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MBM Bruce, the mountaineer

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Fil C. Sionil

Fil C. Sionil

When he speaks, he reminds me of former Foreign Affairs Albert del Rosario. Both have this certain twang that can give any DJs or any newscasters a run for their money. He’s the youngest, bringing down the average age of the seven-member Monetary Board (MB), the policy-making body of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. He became a mountaineer at the age of 65. These are but some of the qualities that sparked my curiosity about MBM Bruce Tolentino.

Nothing in this world is more powerful than a good story. And I believe, his is a good story to share. What is behind his decision to be a mountaineer – at a relatively late stage in life? I sought him out for a conversation.

It’s a “check” in his wish list. A fulfillment of a “life-long interest” in mountain climbing, he said. While he’s tagged as the youngest member of MB, he is the oldest to join the team of BSP mountaineers.

“I was pleased to join the BSP-Mountaineering Club (MC), knowing that being part of the group would enable me to fulfill a life-long interest in mountain-climbing, enjoying the outdoors, and keeping fit. Moreover, being with the BSP-MC would assure that I could go mountain-climbing in good company that would look out for each other’s safety and enjoyment.“

Trekking is not foreign to him. As a child growing up in Baguio City, his hometown, climbing up and down the hills was part of his daily routine. In his late 20s, he became a “regular runner,” and participated in marathons in his “30s to 40s.”

“I was doing marathons once or twice a year. I can’t do marathons now but I have endurance to manage non-technical mountain climbing,” he said. His maiden climb with the BSP team was in November last year on Mt. Daraitan. I asked how he felt reaching the summit. There was momentary silence. He was reminiscing his emotions, the sweetness of victory upon reaching the top of Mt. Daraitan, which is in the heart of Sierra Madre in Tanay, Rizal.

Mountaineers say Mt. Daraitan is one of the most popular mountains to climb. One attraction before reaching the top is crossing the Tinarik River. Beaming with pride, MBM Bruce turned to his iPhone showing me the photos he posted in his Facebook account. The pictures say it all. Wish list accomplished!

His hunger for trekking led MBM Bruce to conquer Mt. Lubo, Mt. Tangwa, and Mt. Musong Kabayo early this year. There’s no stopping this baby boomer’s quest to trek more mountains. He and the BSP-MC are now aiming for Mt. Apo.

Another check in his list, this time career wise, is his participation in putting together the implementing rules and regulations of the Rice Tariffication Law, which took effect first week of this month while everybody was busy focusing on developments in the political arena.

“Together with (Finance) Secretary Dominguez, we worked on rice sector reform over the past 30 years. Now at long last, rice trade liberalization has been achieved, for the lasting benefit of all rice consumers who have been paying double to triple the price of rice compared to Thai or Vietnamese consumers.

Filipino farmers will be supported by the rice competitiveness fund provided under the new law,” MBM Bruce said.

Heard from the walls of business: Sometime next month at the earliest or maybe on BSP’s 26th anniversary on July 2, BSP will be releasing currency signed by Gov. Benjamin E. Diokno. His signature is Tagalog script Baybayin, others call it Alibata. I suggest keeping one or two of the currency bearing the signature of the late Gov. Nestor A. Espenilla, which may interest the numismatists moving forward since he’s the only governor who passed away while in office.

Talk back to me at sionil731@gmail.com

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