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100 years of business excellence and service to the country

This year, 2016, is a historic year for the University of the Philippines College of Business Administration (UPCBA) as it celebrates the centennial year of its founding.

Since its establishment in 1916, the UPCBA has been, and continues to be, the premier institution for business education. It has remained as the top performing school in the CPA licensure examinations from 2010 to 2015 and has shaped the minds of the nation’s business and public leaders.

I entered the University of the Philippines in 1966 initially as a student of political science. I would later shifted to the College of Business Administration for two reasons. First, I was challenged by what I was hearing in campus about the difficulty of the courses there. Second, since I had been helping my mother sell shrimp and fish in Navotas and Divisoria, I thought the course could provide me with more useful knowledge and skills.

Although I had learned a lot from my mother (I also helped tend her sari-sari store), it was in the College of Business Administration where my knowledge of business was nurtured. But learning in UP can hardly be confined to the four corners of the classroom. I came to UP when the country was at the cusp of upheaval.

I remember at that time that UP was immersed in leftist discourse and activities. It was just a question of whether you were a moderate left or a radical left. UP was unapologetically leftist. Activism was a rite of passage for many students and it shaped many of our world views which we carry to this day.

Although I was not your typical hardcore “tibak” (activist), I was in UP when the First Quarter Storm was raging. For those too young to remember, the First Quarter Storm refers to protests organized by activists students in the first quarter of 1970.

Despite juggling my studies and helping out my mother sell shrimp, I joined some progressive student movements and organizations. I remember joining the Kabataang Makabayan (KM) and participating in many demonstrations that were held almost every week.

We would board buses and jeepneys from Diliman in Quezon City to Agrifina Circle in Manila and we would march to Malacañang. Those were exciting times, especially to college students who were just beginning to evolve their social consciousness of the problems around them.

Looking back, I consider this an important formative period in my life. Many of the leftist ideals never really left my consciousness. And I applied them even when I went into business.

I believe that this was the singular drive in my lifelong obsession to fight the poverty that oppresses our people. I do not subscribe to violence but I believe in the struggle to free our people from this oppression.

Even as a business owner, I make sure that I pay the correct taxes, that I provide employment, benefits, and opportunities to my employees, and more importantly exercise corporate social responsibility. The latter is characterized by the work of the Villar Foundation on poverty alleviation and entrepreneurship.

Aside from activism, the UPCBA also offered a lot of less political opportunities for young people to engage in extra-curricular activities. I joined the Pan Xenia fraternity, the UP Junior Executives Circle (UPJEC), the UP Junior Philippine Institute of Accountants (UP JPIA), and the UP Student Catholic Action (UPSCA).

Some of my good memories of my UPCBA days actually happened outside UP. We had this Thursday Club that would leave for Cubao or Quiapo after class to eat in cheap restaurants like Ma Mon Luk and Chopsticks House. Sometimes, we would catch the double feature films showing in Quiapo or on Recto Avenue.

I am grateful to my alma mater for providing me with an excellent business education but more importantly with an enabling environment that allowed me to develop my confidence and to dream big, not just for myself or my family, but also for my country.

Congratulations to the UPCBA on its 100th anniversary. I am proud to be a part of its history. I am also honored that I am serving as the president of the UP College of Business Administration Alumni Association during its centennial year.

I invite all UPCBA alumni to join us for a gala dinner, which my wife, Senator Cynthia A. Villar, and I are hosting to celebrate this important milestone. The gala dinner, “100 Years of Business Excellence,” will be held on December 4, 2016, at SMX Convention Center.

For UPCBA alumni who are interested in joining this celebration, please text or call the following: +63998966-9892 (Rev Atayde); +63 2 847-3500 loc. 309 (Junel Roxas). You may also visit www.teamasiaevents.com/upcbaaa/ for more information.

(For comments/feedback email to:mbv.secretariat@gmail or visit www.mannyvillar.com.ph.) (Senator Manny Villar)

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