Mark Louis F. FerrolinoSpecial Features Writer

Twenty business leaders and organizations from the Philippines who have showcased outstanding performance and responsible leadership were named awardees of the Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Awards (APEA) 2018 held last Dec. 6 at Manila Marriott Hotel in Pasay City.

Over 200 attendees, comprised of industry leaders, leading entrepreneurs and dignitaries, were present at the glittering gala dinner with the theme “Promoting Inclusive Economic Development through Sustainable Entrepreneurship.”

Department of Trade and Industry Undersecretary for Regional Operations Group Zenaida Cuison-Maglaya, Philippine Retailers Association President Rosemarie B. Ong, Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. Vice-President David Chua, and Enterprise Asia President Dato’ William Ng graced the event.

Organized by Enterprise Asia since 2007, APEA is a regional awards program that recognizes entrepreneurial excellence with the aim to band leading entrepreneurs and organizations across Asia to spur greater innovation, fair practices and growth in entrepreneurship, thus creating a successful entrepreneurial ecosystem which will then shape the region to sustainable economic and social growth.

The prestigious award ceremonies are currently held in over 14 countries and markets including the Philippines, which is now on its fifth consecutive year. This 2018, the committee received 80 by-invitation only nominations across 24 industry categories from the country. After a thorough, stringent selection process, 20 organizations and business leaders emerged as the winners.

For the Corporate Excellence Category, winners were C&E Publishing, Inc. for Education and Training Industry; Damosa Land, Inc. for Property Development Industry; G-FOXX International Inc. for Direct Selling Industry; Gan Advanced Osseointegration Center (GAOC) for Healthcare, Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Industry; Karcher Inc. for Industrial and Commercial Products Industry; KMC Solutions for Professional and Business Services Industry; LBC Express, Inc. for Transportation and Logistic Industry; Medilink Network Inc. for Telecommunications and ICT Industry; Reyes Tacandong & Co. for Professional and Business Services Industry; United Auctioneers Inc. for Industrial and Commercial Products Industry; Viventis Search Asia for Professional and Business Services Industry; and Zuellig Pharma Corporation for Healthcare, Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Industry.

Meanwhile, winners for the Outstanding Category were the following: Rienzi Ramirez, president and country manager of 24/7 Customer Philippines Inc., for Telecommunications and ICT Industry; Carmelo T. Casas, founder and president of Casas+Architects Inc., for Professional and Business Services Industry; Dr. Steve Mark Gan, president and chief executive officer of GAOC, for Healthcare, Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Industry; Oliver James N. Matias, president of Grundstein Construction & Development Corporation, for Construction Industry; Dr. Michael A. Machica, founder and chairman of Machica Group, for Professional and Business Services Industry; Robert Blancaflor, president and managing director of Robert Blancaflor & Groups Inc., for Professional and Business Services Industry; and Stephen James Reilly, chief operating officer of Travellers International Hotel Group Inc., for Hospitality, Food Service and Tourism Industry.

The Entrepreneur of the Year, which was the most coveted award of the night, was given to Necisto U. Sytengco, chairman of SBS Philippines Corporation, for Chemical Industry.

This recognition, according to Enterprise Asia, is given to extraordinary individuals who have shown outstanding ingenuity. Only one winner is honored under this category for each industry in every country a year, making it the most highly sought-after award for entrepreneurship in the region.

Enterprise Asia cited Mr. Sytengco as an exemplar of excellence in enterprise building. His work principles of proper preparation, effective execution and continuous improvement have allowed him to recognize opportunities that others would have missed. Under Mr. Sytengco’s leadership, SBS Philippines has expanded to serve the chemical requirements of the market. At present, the corporation has impressive market capitalization of P10.5 billion.

In a speech delivered after receiving the award, Mr. Sytengco shared that setting up a chemical trading company in 1970 was not easy. He was at the age of 16 then, filled with sheer determination and a heart to succeed. He also acknowledged certain individuals, who have helped and contributed significantly to the growth of the company through the years.

Mr. Sytengco said that the award will serve as the motivation of the company in delivering what people expect and deserve.

“As an APEA awardee for 2018, we in SBS ensure that we contribute towards sustainability of environment, to the economic development of our country, and nation-building, and foremost, for the society, such as helping deserving students to attain their university degree through scholarship program to bring better community for our country to live in,” Mr. Sytengco said.

All the awardees received the APEA Trophy, which symbolizes the leading role of entrepreneurs and enterprises in advancing humankind, in uplifting communities, in scientific and technological discoveries, and in innovations that make the world a better place.

APEA, as noted by Mr. Ng in a speech during the gala dinner, not only honors some of Asia’s most enterprising men and women, it also highlights the importance of entrepreneurship in nation-building and in preserving peace and order within the region.

“In Enterprise Asia, we believe entrepreneurship goes hand in hand with social responsibility. As leaders of our respective companies and industries, we have both the means and the ways to help those who are less fortunate and those who have been marginalized,” Mr. Ng said.

Meanwhile, Ms. Cuison-Maglaya said that considering entrepreneurship as a key economic driver is both apt and timely.

“It is not an understatement to say that our economy is built to the sweat and tears of entrepreneurs. Despite the many turmoil and challenges that we have faced over the years, the hard work and perseverance of our entrepreneurs are the reasons why Philippines’ economy is as diversified and as robust as it is today,” Ms. Cuison-Maglaya said.