Editors of the Daily Tribune decided to name the Newsmakers of the Year in 10 fields through a vote on who made the biggest impact on a particular field, either positive or negative; who have no adverse record in their respective fields and who made an exceptional contribution to improve the lives of ordinary Filipinos.
Personalities chosen were in the fields of politics, business, public service, culture and the arts, mass media, judiciary, social work, military, police and sports.
Dennis Uy’s Udenna Corp., ventured into various industries before its joint undertaking with MISLATEL
Politics: Genuine leadership
Time did not exactly name President Rodrigo Roa Duterte as the most influential individual in the world, but its 2017 online poll based on the choice of its readers puts him on top.
Time said Duterte snatched five percent of the total “Yes” votes in the poll of the most recognized leaders.
In the poll, the President beat Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Pope Francis, United States billionaire Bill Gates and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg who all received three percent of the total “Yes” votes.
The recognition puts him on the world stage as a leader by majority of Filipinos who, for years, have been hoodwinked by the yellow “tuwid na daan” mantra.
Even his independent foreign policy veers the country away from traditional ally, the United States, and towards its regional neighbors such as China.
National Interest, a foreign policy publication in the US, pointed out in an article that “America, not Duterte, failed the Philippines.”
The author, Gordon Chang, said Washington did much to push Duterte away by failing to honor moral, if not legal, obligations to its long-standing ally.
“The Philippine President did not have to provoke America as he did in October 2017 during his trip to Beijing. But his words, though extreme, were nonetheless a predictable outcome of a misguided U.S. policy,” the article said.
Business: The rise of Dennis Uy
The country’s poor Internet connection gave birth to the necessity of adding another telecommunications (telco) player that will compete against the current giants in the industry and was eyed to improve connectivity.
Recently, the government through the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) held a bid to determine the third telco player, identifying the Mindanao Islamic Telephone Inc. (MISLATEL) as winner.
Similar to President Duterte, the man behind the newest telco player was the Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy and, through his Udenna Corp., partnered with the state-run China Telecom to form the MISLATEL consortium.
Answering the question on “Who’s thinking to make the next bold move in the country” in its tagline, Uy’s Udenna Corp., ventured into various industries before its joint undertaking with MISLATEL.
Originally incorporated as Oilink Mindanao Distributions Inc. in 8 May 2002, Phoenix Petroleum is a home-grown company in Davao City and is the first independent oil company to be publicly listed in the local bourse after the passage of the Oil Deregulation Law in 1998.
While his oil business continues to retain its market strength, Uy proved that this is not his only strong suit as he expanded and ventured across other industries.
Through Chelsea Logistics Holdings Corp., the Davao businessman diversified his business by adding a shipping service under its subsidiaries, Chelsea Shipping Corp. and Trans-Asia Shipping Lines Inc.
Chelsea served as the logistics arm of Uy’s Udenna Corporation where it boasts a total of 3,300 delivery points nationwide, a massive tanker capacity of 65.7 million liters coupled with its huge cargo capacity reaching 7,000 containers.
Public service: Art of action
Before taking on the role as the 18th Secretary for the Department of Transportation, Arthur “Art” Tugade served under the previous administration as the president and chief executive officer of the government-owned Clark Development Corp. (CDC), an attached agency of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority tasked to run the Clark Freeport Zone and the Clark Special Economic Zone.
He was in office from December 2012 until April 2016. In an interview, he said that what he wanted to particularly instill in the agency was good values.
During his term, CDC became the Company of the Year in Asia CEO Forum and garnered a record-high P1.49 billion ($32.10 million) in revenues from 2013 to 2015.
Tugade is a businessman and lawyer who hails from Cagayan, with entrepreneurial experience spanning nearly five decades.
Taking on the role as the 14th Secretary of the Department of Energy, meanwhile, is businessman and politician Alfonso “Al” Cusi.
Born on 4 December 1949 in Oriental Mindoro, Cusi was educated at the University of St. La Salle in Bacolod and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1972. He pursued further studies at the University of the Philippines-Cebu and earned a Master of Business Administration in 1976.
He worked as an assistant comptroller of the then Aboitiz Shipping Company in 1973, now the 2GO Group. He later on worked his way up the ladder and held several managerial positions for the company and its subsidiaries, with posts such as credit collection manager, purchasing manager, passage and stevedorial manager and trucking manager.
In 1977, he was promoted as assistant to the president, and in 1985 became the general manager and executive vice president. He resigned from the company as senior vice president and director in 1990, earning a broad and extensive experience in the shipping industry.
He then found his way into shipping, logistics and distribution, and founded the Starlite Ferries offering roll-on/roll-off services between his hometown Mindoro, Batangas and Aklan.
Cusi’s knowledge of the shipping and transportation industry paved the way for a path in government service for him. He is now also the vice chairman for the PDP-Laban and headed the government’s air and sea transportation agencies under the administration of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from 2001 to 2010.
In 2010, he assumed leadership for the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines. During his term, the Philippine aviation industry regained its category 1 status, allowing local carriers to fly to the United States and Europe.
He resigned in December of the same year to pursue his private businesses, serving in the board of the Intex Resources Philippines, a Norway-based international mining company, which has a nickel and cobalt mining project in Mindoro.
When he was appointed as Energy secretary by Mr. Duterte, Cusi pledged to achieve electrification of the entire country and ensure reliable, steady and affordable power supply.
Culture and Arts: Not just a ‘small voice’
The Philippines is blessed to have Lea Salonga. She may have fallen out of favor among some because of her unpopular stance on the Marcoses. Politics aside, no one can dispute how she has made an indelible mark in the international theater scene, thereby putting Filipino talent in the consciousness of global theater aficionados.
Ms. Salonga has been presenting her best foot forward over the years since originating the iconic role of Kim for the West End musical Miss Saigon in 1989. She eventually reaped numerous accolades for the same role including a Tony Best Actress. Her crystal-clear voice would also become the singing voices of Disney princesses, Jasmine of Aladdin and warrior princess Mulan.
This year, she again made the country proud with citations to add to her long list of achievements. In late November, she was nominated for Best Featured Actress in a Musical by Broadway World Los Angeles for her portrayal of Grace Farrell in Annie at the Hollywood Bowl. It can be recalled that she played little Annie in the 1980 production of Repertory Philippines.
She marked another milestone early this month. She and the cast of Broadway’s Once On This Island were nominated as Best Musical Theater Album at next year’s Grammy’s. She played Erzulie, the Goddess of Love, in the musical. She took her last bow as Erzulie in June, but it seems she is not yet done with the musical.
Judiciary: Supreme Chief Justice
Former Chief Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro on 10 October 2018 served the Supreme Court for less than two months, but still made her mark in the tribunal with her short stint.
She was appointed by the President on 25 August besting Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta and now Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin.
She replaced ousted chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno who was slapped with a quo warranto petition by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG).
He hogged the limelight during the hearing of the House committee on justice on the impeachment complaint filed against Sereno.
Then President Fidel Ramos awarded her with the Presidential Medal of Merit for Exceptionally Meritorious and Valuable Service Rendered and Remarkable Accomplishments that have served the interest of peace, unity and progress in Southern Philippines.
Her career at the DOJ culminated in her designation as Assistant Chief State Counsel in 1997, and on the same year she was appointed as Associate Justice of the Sandiganbayan.
After six years or in 2003, she became the Sandiganbayan’s Presiding Justice and handled the case of Estrada.
She was vice-chancellor and member of the Order of the Purple Feather — the honor society of the UP College of Law.
De Castro took law courses at the International Law Institute in Washington DC, and Harvard Law School’s Program Instruction for Lawyers.
Social Work: The President’s man
Former Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, voted for his social advocacies, has two devotions: basketball and President Rodrigo Duterte.
His pursuit is heavily built around both of his interests. He shoots the hoops to win people’s hearts and then use the confidence that he musters to propagate the programs of the President.
He is now hoping to take the uncompromising war on drugs of the President to the legislative stage in his pursuit of a Senate seat in the midterm elections next year.
His top legislative agenda would be to push for the institutionalization of the Anti-Drug Abuse Council (ADAC) to strengthen the government’s campaign against illegal drugs.
Go, whom many called “Special Assistant to the People,” wanted to mandate the ADAC in local government units (LGU) in the barangay, municipal, and provincial levels. The ADAC are convened to address first-hand drug issues in areas of an LGU jurisdiction.
A basketball fan and sports lover, Go also played prominently in restoring the country’s sports dignity, particularly in basketball, when he intervened to ensure the Philippine Basketball Team, Gilas Pilipinas, would play in the 2018 Asian Games.
As proof of his calling for public service, people of his native Davao City fondly remember when, at the height of the flash flood on 22 December 2017, Go appeared seemingly out of nowhere on a Jet Ski and plucked people one after the other and brought them to safety. A day later, Go was one of the first to comfort the relatives of the victims of the NCCC Mall fire.
He brought his superhero persona to the national scene. From one fire scene to another, he would comfort people with his words and assurances of assistance through food, clothes, school supplies, and other necessities to fire victims.
At the encouragement of President Duterte, Go is embarking on another chapter of his life, but he said his pursuit is not running merely for the sake of his personal political ambition.
“Mayor Duterte is like my father. As an obedient son, I will bring to the Senate the fight to improve the welfare of each Filipino. I am doing this in the service of the President and my fellow Filipinos,” Go said.
Apart from Bong Go’s achievements in his career, personal life and public service, it is his role as a father that is being recognized. Go was named “Tanyag Ulirang Ama” by the Ulirang Ina/Ama Awards Foundation Inc, which aims to promote the values and traditions of Filipinos by paying tribute to model mothers and fathers.
Bong Go is happily married and is blessed with a grown-up son and daughter. As the basic unit of our society, the family is the foundation of our nation.
And if Go can be successful in his family life, in the same way he shone in serving President Duterte, he can surely be trusted to be responsible for bigger things, such as to help shape our country’s future as a legislator.
Military: Tough father figure
Behind his strict and warrior look, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana is a “father, if not grandfather figure” to all personnel of the Department of National Defense (DND) — very approachable and amiable.
In fact, Lorenzana calls most of his subordinates by their first names.
But for enemies of the state, like the Daesh-inspired Maute-Abu Sayyaf group and Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), he is fierce, decisive and straightforward.
Since assuming as 36th Defense chief on 30 June 2016, Lorenzana was confronted with numerous challenges but remained unperturbed. He brought his expertise as a retired Army general and diplomat, further stabilizing the Defense department.
As Defense chief, Lorenzana was instrumental in President Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao on 23 May 2017 after elements of the Maute-Abu Sayyaf group laid siege on Marawi City.
His decisiveness resulted in the thwarting the planned establishment of a caliphate in southern Philippines by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Lorenzana supported the President’s decision to cancel all peace negotiations with the CPP-NPA-National Democratic Front (NDF).
For this, he became the subject of strong statements issued by exiled CPP founding chair Jose Maria Sison.
This holiday season, Lorenzana did not recommend the suspension of offensive military operations (Somo) despite the unilateral ceasefire declared by the CPP-NPA.
Delfin or Lorens to his contemporaries, he maintained a simple life even after serving for many years as a diplomat, spending time as military, defense and veterans’ affairs attaché to Washington.
“He is still the cadet and the officer who lives with the ideals inscribed in our graduation ring — courage, integrity, loyalty,” said Col. Noel Detoyato, AFP-Public Affairs Office chief.
Lorenzana is a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1973, and retired as a two-star Army general.
Police: Fall once, rise twice
His appointment came as a surprise to many, but Pampanga’s Oscar Albayalde’s appointment as the Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General proved that you get what you reap.
Oca to his friends and peer, Albayalde is a member of Philippine Military Company Class of 1986, making him a mistah (classmate) of Ronald dela Rosa, former PNP Chief and a Davaoeño like the President.
He first caught the attention of the public as National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Director who enforce strict rules and discipline the policemen of Metro Manila.
Not only did he capture the public’s attention but also the attention of President Duterte, who started to favor him after seeing his efforts to discipline the National Capital Region’s police force.
But perhaps, not everyone has a smooth road ahead as he also experienced being sacked from his position years ago.
Way back in November 2014, Albayalde, who was then chief of Pampanga Provincial Police Office, was fired, due to an alleged failure in leadership.
It was an illegal drug-related operation that gone wrong, and being the head, he must face the consequence that his underlings had done.
Due to that experience, Albayalde became stricter in disciplining his men when he headed the National Capital Region Police Office.
His name became famous to the public earlier this year when he conducted surprise inspections to different police stations in Metro Manila, while riding his motorcycle.
As reward for his efforts, he was given the position of PNP Chief.
Albayalde as head of the police force, proved critics that his strict demeanor is not just for photo opportunities after he enforced a much stricter “internal cleansing” that resulted in thousands of policemen being relieved and punished.
The once tarnished name of the PNP due to its controversial operations was slowly cleaned thanks to the unwavering efforts of the PNP Chief and more is expected to come before he retires on November 2019.
Sports: Historic heroine
Yuka Saso emerged as the country’s latest sport heroine when she clinched gold medals in the women’s individual and team golf events of the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta last year.
It was such a historic feat as no Filipino has ever won a pair of Asian Games mints since legendary bowler Bong Coo swept all of her three events in the Bangkok edition of the prestigious quadrennial meet in 1978.
It was also the country’s first gold medal in women’s golf, a sport heavily ruled by the Japanese and the Koreans.
Just like Coo, Saso’s victory came a little expected as she’s been quietly reaping success both in the local and international golf arenas.
Media: Man behind communications’ success
Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar was among the prominent newsmakers recognized for his indomitable spirit in pursuing a program to put up a government media outlet that can stand toe to toe with private competition.
For his achievements, he was given by the Gawad Filipino Awards the Dangal ng Sambayanang Filipino Award.
Andanar was also awarded the Most Outstanding Public Servant during the 2nd Diamond Golden Awards held last month.
Last October, Andanar was recognized by the National Press Club (NPC) for his support to press freedom and the welfare of the Philippine media community.
Under Andanar’s leadership, the PCOO’s attached media agencies particularly People’s Television Network (PTV), Radyo ng Bayan, Radio-Television Malacañang (RTVM) and Philippine News Agency (PNA) have improved significantly in just less than two years.
Prior to joining the Duterte administration, Andanar was a multi-awarded television news executive, news anchor, radio commentator, podcaster, audio blogger and voice-over artist at TV5.
Andanar said the PTV Network, the flagship public television network, is now number four in the ratings game.
He said the PCOO has also increased its social media presence with its official Facebook page garnering almost 1.5 million followers from just 200,000 followers before the Duterte administration.
In another bid to reach a broader audience, Andanar said a Mindanao media hub facility is expected to be established to house the government media.
Furthermore, Andanar said the PCOO is using government machinery to educate the citizens in countering the spread of fake news and disinformation with its “Dismissing Disinformation” campaign.
“With the strengthened government communications arm, you can be rest assured that this will go down to the grassroots level,” Andanar said.
He also touted the revamped look of the Philippine News Agency (PNA) with a new website design after over three decades of using an outdated interface.