Colleagues in the business, academic and civil society have lauded a former chief executive of the largest business organization in Region X, and Mindanao head of the country’s largest business organization after she succumbed to a lingering illness late Friday afternoon, October 1, 2021.
Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) Area Vice President for Mindanao Ma. Teresa “Ghaye” Rillo Alegrio was one of the shining lights of the business chamber movement in Mindanao, and was also a former Secretary-General and President of the Cagayan de Oro Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation, Inc. (Oro Chamber).
“It’s so sad that Ghaye passed away 5:50 pm yesterday the same time we ended the Mindanao Chamber Management Forum, the last event of PCCI Mindanao. To the very end Ghaye was with us. She fought a good fight. She finished the race. Now, may she rest in peace! Let’s continue to pray for the eternal repose of her soul,” said Art Milan, acting PCCI Mindanao Area Vice President, who took over for Alegrio when she was unable to continue due to her condition.
Ms. Alegrio actively served as part of the 20-member board of directors under former ambassador and PCCI president Benedicto Yujuico. There are about 45 local Chambers of Commerce (LCCIs ) in Mindanao affiliated with PCCI, of which some 90% belong to MSMEs whose capitalization range from P3M-100 million, with large companies comprising about 10% of the chamber members.
The Oro Chamber and PCCI-X under her stewardship advocated for the soonest implementation of the proposal to Upgrade, Expand, Operate and Maintain the Laguindingan Airport of Aboitiz Infrastructure Inc. (AIC).
PCCI and the companies representing the energy sector, recommended to the Regional Development Council-X the need to review the provisions of Energy Regulation No. 1-94 to consider aligning its policy with EO 70 on making funds available for priority focus areas, besides the host communities stipulated in I-94.
ER 1-94 program is a policy under the Department of Energy Act of 1992 and the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001, which stipulates that host communities are entitled to a share of one centavo for every kilowatt-hour (Php 0.01 / kWh) sold by power generation plants operating in their area.
The group agreed to make this undertaking a continuing engagement, to be institutionalized in the RDC-X through quarterly RDC-X private sector representative meetings and with the appropriate Lines of Efforts /Task Groups.
“Ms. Ghaye was fearless with a strong “can do” spirit, which was infectious,” remarked Mylah Faye B. Cariño, RDC-X Vice Chair and NEDA-X Regional Director. “She was generous in sharing her ideas, which were often pragmatic and workable. I will miss her dynamism and optimism for life. She believed that amidst these dark clouds, a bright future awaits everyone.”
Ms. Alegrio holds the distinction of being the first Secretary-General of the Cagayan de Oro Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation, Inc. (Oro Chamber) to become its President, and prior to her election as PCCI AVP for Mindanao, also served as the PCCI Regional Governor for Region X (Northern Mindanao from 2018-2019.
“If she had something in mind that she believe is noteworthy, she will do all ways possible to make it happen,” said Ruben A. Vegafria, the 3-time and current Oro Chamber President.
“On the campaign of PCCI to encourage local chambers members/big private companies to purchase own vaccines in collaboration with Go Negosyo of Joey Concepcion, the local chambers were somehow reluctant but she was relentless. She kept on calling and following up with the local chamber presidents despite their hesitance and was able to convince most of us to participate. Purpose-driven – that’s what she was,” he added.
“Ghaye’s first engagement with the Oro Chamber in the 90s was the USAID funded Agri-Business System Assistance Program (ASAP) as the Project Manager and I was the Project Director,” recalls former Oro Chamber President Eduardo Pelaez. “ASAP supported the Northern Mindanao Federation of Dairy Cooperatives and the Dairy Confederation of the Philippines. Eventually, Ghaye handled the Oro Chamber’s Regional Chamber project with the Handwerkskammer Kassel of Germany . The chamber participants were the Iligan, Ozamiz, and Butuan Chambers.”
Ms. Alegrio spent no less than 29 years in the Chamber movement serving in various capacities: from program manager of the Philippine-German Chamber Cooperation Program; as secretary-general when the Oro Chamber became PCCI’s 1st Hall of Fame Most Outstanding Chamber of the Philippines; as Vice President for Business Development, before being elected its 1st lady president in 2012.
During her tenure, Cagayan de Oro City was ranked as the Most Competitive City in the Philippines by the National Competitiveness Council.
Besides her activism in the chamber movement, Ms. Alegrio also concurrently served as the Head of the Corporate Social Responsibility and Public Relations Department of STEAG State Power Inc. (SPI) at Villanueva, Misamis Oriental.
She actively sought to multiply SPI’s CSR initiatives with the National Economic and Development Authority-Region X and Department of the Interior and Local Government-Region by seeking ways to further strengthen collaboration and partnership in leveraging resources from the business sector through their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds.
The initiative focused on how government, the business sector, and civil society organizations could best synergize and sustain efforts and resources to operationalize Executive Order No. 70 (Whole-of-Nation Approach) in attaining lasting peace and inclusive development in the region.
NEDA-X generated information from the business sector on their CSR-funded activities in the region for CY 2020, which were then deployed in targeted communities under the convergence areas for peace and development (CAPDev) program.
“Ghaye is a woman of deep faith and compassion for the least,” said Jerome R. Soldevilla, SPI Communications Officer and a long-time fellow worker. “She steered SPI’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) agenda in helping those who are in need, helping create positive social impact and improved the quality of life of the beneficiaries of SPI’s various social development programs.”
On top of her professional engagements with SPI and PCCI, Ms. Alegrio also served as the Vice Chair in the Board of Trustees of Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan (Xavier Ateneo).
“In the first few days after Tropical Storm Sendong devastated Cagayan de Oro , Ghaye was the one who suggested to XU President Fr. Bobby Yap S.J. and the Board of Trustees, that Xavier donate at least two hectares of the university’s Lumbia property for the hundreds of families dislocated by the deadly flash flood,” recalls former Oro Chamber President and current Promote Normin Chairman Elpie Paras, who also served as Alegrio’s colleague in the XU Board of Trustees.
“Today, over five hundred families live in the five hectare Xavier Ecoville relocation site, that has now become a prime example of a safe and sustainable community, spurring the development of Brgy. Lumbia into a prime location for several housing subdivisions . Such concern for others was Ghaye’s mantra and her legacy lives on.”
Current Xavier Ateneo President Fr. Mars Tan, SJ concurs.
“Ms. Ghaye Alegrio served on the Xavier University Board of Trustees for 11 years. In her last few years, she took on an active role as the Board Vice-Chair, and then as the acting Chair for a year. Last year, she started to complain about her back pain. However, at long virtual BOT meetings she did not show it as she remained composed and focused. This year, Ghaye was supposed to end her 4th term as XU trustee, but BOT Chair Frank Guerra and I believed the Board needed her during the pandemic times.”
“As a trustee, Ghaye liked to share important insights on how business and economy would affect schools and education in general. Her inputs were always comprehensive and updated, and I found them quite helpful to both the operational and the strategic plans of the University. Ghaye was always engaging and generous in sharing her knowledge and expertise to benefit the university. Similarly, outside meetings, she showed much personal concern for people as for example she tried hard to secure Covid-19 vaccines early on and to include the priests in the priority list.”
“Lastly, I remember Ghaye as a kind friend who didn’t miss sending greetings and gifts during Christmas.”
Ms. Alegrio is survived by her husband Mauricio D. Alegrio, Jr., and son Ralph.