Junior Chamber International Senate Davao (also known as Davao Jaycee Senate) conferred the Leaders & Achievers of Davao (LEAD) honor to Mary Ann Montemayor, Charita Puentespina, and Guillermo Torres Jr at the Marco Polo Hotel Davao.
LEAD Davao (Leaders and Achievers of Davao) is one of Davao City’s most prestigious awards for outstanding citizens. LEAD seeks to recognize outstanding Dabawenyo leaders and achievers, 40 years old and above, who best exemplify the Junior Chamber International (JCI) Creed. These would include faith in God, brotherhood among men, economic justice through free enterprise, government of laws, human personality, and service to humanity. LEAD also gives recognition to Dabawenyos who have made outstanding contributions to the development and growth of Davao City,. They have brought pride and honor to the city by excelling in their business, professions, or advocacies.
Hotelier Mary Ann Montemayor won under the Tourism category. Floriculture and cacao industry mover Charita Puentespina won under the Agribusiness category. Meanwhile, University of Mindanao Chairman and CEO Guillermo Torres Jr. was recognized for his efforts in the Education sector.
LEAD is an annual flagship project of JCI Senate Davao. It is the main organization of senior JCI members in Davao City who have been recognized as JCI Senators. LEAD’s maiden year was in 2003, with the first batch of awardees namely Carolyn Arguillas, Joey Ayala, Joji Ilagan Bian, Margie Moran Floirendo, and Antonio Uy. The inaugural search was led by Project Chairman Nilo Claudio and JCI Senate Davao President Manuel Orig. The 2015 honorees were Lourdes Carmen Locsin, Dionisio Abude, and Dr. Leopoldo Vega. 2016 honorees were Perla Kwan, Alexander Buenaventura, and Protacio Tacandong.
Luciano Frederick Puyod III, this year’s Project Chairman of LEAD Davao, said “Davao’s story of leaders and achievers must be told. LEAD is a way for us to tell this story, and hopefully inspires all Dabawenyos especially the youth. We need not look far for role models or heroes, because as it is they are just here in our city. We thank them for their inspiring lives and selfless acts of generosity for their fellow Dabawenyos”.
“The Search program also aimed to draw the much needed inspiration for young citizens to embrace the JCI ideals and empower themselves to become morally upright leaders of the community now and in the future.”, said Jesus Mabaquiao, 2017 President of JCI Senate Davao.
“LEAD is JCI Senate Davao’s way of conveying the gratitude of the Davao City community to these outstanding citizens LEAD also established a high sense of integrity due to the strong support of our board of judges and sponsors”, said Manuel Orig, founder of LEAD.
This year’s LEAD board of judges is composed of Ronald Go, Antonio Ajero Jr., Lourdes Carmen Locsin, Protacio Tacandong, and Perla Kwan as Chairperson.
Major sponsors for this year’s LEAD are Aboitiz Power, Davao Light, Marco Polo Hotels, Phoenix, APM, Carve, Oasan Group of Companies, Johnnie Walker, and Heineken.
MARY ANN MONTEMAYOR:
Our first honoree is a woman entrepreneur, hotelier, restaurateur, tourism maven, and a proud Dabawenya.
After graduating from Maryknoll College with a degree in Business Administration in 1977, she put up a coffe shop when coffee shops were not yet as cool or popular as they are today. She is owner/manager of the following companies: Habi at Kape Cafe, Villa Margarita Catering Services, Binggoy’s Gourmet, Konkordans Inc., Grandeast Asia Travel, Xenon Insurance, Villa Margarita Hotel, and Infinity Arts and Crafts Showroom.
But more than her entrepreneurial endeavors, it has been her advocacy to promote Mindanao and her strong affiliation for the region which sets her apart. She has been doing volunteer work with the T’bolis and Bagobos for the last ten years, doing small scale training on organization and beading to the Indigenous Peoples. With her only daughter Marga, they formed joint venture Kaayo, a fashion and home accessories business that highlight the work of the IPs. They have supported the Bagobo Tagabawa, Bagobo Matigsalog, T’boli, Yakan, and the Mandaya of Davao Oriental.
She is the Mindanao coordinator of Go Negosyo and continues to provide guidance to participants in the program. She served as President of the Davao Tourism Association from 1992 to 1995. They increased their tourism campaign efforts for Davao City using the city’s key symbols such as the durian, Mount Apo, Waling-Waling, and cementing these as city icons. During her term, the Association received the DOT’s National Kalakbay Award for Tourism Council of the Year.
In 1998, she received a Special Centennial Award for Tourism given by the Datu Bago Awards of Davao City. And just this year she received the Inspiring Filipina Entrepreneur award by the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship at Malacanan Palace and the Outstanding Asean Woman Entrepreneur given by the Asian Women Entrepreneurs Network. Her passion for promoting Davao City to the world is the same as her passion to see Davao City and its people improve their lives.
MS. CHARITA P. PUENTESPINA
Our next honoree is a classic example that age should never slow you down in achieving your dreams and aspirations.
An active and energetic woman, a leader, and an entrepreneuer. A wife to Roberto Puentespina, mother and grandmother. She has made a name for herself in the fields of floriculture, tourism, cacao production, and food processing.
Born in Passi, Iloilo, she finished Bachelor of Science in Commerce at the Ateneo de Davao University “cum laude” in 1967, with her “3 little Indians” in tow. This refers to her 3 sons, one of them 2007 JCI Senate Davao President Angel Puentespina.
Her horticulture and floriculture businesses employ 150 individuals. She is credited with reviving and propagating the Vanda sanderiana, known popularly as Waling-waling. During the Kadayawan sa Dabaw, she supported 150 farmers and gardeners to do their selling activities.
In tourism, her Malagos Garden Resort is among the main tourist areas of the city, practicing and promoting agri-tourism. It also operates the first and only chocolate museum in the country.
It is in the cacao industry where she has made the biggest impact. She unselfishly shares all her education, knowledge and experience, opening up her cacao farm in 2011 to everyone who wants to learn cacao farming. She is known as “Madre de Cacao” or mother of Cacao because of many of her pioneering efforts that helped the industry and in crafting the Philippine Cacao road map She has worked with scientists of Mars Chocolate USA, thought their “Cocoa Supply Sustainability Program”, to set up the Mars Cacao Development Center, at her farm in Malagos, Davao City. The variety that she caused to register, UF18 (Theabroma cacao), became the main variety propagated in the industry. And the ever popular Malagos Chocolate is now a globally known and multi-awarded product.
Outside of her profession, she was President of the Zonta Club of Davao in 1996. During her tenure, her chapter managed to build a school at the Isla Verde. She partnered with a funding agency (Christian Children Fund) and an NGO to successfully build the school.
Last August, along with this year’s LEAD Honoree Mary Ann Montemayor and 2003 LEAD Honoree Joji Ilagan Bian, she was awarded as among the Asean Outstanding Women Entrepreneurs.
DR. GUILLERMO P. TORRES JR.
The third honoree is a man made of vision, execution, and results. He has embodied integrity, hard work, sacrifice, and zeal combined.
He earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in 1975 at De La Salle College and got his Masters in Business Administration at Ohio University two years later. in 1999, he was a recepient of a Doctorate Degree (Honoris Causa) in Commercial Science from John Dewey University of Rutherford, New Jersey.
Currently, he is the Chairman and President of an academic institution, a media company, and a family-owned realty corporation.
Under Willie’s leadership, the University of Mindanao has achieved national and international accreditation and recognition, which is a manifestation of their commitment to providing the highest standard of instruction to its students.
Pursuant to his vision to make education an arm’s reach away from those who need it, he initiated in providing scholarship to the Indigenous Peoples, Persons with Disabilities, and the like allocating a total of 150 scholarships slots every school year. UM holds the title of being the most affordable private university in Davao City, and resulted to having the largest number of enrollees in the region and producing the highest number of graduates. In his leadership, UM became the biggest higher educational institution in Mindanao.
He has a very soft heart for the poor, as evidenced by his generous activities aside from free scholarships. He has donated to Care for the Elderly Foundation, donated 3.4 hectares of land to the urban poor living near the vicinity of the UM Matina Campus, and eagerly supported Community Infrastructure Program of Gawad Kalinga donating 10 houses at GK Pueblo Antonio, Sitio Habana, Barangay Catigan, Toril.
He also annually sponsors the GET Golf Tournament, to raise funds for poor yet deserving students of the Mount Apo Science Foundation College. He is also the President of the Foundation College which offers free education, lodging, and textbooks for financially-challenged agriculture students.
In 2011, he was bestowed Davao City’s Datu Bago Award. He served as Chairman of Datu Bago Awards Organization from 2013 to 2016. De La Salle University also awarded him a Lasallian Achiever in Media for successfully running a media business in Davao City. On August 2, 2017 he received Asia’s Education Excellence Award for Outstanding Contribution to Education by CMO Asia, an award of the highest stature.