To recognize the best and brightest in Southeast Asia’s business community, the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN BAC) launched the annual ASEAN Business Awards (ABA) in Singapore.

A total of 76 awards were given out to 60 of the region’s most outstanding companies, which included among many distinguished others well-known firms in the Philippines like Jollibee Foods Corporation, Wilcon Depot, Inc., Century Pacific Food, Inc., the Center for Agriculture and Rural Development (CARD), Inc., and Seaoil Philippines, Inc.

Initially launched in 2007, the yearly Awards ceremony seeks to acknowledge and recognize outstanding ASEAN businesses that have shown significant progress in establishing and reinforcing their positions, in a myriad of industry sectors among which are Agri-Business, Automotive, Logistics, Energy, Finance, Food and Beverage, Retail, and Infrastructure.

ABA has recognized more than 100 Southeast Asian companies that have made their mark in categories like Growth, Employment, Innovation and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) since its inception. The Awards have also expanded its reach to include Priority Integration Sectors of the ASEAN, as well as honor the young entrepreneurs and sustainable enterprises that are changing the landscape towards the better.

“Into its 12th edition, the Awards provide an opportunity for businesses to garner greater exposure and to expand their network within the ASEAN business community and the global stage,” the ASEAN BAC wrote on its Web site.

A new addition this year is the Family Business Award which aims to recognize family enterprises for their outstanding successes and sustainable growth in ASEAN. Century Pacific Food, Inc., the Philippines’ largest canned food company and leading exporter of original equipment manufacturer (OEM) tuna and coconut products, won this award.

Other Philippine companies also bagged awards across multiple categories. Filipino-owned manufacturing and distribution firm Pioneer Adhesives, Inc., formerly known as Republic Chemical Industries Inc., was recognized for its outstanding contributions to the Priority Integration Sector for Automotives. Pioneer is known for leading brands Pioneer Epoxy, Pioneer Mighty Bond, and Pioneer Elastoseal.

Seaoil Philippines, Inc., the largest independent fuel companies in the Philippines and international partner of Caltex Australia, was lauded for its presence in the Priority Integration Sector for Energy.

Meanwhile, Filipino giant Jollibee Foods Corporation was given similar recognition for its exceptional performance in the Priority Integration Sector for Food and Beverage. The company, which owns brands like Jollibee, Chowking, and Mang Inasal, has reported double-digit growth in the first half of 2018.

Global port management company International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) won the recognition for its performance in Logistics in ABA’s Priority Integration Sector. ICTSI has been cited by the Asian Development Bank as one of the top five major maritime terminal operators in the world.

Wilcon Depot, Inc., the country’s leading home improvement and construction supply retailer, was recognized for its excellent performance in the ABA’s Priority Integration Sector for Retail. The company has reported more than P900 million in net income in the first half of 2018 alone.

The microfinance nongovernment organization CARD, Inc. won the award for ABA’s Sustainable Social Enterprise category. CARD, Inc. is a social development organization that aims to eradicate poverty in the Philippines and in ASEAN regions through microfinance and community-based development programs. Currently, the company has served more than 2.1 million microfinance clients in the country from the rural towns and municipalities, and has operations in Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Indonesia, Thailand, and Hong Kong.

Last but not least, Coffee for Peace, Inc. (CFP) won the award for SME Excellence in the Corporate Social Responsibility category. CFP has helped facilitate informal conflict mediation with their whole Mindanao-based peace-building network between certain Migrant and Bangsamoro farming communities. In partnership with the PeaceBuilders Community, the company trains farmers to plant, grow, and process Arabica coffee and civet coffee in accordance with world-class standards, which CFP then purchases for its products.

Other Philippine finalists include the Cinco Corporation, which operates the popular French fries franchise Potato Corner, commercial and residential real estate firm Santos Knight Frank, Inc., and pioneer electric vehicle assembly firm Philippine Utility Vehicles, Inc. Leandro Antonio L. Leviste, founder and president of Solar Philippines, was a finalist for the ABA Young Entrepreneur Award.

The Philippines had over 100 ABA aspirants this year, to which the country won eight out of the 21 awards.

The ASEAN BAC retains the independence and impartiality of the ABA through the selection of a strategic partner every year. Global professional services firm EY served as this year’s partner and aided in the shortlisting of nominees, criteria-setting, selection of judges and implementation of the ABA framework.

The Awards Gala Dinner was presided by Mdm Halimah Yacob, president of the Republic of Singapore and the guest-of-honor. It was held in The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore. — Bjorn Biel M. Beltran