Good Afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen:
The year 2010 was a special one for me. As I assumed the mantle of leadership at First Philippine Holdings Corporation (FPH), I did so at a time when its finances were rock solid and our platform of businesses were enviably strong and raring for more growth. Of course, the last decade for FPH was not an easy one but I attribute the crucial shaping, pruning and forging of our current platform of businesses to the decisiveness of our Chairman Emeritus at critical junctures these last few years. We were admittedly in crisis, and it forced us to make difficult choices. But when those tough, painful decisions were taken to sell our controlling stakes in Meralco and Manila North Tollways Corporation (MNTC), we found that we closed a door but unlocked many new ones not previously open to us before.
Today, our businesses are less reliant on government‐regulated franchises but have more involvement in industries where we constantly have to compete for the attention of customers. In the power business, our sights are no longer just set on growing domestically but also now positioned to compete internationally in new markets where we can bring Energy Development Corporation's (EDC) geothermal expertise. Even many of our businesses that are located in the country like First Philec Solar and First Philippine Industrial Park for example, are in fact serving tough global customers with options to source their requirements anywhere in the world. Thus, quite a number of our businesses are already compelled to benchmark the products and services they offer against the best in the world if they want to prosper.
As we grow, we also seek to align our strategic goals with that of the country. We have always believed that as a nation striving to be competitive, we must develop more clean and indigenous sources of energy. Today, all the power we produce at First Gen and its subsidiaries are from such sources and we will relentlessly continue to develop more. But we will also align our goals with that of the Filipino aspiring to go global and to bring our unique talents and expertise to that global arena. Amidst an international arena that’s already crowded with bigger rivals, we can only do that credibly if we bring something unique to the table. For the First Gen group of companies, that means taking our “35‐year head start” in integrated geothermal power development expertise to new markets abroad that are clearly in search of more indigenous, low‐carbon energy alternatives.
At First Philec Solar, we are among the best producers of silicon wafers for the growing solar photovoltaic industry. Today, we supply some of the world's leading PV companies helping them to improve performance efficiencies and drive costs down towards their holy grail of grid parity.
At First Philippine Industrial Park, we are creating a platform to attract firms to invest and locate their manufacturing businesses in the Philippines and make it easy for them to access the best resources our country has to offer.
At Rockwell Land, we will continue to raise the bar for real estate development in the country. We know that this industry has many bigger, better‐heeled players but what began as an opportunistic foray into a new industry for us has now turned into a strong brand synonymous with success and high‐end quality. We will continue to build on that success profitably.
Not all has gone well for our group of businesses last year. Our oil products pipeline First Philippine Industrial Corp. had an unfortunate accident last year when a leak was discovered along a highly urbanized section of its pipeline in Barangay Bangkal, Makati. Although the ultimate liability is still to be established, we believe that it is our duty to ensure that public health and safety are not compromised and that the environment is protected. From the onset of the crisis, FPIC has always sought to act with integrity and “do the right thing." We believe this is the only way a company emerges stronger from a crisis. Though it was an unfortunate accident no one wanted to happen, it’s a fact that an oil products pipeline such as FPIC remains the safest, most efficient way to transport oil products to the metropolis. Prior to shutdown, it was supplying close to 60% of the requirements of Metro Manila and surroundings; and takes on the role of more than 800 truck trips daily between the Batangas refinery to Pandacan oil depots in the heart of Manila at a fraction of the cost per liter. But to play that role effectively, it must also earn the public’s confidence that safety is not an issue. This we will do.
Taking all challenges in stride, it’s evident that the year indeed ushered in many new changes. In fact last year, the cover of our Annual Report was entitled “New Beginnings”. And as we celebrate our 50th year in 2011 and face this new beginning with anticipation and excitement, we also thought it fitting to start it with a new, fresh corporate logo that will hopefully convey our journey and vision for the next 50 years. Between now and June 30th you will be seeing a transition to our new emblem. Here is a peek into that new Logo (show video). There she is, I hope you like our new look!
Our new icon has us envision a green road through vibrant blue oceans and leading towards a golden sunrise. We want the imagery to be a constant reminder that as we seek growth, we must plan to ingrain sustainability in the business models we choose; that in the spirit of the great explorers, we should incessantly be in search of new blue oceans, never forgetting that staying relevant means we are always watchful, ready and willing to reinvent ourselves for a constantly changing world – a world of a million sunrises so to speak.
So on our 50th year, it’s a good time to take stock of where we will take FPH in the next 50 years. Our Chairman Emeritus constantly reminds us to make sure we build an FPH that will last more than 400 years into the future. Does this sound like another impossible dream? Well, just last week, he culminated a four‐day climb to the summit of Mt. Kinabalu, the highest peak in Southeast Asia. It was a climb that can physically and mentally challenge even the fittest of us weekend warriors. At my age two months shy of being 50, I consider it a personal achievement. But to witness your father, your Chairman Emeritus, brave the elements over four days, soldier on and scale such a mountain at the age of 81 was a most moving and inspiring experience. It is a poignant reminder to all of us that with the right preparation, focus and determination, nothing is impossible.
Today, we live in a country and in a world that’s badly in need of big dreams. Dreams where every Filipino has the choice of developing and taking his unique talents global or finding employment locally without having to suffer the burden of separation from his or her family. Or the dream of every Filipino enjoying a quality of life commensurate with the best in the world. Or bigger still, is the dream of having a world no longer bound by the limits of fossil fuels. At FPH, over our next 50 years, we will not just dream about the kind of world we want, we will begin making that world now.
Thank you very much and Good afternoon.