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Bicol Business Month bares Halyao awardees for 2015

By Jason B. Neola

AN aggressive young businessman engaged in agricultural products distribution, gasoline and oil dealership, and auto sales and service and a young abaca furniture manufacturer and designer are among this year’s five successful awardees for the prestigious Halyao Awards, one of the culminating highlights of the highly successful Bicol Business Month that is about to wind up for its November edition this year.

The Bicol Business Month is an annual undertaking of the Metro Naga Chamber of Commerce and Industry with the the City Government of Naga as partner.

Joe Perez, Bicol Mail editor and Halyao Awards 2015 chairman, said that the members Board of Judges were pleased by the quality of nominees submitted this year to the Halyao Awards screening committee.

This year’s Board of Judges is chaired by Ed Nicolas, VP for South Luzon of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, with the following as members: former Halyao awardee Tita D. Calleja of Camarines Sur and Albay, Past President Antonio Concepcion of the Metro Naga Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MNCCI), Camarines Sur Provincial Director Tintin Soriano of the Department of Labor and Employment, and President Francia Canlas of the Rotary Club of Naga.

Although there were two major categories for the search, namely the Outstanding Businessperson of the Year and the Outstanding Young Entrepreneur of the Year, all the nominees were evaluated and graded based on the following three primary criteria: Management Excellence, Impact to Local Economy and Community (including sustainability and growth and expansion), and Corporate Social Responsibility (with bonus points on pro-environment projects and advocacies).

Perez explained that only three (one each from Albay, Camarines Sur, and Sorsogon) were selected for the Outstanding Young Businesspersons of the Year. He also noted that there were no nominations received from the provinces of Camarines Norte, Catanduanes, and Masbate for this category. Five out of seven nominees eventually came out as winners.

Perez added that two – out of three nominees — were selected for the Outstanding Young Entrepreneurs Award due to their close scores and the exemplary achievements and dynamism that both of them (one each from Albay and Camarines Sur) showed in their respective credentials and professional records as submitted for evaluation and verification by the screening committee and the Board of Judges.

Young entrepreneurs, according to the selection rules, must be qualified as those who have been in active business for no less than five years and their age should not be more than 40 years at the time of their nomination.

The conferment of awards will be held at 6:30 p.m. this Friday, November 27, at the Avenue Convention Plaza. This year’s guest of honor and speaker is Ms. Teresa Barretto Buenaflor, one of the 3-women founding members of Biggs Corporation, Bicol’s first successful local food chain that has opened branches throughout the region and in Southern Luzon.

Naga Mayor John G. Bongat will give the welcome message to be followed by MNCCI President Gilbert Albero for his brief remarks.

The following are these year’s awardees for the Outstanding Bicolano Businessperson of the Year:

Jeremie Janssen S. Lo. Presiding over as top executive of a burgeoning group of companies that covers a diversified range of businesses – from manufacturing and retailing to distribution of agricultural products throughput Luzon, and fuel and lubricants, gasoline stations and auto parts to full dealership of the nation’s leading car brands and services in the whole Bicol Region – this young man, aside from his superior business acumen, has a soft spot for farmers and agricultural workers. His business methods were not exactly all about earning, but also about providing better livelihood opportunities and bringing quality products and efficient services to both his workers and his client farmers.

Beyond his personal achievements, this man also made a name for himself as an active participant and leader in various business clubs and private organizations, even as his businesses continue to expand and establish their presence on a nationwide scale, particularly in areas where they provide more opportunities in terms of livelihood and job generation.

Romel C. Canicula. Starting off as a laborer of a private coco coir company, this ambitious former barangay councilor engineered his first decorticating machine and established his own Southeastern Fiber Products which now produces geo-textile nets out of coconut husks that are installed in erosion- or landslide-risk areas, such as slopes, rivers, shorelines and mountain rehabilitation. The nets, twined by more than a thousand weavers in his own community in Albay, prove to be more superior to any other geo-jutes when utilized in erosion control system projects. Aside from coco fiber, 70% of the husk becomes coco peat or dust that is used as raw material for organic fertilizer. Moreover, it was found out that coco peat is also ideal for production of eco-plywood.

Though he did not earn a college degree, this innovative father of two young kids envisions to build a link between investors, government agencies and subcontractors to widen the use of geo-textiles nets to help minimize the impact of natural calamities through an anti-erosion control system and the promotion of cleaner and greener environment.

Dominador E. Escoto, Jr. Though he first tried his luck in Manila as a newly-minted Mechanical Engineer after graduating from Bicol University, this Gubateno went back to his province to put up a factory for coconet and virgin coconut oil and liniment in 2005. But while the venture was starting to peak up, two strong typhoons hit Bicol in late 2006 that razed his factory to the ground. Undaunted, the young engineer recouped what remained of his machineries and took a loan from a local cooperative to rebuild his factory. Today, the Gubat Agritech Industries Corp. that he founded is now worth P10M composed of decorticating machines, delivery trucks, hydraulic hauling press, and service vehicles for the weaving and production of twines and cocnut coir that come from coco husks supplied by farmers from Gubat and the neighboring towns in Sorsogon. The company’s continuous growth has impacted the lives of the residents in the local communities through improved economy and the people’s quality of life.

For the Young Entrepreneur of the Year award:

Felipe Noe Morin Napa, Jr. His love for the trade and for his people has indomitably helped thousands of abaca workers to once again pursue the craft with a renewed vigor in the indigenous Bicol abaca industry. His dual role as an enterprising abaca furniture maker and barangay chairman has made him a model Albayano whose P30M business enterprise has helped put his province a preferred destination for tourism, arts and culture promotion. He designed Albay booths in tourism fairs in Germany and Hongkong using abaca and other local products, as well as the trade fairs sponsored by the United Nations World Tourism Organization conference, the 40th Meeting of the ASEAN Plus Three National Tourism Organization and the 20015 APEC Summit preparations.

Whether one is a start-up company or an established one, this young entrepreneur wants to share his knowledge to everyone in the abaca industry. He wants them to become market leaders in their own right because he believes that part of business success is to give something back to the community, including his competitors.

Richard T. Rocha. At a very young age of 31, this youthful manager has already done more than what one expects from a man of his age. Taking over a family corporation from his father, the only son in a brood of five made their ‘Deca Homes’ as one of the most successful brands not only in the Bicol Region, but also in South Luzon. He is hands-on and in-charge of the overall operations of the company’s construction and sales and marketing.

Growing up from a family who rose out of sheer determination and hard work, he believes that “good character is more to be praised than outstanding talent. Most talents are, to some extent, a gift. Good character, by contrast, is not given to us. We have to build it, piece by piece, by thought, courage and determination.” Build he did, piece by piece, of what has now become the top corporation for socialized and economic housing projects in Naga City and environs.