Lopez Holdings

 

Remarks of Federico R. Lopez, chairman and CEO of First Philippine Holdings (FPH) Corporation at the 53rd Anniversary Celebration and Service Awards of FPH
July 4, 2014

Anniversaries, like we’re celebrating today -‐ 25 years in my case, 35 and 30 in the case of Nonoy and Tony – are always opportunities to look back, think, reflect and raise the question: “what was it all about?” Has the journey been worth it? How many lives are better because of our work? Am I a better person because I worked here at FPH? And is it a better company because I worked here?

The answers to most of these questions can wait till retirement and will probably be the right time to take score. But for now let me delve a little into the person I was as I joined FPH in 1989:

• was 5 foot 4 and unmarried
• 160 lbs. with a Body Mass Index of 27.4 defined as “overweight”
• had a 36 inch pants waistline
• cholesterol/triglycerides scores close to 300 each
• had borderline uric acid and blood sugar scores
• was convinced that I could get all my daily nutritional fiber needs from oatmeal raisin cookies and deep fried banana turon
• thought that an adequate night’s rest meant four to five hours of sleep, three cups of coffee plus a Starbucks Frappuccino for merienda
• dinner for me was a hotdog sandwich and rootbeer at the Shell Select on Ortigas Ave. before I got home from work past 9pm each night.

At the rate I was going, one health specialist cautioned me that I would have a difficult time reaching retirement age without serious and possibly life-¬‐threatening health maladies.

Fortunately, however, our Chairman Emeritus launched the FPH Wellness Program in 1997 just about the time I got married. My then new wife Monina was shocked to learn she had just married someone with the worst blood chemistry results in the whole of FPH. So we were determined enough to make the journey together under the guidance of one of FPH’s wellness resources, Sanirose Orbeta, whom I can still remember saying “We will keep you away from taking any medication and you will do this all naturally via lifestyle modifications namely nutrition and exercise”.

Today I’m still happily married, also still 5 foot 4, and thanks to the FPH Wellness program and Sanirose, I still don’t take any maintenance medicines whatsoever. However, I’m now 27 pounds lighter, my pants are also 5 inches smaller around the waist and my Body Mass Index and blood chemistry results are now defined as normal, save for stubborn borderline blood sugar levels that I’m still jostling with but am confident I can bring under control in a few months via the right foods and exercise.

I don’t deny that these last two and a half decades were stressful to say the least but I believe that it was the supportive corporate environment at FPH that empowered me to make the right choices and modifications that literally saved my life. Today at 53, I’m even in better health than I was at the age of 28 when I first joined the company.

In similar respects, that’s how I see FPH and the changes it has been through over the same time horizon. When I joined in 1989, we were a company still searching for a core business, gross revenues of just Php22.77 Million and a Php22.73 Million net loss that was coincidentally just as small as its topline. We had an asset base of just Php1.34 Billion and a paltry Market Capitalization of only Php160 Million. In 1989 FPH had 46 employees and officers and an average age of 39.

Today, especially after observing everyone at our Cebu outing last week, I expected that we had an even younger average age. But to my surprise the other day when I inquired about our company demographics, I discovered that my hunch was not true. Although our number of employees at the parent has doubled to 84, the average age has actually increased from 39 to 45 years old! At first that didn’t seem accurate.

However, upon closer inspection I found some interesting facts. In 1989, our eldest employee was our Chairman Emeritus who was 59 then. Steve Psinakis was second at 57. Nena Wieneke was at the time a willowy 49. Nonoy Ibañez and Ben Liboro were just youths of 38. Pearl Catahan was barely 36. Ricky Yatco and Vickie Martinez were just 34. Tony Mabasa was 30. I was 28 and so was Corie Miguel. And Milet Sabella was a youthful and girlish 26 at the time. Even Romy Venta, whom at the time to all of us already seemed like someone of eternal, timeless vintage was then just 53 years old (that’s my age this year).

But even if FPH is not demographically the younger organization we thought it was, it feels younger in terms of its dynamism. Today it can accomplish much more because our deepening bench gives us the ability to harness the energy of youth and fuse it with the wisdom of age and experience. That’s precisely what our focus on driving Strategic Clarity, Synergy and Talent Centricity throughout FPH is all about.

Today I see FPH in a sweet spot. Our consolidated revenues are now more than Php93.4 Billion. Today we also have a net income of Php2.35 Billion and an Asset base of more than Php295 Billion. From a market capitalization of less than Php159 Million in 1989, today we are valued at more than Php42 Billion with tremendous upside potential still to go.

Although 25 years have passed in the blink of an eye, I sometimes rummage through those memories and recall snippets of the struggles and battles we fought for FPH that got us where we are today. Those years have countless lessons embedded in them that are too valuable to be left lingering in our busy and oftentimes preoccupied minds. That’s why I’m so glad that our Chairman Emeritus had the foresight to commission Raul Rodrigo on yet another book on FPH’s history; one that, unfortunately, would also be Raul’s last work before his untimely death. However, I’d dare say that his writing is brilliant and classic Raul Rodrigo and his ability to have captured the drama behind events in FPH’s story through the eyes of many of us living through it was nothing short of superb. Many of us still get goosebumps reading and re-¬‐experiencing it all. You will all have the opportunity to do that for yourselves as we gift you with your own personal copy of “The Audacity DNA: Powering FPH Into The New Millennium” before you all leave this morning.

As we commemorate our 53rd anniversary today with what was a simple mass and ceremony I thought it would remind us of the journey our company has taken and the people like you and those that have come before you who make it what it is.

FPH is what our Chairman Emeritus calls a “living company” because it breathes, it laughs, it cries, and most especially because it remembers and learns from its past. That has been our strength at FPH and why those enduring values that have always mattered to us will also be the same ones that will continue to guide us well into the future.

Happy 53rd Anniversary to us all, and congratulations to our service awardees today! Thank you!

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Lopez Holdings Corporation (formerly Benpres Holdings Corporation)
4/F Benpres Building, Exchange Road, 1605 Pasig City, Philippines

  • Trunkline: (632) 449-2345
  • Fax: (632) 634-3009