The month of January is named after Janus, the god of beginnings and transitions in Roman mythology, who presided over passages, doors, gates and endings, as well as in transitional periods such as from war to peace. He was usually depicted as having two faces looking at opposite ways, one towards the past and the other towards the future.
For the following feature on Oro Chamber, we will similarly look at the year that was with 2020 president Robertino E. Pizarro,and look forward with 2021 President Ruben A. Vegafria.
First, a look at the year just past as reported by immediate past president Pizarro during the virtual Oro Chamber General Membership Meeting held on 14 December 2020.
Oro Chamber At A Glance
Oro Chamber only attained 43% of target revenue for 2020, although this was mostly balanced by reduced operating expenses due to the cancellation of most in-person events, resulting in net savings of P317,000 for period ending November 2020.
Despite the debilitating effects of the pandemic, the chamber ended the period with a net worth of P21.8-million, 21% increase in revenues and 16% decrease on expenses.
Although membership collection targeted for 2020 was not realized with a 65% attainment due also the decreased membership, with actual collections at 54%. Membership increased slightly from 2019 with the induction of eight new members, bringing total membership to 362 member companies .
On Advocacy and Policy Formulation
Oro Chamber worked closely with Cagayan de Oro LGU on granting deadline extensions and waiving of penalties on Business and Real Property Taxes. Thus the City LGU extended the deadline for the 3rd quarter RPT and the 4th quarter Business Taxes.
Oro Chamber also supported the agreement between the Anti Red Tape Authority (or ARTA) and Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) to provide a regional desk to receive complaints from the Business Sector against violations of Republic Act No. 11032 (Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Delivery Act of 2018).
The OROBEST Innovation Program continued on its second year, thanks to the Department of Science and Technology, USAID-STRIDE, and the Department of Trade and Industry for their continued support. Oro Chamber also forged partnerships to encourage investments in Region X through the Balik Probinsya , Bagong Pag-asa and Build, Build, Build programs.
“It is high-time to encourage more foreign direct investments (FDIs) to come to Mindanao, particularly Region 10. The best way to make this invitation powerful is for government to improve incentives for FDIs, like what they are doing now in Vietnam,” Pizarro stressed. “This will pave the way for more economic activities, sustainable livelihood opportunities for all.
On Meetings and Conferences
Oro Chamber conducted 10 Board Meetings, 4 virtual General Membership Meetings, 2 virtual conferences (MinBizCon and Philippine Business Conference), various webinars, forums and meetings; hosted five good business forums to continue our education information to our members with regards to the economy and investment, security and development, taxes, and water utilities.
On COVID 19 Response
When the local government ordered temporary business closures during the start of the spread of COVID, Oro Chamber made a rapid assessment of its members. We also participated in various COVID-19 response programs and projects with our local government, through our Regional Economy task group with NEDA.
Oro Chamber also supported and endorsed member companies to avail of the P3-CARES Program. However, our member-companies are still awaiting response from the Small Business Corporation on the status of their loan applications 5 months later.
Oro Chamber managed to continue advocating to support for our business community despite the pandemic. We continued forging partnerships, educating our members of the new regulations that affects business continuity, survival and future investments. We are here together with the government and other agencies and institutions to continue finding ways to bounce back from what we have lost in this time of crisis. We need to support each other and support our government programs. In this way, we heal and recover as one.
Looking Forward for 2021
In his acceptance speech as the 25th president of the Oro Chamber, 2021 President Ruben A. Vegafria started with a call for the younger business leaders to step up to the challenge of leading the business community in the next decades.
Vegafria first served as Oro Chamber President in 2005, was re-elected in 2006 and is now serving his third term at the helm of the Oro Chamber as its President and Chief Executive Officer.
“We proudly held the distinction as the country’s First Hall of Fame Awardee by PCCI, and yet, here we are, facing a rather disturbing reality where “failure of election” in an annual election is becoming a regular spectacle,” Vegafria said. “ Is it because the chamber’s milestones and achievements are simply too difficult to emulate or even proximate that no one dares to cast their luck in? Is it because of meetings and workloads dominantly playing 24/7 in the president’s life, where less is left for business and family?”
“They may rightly be so, but should we, in conscience, allow this issue to spoil the positive public image and noble legacy nurtured and built all through the years by our leaders before us? Why is this happening to Oro Chamber despite its outstanding successes?,” he stressed.
Call for Young Business Leaders
Vegafria said this deplorable situation was the reason why he called on young business leaders to join and get involved in the chamber.
“That is the reason why I proposed and insisted that we amend our by-laws to limit the term of trustees to 3-years with no re-election, because there is no chance for anyone to win against a re-electionist trustee. And, I am glad that the amendments were ratified by the general membership earlier today.”
The 3-time Oro Chamber Chief Executive said business leaders must have 3 basic elements to become effective in leading a chamber: 1) A willing heart to learn, a willing heart to serve and a willing heart to sacrifice. 2) A clear understanding of your mandate and an unmistakable knowledge of the purposes and objectives of the chamber. As the influential voice of business in northern Mindanao, it is important that such voice be heard better, bigger and bolder. 3) And not the least, a strong and unselfish commitment to promote, defend and protect the welfare and interests of the member-companies; an abiding commitment to keep the organization pro-active and vibrant to the best of our abilities.
“Leadership in the chamber is certainly not one of ease and comfort. Our 365 day’s journey will, undoubtedly, be met with roadblocks of envy, criticism, even arrogance and ill-will. But once we have done our work and accomplished our goals of helping businesses and help improve the local economy, we know it is well worth it.”
Oro Chamber Standing Committees
During the chamber’s planning session held earlier, Vegafria had proposed organizational adjustments in the composition of the Oro Chamber Standing Committees as a step towards developing and training future leaders.
“The Monthly Good Business Forum will be revived and new projects such as website activation, ARTA and MSME Help Desks, along with meaningful advocacies, sectoral meetings and trainings will be in place under the new normal. We will focus more attention to membership development, recruitment and retention and will do the extra mile to improve our collection efficiency, including improvements in revenue generation. Not the least, flagship projects from the previous administration such as the OROBEST Innovation Program, will be sustained.”
In his closing remarks to close the program, Jaime Rafael U. Paguio, Chairman of the Board, outlined the immediate contributions the Oro Chamber could do to help the city and region get back on its feet.
“As a business organization, our contribution will be how we can help restart the economy, how we can help our brothers survive the pandemic, and still in an optimistic and positive view, how we can make business thrive and even move forward during this very adverse conditions. We will live His guidance and His mantle of protection so we may be able to continue our task. And we graciously thank those who gave their generous time, and serve during the 2020 term—of President Robert Pizarro and Chairman Ruben Vegafria, and the community is ever grateful for all the programs done during this successful term.”