Bernardo M. Villegas
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Rebalancing Strategy
published: Mar 31, 2017



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The Adventure of Institution Building (Part III)

           Our close contact with educators in the field of economics eventually led to our being in the vanguard of values education or character formation in the Philippine educational system.  With the leadership of one of the products of our Master of Arts in Economics Education program, Dr. Antonio Torralba, we launched the first Master of Arts in Values Education program which attracted hundreds of teachers from all over the Philippines and reached its fullest development in the public educational system under the leadership of the late Brother Andrew Gonzalez who, as Secretary of Education, gave the strongest support to the program.  Many of the graduates of this masteral program were promoted to high positions in the Department of Education as regional or division superintendents.  This is one program of which I am most proud to have been one of the founding fathers.  I would like to cite the crucial role of the late Dr. Emil Antonio Jr. for his spearheading the revival and development of the economics education program in the early years of the new millennium.  Emil, one of the earliest products of the Industrial Economics program, became the best ever economics educator produced by our university.  I will make sure that his memory will be kept alive always by our continuing to invest in the training of economics educators at the high school and college levels.  I never refuse an invitation to speak or lecture in activities organized for economics educators, especially in regions outside Metro Manila.

          Our being in both economic research and communication and in education led naturally to our concern for the economic literacy of top executives in both the private and public sectors.  In a developing country, it is important that the movers and shakers of a society are steeped in their knowledge of how the economy works and how different sectors, regions and industries are interrelated in the attainment of the common good.  Thus, from almost the very start of our educational programs, we launched the Master in Business Economic Program (MBE) and the Master in Economic Research (MER) Program.  The objective of the first was to provide senior executives with a minimum of understanding of macroeconomics and microeconomics so that they can carry out intelligent dialogues with policy makers in the various branches of the Government concerning economic issues.  The objective of the second was to train middle level personnel in an organization who can carry out economic research to provide their respective superiors with well studied position papers for corporate planning as well as for submission to government agencies to influence  the direction of economic policy.  In no time at all, we were attracting even graduates of some of the most prestigious business schools abroad, like Harvard, Stanford and Wharton, who felt that they did not get enough exposure to economic theory and practice in the setting of a developing nation like the Philippines.  Sooner or later this MBE program evolved into its present form of the Strategic Business Economics Program (SBEP) because the majority of those who participated in the program were not interested in obtaining the MBE degree but were just enrolling to obtain valuable inputs for their respective strategic, project, and operational planning processes. 

          Fourteen years after St. Josemaria Escriva went to heaven, we achieved his dream of putting the final stone as a foundation for our future university.  No university can be started under Philippine educational policy without a College of Arts and Sciences.  In June 1989, some 300 women and men were accepted into the first year of the CRC College of Arts and Sciences in which I was the first Dean, while still retaining my position as Dean of the School of Economics of CRC.  Thanks to the strong support of the late Emil Antonio who was the Assistant Dean of Economics, I could wear the two hats, devoting more of my time to the foundational years of the CRC-CAS.  At this time, the President of CRC was Dr. Enrique Esteban, who had been a key management support in the establishment of CRC in the 1970s, together with the late Judge Advocate Manuel Reyes, who was responsible for the efficient operations of the fledgling think tank.   It was Col Reyes’s managerial expertise as the Executive Secretary that helped CRC through its first two decades of expansion and growth.   Another key person in the management history of CRC and later the University of Asia and the Pacific was the late Dr.  Mario Camacho, a prominent personality in the Philippine business community who, after being CEO of the Manila Electric Company helped UA&P in the last years of the twentieth century to take bigger steps on the road to becoming a full-fledged university.  The one who preceded Dr.  Camacho as President of CRC and finally of UA&P was the founder of CRC, Dr. Jesus Estanislao, who in the mid-1990s led the former think tank and College of Arts Sciences into universityhood in 1995.  By 1995, the new university, the University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P), added specializations in management, information technology, political economy, communications sciences, the humanities, health sciences, and education to the offerings in economics.  Jess institutionalized the corporate culture of UA&P, based on the principle of UNITY, through a series of publications outlining the virtues and values that have to be practiced by all the stakeholders of UA&P.  After Dr. Mario Camacho, Dr. Jose Maria Mariano, a mathematician and philosopher, who succeeded me as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, in the early 1990s, took over as President of the UA&P and for more than twelve years led the University in deepening its commitment to the humanities and expansion into new disciplines.  Under his leadership, the enrolment of the University expanded to some 2,000 students.  (To be continued)