Counting and waiting

Published December 9, 2022, 4:30 AM

by Fil C. Sionil

Children, including us children at heart, are counting the days with Christmas 16 nights/sleep away. But for those who are goody-goody as well as those mischievous are waiting, looking forward to what Santa will give.

The counting and waiting game has also engulfed the corridors of banking. Talks circulating around the community revolve around the possibility that there’ll be a new Philippine National Bank (PNB) president.

Veteran banker Florido “Doy” Casuela, the current PNB officer-in-charge, fully understands that being the chief steward of the country’s top five in the industry is temporary.

Latest I heard from the banking corridor is that the bank management and owners have evaluated in November who among the candidates, one of them Ricky Cebrero, is the chosen one to steer PNB.

Yes, Virginia, there’s no pretense with this guy. Already, he has come to terms that seniority is catching up on him. “I am old, I am 81,” Mr. Doy tells me during a dinner at a posh Japanese restaurant in Makati. Be it temporary, still, being an OIC is a cap on his winding banking journey.

He started his career after passing what others call a relatively difficult licensure exam of Certified Public Accountant, as junior auditor at Punongbayan, & Araullo where he honed his skills for a good couple of years before transferring as examiner under the supervision and examination sector (SES) during the time of Governor Andres Castillo, the second governor of the Central Bank.

Just a bit of banking history: Gov. Castillo had a six-year term from 1961 to 1967. His service term has not been replicated to date. Based on my research, he is the only governor who served three presidents – Carlos P. Garcia, Diosdado Macapagal and Ferdinand Marcos.

Like a rolling stone, Mr. Doy, at his prime, was unstoppable. Despite being the number one SES examiner, he left the Central Bank upon the invitation of his former boss Joe Araullo to join Metro Bank, which was then in its aggressive expansion mode.

There, again, in Metrobank, Mr. Doy’s luster shone. In a span of only five years, he successfully climbed the corporate ladder from a manager to vice president in charge of credit and financial groups.

There were several others in between. But after almost running around the banking corridors, he saw himself at the doorsteps of PNB. This was in 1988. Mind you, this rolling stone kinda guy was during that time already technology-savvy, overseeing the EDP (electronic data processing) department of the bank as senior vice president and APT coordinator.

Nope, it does not necessarily mean that just because Mr. Doy is at the helm of the bank’s EDP that APT means advanced persistent threat, which millennials and techno-savvy people are familiar with. It’s nowhere near the concept of a prolonged and targeted cyberattack in which an intruder gains access to a network and remains undetected for an extended period of time.

In Mr. Doy’s case, APT refers to Asset Privatization Trust, a sector in the Department of Finance that oversees government assets up for sale to the private sector.

This was one way of raising revenues as well as allowing the private sector to manage business. PNB, a government financial institution then, was up for privatization.

Even PNB-Republic Bank that he shepherded was sold as well. In 1997, Maybank Philippines, a banking unit of a Malaysian-based universal bank, Malayan Banking Berhad, purchased 60 percent of PNB-Republic. He went on to serve as President of the Land Bank. Mr. Doy’s career took the contrarian turn, accepting a bit of light responsibility – consultancies and directorships, including PNB in 2006.

It was also during this time that finally, he was able to smell the flowers. What most of us thought is a forever “soltero”, staged the biggest surprise four years ago when he met the love of his life, Malou, and eventually took the plunge.

As the wheels of banking churn, with us adjusting to the new normal with relative ease of doing business, everybody’s waiting with bated breath as to who would be the chosen. 

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