By Melito Salazar Jr.
Many in the business community mourn the passing of Ambassador Alfonso Yuchengco, who parlayed the “family insurance business…into a financial powerhouse. He was among the first industrialists open to forming joint ventures to gain access to capital and technical knowhow.” (Rappler).
Ambassador Yuchengco was chairman of the Malayan Management and Investment Corporation and honorary chairman of MICO Equities, the holding companies of the Yuchengco Group of Companies and chairman emeritus of the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation.
Indicative of the respect and admiration of the business community was the conferment by the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) of the MAP Management Man of the Year 1992 on Ambassador Yuchengco.
The citation reads, “Amb. Yuchengco was chosen for the award because of his effective leadership as reflected in the growth and expansion of the business activities of the Yuchengco Group of Companies; for his focused vision of entrepreneurship manifested in contributing to national economic progress; for his deep personal commitment to corporate social responsibility in providing, among others, meaningful jobs to thousands; for his continuing promotion of good value formation and environmental protection; and for his abiding sense of patriotism, as exemplified by his distinguished service to his countrymen.”
Ambassador Yuchengco was pivotal in helping the Board of Investments which I headed as vice chairman and managing head from 1995-1999, generate high levels of investments from Japan where he served as ambassador from 1995-1998 during the term of President Fidel V. Ramos. Because of his status it was relatively easy for him to invite the top Japanese conglomerates and business executives to attend investment promotions fora or join investment trips to the Philippines, especially in the Calabarzon area.
Every investment mission we held in Japan had full coverage by the Japanese media – TV and broadsheet, whom the Ambassador at his own expense would invite to press conferences and the cocktails and receptions that followed. He was also generous in his advice on appropriate promotional strategies as well as indentified the key players to whom we should direct our spiel. His kindness and warm hospitality was greatly appreciated by those of us who normally had to manage with meager government resources as we struggled to attract foreign investments into the country.
His commitment and dedication as a diplomat was manifest during President Ramos’ swing through different prefectures in Japan prior to the Kyoto APEC Meeting. Despite a leg injury due to a bad slip in hole no. 7 of the old course of the Manila Golf and Country Club, Ambassador Yuchengco accompanied President Ramos in the plant visits, investment fora and receptions. Using his trusty cane, he patiently traversed from one commitment to another, spirits high and always willing to give advice and support. Those of us much younger could not but be inspired by his determination.
As we condole with the family of Ambassador Alfonso Yuchengco, we thank them for sharing him with the nation in business and public service. We thank Ambassador Yuchengco for having touched our lives and made us wiser and more committed to work for a progressive and prosperous Philippines.