Assistant Secretary Alejandro Melchor (HKS Fellow 02), retired general and counter-insurgency expert Victor Corpus (MPA 90), negotiation expert Dada Ongkiko-Acorda (MPA 04), consultant Corina Unson (MPA 99), international trade expert Tony Abad (MPA 97), former DBP EVP Ed Garcia (MPA 01) with classmate Manny Sanchez (MPA 01), former Bulacan Representative Willie Villarama (MPA 86), and Atty. Edil Baddiri (MPA 06).

Noticeably packing the event were business school alumni such as De La Salle University Manila board of trustees chair Francis Estrada (AMP 89), BPI CEO Aurelio Montinola (MBA 77), Ayala Corporation CFO Delfin Gonzalez (MBA 75), former Ayala Land CEOs Francis Licuanan (MBA 67) and Jim Ayala (MBA 88), Pilipinas Shell’s Oscar Reyes (PMD ’76) and PNOC’s Alfredo Parungao (PMD ’78), entrepreneur Robert Yupangco (OPM ’96), investment banker Manny Ayala (MBA ’92), IT specialist Alfredo Ayala (MBA ’87), consultant Paul Rosenberg (MBA ’66), and businessmen Cris Chiong (MBA ’02), former government spokesperson Gary Olivar (MBA ’80), Robert Cokeng (MBA ’76), and Alfred Velayo (MBA ’77).

The alumni of the Law School came in full force. They included ACCRA Law senior partner Teddy Regala (LL.M. ’60), leading environmentalist Tony Oposa (LL.M. ’97), bar topnotcher and senior legal luminary Pelagio Ricalde (LL.M. ’79), Customs Deputy Commissioner Jon Ligon (ITP ’01), up-and-coming SGV partner Jules Riego (LL.M. ’07), the BIR’s Marissa Cabreros (ITP ’98), young legal eagle Edsel Tupaz (LL.M. ’08), and UP law professor JJ Disini (LL.M. ’04).

Alumni from other faculties at the event included former Quezon City Representative Maite Defensor (GSA ’95) of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and architect Felino Palafox (AMD ’03) of the Graduate School of Design.

In his response for and on behalf of the Kennedy School alumni and fellows, Vice President Jojo Binay urged more alumni to abandon the bleachers and become part of the working team in public service. Responding for law school alumni, Chief Justice Rene Corona highlighted the importance of keeping the school’s traditions of intellectual and professional excellence always fresh in the minds of its graduates, as exemplified in the life of US Supreme Court justice and noted professor Joseph Story of the Law School. Tourism Secretary Bertie Lim, for graduates and executive program participants of the Business School, concisely focused his remarks on the importance of a proactive perspective in public life.

Reflecting the non-partisan character of the fellowship, everyone was having too much fun to talk about politics. The more junior alumni took full advantage of the evening, competing to obtain photo souvenirs with the most number of representatives from different political camps in one snapshot, so that an initiative snowballed within the Kennedy School Association to make such antics a part of the next reception, leading those from the Business School Club to propose promotional opportunities to further increase alumni attendance and revenues while generating concerns from Law School Association members regarding publicity and privacy issues as well as the need to review prospective licensing rights.

Mingling continued well into the night, way past the formal recognition ceremonies that ended promptly at eight that evening. HCP president Angie Reyes perhaps best summed up the fellowship’s good vibes by asking attendees: “Do we have to wait for the next administration to repeat this event?” 










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