Our new secretary at DTI/Doctor-artists hold exhibit

FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas (The Philippine Star) - January 18, 2016 - 9:00am

The new man at the helm of the Department of Trade and Industry has barely five months to change or improve things at the department, his term being co-terminus with President Aquino who is stepping down after the May 2016 elections. The newly elected Chief Executive may retain Secretary Adrian Cristobal Jr. if he looks at his track record as undersecretary at the post from where President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and presidential aspirant Mar Roxas ascended. Adrian was appointed to the post in December last year.

As undersecretary, Adrian was responsible for launching the Industry Development Program (IDP) which set up partnerships with industry stakeholders to build and enhance competitiveness of Philippine industries. Also a major industry program implemented under his watch was the Comprehensive Automotive Resurgence Strategy (CARS) aimed to create more quality jobs, and a Priorities Plan (IPP) aimed at industrialization and development. In another project called One Country, One Voice (OCOV), stakeholders were consulted to formulate sound Philippine international trade relations.

In 2001, as undersecretary for Consumer Welfare and Trade Regulation, he popularized the Konsyumer at Iba Pa, a multi-awarded radio program on consumer-related issues.

His father was the late Adrian Cristobal, a popular writer/columnist. Adrian, or “Che,” the only male among Adrian Sr.’s five children, never entertained the idea of becoming a writer as a profession. He obtained his bachelor of arts degree in political science from the University of California at Berkeley, and his juris doctor of laws at the Ateneo de Manila University. He completed the Strategic Business Economic Program of the University of Asia and the Pacific, and published papers on constitutional law, intellectual property law, and governance. When his term at DTI ends, he plans to go back to private law practice.

Pleasant mannered and witty, Adrian said the economic gains set in place by some of his predecessors promise a bright future for the country. In the past three or four elections, he said, economic growth has risen at an average of seven percent.

The gains were made possible by the fundamentals set and reforms made in governance, policies, competitiveness and sustainability which he emphasized, are “irreversible.” Thus, the projection of a “first-world economy” is possible in the near-future.

During his remaining months at DTI, he said he would like to make up for his “lack of experience” in regional operations and in working with and for “MSMEs (micro, small and medium industries) with the assistance of government. He would like to have the assistance of a dedicated team to work with MSMEs on dealing with Customs requirements, and hurdling documentary procedures.

Adrian spoke about moving up the value chain in such industries as electronics, launching a serious and intensive training program for integrated circuit designers, and, raising the status of the industry and protect it from the incursions of countries with cheaper labor costs.

Among the industries raking in revenues for the economy are coconut (virgin coconut oil and coconut water), coffee and cacao, but these have to be assisted in removing kinks in the supply chain such as in chemicals and organic products. He spoke of helping boost further the shipping industry (No. 4 in the world), and locally-based companies engaged in manufacturing components for Airbus.

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Two retired but very inspired Filipino medical doctors are holding a joint painting exhibit at Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati on February 3, at 4 p.m. They are Dr. Marcelito “Mars” Custodio and Dr. Bienvenido “Bien” Cabral.

Mars calls himself “a physician by occupation, an artist by avocation.” He took his BS’63 and medical education at the University of the Philippines, where he trained in internal medicine and medical oncology, and St. Barnabas Medical Center and Newark Beth Israel Hospital in New Jersey, and the MD Anderson Tumor Institute in Houston, Texas.

His incursions into the art field include being former chair and board member of Mayi Theater Inc., New York, and board member of the Society of Philippine Artists in America. He is also a member of the Upsilon Sigma Phi and Phi Kappa Mu fraternities. He has been married to Cora Yabut for 49 years, they have three children.

Mars has held 15 solo exhibits and 25 group exhibits in New York City, New Jersey, London and Paris.

Mars says: “There has been an evolution of my art over my 15 years or so painting career from the early Provence-pretty to the current angst-riddled, edgy pictures of increasingly diverse sensibilities.”

“It has been 15 years since I retired from an extremely satisfying medical oncology practice in New York and New Jersey. I was let loose to what I had to put in the back-burner – theater, art, advocacy. This is the next phase of my life.”

The current collection was inspired by trips to Turkey, Egypt (during the Spring Awakening), Morocco, Israel, Myanmar, and India. “I realized how little, I – a westernized, La Salle, UP -educated and subsequent New Yorker- know of the Muslim/Islamic culture that about 50 per cent of the humankind practice. I dream of a diverse but unified world.”

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Bienvenido “Bien” Cabral, M.D. grew up in Tondo, received his B.S (1965) and M.D. (1968) from the University of the Philippines. After his residency in ophthalmology at the Philippine General Hospital, he took his fellowship in retinal surgery and ophthalmic pathology at the Massachusetts Eye & Ear Infirmary, the Harvard Medical School, and the Joslin Clinic in Boston.

Bien is retired from private practice in Manila. He has shared his blessings with others through the Good Hope Foundation which he established, and which has seen needy but deserving individuals through medical school, nursing school, engineering school, high school and elementary school.

Social responsibility and good citizenship go together in Bien Cabral and he puts his belief into practice in other ways. Thus, many times in the past, one found him in the streets with other activists, expressing their views on national issues.

Today, Bien takes on less dangerous activities but still manages to express his support for the disadvantaged and recognize his debt of gratitude to his alma mater by donating or raising funds for meritorious activities of the UP College of Medicine, the PGH Sagip Buhay Medical Foundation and the PGH Medical Foundation. These days, he is no less passionate about his nationalist concerns and his social responsibilities, but he now has time to enjoy other pursuits, such as painting and photography, traveling with family and friends, tending a small hobby farm, golf, and grandchildren ( who all look like him, according to him).

He says he looks forward to seeing the Philippines and the Filipinos “take pride in having a place in the community of nations, liberated from the tyranny of disease, poverty and corruption and free to chart their own destiny.”

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Email: dominitorrevillas@gmail.com.

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