1968 has been portrayed in many publications as the most turbulent year in the 20th century that rocked the very foundations of Planet Earth. It was the year when world history seemed to change daily — with the tumultuous 1960s reaching a political and cultural boiling point in dramatic, game-changing fashion.
In the US, 1968 is often remembered for the assassinations of Senator Robert Kennedy, Sr. and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that triggered nationwide riots. In Europe, it was the year when a student rebellion paralyzed France, while the former Czechoslovakia tasted freedom briefly during the so-called Prague Spring that presaged the fall of the Soviet empire two decades later.
Closer to home, the Vietnam War was raging and the Tet Offensive resulted in heavy casualties on both sides. There was growing international disenchantment toward the war, which was turning into an election issue even in the Philippines where then President Ferdinand Marcos announced plans to seek reelection. Meanwhile, an expose by Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr. on the Jabidah Massacre in Corregidor Island triggered the passage of a bill in Congress calling for the annexation of Sabah in North Borneo.
Such was the backdrop of events when the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX) came into existence in 1968. The prevailing climate of change must have prompted a dozen finance men led by Arsenio Vistro to break away from the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants and form FINEX as a vehicle for the development of financial management in the Philippines.
FINEX quickly established its presence in the national scene and made a mark during its first 25 years that straddled a tempestuous period in Philippine history, including Martial Law and the EDSA Revolution. Over the next 25 years, it survived the waves of global and domestic crises to become the foremost organization of finance professionals in the country today.
To commemorate FINEX’s first five decades of existence, a coffee table book titled FINEX 50: Leading On To Wider Frontiers will be published next month. This collectible edition documents the milestones of the organization, featuring the illustrious men and women who are products of the half-century-old institution.
The book will also offer invaluable information assembled as a comprehensive backgrounder to the FINEX Golden Jubilee celebration and the ensuing continuum of transformation. It hopes to capture the spirit of excellence in professional and capital market development as well as financial and economic reforms that has imbued the organization over a span of 50 years.
As 2018 comes to a close, parallelisms have been drawn between the current year and 1968, which is considered as one of the most divisive years in recent history. For instance, America’s trade war against China is seen as a flashpoint for the resurgence of the Cold War. Another example is the series of “yellow vest” protests in several French cities that are being compared to the Paris youth revolt circa 1968 in terms of impact and disruption.
On the other hand, Filipinos are hopeful that the coming year would be less chaotic and polarizing than the one about to end. This renewed sense of optimism stems from two recent developments: the return of the Balangiga bells signaling a closure to the Philippine-American War of 1899-1901, and the return of the Miss Universe crown with the victory of Catriona Gray in the “World Cup of beauty pageants.”
Have a Merry Christmas and all the best in 2019, dear readers!
J. Albert Gamboa is CFO of the Asian Center for Legal Excellence and Chairman of the FINEX Media Affairs Committee’s Golden Jubilee Book Project.