'CFO' of the year 2021'

MIKE ABOUT TOWN - Atty. Mike Toledo - The Philippine Star
'CFO' of the year 2021'
Dr. Jesus Estanislao and Anabelle Chua.
STAR/ File

A tough lady.

That, in a nutshell, was how MVP Group and PLDT Inc. chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan (MVP) described Anabelle Lim-Chua, PLDT’s senior vice president, chief finance officer, and chief risk management officer, the ING- FINEX “CFO of the Year” 2021.

The country’s top annual chief officer award is presented through a permanent partnership between the Dutch ING Bank N.V. and the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines or FINEX, the country’s premier organization for finance and business professionals.

“I was impressed with her intelligence, and her toughness, and her resilience,” MVP said in a video testimonial played during the awarding held at the New World Makati Hotel in hybrid ceremonies (both virtual and face-to-face) honoring this year’s “Game Changing CFO: Leading the New Game.”

“The qualities she had from the start and continue to this day are qualities First Pacific has been looking for in a CFO, not to mention the fact that she’s female as well,” MVP added. “I think that’s a plus in demonstrating the kind of gender inclusivity we want to show the world from the very start.”

Anabelle is just one of three women, and the second consecutive female, to win this prestigious and highly coveted award. Last year, the award went to Mylene Kasiban of Robinsons Retail Holdings Inc. The first woman awardee was Sherisa Nuesa, then CFO of Manila Water, in 2008.

MVP was also the guest of honor and speaker during the 15th awarding ceremonies, and in his speech, he mentioned that he has known Anabelle for 23 years and throughout she has labored long and hard in the corridors and background of PLDT, and that they were all glad that with this award she has “emerged from the shadows to take her place in the ranks of the best Filipino CFOs.”

MVP added that “Anabelle can stand up to somebody like myself and always do the right thing through the ups and downs of this company. She has always had the courage to disclose what’s good and not so good, after all these years.”

Indeed, according to MVP, Anabelle played a key role throughout this crisis of a pandemic. At the outset, PLDT determined, with her advice, that it was best to turn to PLDT’s innate strengths rather than stay inert or do exceptional things in a panic.

Anabelle had been pivotal in sealing several landmark deals, particularly the $600-million bond issuance in 2020 that marked PLDT’s return to the international capital market after an 18-year hiatus. This feat was recognized by the International Financing Review as the Philippines’ “Best Capital Market Deal of the Year.”

ING Bank N.V. Philippines country manager and managing director Hans Sicat could not be present for this momentous event, as he was in the United States at the time, but he sent his congratulations via video.

Danny Yu, Rina Manuel, Anna Bengzon, Debbie Tan, Atty. Ray Espinosa, MVP, Anabelle Chua, Joachim Horn, Gina Ordoñez, Al Panlilio and Melissa Vergel De Dios.

According to Joseph Albert Gamboa, co-chairman of the FINEX Annual Conferences for 2020-2021, there is an interesting story behind the origin of this prize. It was in 2007 when the FINEX CFO of the Year Award Committee was born with Vic Dela Dingco as overall chairman and liaison director. It was Vic who conceptualized the award program and who invited ING Bank to be the major sponsor and co-presenter.

Back then, renowned sculptor Ramon Orlina had already been commissioned to create the glass trophy for the winner, the beautiful masterpiece “Everlasting Excellence” trophy, which continues to be awarded today.


When the first-ever awards night was set to proceed at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel on November 29, 2007, the so-called Manila Peninsula siege took place at noon of that day, just across from the awards venue. Because of the seeming unrest, FINEX decided to cancel the event, but by nightfall, the situation had normalized, and the awarding thus proceeded with Delfin “Chito” Gonzalez Jr., then CFO of Globe Telecom, as the first awardee.

Manuel V. Pangilinan.

Since then, the following have been honored as ING FINEX CFO of the Year awardees: Sherisa Nuesa; Jose Sio; Ysmael Baysa; Jaime Ysmael; Jeffrey Lim; Felipe Yalong; Jose Jerome Pascual III; Luis Juan Oreta; Danny Yu; Jose Teodoro Limcaoco; Ferdinand Constantino; Augusto D. Bengzon; and Mylene Kasiban.

The search for CFO of the Year looks at four major qualities of CFO’s: as a strategist, as a catalyst, as a steward and as an operator.

According to Al Panlilio, president and CEO of PLDT, “Anabelle is a very strong finance person and a very critical thinker. That helps me in my job, as well as the management committee. When we discuss business matters, initiatives, and products, she can challenge those very critical discussions on where we want to bring the company.”

In her own words, Anabelle said that “an outstanding CFO displays strong and balanced leadership across a wide array of activities and multiple organizations. We need to lead by setting a ‘tone at the top’ that cascades into a culture of excellence for everyone in the group.”

“I always believe that numbers need to tell the story,” Anabelle said. “We have to make our people understand what these numbers are saying. We must look at the people, the work they put in, what they’re doing to achieve these numbers. And that has made me realize that being a CFO is much more than knowing my numbers — that being an outstanding CFO meant being a positive force in all aspects of the business, in all parts of the organization.”

Words of wisdom, no doubt, from one who is truly deserving of such an award.

Today, we celebrate Bonifacio Day and remember the 158th birth anniversary of one of the country’s greatest heroes, Gat Andres Bonifacio.

We remember Bonifacio for his values: his optimistic attitude and sense of responsibility; his value for hard work and virtue of not wasting time; his social responsiveness; and, above all, his patriotism and humility.

These are values that should be held dear even by the best of corporate officers of the modern day, even by the best of CFOs.

And, speaking of the value of hard work, my heartfelt congratulations to the Public Relations and Corporate Communications team of Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC) for being recognized as the PR Department of the Year, and for vice president Melody del Rosario for being recognized as the PR Executive of the Year by the Business Intelligence Group (BIG).

Acclaimed alongside 27 other winners, the Metro Pacific PR and Corporate Communications team was acknowledged for its integral role in building and maintaining MPIC’s brand image, creating unified messaging across the holding company, its subsidiaries, and the rest of the MVP Group of Companies, and integrating corporate social responsibility into its communication framework as the primary working team for Metro Pacific Investments Foundation (MPIF).

Cheers! *

  • Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with