Washington Sycip in Davao

The SGV, the country’s and perhaps Asia’s best accounting and business consulting firm, marked its 50th year in Davao with a lavish dinner last night at the Marco Polo Hotel.

The golden anniversary was complete with songs and dances, tributes to past and present employees, thank yous to all clients and guests, and sumptuous dinner with an open bar.

What was unique about the event was the message of its founder, Washington Sycip, one of the most respected business leaders in the country and in the Asian region.

His words were not about the glory of the firm he built after the war to become was it is today. His speech was a tale of lament and a challenge.

He said the country was seen 50 years ago as the leading country in Asia after Japan. He said being democratic and a Christian nation were seen as the country’s asset for development. But now, he said the country lagged behind our neighbors, and has become a bottom-dweller in almost all categories in Asia. He cited though that the Philippines was No. 1 in corruption!

He expressed worry about the continuing decline in the quality of education, the rising poverty, and the ballooning population.

He said the country is now realizing that being “democratic” and a Christian nation have become instead obstacles to development.

The anniversary may not have been appropriate to promote his passion for certain advocacy such as education and raising the living standards of the Filipinos.

Yet, he said he was concerned about the country that we will leave behind for our children.

It was a message that struck the hearts and minds of most in the audience of accountants, business leaders and government officials.

SGV gave out copies of his new bio “Wash: Only a bookkeeper” as the program closed. I rushed to get mine and had it autographed by this great man, who at 88 was still sharp and witty. His citation of statistics during his speech was admirable.

I told him his speech was great. He just smiled knowing that he has inspired or challenged another human being, a fellow Filipino.

Software Freedom Day in Davao

Davao is once again celebrating Software Freedom Day on September 19.

The SFD is an annual event celebrated worldwide to honor contributors to Free/ Open Source Software.

The event is spearheaded by Holden Hao of DabaweGNU, Inc., a non-profit organization of ICT professionals and enthusiasts promoting the use of Free/ Open Source Software or FOSS.

Hao said the event aims to promote awareness on the advantages of using FOSS compared to proprietary software, which are expensive.

This year’s Software Freedom Day will be celebrated at the University of the Immaculate Conception (UIC) Gym at Bankerohan from 1 – 5 pm. Last year, we held the event at the University of Southeastern Philippines (USP).

The event will feature various presentations on the technical and social issues on using FOSS.

Noynoy tops, reshapes poll rankings

Many are asking and wondering whether the so-called “Cory Magic” and the surging popularity of Senator Noynoy Aquino would translate into votes for next year’s presidential elections.

Well, here is our first glimpse to answer that question. Noynoy topped the survey conducted yesterday in the First District of Davao City.

The survey was conducted by Paelarkaed Communications with 270 respondents in nine barangays with a margin of error of +/- 5% and an accuracy level of 90%.

Please note that Noynoy was in Davao City during the time of the survey on his way to his spiritual retreat in Zamboanga City. The names of Senator Mar Roxas and Jejomar Binay were no longer included in the list of presidentiables in the survey that asked respondents “Who from among the list do you like to be President of the Philippines?”

Please note also that all the presidentiables lost support compared to last month’s survey. This means that Noynoy’s appeal can generate support from almost all political forces.

Rank Name Aug Sept Difference
1 Noynoy 0.0 37.4 37.4
2 Erap 27.8 24.1 -3.7
3 Chiz 20.0 14.8 -5.2
4 Villar 15.0 13.0 -2.0
5 Noli 13.9 9.3 -4.6
6 Loren 5.0 1.1 -3.9
7 Villanueva 1.1 0.4 -0.7
8 (Roxas) 10.6 0.0 -10.6
9 (Binay) 3.3 0.0 -3.3
10 Fernando 1.1 0.0 -1.1
11 Teodoro 0.6 0.0 -0.6
12 Gordon 0.0 0.0 0.0

Noynoy in Davao

Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino, after announcing in Manila last night that he is going on a spiritual retreat and discernment before deciding on his plans for the 2010 presidential race, flew to Davao City this morning.

He is on his way to the Carmelite Monastery in Zamboanga and decided to take the connecting flight in the city. He is now in a private meeting with a close friend of his mother, Jesus V. Ayala.

Local media are finding a way to interview him.

He will proceed to Zamboanga after lunch.

Meanwhile, the K NA! (Kabataang para kay Noynoy Aquino), a local youth group organized last week, are massed up at the city’s Centennial Park continuing to gather signatures to convince the young senator to run for president.



Warm greetings to the Initiative for International Dialogue (IID) for 20 years in promoting people-to-people internationalism. IID, a baby of my kumpare Gus Miclat, is one of the few NGOs based in Davao involved in advocacies on the international level. Its campaigns include promoting democracy, peace, human rights and self-determination in Timor Leste, Nepal, Burma and other Asian countries.

Among the guests I met at the anniversary party last night were Rep. Luz Ilagan of Gabriela, IID Chair and Department of Health Usec Alex Padilla, recently hostaged Mindanao State University professor Octavio Dinampo, Palanca-awardee Mac Tiu, Malaysian Consul-General Nik Mustafa Kamal Nik Ahmad, Mahmod Adilao of the Bishop-Ulama Conference and Iligan Institute of Technology professor Geoffrey Salgado.

Club 888

Welcome to our friend Antonio Ajero, veteran newsman, as the new host of our Club 888 Tourism and Business media forum at Marco Polo Hotel. His appointment after the demise of Gil Abarico last March was just in time for the start of the club’s tenth year.

Tony Ajero, PTV host Ethel Cantor and me (Mo Billacura)

Tony Ajero, PTV host Ethel Cantor and me (Mo Billacura)


Happy 100 years to Lola Luding, Lourdes Bantolinao. I believe she’s one of the oldest living persons in the city. She is my wife’s grandmother. The family threw out a big lunch party yesterday for her centennial birthday. She’s still alert and travels downtown by herself.

Her grandchildren played a trick on her by having 101 candles on her cake.

July 29 City Council Agenda

Calendar of business for today’s regular session of the City Council:

Invocation by Councilor Louie Villafuerte (3rd District);

National Anthem; Davao City March – Tayo as Dabawenyo

Approval of the Minutes of the Previous Session

Privilege Hour

First Reading – 22 items, e.g. Item No. 1284 – Application for Development Permit (DP) of White Rock, a family subdivision of the Quintos at Shrine Hills, Matina; Item No. 1288 Letter of Pedro Godinez, Jr. seeking the assistance of the City Council to extend the licenses of security guards from 2 to 3 years and provision for a study-now-pay-later program; Item No. 1296 – Request of the Davao City Chamber of Commerce & Industry for exemption from the Sinage Ordinance to set up promotional banners for the Davao Trade Expo 2008; Item No. 1300 – Application for Preliminary Approval & Locational Clearance for Hacienda, a 9 hectare subdivision of DMC-Urban Property Developers at Catalunan Grande; Item 1301 – Application for PALC by Villa Monte Maria Subdivision for a 9 hectare property also in Catalunan Grande;

Unfinished Business – 2 items, Item No. 1208 – Ayala Center Davao and Item No. 1184-B on the World Bank – International Finance Corporation Report on Doing Business. The drainage and traffic plan for the proposed Floirendo-Ayala development will be presented by Floirendo Group Exec VP Ricky Floirendo today.

Deferred Committee Reports – 6 items, e.g. Item No. 875-B – Tax exemption request by the Samaham ng mga Musikero sa Davao, Inc. (SAMADHI); Item No. 165 – Restructured schedule of accounts for awardees, buyers and undocumented occupants of the city’s Slum Improvement & Rehabilitation (SIR) Projects;

New Committee Reports – 6 items, e.g. Item No. 893 – Legislative authorization for the expansion of cable television services by Panabo Satellite Television Network to Lasang and Bunawan; Item No. 1156 – Letter from Purok Leaders requesting the relief and transfer of the Sasa Police Station commander;

Items under Suspended Rules

4:24 a.m.

July 15 City Council Agenda

Here are the Items up for discussion at today’s Regular Session of the City Council:

First Reading – 30 Items including an application for poker gaming operations at the casino( No. 1237); reclassification of a property for a softdrink bottling plant (No. 1247); legislative authority for the Metro Davao Overlay Fiber Optic Project (No. 1257); and endorsement for the “Call to Save the Mountains of the World” to the United Nations (No. 1265);

3rd & Final Reading – 2 Items – No. 875-E tax exemption for the concert “Los Suenos a estan compliendo/ Dreams fulfilling;” No. 1067 – deed of donation of Alsons Development Corporation of parcel of land located at Barangay Lasang;

Committee of the Whole – 2007 Philippine Cities Competitiveness Ranking Project;

Unfinished Business – Item No. 1184-B – IFC Report on Business Permit Processing;

Second Reading (Deferred Items) – 4 Items

Second Reading (New Items) – 9 Items including Ordinance on the mandatory ear-screening for newborn babies (Item 251); Barangay boundary disputes (Item Nos. 477, 642 and 759);  reclassification of property for the  Ayala Center Davao.

6:11 a.m.