"Here is his valedictory address."
On June 8, 2021, my friend and compadre, Manuel V. Pangilinan, retired as president and CEO of PLDT, Inc., the Philippines’ largest telco.
MVP was PLDT president twice—from 1998 to 2004, and from 2016 to June 2021, a total of 11 years. He has been chair since 1998 to the present.
From 2004 to 2020, PLDT revenues grew from P126.25 billion to P181 billion, assets P265.47 billion to P575.84 billion, and equity from P48.5 billion to P119.66 billion.
Profits performed erratically, from P27.9 billion in 2004 to
P40 billion in 2009 and 2010, down to a 13-year low of P13.46 billion in 2017, and rising steadily to P18.97 billion in 2018, P22.78 billion in 2019, and P24.58 billion in 2020.
“PLDT not only survived, but thrived, last year,” enthused Pangilinan (cum laude, economics, Ateneo; MBA, Wharton) in his valedictory address as president-CEO last June 8, 2021.
Here is the rest of that valedictory address:
“No matter how robust our profits may be in any year, we must stay keenly focused in serving our customers, especially during crises – keeping families connected, entertained, and educated; enabling businesses to operate at home or in the office; ensuring healthcare is delivered to those who need it – and simply being a source of strength amidst extraordinary adversity and affliction.
“When I first became president of PLDT 23 years ago, it was in some ways the fulfillment of my young hopes and ambition.
“As early as 1999, we spoke about convergence – the coming together of telecoms, media, and the internet – creating a singularly unique experience of communicating. The world has turned over many times since then, but my hopes and goals have neither diminished nor vanished.
“In fact, the convergence concept we discussed then has become a verdict of history today.
“You will also recall that it was a time when telecommunications was a simple business model – a single product business – which was voice.
“More than 90 percent of PLDT’s revenues then were driven by voice. One would assume that the job of PLDT president in 1999 was easy, because the business was simple, and PLDT still was a virtual monopoly.
Technology changed PLDT
“But technology changed all that rapidly in the short span of 20 years. The changes were phenomenal, but problematic. For one, our revenues have seen consequential changes.
“Now, 76 percent of our revenues are data and broadband, and voice accounts for a mere 20 percent.
“At the same time, our company has become infinitely more complicated – the coverage and complexity of our networks immense, the range of our products and plans, and customer care and experience awesome.
Once more with feeling
“Let me now bring you forward, to 2015. About 66 months ago – at a time of trauma and decline for PLDT, the duties of the CEO fell upon me once again.
“And again, I asked for your prayers, and God’s help, that we might bring our company back to the premiere position it once held – by fixing our networks and making them the best in the country, transforming our business processes from legacy to digital, fortifying our management bench and, most critically, uniting our people into a single purpose, and igniting that purpose with passion.
“My primordial goal as CEO was rejuvenation of PLDT as the foremost telco in the country.
“I would be less than honest with you if I say that I knew from the start what to do, where PLDT should be going.
“Rather, I had my own dark nights of doubt and long days of despondency. But because we came together as one, hope was nurtured. And we healed.
“We are now a stronger company, establishing historic high revenues and EBITDA these past five years. And as the only integrated telco, we have re-created our dominant position across product lines.
Final duty: Turnover to Al Panlilio
“At the end of this meeting, I will have discharged my final duty as president and CEO of PLDT.
“I’ve asked Al Panlilio to succeed me in this position. My first words would be to declare my support to him.
“This decision is made less difficult by the knowledge that Al, with his long experience with PLDT and his competent qualities, would be able to take my place forthwith, without interruption or detriment to the progress of PLDT.
“Indeed, there are moments in the lives of corporations, and even in our own lives, where change becomes appropriate, even inevitable.
“I now lay down my charge. I will continue to be your chairman and, as such I will always follow the affairs and fortunes of our company with profound interest. If I can be of service to Al and his team at any time, I shall not fail to help.
The future – expectations
“In the past 23 years, I’ve seen firsthand the ordeals and triumphs of this company.
“The P40-billion debt re-structuring of Piltel in 1999, PLDT’s liquidity issues in 2001 exacerbated by the September 11 terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in New York; our acquisition of Sun Cellular in 2011; our loss of leadership in the wireless business starting 2015 – these are just some of the many consequential milestones of PLDT’s storied tapestry.
“We’ve seen them all – and prevailed. So let me say this to conclude – it has been an unparalleled privilege to have served you and this company as your CEO. It has indeed been a remarkable walk with destiny.
“Let us therefore confidently face the future as we did the past – resolute to do our duty well, resolute to uphold our values by deed and by word, resolute to attain our highest goals.
I look forward to a great future for PLDT – where our accomplishments will match our service, our passion with our purpose.
Never again will PLDT yield
“I look forward to a PLDT dauntless in facing crises of the worst kind as we did with COVID, fearless in embracing opportunities for innovation or expansion – resolute in preserving the ground we have retaken: never again shall we yield.
“I look forward to a PLDT which earns the respect of its peers in business, the keen interest of investors, and the patronage of our customers and communities.
“In closing, I wish all of you to be safe and well. In next year’s annual meeting, I hope we can all be together in one place in person.”