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Rev. Nelson Butron Villarin’s Journey of Faith

August 12, 2019

It is never easy to be a servant of God, least of all become a pastor. A calling that only a few heed when they are called. Last June 2nd, 2019, Pastor Nelson Butron Villarin of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines was finally ordained a minister of his church. The simple rites held at the UCCP Cagayan de Oro Church where he currently serves as chaplain for the Cagayan de Oro Christian School marked the end and beginning of a lifelong journey of faith which tested him to the limits. Rev. Sonny, as he is better known to friends, was born and raised in Lapasan, Cagayan de Oro City, the fifth child in a family of four boys and a girl of former Lapasan United Church Men (UCM) Chairman Gonzalo Tabaco Villarin and Remedios Butron Villarin. His testimony of faith started during his Christian Youth Fellowship (CYF) tenure at UCCP- Lapasan when he was just 14. Like anyone else his age, he was happy-go-lucky and didn’t really give much to his future. Indeed, serving God was not his first chosen calling, but rather architecture. He holds a diploma in BS Architecture from Cebu Institute of Technology. Even when wasn’t hired to be a regular employee in all of his many jobs in Cebu, Makati and Cagayan de Oro from 1988 to 2002, he didn’t realize at the time he had another calling. So he came home and tried again in his hometown in Cagayan de Oro. Meantime, he immersed himself in church related activities which gave him pause that perhaps he was meant for another profession. “I failed to discern at the time that even in Cebu the Lord was calling me to serve as a shepherd to his flock,” he recalls. “However, my continued failure to land a regular job as an architect finally made me realize God was calling me. Without a job, he took a great leap of faith and enrolled at the Silliman University Divinity School, graduating with a Masters of Divinity in 2006. In was touch in go for a while but his God never deserted him. Already married to Nates Fausto Villarin in April 21, 1992 and with a growing family, somehow there was always a provision when there was a need. “We accepted laundry from our colleagues and also did ironing. In addition, we prepared and sold the local sweet potato (Camote) delicacy called kamoyang to make ends meet,” he recalls. The couple is blessed with 4 children, NN Gri, Vhien Klein, Gabriel David, Chessedh Chedech; and granddaughter Coleen Angela, his pride and joy.   But it seemed like Job in the Old Testament, the Lord wasn’t quite done testing him yet. He considers his failure to hurdle two of the subjects in his ordination exam in 2017 as one of the most challenging tests yet that God sent his way. “It was a one of the most challenging moments when I learned that I had to retake two subjects in my Ordination Exam when I was expecting that together with Pastor King (Rev. Beryl Sale) we would be both ordained together but it was not to be.” However, during the interview with the Examination Committee he was given an opportunity to be ordained. “A lot of things to do, a lot of patience to undertake, and lot of prayers to make, so that I would be able to win the race for my ordination,” he recalls. “After a year things went well and patience worked a lot.” Thus, during the Conference Assembly last April 2018, the Examination Committee finally endorsed him for ordination as a full-fledged Minister of the UCCP. Rev. Sonny’s day-to-day spiritual journey with God still has its ups and downs, but he knows that despite life's challenges and his faith shaken, he would not falter nor crumble. To him, it is just a way of God's testing his faith. Taking every life's turns with positivity. He is a living testimony of how God works wonders in one's life. He believes one should fear God, because to him the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom like what the psalmist said. (with Roan Gorres)   -30-

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On the March: The Jesuits in the Philippines since the Restoration - Book authored and published by XU Alumnisweeps 2019 awards season

August 12, 2019

On the March, a coffee table book on Jesuit ministry in the Philippines, has scored its fourth major award this year, adding to its Gold Anvil Award and Platinum Anvil Award from the Public Relations Society of the Philippines and its Gold Quill (Award of Merit) from the prestigious International Association of Business Communicators. The book was cited with an Award of Merti by the Philippine Quill under the Publications Category during the recently concluded 15th Philippine Quill Awards at the Marriott Grand Ballroom.    The Philippine Quill Awards is presented every year by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Philippines. IABC Philippines is the first chapter outside North America of the international IABC, a global network with membership of around 15,500 business communicators in 80 countries. The prestigious annual Philippine Quill Awards is presented to honor excellent communications programs and tools. The award recognizes excellence in categories in external communication, strategic processes, organizational communication, social responsibility, digital communication, photography, writing, audiovisuals, and marketing communication, among others. Categories cover programs, projects, collaterals, designs, and creative work.  A group of dedicated alumni from Xavier University - Ateneo de Cagayan (Xavier Ateneo) and Filipino Jesuits assigned to the school contributed their hearts and souls to its publication. Fr. Jose S Arcilla, SJ was principal author of the book edited by John Nery and published by Media Wise Communications. Manuel Paras Engwa and Ramoncito Ocampo Cruz were co-publishers.  Fr. Arcilla was assigned as regent ​ i​n XUHS 1956 and as GS student counsellor and GS glee club moderator and College history professor from 1965-68, and among his students were executive publishers Manuel Paras Engwa and Ramoncito Ocampo Cruz, fondly known as Manny and Monching, respectively. Manny graduated from Xavier Ateneo (Class Salutatorian - XU High School 1966; and AB Economics 1969). He attended the Industrial Economics program of the University of Asia and the Pacific. On the March is his personal tribute to the Jesuits who have dedicated their lives to the Philippines. Manny Engwa’s professional experience encompasses investment, agribusiness, property, and pharmaceuticals. He has worked for a prestigious multinational since 1981 and has served as country manager in Indonesia, head of Southeast Asian operations. Ramoncito Ocampo Cruz began his first eight years of education at Xavier Ateneo in 1959 (Grade School, 1967). He moved to St Andrew’s School in Parañaque City (High School, 1971) and graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, major in painting in 1976. A visual artist, advertising and publishing professional, Monching is a multi-awarded publisher and artist. He won his first Catholic Mass Media (CMM) citation as well as a Philippine Quill award for publishing MUSE, a magazine dedicated to art, culture, and travel. He has had three one-man art exhibits. Joining them on the editorial team are two Jesuits who previously served at Xavier Ateneo and two graduates who are now journalists. Fr Arcilla as the book’s principal writer was assisted by journalist John Nery, who also served as the book’s editor, and Mike Baños, (also a journalist) who rounded up the writers’ pool. Fr Rene Javellana SJ, currently the archivist of the Archives of the Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus, bolstered the team with photos and documents related to the topics presented in the book. Fr Javellana SJ also served as a regent at Xavier Ateneo from 1971-1973 teaching mostly juniors and seniors at the high school when Timoteo Butalid was principal. He was also the moderator of the High School Yearbook, taught in the English Dept in College with Fr Al Nudas as his chair. He was also active in XU college theater, and worked with Fr Al in the production of Antigone, with Mario Francisco in Foursome and other absurd plays by Eugene Ionesco. For two years, he was also involved in XU and Barangay 40's Holy Week Passion plays. Not the least, he participated in an archeological dig at Huluga led by Museo de Oro then headed by Fr Francisco Demetrio SJ. ​Journalist John Nery was formerly the online editor and currently writes a column for the Philippine Daily Inquirer. His Revolutionary Spirit: Jose Rizal in Southeast Asia was published by Singapore’s Institute of Southeast Asian Studies and by the Ateneo de Manila University Press in 2011. John studied Philosophy in Ateneo de Manila. He also went to Xavier University - Ateneo de Cagayan and Ateneo de Davao. After finishing his AB Philosophy degree at AdMU, he taught at the Xavier Ateneo High School. He has received awards for his journalism; his book editing has been recognized with two National Book Awards. He was a Nieman Fellow in Journalism at Harvard University in 2011-2012 and the Jaime V Ongpin Memorial Lecturer in 2013. Freelance writer and journalist Mike Baños started his preschool at Ateneo de Zamboanga in 1964 but later moved to Western Mindanao State University (formerly Zamboanga Normal College, and later Zamboanga State College) where he finished his Grade School and High School education. He got his AB Economics degree from Ateneo de Zamboanga (now a university) in 1978 (class salutatorian) and his Master in Business Administration in 2000 from Xavier Ateneo. A dedicated community journalist, Mike has had a wide-ranging career which includes stints with the local government and chamber of commerce, academe, banking, retail, and broadcast and print media (ABS-CBN, FUBC, Business World, The Manila Chronicle, The Philippine Star, Today) but his heart remains with community journalism as he writes online and in local newspapers as a freelance writer and journalist. He was a pioneer fellow of the Dart Centre Asia Pacific (for Trauma Journalism) in 2009 and was recognized by the Rotary Club of Manila Journalism Awards as 2017 Provincial Reporter of the Year (Print). Finally, and perhaps the most instrumental in giving meaning and purpose to On the March, is Fr Jose VC Quilongquilong SJ STD, who succeeded Fr Herbert Schneider SJ as president and executive director of the Philippine Jesuit Aid Association Inc (PJAA). Fr Joe studied AB Sociology at Xavier Ateneo before joining the Society of Jesus. He completed formation in philosophy (Ateneo de Manila University), Bachelor in Sacred Theology and Master of Arts in Theology (Loyola School of Theology) before his ordination to the priesthood in 1993. He is also concurrently the president of Loyola School of Theology, Ateneo de Manila University. Fr Joe was already actively part of the team last year and was primarily responsible for facilitating the book launch last September 29, 2018, at the Arete. All proceeds from the sale of On the March will be donated to PJAA for the benefit of elderly, retired and infirm Jesuits, and the promotion of Jesuit vocations in the Philippine province. ​ ​On the March chronicles the Jesuits’ ministry of education and the many aspects of their apostolate in the Philippines as they bring the faith to the most remote corners of the archipelago. “This latest recognition affirms our commitment to use excellent communications to help the organization achieve its goals and make a difference in society, true to the Philippine Quill’s own aims,” said Cruz, who is also Media Wise president and CEO. In January 2019, On the March bagged its Platinum Anvil, a recognition given to entries that stand out among the Anvil Gold winners. The PRSP cited the book for “recognizing the vital role of Jesuits in the country, the book highlights their mission and achievements, including their evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience.” The Anvil is the symbol of excellence in public relations, awarded to outstanding PR programs, tools and practitioners. In June, Cruz flew to Vancouver to receive the book’s Gold Quill from San Francisco-based IABC at the 2019 IABC World Conference. Just four other Filipino organizations have received the coveted international distinction. The IABC awards committee said On the March earned the distinction for “exhibiting high-quality writing and superior production values.” “The book is well-organized, consistent... from the beginning to end. It flows well. It’s clear that [Mediawise] brought together the right mix of interviewers, writers, designers and publishers to produce a high-quality communication vehicle,” said the committee. -30-

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IDC execs highlights CDO developments and environmental sustainability in estate industry

July 22, 2019

MANILA - Italpinas Development Corporation (IDCTM) Chairman & CEO, Architect Romolo V. Nati, together with IDC’s Director for Design and Construction, Engr. Giuseppe Garofalo, were invited at a sit-down interview at the PTV4’s headquarters last June 7, 2019 with the Philippines’ largest and most influential weekly business and news magazine, BizNewsAsia.      Hosted by Ms. Elizabeth Lee and Mr Tony Lopez, the founder, president, chairman and CEO of BizNewsAsia, the sit-down interview offered an opportunity to discuss with IDC’s guests about the rising trend and current condition of Philippine real estate industry.       Arch. Nati shared his insights on the topic, mentioning IDCTM as an example of a rising real estate development company, in different areas of the Philippines, emphasizing the importance of his company’s vision that is “creating design-driven sustainable developments in emerging cities, accessible to the new middle class”.      Alongside his vision, Arch. Nati shared the latest news regarding IDC’s eco-friendly developments being Primavera City, located uptown Cagayan de Oro in Northern Mindanao and the high-rise mixed use green buildings, Miramonti Green Residences, located in Sto. Tomas, Batangas.      Both the projects have been awarded as Best Mixed-use Development in the Philippines by Asia-Pacific International Property Awards which is a highly acclaimed award in the worldwide property industry.       Primavera City, that will future six mid-rise towers and a high rise tower, is going to be developed in 4 phases the first of which, Citta’ Verde is nearing completion and its phase 2 Citta’ Bella recently awarded a license to sell.  Arch. Nati said Primavera City’s Citta’ Bella will be followed by Citta’ Grande and by the 7th tallest tower, Citta’ Alta.      The construction of the first phase of Miramonti Green Residences, a 21 storey green building, strategically located in an Industrial park in Sto. Tomas, between Metro Manila and the port of Batangas City, is ongoing and the company is currently accelerating the process to obtain the required permits to start the second phase. This will be featuring other 2 buildings with same number of storey and adopting, as in all IDC’s projects, the best principles of passive building technology: shadow and sunlight control, wind cooling and shape performance.      Following this information, the interview then discussed the importance of eco-friendliness in construction and its appeal to possible tenants and future owners.       Arch. Nati ended his interview by sharing the news that Italpinas Development Corporation has filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission for a share sale.       The offering involves up to 33.3 million preferred shares with an over-allotment of 10 million shares to be taken from the unissued authorized capital stock of the corporation at an offer price of P15 per share. At 43 million shares, the company could raise as much as P645 million.

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Oro Integrated Cooperative, Xavier Ateneo ink naming-rights agreement for SHS facility

July 22, 2019

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines — Oro Integrated Cooperative (OIC) and Xavier University - Ateneo de Cagayan signed a memorandum of agreement on Friday afternoon, June 21, for the naming rights of a facility at the new XU Senior High School campus in Pueblo de Oro.       The signing ceremony was led by XU president Fr Roberto “Bobby” C Yap SJ and OIC chief executive officer Floriano R Hilot, and witnessed by OIC chairperson Doris Calatiz, XU’s VP for administration Edison Sasoy and SHS principal Dr Roger Gawahan.      OIC, with their donation worth quarter a million, has earlier expressed its desire and intention to perpetuate the name of their cooperative by way of inscribing it on a facility in one of the premier universities in the country.      Xavier Ateneo, through its Advancement Office, opened the Naming Rights Program (NRP) last year to interested donors and organizations who want to name a facility or space at the new XUSHS campus, thereby, sharing in the university’s vision of becoming the “Senior High School of Choice in Mindanao.”      The new XUSHS campus will implement environment-friendly technology in its buildings and operations. Among its salient features are the following: a sewerage treatment plant, rainwater collection system, natural ventilation, and sky gardens. They are designed to reduce the overall impact on the environment and human health.      Xavier Ateneo and OIC have been partners in various undertakings, particularly in the promotion of the cooperative movement and social development in Mindanao. OIC also supports four college scholars of Xavier Ateneo.

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Allianz Sees Continuous Growth in Insurance Market in PH, Rest of Asia

July 21, 2019

While insurance penetration (premiums as a percentage of GDP) fell by 5.4% in Asia (ex-cluding Japan), the Philippines along with Vietnam, Laos, Sri Lanka, and India registered double-digit growths. This is according to the Allianz Global Insurance Report prepared by Allianz Research.      Allianz Research is projecting a 9.4% growth per annum over the next decade in Asia, ex-cluding Japan. Around 60% additional premiums are expected to be generated in the re-gion. In the Philippines, a market growth of 12.3% is foreseen (13.5 in life and 8.3 in p&c).       “Allianz’ strong performance in the Philippines reflects the country’s economic growth and strong macroeconomic fundamentals, and we are looking to leverage on the continuous ex-pansion of economic activity in the country,” said Alexander Grenz, newly appointed presi-dent and chief executive officer of Allianz PNB Life.      Premiums in the Philippines grew by 17.7% in 2018, way above the regional average. In fact, 2018 marked the best year since 2013. Life insurance, which accounts for more than 70% of the premium pool (without health), had a growth rate of 20.4%. It grew almost twice as fast as property-casualty (+11.1%).       For 2019, Allianz Research foresees a slowdown to around 10% premium growth, still well above regional or global averages. It noted that the Philippines’ insurance market has still plenty of room to grow: Premiums per capita stood at Php3,000.00 in 2018 (at par with neighboring Indonesia), penetration at 1.9%; it is, for example, already 3.7% in China. In-surance premiums in property-casualty and life are expected to grow by 14% this year and 12.3% over the next decade.      Allianz PNB Life is still the fastest-growing life insurance company in the Philippines, ac-cording to the report of the Insurance Commission. Its premium income grew by 69% in 2018 and its annualized premium income for 2018 stood at a historic high.      Grenz, who previously served as the chief operating officer of Allianz PNB Life, said that as today’s business environment goes through rapid changes, the company is hands-on to build a more diverse business model.      “We all know how fast-paced the insurance industry is; the pressure and expectations are high from all sides ‐ our customers, our investors, our regulators, and among ourselves. Late last year, for instance, we have seen changes in reserve requirements for banks to ad-dress the spike in inflation. This resulted in liquidity shortage in the Bancassurance indus-try. Even though we are still performing better compared to our competitors, we definitely need to catch up in the second half of the year,” Grenz said.      Grenz has more than 15 years of experience in global Insurance and Asset Management. He has a multinational track record in the areas of Finance, Insurance and Asset Manage-ment and has held various executive positions for Allianz in different countries.      As he heads Allianz PNB Life, Grenz said he plans to focus on simplifying insurance for the customers. “Simplification of insurance will be our priority. We will simplify the language of insurance to make it understandable to more customers and make it easy to access with the superior technology Allianz can provide,” he explained.       Grenz is, likewise, moving to tap Allianz’s global investment fund managers from PIMCO and Allianz Global Investments (AGI) to provide superior technical solutions and investment strategies.       “Our goal is to have a well-defined output that should create value for our customers. It’s the customers’ perception, which counts and defines our success. With PIMCO and AGI, cus-tomers are assured they have access to superior product solutions and technical advise,” he said.      Furthermore, Grenz is steering the company toward a digital future. Recently, the company opened its Allianz Digital Studio, which will pioneer the next-generation of innovation and solutions and make the delivery of insurance products and services faster and more effi-cient for both its internal and external customers.       “Our digital and customer-centric initiatives in the pipeline are geared toward enhancing the Allianz customer experience and differentiate us in the market,” he concluded.

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Globe supports athletes with cerebral palsy; helps nationwide search for pioneer players of CP Rascals

July 10, 2019

They may have physical challenges like cerebral palsy (CP) but the ailment was never a hindrance in bringing out the best in individuals who have big hearts and the passion to succeed, especially in sports like football.      “Sabi ng mga nanay na isama ko daw yung anak ko (sa football practice) at subukan lang. Tapos nagulat na lang ako na nasisipa niya yung bola. Hindi ko ine-expect na magagawa niya yun dahil di naman siya involved sa kahit anong sport dati. Sabi ko tuloy na dapat pala dati ko na siyang sinasali sa mga ganito (The mothers told me to bring my child and just try it out. I was surprised that my child can kick the ball. I didn’t expect that he can do it because he was never involved in any sport before. I realized that I should have brought my child before to this kind of activity),” said Marinela S. Kaabay whose eldest child Kenneth has cerebral palsy among other disabilities. The activity Kaabay referred to was the 1st CP Football Day where kids with cerebral palsy from Metro Manila and nearby provinces gathered for a friendly game of football at the La Salle Greenhills in Mandaluyong City. Around 50 CP individuals, including Kaabay’s child and four others from her area, ran and kicked the elusive ball to their hearts’ content despite the scorching afternoon heat.      The 1st CP Football Day is just one of the efforts to have more children with CP get into sports. It received a big boost when Globe Telecom entered into a partnership with the Henry V. Moran Foundation, the Philippine Sports Association of the Differently Abled (PHILSPADA), and CP Football Philippines, the prime movers of CP football in the country.      Globe gave the foundation and its beneficiaries the much-needed communications platform to reach individuals with CP who live in various parts of the country who may be interested in football. The program also complements Globe Telecom’s “TM Sports Para sa Bayan,” a long-term program that helps kids develop and grow in a sport that they love.      “We want to use the power of sports to make a difference in the lives of individuals especially those who belong to the marginalized sectors of society.  Over the past several years, Globe has gone beyond business by offering basketball and football development programs to underprivileged kids.  This time, we want to extend our support to individuals with cerebral palsy and help them pursue their dreams,” said Miguel Bermundo, Head of Globe Citizenship and Advocacy.      CP Football is similar to a regular football game but the rules were tweaked to make the sport more attractive, accessible and fit for those with cerebral palsy and other neurological conditions. The playing field is smaller and game time lasts for one hour with a 15-minute half-time break.      Aside from having fun, the 1st CP Football Day also saw the formal introduction of CP football in the Philippines as well as the search for CP individuals with the potential to become members of the “CP Rascals,” the team that will represent the Philippines in the 2022 Asian Para Games.      To support the search as well as the training, living expenses and other needs of the players, interested groups and individuals may send their donation to the following: Account Name: The Henry V. Moran Foundation, Inc. Account Number: 2251-0005-33 Bank Name: Bank of the Philippine Islands Bank Address: Greenhills Missouri Branch Missouri cor. Nevada Sts. North-East Greenhills, San Juan, Metro Manila Swift Code: BOPIPHMM      Dr. Anna Raganathan, Consultant Psychologist and Board Member of the International Federation of CP Football, said that based on research, individuals with cerebral palsy who have consistent exercise can recover to become almost normal. “Even when they get physical therapy already, the addition of sports can make them stronger and help them avoid injuries because they get to develop their bones and muscles.”      She also told the parents that they don’t have to worry if their kids are still too young or won’t be selected as a member of CP Rascals. The program will continue even after the first team is already formed and it will even become the training ground of CP individuals who want to start young. “It’s about time that everyone should look at the abilities of individuals with cerebral palsy rather than their disabilities,” Dr. Raganathan added.      It was, perhaps, a tiring afternoon for the kids who sweated it out via football together with their cheering parents and supporters. But other than the sweat and the exhausting physical efforts exerted by the kids to play football, Dr. Raganathan emphasized that aside from having the right to play sports, more importantly, CP kids also have the right to have fun.      To know about Globe Telecom’s sustainability programs, please visit:   link https://www.globe.com.ph/about-us/sustainability and https://www.facebook.com/GlobeBridgeCom/

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