My Evolution As A Banker (Part 2)

I was hosting PCIBank’s Family Day in 1987 when I bumped into Mr. Bas. He asked: “Are you interested to be a FINANCIAL ANALYST?”

Kahit hindi ko pa alam kung anong klaseng trabaho ang ginagawa ng Financial Analyst sinagot ko si Mr. Bas:  “Opo, sir!”  He told me to contact HR about it .

I learned that HR was going to conduct preliminary examinations for PCIBankers who wanted to work as Financial Analyst.  There were about twenty of us who took the exams.  Ako yung pinakaunang natapos — not because it was a breeze…ang hirap kaya!  I just made sure na sinagot kong lahat.  Hindi na ako umasa na papasa pero  nag-follow up pa rin ako ng results.

Lady luck must be on my side!  I passed the exams keber nang kung hindi kataasan ang score ko.  I was assigned under the Eastern Visayas Area.  Mr. Bas was the Area Manager and as Financial Analyst, I was under the Area Credit Marketing Officer (ACMO) Hector Tan.  That time, Fred Patajo was the Account Officer and Per Cabanero was the Area Operations Officer while Cecilia Aligno-Cayanan was the Area Secretary.  Hector is one of the coolest bosses that I’ve encountered — he never berated me or anyone for that matter.  It was with Fred that I learned a lot kasi istrikto talaga sya.  Natuto akong magbasa ng financial statements dahil kay Fred and he pushed me to do credit analysis in my own style.

Palaging kami lang ni Celia ang naiiwan sa office tuwing nagbi-byahe sina Mr. Bas, Hector and Fred to visit our branches.  The Eastern Visayas Area included Tacloban, Ormoc, Tagbilaran and Iloilo.  So I was actually reviewing credit applications coming from these areas.  Sobrang inggit ako nun kasi nakakabato talaga sa opisina.  Dito ako nahasang gumamit ng desktop computers.  I was probably one of the few who learned to use VISICALC, LOTUS 123 and Wordstar.  Naging close kami ni Celia during those days kasi sabay kaming natutong gumamit ng computer.

In 1987, Fred was sent to PCI Development Academy for the Core Credit Training.  For three months, binuno namin ni Hector ang trabaho.  I learned how to package loan facilities and to review credit proposals sent by the branches.  Di pa rin ako pinapag-travel that time and dito nabuo yung barkadahan ng mga taga-credit group sa Regional Office.  Puro kami single noon so we had so much fun.

When in was my turn to undergo the Core Credit Training in 1988, na-promote ako as first-level officer.  Sobrang saya ko noon.  I remember calling my parents about it.  Tanong nila:  “Anong rank mo na, anak?”  Sabi ko:  “Per Pro po…”  Sagot nila:  “Ano yan anak?”  Wala talaga akong maisagot.  In fact up to now hindi ko pa rin alam kung anong meaning ng Per Pro rank ng PCIBank.  I just told them that I was a first-level officer already.

Tanong ni Mommy:  “May girlfriend ka na ba dyan?”

My mom always has her way of shifting the conversation to something I dread to discuss with her — girlfriends. “Wala pa po, Mommy. Career po muna…” That was probably the lamest reply I’ve given Mom but as always she was very supportive. Mom has always been my #1 fan and she followed my banking career like no other.

Core Credit Training was tough — PCI Development Academy made sure of that. For three months, we were ensconced in Manila and underwent an intensive training as loan officers. It was very competitive. On Day 1, i ended up last in our Pre-Test and the results was posted in the Bulletin Board. We all had a good laugh about it. Kunyari natatawa ako pero nakakahiya talaga but i decided — I will just enjoy the ride.

There were about twenty of us in that batch. Inunahan ko na silang lahat and claimed the bottom spot and proudly gave the rest of them the chance to kill each other for the Top Spot. I became good friends with my batch mates — may konting tampuhan here and there but we were very supportive of each other. One embarrassing experience was when all of a sudden part of the ceiling just fell on me. Of all the people in that training room, it had to be me! That sealed my role as the batch’s official mascot. At the end of the course, Edward Zshornack from Treasury topped our class. I was the class goat. Hehehehe!

Back in Cebu, I hit the ground running. Hector had a new assignment for me — as an Account Officer. We had to boost our loan portfolio and Fred has his hands full and needed all the support he can get. I was assigned specific accounts from our branches and thus began my engagements with the different credit personnel from branches in Tacloban, Ormoc, Iloilo, Roxas and Tagbilaran.

Being a Lending Officer in the 90s was the way to go in terms of career advancement in a bank. From 1988 to 1992, I was promoted twice — from Per Pro to Assistant Manager then to Senior Assistant Manager. Life was good. And Cebu was home. Gensan seemed so distant.

Sometime in 1992, the head of Branch Credit Helen R. Osias was visiting. I recall how busy we were for that visit. You don’t mess with Mrs. Osias or HRO. She has low tolerance for ineptitude. Her reputation was such that she can kill your career in an instant. We had accounts to present to her and when our time came — Hector, Fred and I were all stressed out. But we ended up sharing some good laughs with HRO. She was actually a darling. I think I made an impression on her. She called me back after our presentation.

“I learned that you are from General Santos City.”

“Opo Ma’am… I was born and raised there.”

“I need somebody to fix the Lending Group there. Are you interested?”

Nagulat ako sa offer ni Mrs. Osias.  “Ma’am magpapaalam po muna ako kina Mr. Bas and Hector…”

“I’ll take care of that.”

When Mrs. Osias left for Manila, Hector called me to Mr. Bas’ office.  As expected they informed me about the offer or rather the order of HRO for me to go to Gensan and assist the lending team there.  My initial thought was that since it was going to be a temporary assignment then it would be like going home for a vacation and getting paid for it.  I was excited.  The assignment was for two months and my main task was to train the Gensan Team from my learnings at Core Credit.  Mr. Bas assured me that my position will be there for me when I come back.

Homecomings are pure bliss.  I have been away from Gensan since 1980 and the longest time that I stayed for a vacation was for two weeks.  My mom was ecstatic.  She and Dad made sure that my stay was going to be stress-free.  Family indeed matters.

The Gensan Lending Team was housed at PCIBank Gensan Branch.  It was an old building owned by the Laiz Family along Pioneer Avenue.  It brought back memories of IBAA MC Briones Branch  — hot and humid but brimming with customers.  I was led to the Branch Manager Per Cubar who profusely thank me for “helping” them.  He then led me to the mezzanine floor to meet the Lending Team.  I got the shock of my life when I saw the area.   Low ceiling, old office furnitures and badly lit.  There I met the Area Credit Marketing Officer Edwin Elumbaring, Account Officer Ed Villamor and Account Officer Assistant Nick Teves.  Thankfully I felt comfortable with them immediately.  I also met the Area Head Oscar Lisao and Area Operations Officer Per Cabanero who were equally warm and welcoming.

The Gensan Lending Team and I worked on improving the credit proposals that we churn out.  We did several client calls and plant visits and I began to discover the potentials of Gensan.  The Fishing Industry was on the industry to beat that time and PCIBank was lucky enough to have the key players as depositors.  All my observations were reported to Mrs. Osias and she was seemingly pleased because our proposals were approved quite easily.

On the 3rd month of my assignment, I got a call from Mrs. Osias.  I was ready to be pulled out and go back to Cebu.  I was surprised that I was actually having second thoughts of going back.  The past two months may have been gruelling but they were the most engaging months as far as my work as a Lending officer was concerned.  But like a soldier, I was ready for anything.

“Hi, Orman!  Thank you for the good work that you have done for Gensan!  You see, Edwin has signified his desire to move back to Pagadian as Branch Manager.  That leaves the position of Area Credit Marketing Officer vacant.  I want you to take it.”


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