Religio, mores, cultura. These three values are fundamental to the Lasallian identity: the spirit of faith, zeal for service, and communion in mission. The university instills in its students the right values and attributes that follow the path of the Lord. Mores represent the proper ways of conduct in society. Culture asserts that a good Lasallian has great and deep love for the country.
These may appear as simple slogans but, in my career, I have been blessed to have had Lasallians as bosses and superiors who embodied these principles. Allow me to share my experience with Lasallian leaders who have made an impact on the lives of many.
Eduardo “Danding” Lucero was one of the appointees of former President Cory Aquino. He had a short stint in rehabilitating the Processing Center Authority and invigorating the then Guarantee Fund for Small and Medium Enterprises. He is one of only three individuals to have been given the DLSAA President’s Alumni Award. He was a tough boss, but a dedicated one. He served as the editor of the official English student newspaper, The La Sallian, and as DLSAA President for at least four years. When he passed away a few years ago, it was with little fanfare, despite his consistent, dedicated volunteer service for decades.
Dr. Philip Ella Juico was my dean at the then DLSU Professional Schools, which used to manage the MBA program. He was a strong leader and was relentless about improving the quality of cases used in the business school. Years ago, I assisted him in an ASEAN project that bore fruit because of his assiduous work. He has also served the country in various ways — Secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform, Chairman of the Philippine Sports Commission, and, presently, President of the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association. A TOYM awardee for government service, Juico knows that advocating for good governance isn’t easy.
At the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), another Lasallian was my boss, Gil Buenaventura. From being as senior executive at BPI, he served the government as President and CEO of DBP, which he successfully steered from its treasury orientation to its real mandate of being a development financial institution. Another tough act followed as CEO of RCBC when it was recovering its footing from the Bangladesh fiasco. Buenaventura preferred to simply do his job without being in the limelight. He was results-oriented, and he was an empowering superior.
Another Lasallian took over DBP in the person of Emmanuel “Manny” Herbosa. His vision was to do more for Mindanao, for farmers, and for small entrepreneurs. Despite his private banking roots, he embraced the need to make sure DBP fulfilled its mission for God and country. Fittingly, the Association of Development Financing Institutions in Asia and the Pacific (ADFIAP) presented the Outstanding CEO Award to him in 2021 for his “singular leadership, vision and achievement.”
I continue to meet Lasallians who are making a difference. The Bangko ng Kabuhayan (BNK) is a small rural bank based in Pasig. Its chairman is former Energy and then Finance Secretary, Jose Isidro “Lito” Camacho. While he serves as Vice-Chairman of Credit Suisse of Asia-Pacific and is its Singapore Country CEO, he also ensures that micro and small loans are extended to budding entrepreneurs.
At the Philippine Business Bank (PBB), serving as Vice-Chairman and CEO is Rolando Avante, who holds a marketing degree from DLSU. Avante is on top of one of the country’s busiest and most aggressive savings banks whose operations are already close to those of a regular commercial bank. PBB aims to be the bank of choice of the SME market segment, growing from two branches in 1997 to 165 branches today. Started by the visionary Chairman Emeritus Alfred Yao, PBB has just implement its new core banking system and is aiming to further its reach through both traditional and digital solutions for its target clientele.
The senior management team of PBB is peppered with Lasallian talent. Consuelo Dantes, head of HR, took MBA units at DLSU. Jose Maria Valdes, who is overseeing the new core banking solution, has degrees in Behavioral Science and MFI. The head of the Corporate Banking Group, Eduardo Que, is an MFI graduate. Liza Jane Yao, head of General Services, is a BS Accountancy graduate. She is also a key board member of the AMY Foundation, which helps send to college deserving children from the underprivileged sector.
DLSU aims to develop technically competent, humanistic, and socially responsible managers and leaders. The country needs more of these as we recover from this pandemic.
Benel D. Lagua is former executive vice-president at the Development Bank of the Philippines. With AIM-MBM and Harvard-MPA degrees, he is a part-time faculty member of the Ramon V. Del Rosario College of Business of De La Salle University.