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In honor of Philippines’ unsung finance educators

(Article published in the Feb 24, 2010 issue of Manila Standard Today)  

Like a pebble thrown in the middle of a quiet pond was the awarding ceremonies that culminated the search for the FINEX-CITI Rafael B. Buenaventura Outstanding Finance Educators held last January 27 at the Bangko Sentral.  Still currently rippling from such center, I am certain, are efforts by educators in the country to hone their methods of instruction in making students at the tertiary level financially literate.

Started in 2007, the yearly search for outstanding finance educators aims to spur financial education amongst the young with a view towards making them (and eventually the country) globally competitive.  That objective conforms closely with the aspirations of Rafeal B. Buenaventura who himself was a globally competitive Filipino par excellence.

Paeng Buenaventura, a top graduate of Citibank’s prestigious Executive Development Program, was, and up to now, the only Filipino who has served as Country Officer of Citibank.  His stint with Citibank which spanned more than 15 years saw him at the top of the bank’s management pyramid at one time or another not only in Asia (Indonesia, Malaysia, and Hong Kong) but also in Europe (Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, and Turkey). 

Citi proudly claimed him to be its “alumnus” as he for six years served as the second Governor of the Bangko Sentral, after Governor Gabriel Singson,  from July 6, 1999 to 2005.  During his term, he was twice named by Global Finance as one of the world’s top or “Grade A” central bankers, as the first central banker awarded the “Central Bank Governor of the Year for the Asian Region” by the Banker Magazine, sister publication of the Finance Times.  BusinessWeek, in 2003, chose him as one of the 5 “Stars of Asia” Financiers in 2003.  It may not have been unintended that Paeng’s name stands adjacent to Citi’s in the official name of the award.


This is not to say that FINEX was not near to Paeng’s heart.  In his address at FINEX’s first general membership meeting for 2000, he, as the occasion’s guest speaker, lauded the choice of their theme, “The Financial Executive: Pursuing Excellence in a Global Setting.”  Concluding his call for governance reforms in general and on good governance in the Philippine banking system in particular, Paeng explicitly called on financial executives to join in his crusade.

He challenged them: “You as financial executives have the responsibility to raise the code of conduct in your chosen field and to pursue excellence in such endeavor.  Let this goal be pursued by working towards and adhering to good corporate governance.  Though our combined efforts,the challenges of the new global setting will indeed by much less daunting.”

This year’s awardees were the Visayas Winner Michael P. Cañares, who teaches at the Holy Name University in Tagbilaran City, the  Mindanao Winner Virginia Lourdes C. Yacapin of Xavier University, the National Capital Region Winner Evelita E. Celis from the Technological Institute of the Philippines, and Alice T. Valerio of the De La Salle University in Dasmariñas, Cavite  winner for the rest of Luzon.

They were evaluated on the basis of their personal qualities and character (obviously, to be an educator you need to have good moral character and integrity), knowledge of finance, teaching effectiveness, and written articles on the subjects of finance and community involvement. 

Teacher Michael P. Cañares this year’s top awardee started teaching in 1998 bringing to the table his degree of Bachelor of Science, with Accountancy as his major, from Holy Name University in Tagbilaran.  He got his bachelor of laws from the same school in 2004.  In 2003, he was graduated Masters of Business Education, with Accounting and Finance as major, by the University of San Jose Recoletos of Cebu City.  Finally, he received in 2007  his Master of Science, focusing on Development Studies, from the faculty of Economics from the London School of Economics and Political Science in the United Kingdom, finishing with “Merit’.

His profile lists six articles written one of which deals with a topic close to Paeng Buenaventura’s heart, microfinance.  In a conference in March 2005, the presented his paper, commissioned by the Peace and Equity Foundation, entitled “Mga Isturya sa Kinabuhin ug Paglaum: A Case Study on the Microfinance Program of Taytay sa Kauswagan Inc.”

Cañares’ teaching methods are innovative, ranging from ground level realism to cyberspace utilization.  He uses a bidding game that measures the risk-taking propensity of his students and gives hands-on feel to discussions of theory.  Students of his Accounting I are immersed in the task of preparing books of accounts, financial statements, and reports when they do the Set Up Your Store portion of the course.  Using the net to advantage, he maintains an online blog that serves as a discussion platform for the more advanced accounting students and he challenges students to come up with an accounting information systems tailed to suit the needs of audit or managing consulting client organizations.

Such talent and achievement naturally attracted international attention which gave him assignments ranging the whole gamut from project proposal to management, monitoring and evaluation.

Just a sampling: From July to August 2009, he was Project Development Consultant of Kindernothlife-Germany.  He helped KNH Germany and its partner in the Philippines draft a full proposal to the European Union on assisting indigenous peoples in the province of Antique.  After three months, the proposal was approved.  He was a few years back the project manager of the Local Governance and Development Project funded by the Ford Foundation, assisting the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Bohol in drafting community-responsive legislation and conducting research in aid of legislation.  In the field of assessing projects, he was the Monitoring and Evaluation Consultant of DISOP-Belgium and helped, among other tasks,  develop a baselining tool for its 10 development projects in the Philippines.

My former student, Erly B. De Guzman, now President of Galing Pinoy Movement, is on the look out for what is good with the Pinoy.  Look no further, young lady, just look at the teachers, those teaching finance included.