VIRTUAL REALITY - Tony Lopez - The Philippine Star

After President Marcos Jr. announced the private sector members of the nine-man board of directors of Maharlika Investment Corporation, there was some cynicism in the business sector about the prestige and business standing of the people named. I do not share that cynicism.

Named and inducted by President Marcos Jr. himself to the MIC board from the private sector were: Roman Felipe “Manny” Reyes, German “Beetle” Lichauco, Andrew Gan and Vicky Lim Tan.

Reyes, BS Commerce, San Beda, and MBA, University of Detroit, is co-founder of a big professional services firm bearing his name.

Lichauco, an Ateneo-educated lawyer, was a senior partner in Siguion Reyna Montecillo and Ongsiako, specializing in corporate disputes and litigation.

Gan is a finance and business economics graduate from the University of Notre Dame. He was a director of the Philippine Stock Exchange with a specialty in independent audit, surveillance and compliance with regulations on listed companies.

Tan, MBA UP, spent 19 years with the Asian Development Bank, handling financial reforms, investments, infra development and communications.

The four join a nine-man board with these as members: Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno, MIC president Rafael Consing, Land Bank president Lynette Ortiz and Development Bank of the Philippines president Michael de Jesus.

The MIC’s is a solid board, although a little heavy on finance, banking and accounting in training, attitude and experience, rather than on wheeling dealing, energy, infra and social services deployment. None of its members are young, people who can be bold in making investments and take big risks in exchange for big paybacks. Nearly all have not invested their own money in a big way, taken risks and reaped big-time pay. They are not entrepreneurs. Thus, the MIC will be a conservative player. Bad.

The Philippines is severely deficient in energy, infrastructure, cheap and reliable IT and human capital development. The severity of deficiency is not for lack of money nor natural resources. It is more the lack of visioning, purposeful action and, if any, of course, bad execution.

The Philippine eco-system is huge –115 million population; the 12th largest consumer market on earth; a warm, hospitable, English-speaking, naturally talented people; $1.27 trillion in purchasing power GDP; $3,859 in nominal per capita GDP; $11,326 in PPP per capita GDP; the world’s second-largest archipelago (7,600 islands); the world’s third longest coastline; the world’s second largest maritime fleet manpower; the world’s fifth mineralized country (we have more gold and other minerals than 200 other countries); one of the most strategically located countries in the world (you can reach major industrial and financial capitals in four hours or less, from Manila). Only the most stupid of people cannot make a go of such a huge advantage. And only the most stupid investor cannot appreciate such an advantage.

When Singapore began its nation-building barely 60 years ago, it had no huge land, no unity, no functioning government, no navy, no water and no toilets. Today, Singapore is a financial capital, the go-to destination for investments and residence for the money and the best-performing economy in Asia, with young people who are the best in math, reading and science in the world.

I don’t know how the MIC and the Maharlika Investment Fund it will manage will be able to cover the huge gap in our infrastructure, human capital, energy, IT and basic services. The Philippines probably needs $1 trillion over three years in investments, local and foreign, simply to catch up with where Singapore is today.

Per the World Bank, only 33 percent of our people have access to the internet. And less than 70 percent have access to cheap, reliable, 24/7 electricity. Without cheap internet and reliable electricity, how can you educate our 15-year-olds and other teeners, some 25 million of them? They cannot read, cannot count and cannot understand science.

DMCI won’t apologize

Regarding the complaint of top communications specialist Owen Cammayo against the repeated (10 years na) and unauthorized use of his family’s picture in a marketing presentation of DMCI Homes, Butch Mendizabal, DMCI Homes corporate communications manager, wrote me a long letter (more than 1,000 words), the most important paragraphs of which are:

1. “The file Mr. Cammayo referred to was not a piece of marketing collateral. It was a project brief and presentation, clearly labeled as such, and designed to train our sales teams on positioning a specific real estate project. The inclusion of sections like “Personification” and “Needs & Benefit Analysis” confirms that it was meant for internal use.

“The presentation slide featuring Mr. Cammayo’s family portrayed them as resident doctors and private school students enjoying out-of-town weekends, which could not be construed as derogatory or harmful.

2. “It is unfortunate that despite Mr. Cammayo’s communications background, he insists that we completely remove the project brief from the internet after more than 10 years, which is an impractical expectation due to the pervasive and enduring nature of digital content once it is shared online.”

Owen Cammayo’s reply:

“Not only is their explanation delayed, but the appropriate action he insists on is not acceptable at all.Common sense would dictate that if you did something wrong, you do things to make it right.  Not ask the aggrieved party to do his/ her part nor tell him/her that it is an impractical expectation.”

My reply:

DMCI and its top management are not apologetic at all for an obvious, persistent, perverted wrongdoing.

May I suggest to Owen to write another letter, this time to DMCI head honcho Sid Isidro, a MAP Management Man of the Year awardee. Owen should specify the courses of action he wants DMCI to take, like demanding an apology, an undertaking that DMCI will cease publishing asap the unauthorized material and a promise that DMCI won’t do the wrong again.

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Email: [email protected]

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