By Jose B. Perez, Editor
NAGA CITY --- Four Bicolano businessmen and a young female entrepreneur were honored in fitting ceremonies last July 29 as outstanding Bicolano businesspersons of the year for the prestigious Halyao Awards.
One of the highlight events of the annual Bicol Business Month being presented by the Metro Naga Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MNCCI), in collaboration with the City Government of Naga, the Halyao Awards recognizes Bicolano businessmen and businesswomen who have excelled not only in their entrepreneurial pursuits and contributed to the economic growth of the Bicol Region, but also distinguished themselves as conscientious practitioners
of corporate social responsibility and caretakers of the environment.
The conferment of the awards was held last Saturday evening at Avenue Convention Plaza in this city with no less than Vice President Leni Robredo giving an address and Manila Times Chairman Emeritus Dante A. Ang as guest speaker.
Naga City Mayor John Bongat was on hand to welcome the guests and assist in the giving of the awards.
The four awardees as Outstanding Bicolano Businesspersons of the Year come from the provinces of Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, and Sorsogon. There were no awardees from the island provinces of Catanduanes and Masbate.
The Outstanding Young Bicolano Entrepreneur Award went to the woman founder and CEO of the only Bicol-based international education and visa consultancy firm.
The awardees are:
CINDY O. PERENA. She owns and operates her C.O.P. Pili Sweets and Pastries. A graduate of Food and Nutrition, Cindy in 2005 though of a unique pili nut delicacy to introduce in the market. She came up with “Wrapsody,” a chewy pili caramel and pastry. Its great taste went around through the word of mouth as one of favorite pasalubong from Bicol. The product is now IP registered and marketed by local stores and some malls inside and outside of Albay.
NORMAN BALITBIT. As president of the Rural Bank of Paracale since 2005, this banker always believed that the best asset of a company are its employees. Thus, he sends them to various capacity-building activities, seminars and trainings and accordingly promoted to higher positions until everyone realizes that the bank has opened three more micro-financing offices in Tagkawayan and Calauag in the province of Quezon and in Jose Panganiban in Camarines Norte, his home province.
CYRUS G. OBSUNA. To create a vacation paradise in his idyllic hometown of Buhi, Camarines Sur had been a dream of this enterprising Buhinon. In 1194, he put up the Lake Buhi Resort meant for family outing and other recreational activities, including social and corporate events. He soon transferred his family to Cebu where he engaged in the export of handicraft products made from polka shells and other indigenous materials. He also manufactures and exports burin d rattan furniture and later shifted to fossil stone-in-laid craft items, making him of the most stable and competitive in the industry. While he may be successful in Buhi, co-establishing the Hilton Cebi Resort, Cyrus never forgets where he came from. He generously funded the construction of day dare centers in his town and ventures in coconut, cacao and coffee seedling production to encourage local farmers of planting these profitable commercial crops.
EMELITO CRISOSTOMO ‘MILO’ NAVAL. He is the CEO of at least three companies engaged in designing modern and contemporary furniture that are being exported to such countries as USA, South America, Europe, Australia and the Middle East. Some of his works may be found in his boutique resort and eco-hote,l better known as Siama Hotel, in Sorsogon City which is now attracting local and foreign tourists. His collections are often described as “clean, clear and free of fuss,” making him one of the most trusted manufraturers in the furnitute industry. He is exemplary in transforming indigenous materials into modern pieces of art which makes his style distinct from other designers. His wrks have been featured in various international exhibits abroad, including those in Valencia, Soain and Maison & Cojet in Paris, and in the US, Germany and Milan, Italy.
This year’s Outstanding Young Entrepreneur Award is given to:
CATHERINE ALTAREJOS, who operates the World Connect Consultancy Services, the only Bicol-based international education and visa consultancy firm. Presently, she leads the corporation with 14 offices across the country after leaving her work at a sales company in London, where she saw and experienced the struggle that every Filipino OFW went through. With passion in business and inspiration from the OFWs themselves, she started her business at her home in Albay in 2007. A few years later, the business expanded to different cities and developed a franchising program. In just 10 years, the company helped more than 1,500 Filipinos who study, work and live in UK, New Zealand and Australia. Only recently, World Connect launched its new study destination: Canada and Ireland.
This year’s Halyao Awards was chaired by Dr. Marilissa Jimenez-Ampuan, president of Mariners Polytechnic Colleges.
The Board of Judges was chaired by Assistant Regional Director Edna Cynthia Berces of the National Economic Development Authority Bicol regional office.
A colorful fireworks display, courtesy of the regional office of the Department of Tourism, thru its outgoing Regional Director Nin Ravanilla, capped the night’s event.