By Fil C. Sionil
It was a sea of black coats for men and black dresses with a sprinkling of red, white, and pink for the ladies. For media practitioners, it was one of those rare events to dress up for.
The occasion: The reception of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) for the banking community, an annual tradition.
This was the second consecutive year that everybody was there – from market players to industry movers, diplomats, the chairmen, chief executive officers, and bank presidents. Industry scions like Jaime Zobel de Ayala, Lance Gokongwei, Tessie Sy-Coson, and business tycoon Lucio Tan were present. To backtrack a bit, in 2017, the yearly gathering was likewise, a blockbuster, because it was a closing of an era, the last cocktail being hosted by then BSP Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. Six months later, he handed over the post after 12 years to Nestor A. Espenilla.
It was a starless sky that night. It drizzled as the BSP governor approached the rostrum. The invitees, though, didn’t mind it at all. The huddles, the networking, the mandatory selfies and groupies came to a halt. I guess, the Sta. Clara nuns were successful and somebody up there listened to the fervent prayer request “not to rain on” this milestone event – the first for “Nesting” or “NAE” (terms of endearment) as host.
On every minute detail, the host was exacting, absolute. From the alternative venue, the BSP Assembly Hall on the third floor of the multi-story building, if it rained; to the menu, consisting of Salmon Tartar in Sesame Cones, Bruchetta with Pate, Crispy Squid with Spicy Dip, Lavash with Hummus, Vegetable Sticks with Sour Cream Dip, Spring Onion Flat Breads, Shrimp Celery in Pita Triangles, Proscuitto on Toast with Quail Egg, Gambas Al Catalan, Spicy Corn Puff, Stuffed Croquettes, mushroom ragout and Asian Flavored Crabmeat in Barquettes, Penne in Than Long Sauce, Linguini Amatriciana, Roast Corned Beef on Hot Cart with sauerkraut and horseradish cream. And for desserts, mini cake slices, Eclairs, mango bars, and food for the Gods.
Guests were served iced tea, red wine (a choice between McGuigan Shiraz and Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon), and white Brocard Chardonnay. Coffee or tea was likewise available.
Still nursing from a flu, the governor, with a hoarse voice and with all humility acknowledged the presence of his “mentors” – predecessors Jaime Laya, Jose L. Cuisia Jr. and Tetangco.
From my corner, I saw BDO Universal Bank President Nestor V. Tan and Asia United Bank President Abraham Co brimming with pride hearing the endorsement of Gov. Nesting supporting the banking ID project of the Bankers Association of the Philippines. In the governor’s own words: “We support the inter-agency initiative to establish a biometric National Identification system to improve accessibility to, and delivery of, financial services.” We’ll let you in on more market updates I’ve gathered during the affair in my next piece.
Since “continuity plus, plus” was the “catch phrase” when he assumed in July last year, Gov. Nesting ended his banking community cocktail speech held at the historic Fort San Antonio Abad, calling on “friends from the banking and financial industries, industry associations, colleagues from government, the private sector, media and the academe… (for) continued partnership.”
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