Early History of the Oro Chamber

Through the years, Oro Chamber has remained one of the leading local chambers of commerce in the Philippines.

It is the first “Hall of Fame Awardee” of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (PCCI) and was the first to host the 1st Mindanao Business Conference (MINBIZCON) in 1992, and again hosted it in 1994, 2003, 2010 and 2017.

The first iteration of the Oro Chamber was organized in December 1982 by a group of 25 firms convened by the late Dante P. Sarraga, then the Regional Governor of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), as an affiliate chamber of the PCCI.

This Group of 25 believed it was high time that Cagayan de Oro City and Misamis Oriental Province have an organization that could properly represent and articulate the problems and issues affecting business and businessmen in the area.

Elected as charter president was the late Dr. Virgilio Neri, Sr.

The following year, the Oro Chamber exhibited its pioneering spirit as it organized and hosted the 1st Conference on Cottage, Small and Medium Industries at the VIP Hotel.

However, the untimely demise of Dr. Neri later that year left a void in the leadership of this fledgling organization. But the dream refused to die and, on October 1984, a new Board of Directors was installed and elected Aldrico T. Manus as president.

The Oro Chamber as it is known today was formally later established on 29 March 1985 when it was registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission under the Registry Certificate No. 12944, as the Cagayan De Oro Chamber Of Commerce And Industry Foundation, Inc.

In its first notable accomplishment, the Oro Chamber signed a partnership with Handwerskskammer, Kassel (Kassel Chamber of Small Crafts and Trades) and the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry  for its inclusion to the Philippine-German Chamber Cooperation Program (PGCCP) on February 18, 1986.

Through the aegis of the Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit, GmbH (GTZ, or German Agency for Technical Assistance) and the Philippines Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the PGCCP  provided training, advisory, equipment and financial subsidies to both chambers.

Now known as the GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH) the GTZ is the German development agency that provides services in the field of international development cooperation.

On September of 1987, the first Secretary General of the Oro Chamber was hired in the person of Mr. Nestor J. Abanil.

What was originally designed to be a 3-year Assistance Program was extended to seven years with the Oro Chamber that we know today as its crowning achievement in Cagayan de Oro.

The first two presidents of Oro Chamber Al Manus and Guido Delgado (photo courtesy of GAAD)

Guido Alfredo A. Delgado was elected president in 1988, with Ramid P. Gualberto succeeding Abanil as Secretary General for two years. Pres. Delgado kept the chamber at the forefront of lobbying on the issues that affected the business community.

In May 1991, Marriz Manuel B. Agbon succeeded Gualberto as Secretary General and paved the way for further professionalizing the services of the chamber. Among its key accomplishments under Agbon’s tenure was the completion of the Master Plan for the Cagayan de Oro-Iligan Corridor (CIC) Special Development Project.

On August 1992, President Arsenio L. Sebastian III led the Oro Chamber in hosting the 1st Mindanao Business Conference (MINBIZCON) in Cagayan de Oro. Close to 400 delegates attended with His Excellency President Fidel V. Ramos as the Keynote Speaker.

PCCI Region X Governor Guido Delgado addresses the 1st Mindanao Business Conference held August 14-15, 1992 at Pryce Plaza
(photo courtesy of GAAD)

The succeeding years marked the unprecedented growth of the Oro Chamber as it improved its services to include the organization of business conferences, trade missions, management seminars and the conduct of market research studies. Prominent among these was the Agribusiness Systems Assistance Program (ASAP) which Oro Chamber implemented in 1992-1995 with the US Agency for International Development (USAID)

In 1993 and 1994, the Oro Chamber under the stewardship of Pres. Jesus Emmanuel M. Paras was recognized as the Most Outstanding Chamber In The Philippines by the PCCI.

During the incumbency of the next president Eduardo Pelaez in 1995, the Oro Chamber partnered with key government and multilateral aid agencies for the development of the agriculture sector in Northern Mindanao with key sectoral studies for the cattle and rice industries.

Oro Chamber Officials join Xavier Ateneo Pres Bobby Yap and city officials in inaugurating Xavier Ecoville Phase 1 on 25 Jan 2012 at Bgy Lumbia. (photo courtesy of Ghaye Alegrio)

It was also during Pelaez incumbency that the Oro Chamber was elevated to the PCCI Hall of Fame for Outstanding Chambers with its third consecutive recognition.

In 1996, President Roberto J. Togle, revived the chamber’s partnership with Handwerskskammer Kassel with the implementation of the Regional Chamber Development Program (RCDP) which sought to develop chambers in Iligan, Butuan, Ozamiz and Bukidnon.

Oro Chamber Officers and Members of the Board at a Planning Session at Dahilayan Adventure Park during the incumbency of Pres Dodong Donggay. (photo courtesy of Ghaye Alegrio)

By 1997, the late Pres. Arturo Mercader with Acting Secretary General Marilou Flores, continued its outreach program through the PEARL-CIDA dubbed as the Regional Chamber Strengthening Development Program. The chamber also acted as the secretariate for the Agro-Industry Sector of the  Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-Eaga) on 1997-1998.

When the late Pres. Jose M. Belen was elected president in 1999, the Oro Chamber revived the Oro Business Center in tandem with Secretary General Ma. Teresa A. Alegrio through the aegis of SWISSCONTACT. Through this project, over one thousand (1,000) SMEs underwent retooling and capability building programs.

During the same year, the Oro Chamber was selected as a public registration authority under the World Internet Secure Electronic Key (Wisekey) of Switzerland. Under this project, the Oro Chamber became the first Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines to issue digital signatures and certificates through eCommerce.


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