July 14, 2022

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MVP at 76: Success shaped by wisdom, passion, and experience

If experience truly is life’s best and most profound teacher, then Manuel V. Pangilinan, one of the most respected, influential, and powerful men in the Philippine business scene, is a learned man indeed.

Mr. Pangilinan, or more popularly known as MVP, has built his name as the man behind the country’s biggest and most influential companies. His contributions have created household names such as PLDT, Smart, Meralco, and Maynilad. He helms companies in industries ranging from mining to media, from food to healthcare. Even as he turns 76 today, his knowledge and experience continue to grow as he serves at the helm of the First Pacific conglomerate.

His experiences are worth even more, considering that he had had to work his way up to the position he has now. In a graduation ceremony at Manila Tytana Colleges, he recounted his childhood with his parents, with his father working as a bank messenger to make ends meet.

“I grew up in Little Baguio, San Juan. Our house stood right on the boundary of a squatter settlement. From my bedroom window, I could see, smell, and feel the lives of the poor, and see its face,” he had said.

Mr. Pangilinan went on to Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) to pursue a college degree in Economics, in the hopes that he could go to the United States to try for an MBA. Knowing that his parents could not afford it, however, he gathered what resources he had and eventually landed himself a scholarship through a competition. He achieved a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce as a Procter & Gamble Fellow as a result.

MVP started his career as an executive assistant to the president at Philippine Investment Management Consultants, Inc. (PHINMA) for six years, after which he went overseas with Bancom International Limited, a Philippine investment bank based in Hong Kong.

He claimed that as he was “young enough to make mistakes, to be independent and accountable to myself and my career,” he took the risk to work abroad.

“I knew that if I waited any longer, I’d be too afraid to take risks. I formed First Pacific in 1981 starting from a rented space — 50 square meters, no bigger than your typical classroom — with a team of only six people using modest start-up capital,” he had said.

Now, Mr. Pangilinan serves as First Pacific Co. Ltd.’s managing director and chief executive officer, alongside the following positions within the MVP Group of Companies: president and CEO of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company and Smart Communications Inc.

He also serves as chairman, vice-chairman, or board director at: Manila Electric Co., Maynilad Water Services Corp., Mediaquest Inc., Associated Broadcasting Corp., Philex Mining Corp., Philex Petroleum Corp., Manila North Tollways Corp., Landco Pacific Corp., Medical Doctors Inc., Colinas Verdes Hospital Managers Corp., Davao Doctors Inc., Riverside Medical Center Inc. in Bacolod, East Manila Hospital Managers Corp., Asian Hospital, Inc., Central Luzon Doctors’ Hospital in Tarlac, De Los Santos Medical Center, Metro Pacific Zamboanga Hospital Corp., and The Megaclinic, Inc.

In 2012, he was appointed as vice-chairman of Roxas Holdings, Inc. which owns and operates the largest sugar milling operations in the Philippines.

He is also the incumbent chairman of the Board of Trustees of San Beda College. Furthermore, he is chairman of the Philippine Disaster Resiliency Foundation, Inc. (PDRF) and the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) and co-chairperson of the board of trustees of Stratbase Albert del Rosario Institute and the US– Philippine Society.

He co-chairs the US-Philippines Business Society as well. Formerly, he served as chairman of the board of trustees of ADMU and was a member of the board of overseers of the Wharton School.

He serves as an MVP in Philippine sports as well, having been named chairman emeritus of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas and chairman of the Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines. He is also currently the chairman of the MVP Sports Foundation, Inc., a privately-funded sports development foundation of the MVP Group of Companies focused on helping its chosen sports, namely badminton, basketball, boxing, cycling, football, golf, taekwondo, rugby, and weightlifting.

In recognition of Mr. Pangilinan’s contributions to the country, the Philippine Air Force awarded him the rank of Lieutenant Colonel (Res) in a promotion list approved by President Duterte in July 2021. In 2006, the Office of the President of the Philippines awarded Mr. Pangilinan the Order of Lakandula with the rank of Komandante. He was named Management Man of the Year 2005 by the Management Association of the Philippines. Mr. Pangilinan was awarded the First Honor

Photo shows “MVP: the man and his Art” commemorative coffee-table book that features Manuel V. Pangilinan’s (MVP) personal and corporate art collections that grace the walls and halls of his home and offices in Meralco, PLDT, and First Pacific. “When one thinks of Manuel V. Pangilinan, the image that comes to mind is that of a businessman, renowned for his work ethic and passion for excellence. But there is another side to the man, one seen by few but reflected in the corridors of his main offices and all over his home. This
is MVP, the art lover, MVP, the collector,” said renowned art writer Cid Reyes who penned the book, which won a Gold Stevie for Meralco from the Stevie International Business Awards last year.

ary Doctorate Degree in Management by Asian Institute of Management in 2016, Honorary Doctorate in Science by Far Eastern University in 2010, in Humanities by Holy Angel University in 2008, by Xavier University in 2007 and by San Beda College in 2002 in the Philippines.

Malasakit exemplified

Not content to rest on his laurels, Mr. Pangilinan and his companies have also been critical in the country’s ongoing efforts to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The MVP Group partnered with the Department of Health in a campaign to encourage all sectors to comply with science-backed behavioral changes in preventing the spread of COVID-19. This is alongside MVP Group’s humanitarian initiatives through the Tulong Kapatid alliance of foundations.

In the graduation ceremony, Mr. Pangilinan had said, “Success springs from old-fashioned values — values as fundamental as being honest and truthful — with yourself and with others. And so is being diligent, hard-working and disciplined. But most of all, success is about passion— passion to succeed, passion for excellence, passion to compete.”

In leading some of the country’s biggest companies through what can only be described as the biggest economic and social crisis in recent history, Mr. Pangilinan has outwardly shown the wisdom and compassion that his experience had taught him through the years, the same kind of values he wishes to instill in his employees.

In a statement to PLDT last year, he said, “We confidently face the future – resolute to do our duty well, resolute to uphold our values by deed and by word, resolute to attain our highest goals, in keeping families connected, entertained, and educated; enabling businesses to operate at home or in the office – and simply being a source of strength amidst extraordinary adversity and affliction, and above all, resolute in preserving the ground we have retaken; never again shall we yield.” — Bjorn Biel M. Beltran