“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.”
Siguro may three seconds akong natameme. This was every Lending Officer’s dream and it was offered to me in a silver platter. But the thought of giving up my life in Cebu where I stayed for 11 years was in the way.
“Ma’am Helen, can you give me time to think about it?” Surprisingly I was calm.
“Sige… but I need your decision ASAP.”
The next thing I did was to call Mr. Bas about the offer. He advised me to take it and not miss on the opportunity to grow as a banker. I also called Cherry Muntuerto of our Cebu HR to seek her advice. I considered Cherry like my barkada-mom and she seconded Mr. Bas’ blessings. That night I talked to my parents about the offer. Siempre pareho silang masaya para sa akin. Mommy pulled me aside afterwards. “Anak, pwede ka nang mag-asawa nyan!”
Ang nanay ko talaga… ang galing mambasag ng trip!
Two days after I affirmed my decision to accept the position, Area Head Oca Lisao called the Lending Team to his room. By then we have already moved to the mezzanine floor of PCIBank Dadiangas Branch. He officially announced that I was taking over as ACMO of Central Mindanao while Edwin was moving to Pagadian Branch as Branch Manager. There were a lot of back-patting and congratulatory wishes. Honestly I was scared about the whole thing. Who wouldn’t be?
Central Mindanao Area covered branches in Gensan, Koronadal, Isulan, Tacurong, Cotabato and Midsayap. Total Loan Portfolio for the area was at 200MM. The goal was to grow our portfolio within a year. To do that I have to strengthen my team. Account Officers and AO Assistants were set up for each of the branches. I had to travel a lot to meet with clients and package loan facilities. Those were really exciting times. I had a highly motivated team and the opportunities abound.
Our portfolio really grew when we partnered with the Specialized Lending Division headed by Joey Bermudez. Mindanao was ripe for the picking and with the special programs offered by Joey’s group, PCIBank became very competitive. Our portfolio began to grow rapidly when Bernadette Angtuaco Sevilla assisted us. We were flying high.
Central Mindanao Area ended with a 600MM portfolio in 1993. During the Branch Managers’ Conference, I was awarded Area Credit Marketing Officer of the Year. In my acceptance speech, I stammered and was close to tears. I was in 7th heaven.
“…I share this award with my team who has worked hard for the past year. I thank the Lord for guiding me. I thank my family for their support. Mommy, pwede na po akong mag-asawa…”
Looking back at that moment I could have done a better acceptance speech. Isali talaga ang pag-aasawa? Sheesh!
The next two years were the best two years of our area. Not only were our loan portfolio at its highest, deposits was also hitting the roof. And in 1993-1994, PCIBank was the envy of other banks. Competition was eating our dust.
My team also grew. At the end of 1994 I had 15 people in the lending unit composed of Account Officers, AO Assistants and Appraisers. We were contributing positively to the bank’s bottom line. To keep them abreast, they were sent to the various training programs at the Head Office.
One of the perks of being the ACMO was traveling to Manila for our monthly meeting. A probinsyano like me will always consider traveling to Manila a perk — it was like traveling to New York! In one of our regular meetings, HRO asked me to extend my stay for another day. She wanted me to finish the credit proposal which I was discussing with her. So ako naman sunod agad. I was busy on the computer when I heard some commotion behind me. Everyone was looking at me — smiling. I saw Mrs. Osias walking towards me with a huge grin and extending her right hand.
“Congratulations, Orman! You have been promoted as Manager!”
Hindi ko maintindihan ang feelings ko noon. But I remember hugging HRO and thanking her. Naglapitan na din ang ibang taga Branch Credit Administration to congratulate me. I consider that day as one of the most unforgettable moments of my life as a Banker. How sweet it was to be rewarded for your dedication and commitment.
In 1995, the challenges to my job as Lending Head reached the peak when our past due levels began to rise. It was a stressful year. There were decisions that I made which did not fly well with my superiors. It was a painful learning experience for me — a lesson in humility.
By the early part of 1996, I was asked to fly to Cebu City for a one-on-one meeting with the new head of VisMin, SVP Gerald Co. I asked his secretary Martha Omega as to the reason of the meeting. All she said was this: “Orms, just remember that every time God closes a door, He opens another window of opportunity for you.” Sino naman ang di kakabahan nyan?
Before I flew to Cebu, I talked to my Mom para ibuhos sa kanya lahat ng apprehensions ko. She told me to be strong and be prepared.
When I arrived at the same office where I started as Financial Analyst, the mood was somber. My colleagues were all happy to see me but I can feel something was amiss. It seemed that they all knew what was going to happen. As I was ushered to the office of Mr. Co, I just knew that this is not going to be good news.
I have to give it to Mr. Co. He delivered the news brilliantly. I may not like what I was hearing but he sure made it bearable to listen to.
“What are my options, sir?”
“Well, Orms, you can move to Tacloban as Area Credit Marketing Officer or stay in Gensan as Branch Manager…”
I had the weekend to think about my decision. I left Cebu with such a heavy heart uncertain of my banking career. All throughout the flight, I was praying silently asking the Lord to grant me strength and guidance.
When I saw my family at the Gensan Airport, I went directly to my mom and hugged her tight. No words needed to be spoken. “Andito lang kami, anak para sumuporta sayo…”
I opted to go for the Branch Manager position at PCIBank Dadiangas Branch. The turnover to Velma Vargas as ACMO was seamless. Velma was among my barkada in Cebu so it helped a lot. The more difficult part was transitioning from a lending guy to a branch manager. Kung dati ako ang hinahabol ang mga clients para bigyan sila ng loan support, ngayon ako ang naghahabol ng deposits nila.
I took over as BM in June 1996 — thankfully, the branch team was very supportive and excited. Those were the most difficult and trying months of my banker’s life. May policy ang PCIBank noon na dapat maabot mo ang deposit quota mo para mabigyan ka ng kotse. So I was actually riding the tricycle that time to visit clients and literally walking the streets to seek prospects. Dinaanan kong lahat yan and looking back masasabi ko talaga that those experiences strengthened my backbone not only as a banker but also as a person.
Nakita siguro ng Area Head namin noon na si VP Domingo Ramos na nagsisikap ako kaya ginawan nya ng paraan na magkaroon agad ako ng kotse kahit di ko pa naaabot ang deposit quota ko. That really helped hasten things up. Slowly but surely, our deposits grew.
Sometime in November 1996 after a rough day in field, I got an unexpected long-distance call from Manila.
“Good morning, Mr. Manansala… I am Didoy Cruz Fullon of iBank…”
Unang dinig ko was EYE Bank… so I thought baka parang Blood Bank din ito and was probably asking for donations.
“Yes, Mr. Manansala. iBank stands for International Exchange Bank…”
TO BE CONTINUED