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With Due Respect

Thanksgiving for new careers (2)

To continue my piece last Sunday, let me now discuss my new, pleasant and concurrent career as a corporate director/adviser and foundation trustee/officer.

To be an effective corporate director/adviser, I had to learn the new tools of millennials. Shifting from the old analog mobiles to the smart phones was just the start, as I am now deep in figuring out the three technologies that will shape the near future: artificial intelligence, blockchain technology and internet of things.

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Of special interest is the cutting-edge medical knowledge I get from my directorship in the Metro Pacific Investments Corp. which, among others, runs 14 hospitals, including Makati Med and Asian Hospital (where, in addition, I hold a direct board seat).

From the corporate boardrooms, I witnessed firsthand how the tycoons seamlessly prepared their children to lead their conglomerates: from Jaime Zobel de Ayala to the brothers Jaime Augusto and Fernando; from the late George S. K. Ty to the brothers Arthur and Alfred; from John Gokongwei Jr. (and his brother James) to his son Lance; from Oscar M. Lopez to his son Piki; and from the country’s wealthiest, Henry Sy Sr., to his daughter Tessie and her siblings.

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Admirable, indeed, how the young inherited not just the wealth but also the hard work, grit and ingenuity of the old; and, more vitally, their drive to help build the nation’s economy and wellbeing.

I am also thankful to have met two of the newest taipans. Tony Tan Caktiong propelled Jollibee from a solitary eatery 40 years ago to become the largest quick-service restaurant chain in Asia and one of the 10 largest in the world in market capitalization. Quickly following in his footsteps is Edgar “Injap” Sia, the founder of Mang Inasal and Double Dragon Properties Corp.

The most amazing entrepreneurs I have met are Manuel V. Pangilinan, who managed the phoenix-like rise of the MVP Group from the ashes of its real estate debacle in 1998 to its unqualified success now, and Ramon S. Ang, who parlayed San Miguel Corp. from a relatively modest food/beer processor to the multifaceted behemoth it is today.

I did not meet many of these business leaders till after I had retired from the Court. An exception is Felipe L. Gozon, a compañero I had crossed swords with since the 1970s who got me to the board of GMA 7 in early 2007. By the way, I asked him several times to join the Court, but he preferred to oversee the phenomenal growth of the multibillion-peso Kapuso network.

Many ask how I can attend all my board and committee meetings, as I do in writing 100 percent my columns. Strict time management is my answer. I see to it that they are preset well in advance. I respectfully decline seats in companies that (1) have unavoidable meeting conflicts, (2) are fierce direct competitors, or (3) have business cultures I am not comfortable with. Speaking of cultures, exemplary is the work ethic of Japanese and Emirati companies I serve.

As a side benefit of my service in publicly listed companies, I learned how to invest in the stock market. I chose the listed companies on the bases of their (1) reasonable profitability, (2) growth, (3) public float size, (4) transparency, (5) trustworthiness, (6) good corporate governance and (7) social responsibility.

I invest in real estate depending on their location. Sample: We bought via loans our house and lot in Dasmariñas Village, Makati, in 1979 at P2,000 per sqm. Now, the latest price is P400,000 per sqm. At that time, proprietary membership in the nearby Manila Polo Club sold for P100,000, and Manila Golf Club at P200,000. Now, it’s P23 million and P60 million, respectively.

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My involvement in large companies enabled me to secure financial support for my favorite foundations, principally the Manila Cathedral Foundation and the Foundation for Liberty and Prosperity. In the latter, I dedicated half of my retirement pay.

On the other hand, my immersion in corporate-led foundations like the Metrobank Foundation and the Tan Yan Kee Foundation allowed me to help implement their charitable activities. Sometimes, the taipans consulted on how to deploy more effectively their private wealth to philanthropy.

Comments to chiefjusticepanganiban@hotmail.com

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