By Adrian Paul B. Conoza, Special Features Assistant Editor
A remarkable leader who really worked his way up the ranks. A businessman notable for handling numerous roles across some of the Philippines’ leading companies. A sports advocate who actively supports many of the country’s athletes.
These are some of the ways to recognize Manuel V Pangilinan, or simply MVP, who celebrates his 75th birthday today.
Born on July 14, 1946 to a bank messenger and a housewife, Mr. Pangilinan had humble beginnings, and with sheer determination, he was able to elevate himself one step at a time into one of today’s successful corporate magnates.
Mr. Pangilinan is a scholar throughout his studying years, starting with elementary and high school at San Beda College, and then college at Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), where he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics.
“In college, my weekly allowance at the Ateneo was P10, and that included my jeepney fares. I have a lot of classmates who have cars and others even have their own drivers. They were lucky. Someday, I said to myself, I will reach all those,” he recalled in a commencement speech in ADMU in 2006. “My scholarships in both San Beda and Ateneo were only my lucky charms.”
In 1968, Mr. Pangilinan received his Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, with the help of a scholarship provided by Procter & Gamble.
Upon graduation and without any experience, MVP started his career as an executive assistant to the president at Philippine Investment Management Consultants, Inc. (PHINMA) for six years. His career then continued overseas with Bancom International Limited, a Philippine investment bank based in Hong Kong.
Amid a setback in a planned joint venture, Mr. Pangilinan worked for American Express Bank for four years, seeing an opportunity to prove what a Filipino can do in the said company.
Then, in 1981, he moved from professional management to entrepreneurship when he founded investment management and holding company First Pacific Co. Ltd.
As Wharton Magazine detailed, Mr. Pangilinan started the company with the help of four Indonesian families, including the Salim Group, and public funds. The initial plan hatched between him and Anthony Salim, the son of Salim Group’s founder Liem Sioe Liong, was for First Pacific to be “intermediaries of capital, sort of a financial supermarket where one could buy securities or get a loan or whatever”, as well as “an intermediary of goods”.
At present, First Pacific has principal businesses related to consumer food products, telecommunications, infrastructure, and natural resources. In the Philippines, these include Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC), Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), Global Business Power Corp., Metro Pacific Light Rail Corp., Maynilad Water Services, Inc., Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC), Philex Mining Corp., PXP Energy Corp., Roxas Holdings, Inc., PLDT, Inc., and Smart Communications, Inc., among others.
Mr. Pangilinan served as managing director of First Pacific from 1981 to 1999. He was appointed executive chairman until June 2003, after which he was named managing director and chief executive officer.
In addition to being an entrepreneur, Mr. Pangilinan also considers himself a “corporate activist” when he and First Pacific “faced the massive task of repair and renewal” of PLDT.
“Critics told us that we couldn’t change the culture of monopoly, that misdemeanors in PLDT couldn’t be eradicated, that our fixed line business had no future. But we made tough and unpopular decisions at PLDT,” he said, citing encouraging honesty and transparency and converting the mindset of bureaucrats to that of innovators and entrepreneurs as some of the changes made.
Mr. Pangilinan is the chairman of PLDT, Smart, ePLDT, Inc., PLDT Communications and Energy Ventures, Inc., MPIC, Meralco, Global Business Power, Maynilad, MPTC, NLEX Corporation, Philex Mining, PXP Energy, Landco Pacific Corp., Medical Doctors, Inc. (Makati Medical Center), Davao Doctors, Inc., Colinas Verdes Corporation (Cardinal Santos Medical Center), MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., and TV5 Network, Inc. He is also the vice chairman of Roxas Holdings.
He also serves as the president commissioner of PT Indofood Sukses Makmur Tbk, the largest food company in Indonesia.
In civic duties, Mr. Pangilinan sits as chairman of the Philippine Business for Social Progress, PLDT-Smart Foundation, Inc., and One Meralco Foundation, Inc.; co-chairman of the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation; and a director of the Philippine Business for Education.
He is chairman of the board of trustees of San Beda College and co-chairperson of the board of trustees of Stratbase Albert del Rosario Institute and the U.S.– Philippine Society.
He was formerly chairman of the board of trustees of ADMU and was a member of the board of overseers of the Wharton School.
Aside from being a top businessman, Mr. Pangilinan is a strong supporter of Philippine athletes and a champion of the country’s sporting programs.
He is currently the chairman of the MVP Sports Foundation, Inc., a privately-funded sports development foundation of the MVP Group of Companies focused on helping its chosen sports, namely badminton, basketball, boxing, cycling, football, golf, taekwondo, rugby, and weightlifting.
MVP is also the chairman emeritus of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), the national sports association for basketball in the county. He first served SBP as president from 2007 to 2016.
He also sits as chairman of the Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines, the country’s governing body for amateur boxing.
MVP has gained several honors from esteemed organizations and publications. These include Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines Award for Finance in 1983, Presidential Pamana ng Pilipino Award by the Office of the President of the Philippines in 1996, Best CEO in the Philippines by Institutional Investor in 2004, CEO of the Year (Philippines) by Biz News Asia in 2004, People of the Year by People Asia Magazine in 2004, Distinguished World Class Businessman Award by the Association of Makati Industries, Inc. in 2005, Management Man of the Year by the Management Association of the Philippines in 2005, and Order of Lakandula (Rank of Komandante) by the Office of the President of the Philippines in 2006.
He was voted as Corporate Executive Officer of the Year (Philippines) and Best Executive (Philippines) at the 2007 and 2008 Best-Managed Companies and Corporate Governance Polls conducted by Asia Money.
Mr. Pangilinan also received the Best CEO award from Finance Asia Magazine in 2012 and the Executive of the Year Award from the Philippine Sportswriters Association in 2014.
In 2015, JCI Manila and the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) RVR Center for Corporate Responsibility conferred him the 2015 Ramon V. del Rosario, Sr. Award for Nation Building for his outstanding contributions to nation building and exemplary corporate citizenship.
MVP was also awarded the First Honorary Doctorates Degree in Management by AIM in 2016; as well as Honorary Doctorates in Science by Far Eastern University in 2010, and in Humanities by Holy Angel University in 2008, Xavier University in 2007, and San Beda College in 2002.
In a commencement address delivered to the class of 2017 of Manila Tytana Colleges, Mr. Pangilinan said, “Success is about passion — passion to succeed, passion for excellence, passion to compete. There are many of you here who were born poor, but have succeeded in graduating today, some with honors. [Their] examples should lead us to believe that your passion can break the chains of poverty, that a spirit of purpose can propel your energy, that the power of ambition can enable you to achieve what you may now think is impossible.”