Rising seems to be a good thing, yes? You progress, make your way up, and go step after step ahead.
We’ve seen people at the top and you’re convinced that they indeed lead perfect lives. What we always forget, however, is the dullness that came before everything is buffed golden – an essential part of every story of rising. We often overlook reality, moments wherein hardships were doused with larger amounts of hard work. Truly, nothing worth having comes easy, and it’s vivid in the life of a certain man.
It’s the year 2006, and there he stood in front of hundreds of graduates clad in blue. He’s on a pedestal, figuratively, yes, but this time, literally, too. A well established man born in 1946, he shares his advice for the class through his own narrative, his own story of rising – a different one from that of his grandfather’s, a former DepEd secretary, and father’s, a retired bank president.
He begins by giving snippets on his student life where he fueled his strong dedication. He’s an alumnus of San Beda College, and the school wherein he delivers his speech, Ateneo de Manila University. He worked his way through his scholarships, things that he treasured very much. Though he received good education from these prestigious institutions, life remained humble, having to budget allowance just enough for him to get through the day. In college, he rode the jeepney on his way home while his classmates had cars and chauffeurs. Nonetheless, he was driven to work even harder, with the promise that one day he’d be able to attain those comforts, too.
Days, months, years passed by, and he was already in his senior year. He expressed interest in pursuing higher studies, sharing to his father his plans of getting an MBA degree in the USA. All he got in response was silence as his parents could not afford the costs. However, things do have a way of finding you if they’re really meant for you. At the perfect timing, multinational consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble opened a national competition for a rare University of Pennsylvania Wharton School scholarship which he eventually won.
With an MBA in tow and high hopes for a managerial post in an established company, he returned to the Philippines after two years. He took his first shot and tried his luck at Procter & Gamble. Unfortunately, his scholarship patron declined his application. He then moved on to accept the first job offered to him, and that is the executive assistant to the president position at PHINMA Corporation with a salary of P1,000 a month.
He stayed at his first workplace for six years before he decided to take a chance abroad. It was a difficult decision to make as it entailed leaving his family behind, but he needed to get out and show that he can attain success independently. He went and landed a job at Hong Kong-based Philippine investment bank Bancom International, a feat that provided a rich learning experience for him.
Though the sun seemingly shines, there are still eclipses that come, and thankfully, go. As he progressed in his Hong Kong journey, our protagonist was then supported to a joint venture with American Express which he hoped to lead as CEO. To his disappointment, he wasn’t given the post. He was at an eclipse, and the dark skies didn’t subside that easily as the project failed after two years. Left downcast and confused, he contemplated on what he’d do next. Still, the Filipino in him kept fighting and he chose to stay. Four years with the company, he was offered a position in the London offices, a career step higher but farther from home. All the efforts he gave to prove himself were enough, and so he politely declined.
With the support of clients that he met along the way, he then founded investment management company First Pacific in 1981. Just like other businesses, it started small and had its fair share of failures to learn from. Unlike many corporations, however, this venture continues its stride to success with more than three decades under its belt.
1998, he came home to the Philippines. His company invested in the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company which was in a problematic state back then, even hopeless for some critics. Regardless, he had hope for the fixer-upper. After a lot of rigorous mending, the enterprise was revived and stands strongly until now. Now known as PLDT, it is one of the biggest telecommunications service providers in the Philippines. This repair wasn’t the only one, though.
Now he has a growing number of company shares, acquisitions, and board memberships in his roster, including PLDT, Smart, Meralco, and TV5, among many others. With multiple recognitions, he is also a Commander and Grand Cross awardee of the Order of Lakandula. He also does not fail to give back to the community through scholarships and the MVP Foundation, to name a few.
As he closes his address to Ateneo’s graduating class of 2006, Mr. Manuel “Manny” V. Pangilinan tells everyone:
“It gets dark sometimes, but morning comes always. Suffering breeds character. Character breeds faith. In the end, faith will not disappoint. You must not disappoint.”
Featured photo from Iris Cecila Gonzales’ Blog