By Melito Salazar Jr.
Monetary Board Member Valentin Araneta, a classmate in La Salle Bacolod (grade school ’64 and high school ’67), a colleague in the finance and banking industry, godfather to my daughter Maileen and Nick Bishop and golf buddy in Wack Wack was called by the Creator last week. In necrological services in the Bangko Sentral and in the wake at Christ the King church in Green Meadows, with classmates Manny Parroco, Boy Benares and Monju Guanzon, we celebrated his life of service and condoled with Charimen and the family.
In school, Val was always in the top ten with academic honors and excelled in and out of the classroom(part of my editorial team of Crossroads, the high school paper). With his big frame he was our protector from bullies and a strong advocate for justice and fairness. In our get-togethers, he was usually the quiet one but would pop up with wise and witty insights that got us thinking and enlivened the proceedings.
He proceeded to Ateneo de Manila for college while the bulk of the classmates entered La Salle and four of us ended in the University of the Philippines – George Luzuriaga, Rey Bantug and Makaw Gallardo and me. Considering his love for the sport, Val attended most of the La Salle vs. Ateneo basketball matches having to make the tough decision of which side of the bleachers to be. When he took up advanced studies in Economics in Sweden, he would, in a letter, jokingly express his surprise that his skin color attracted attention making all of us extremely envious. Upon coming home we found the same Val, humble and steadfast but quite an expert in economics and with an insatiable appetite for learning.
Val steadily rose in the banking community becoming the Number 2 in the Philippine National Bank and President of the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation, and later independent director of Metropolitan Banking Corporation. The staff in these enterprises recalled his unassuming ways and how he led by example. They expressed their deep appreciation for the care and concern he had for them both on a professional and personal level. His mentoring and the quality of his relationship with them become the benchmark in assessing other officers and set a model for them as they climbed the corporate ladder.
The Benigno Aquino administration tapped him to head the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation (PDIC) during trying times. I argued with him to go for a seat in the Monetary Board painting the pressures and burdens of an executive position after retirement but he was determined to serve the country in whatever capacity. He gave so much of himself to the job; inspiring his staff to do likewise and helping the PDIC overcome all the challenges. Most importantly he set a high standard of integrity which made the PDIC and its officers and personnel respected by the banking industry.
Finally Val was appointed to the Monetary Board by President Aquino for a six year term ending 2020. His colleagues in the Monetary Board expressed their deep appreciation for his insights in the deliberations of the board, drawing from his academic background supplemented by his continuous readings on economic theories and developments and bolstered by his wide and deep experience in the banking industry. While he maintained his low key posture, his interventions in the discussions always drew the attention and admiration of his peers for the wisdom and incisiveness.
Val was also active in professional organizations like the Financial Executive Institute of the Philippines where he served as officer and trustee of its foundation. A member of the Rotary Club of Manila, he usually extended an invitation to us especially at the annual briefing of the BSP governor on the first meeting of the club for the year. Val also served as director of the University of St. La Salle Bacolod traveling to his hometown for the board meetings. He would use the occasion to meet up with his classmates for an impromptu reunion and discussions on the programs of the Tib-ong Foundation which LSHS class of ’67 used tothose needing scholarships or any support. His involvement in all these organizations was marked with the same intensity of purpose and commitment that he gave in his professional endeavours.
As I reflect on Val’s legacy I am inspired by his steadfast integrity, professional excellence and caring and concern for others. We are all blest that Val always added value to whatever organization he was a part of and significantly added to the reservoir of values that enrich Philippine society. Thank you, Charimen and the children for sharing Val with us and the nation.