It is not every day that one will meet a good mentor, friend and brother, all rolled into one package.
It is very unlikely that after you meet one, that you will meet another.
I have had the privilege of meeting two in my life — my brother Mike and his passionate and tireless friend and partner, the late Donald Dee.
Donald as a champion of the chamber movement
Donald was a no-nonsense and pragmatic man. He walked the talk, even when he is the only one doing it, so long as he was doing the right thing.
A true La Sallian, Donald was a staunch supporter and advocate of the small and medium enterprises (SME) and was the president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry from 2004 to 2006. Before his passing, Donald sat as PCCI’s honorary chairman and chief operating officer.
At PCCI, he was able to advocate passionately the competitiveness of Philippine business, most especially when he founded the chamber think tank, Universal Access for Competitiveness and Trade (U-ACT). Through this initiative, he was able to encourage SME to partake in trade negotiations and policy development talks to further empower them.
Donald at ECOP
Donald has also served the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) as its president before his demise and as its former governor.
At ECOP, he championed the industry, looking after its relevance in nation-building as job creator and employer. He steered ECOP to become a balanced institution attuned to both the needs of the employer and employees.
Donald as a man of many hats
I have always looked forward to my meetings with Donald as his perspective was always fresh and practical. While some people might mistake him for being serious — although he really was — he did not want to waste time in useless banters. He was an action man who exuded grace and integrity, even when the times were rough. As a businessman, he committedly served Phoenix Resource and Management Corporation as its president.
In advocating the competitiveness of the business community, Donald held positions at the Philippine Exporters Confederation, Confederation of Garments Exporters of the Philippines, ASEAN Federation of Textile Industries, ASEAN Business Advisory Council, the Philippine Long Distance Company, Philippine Business for Education and the Foundation for Crime Prevention.
It was not only the private sector that has witnessed his passion and hard work. Donald served the public sector through the Export Development Council, National Competitiveness Council, the Social Security System and, most notably, as a special envoy for Trade Negotiations of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from 2004-2010. He shepherded and defended before the Senate the Japan Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement and jumpstarted bilateral and multilateral discussions with the EU and UK.
In 2017, recognizing the contribution of Donald to nation-building, the International Chamber of Commerce Philippines, awarded him the Global Excellence Award for his exemplar leadership in the private and public sectors. He was described as an innovator who had represented the Philippines globally as a trade negotiator and had staunchly championed entrepreneurs, paving the way for them to reach unprecedented heights locally and overseas.
Donald, thank you for the friendship and stewardship. You have set the standard high for the business community. Maraming salamat and rest well, my friend.