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This is the speech delivered by the HAU President at the awarding ceremonies at The Fort, Taguig City, sponsored by the Philippine Society for Quality last October 22:

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.

I would like to thank the Philippine Society for Quality for honoring me with the Juran Medal.

I consider the Juran Medal to be my most significant recognition received, rivaled only by the distinguished alumnus awards that my alma mater bestowed upon me. I am deeply humbled by the honorable company of past awardees that I am joining, all of them being icons of the productivity and quality movement in the Philippines.

Congratulations to my fellow awardees this year, Dr. Alfredo Bengzon and Dr. Ramon Bacani. According to my family tree, Dr. Bacani and I are third cousins once removed, meaning that he and my late father are third cousins. I am certain that our common ancestor, my great-great-great grandfather Apung Suarez, is very pleased witnessing this award ceremony from the special balconyup there.

The Juran Medal recognizes me for my contribution to the development of the Philippine Quality Award or the PQA, which the country's highest award for quality and performance excellence, as well as my work in introducing the Malcolm Baldrige Performance Excellence Framework and Balanced Scorecard-based strategic management systems to many Philippine organizations. A few of these organizations have later been recognized with Levels 2, 3, and 4 of the PQA.

If you will indulge me, all this work began in 1994 when the United States Information Service sent me to the Philippines to conduct a series of lectures about total quality management and the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award at the Thomas Jefferson Cultural Center, De La Salle University, and the Development Academy of the Philippines. A couple of years later, then President Fidel Ramos launched the National Action Agenda for Productivity (NAAP). In pursuit of NAAP, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) engaged me to write a think paper about a national quality award for the Philippines – a program that will raise national competitiveness by not only recognizing world-class organizations, but also providing a forum for the rapid dissemination of good organizational practices throughout the Philippines.

The NAAP subsequently adopted the PQA as its signature program, and President Ramos signed Executive Order 448 in 1997 decreeing its implementation. Thus, the PQA Program was born and the rest is history. Our country’s ranking in the World Competitiveness Index has risen from the 36th percentile in 1997 to the 64th percentile this year, and the Competitiveness Bureau of the Department of Trade and Industry attributes this rise in national competitiveness in no small part to the PQA Program.

Since 1996, as Asian Productivity Organization technical expert, I had trained close to 1,000 internal assessors for the PQA until the assessment training technology was fully transferred to local consultants and trainers around the year 2002. To this day, I train all PQA judges and external assessors and, if you applied for the PQA and you did not like the quality of your feedback report, you may blame it on me. To this day, I still serve as a Baldrige Award Examiner, specifically as a judge for the California program and as a judge for the Baldrige Foundation's Harry Hertz Leadership Award.

For the past 35 years, I had lived, studied, and worked outside the Philippines – 32 years in the United States and three years in Singapore. Yet, as an "iskolar ng bayan" who decided to pursue his career outside the Philippines and experience the many comforts of living in the West, there had always been that inner voice that calls the prodigal son to give back or to return to his roots – his country of birth. Earlier this year, I finally listened to that inner call and decided to return to the home province of my late father and lead the largest university in Central Luzon, Holy Angel University. At this time, I'd like to ask the trustees and my colleagues at Holy Angel University to please stand and be recognized. Leadership is a trust and you have my commitment that I will be a faithful steward of that trust.

Since my presidency began at Holy Angel, we collectively accomplished many things. We strongly affirmed our Catholic mission and identity and, in so doing, the Cardinal Newman Society – which is America's leading advocate for faithful Catholic education – recognized Holy Angel as a role model for other Catholic universities outside the United States. We resolved our deadlock with our labor union. Next year, we will begin implementing K-12 Basic Education, which will be accompanied by revenue loss due to drastic reductions in college enrollment. Instead of retrenching scores of faculty members, paraphrasing my favorite poet Robert Frost, Holy Angel has chosen "the path less traveled." We are retaining nearly all our academically qualified faculty and, over the nest five years, implement creative faculty work schedules and send many professors to doctoral programs.

In preparation for the ASEAN single market, we are aggressively pursuing international accreditation of our degree programs in addition to accountancy and business, which are already internationally accredited. Finally, we have adopted the Baldrige Award Educational Performance Excellence Framework as our business model and our road map to the next level of competitiveness, distinction, and excellence.

The goal of life is not to have our lives mean something to ourselves. It is to have our lives mean something to others. My personal mission is to lead the transformation of Holy Angel University into a world-class university in Central Luzon so that Filipinos living north of Manila will not have to go to Manila to obtain high-quality college education. As a result, Holy Angel would become an authentic instrument of countryside development by helping reduce rural-to-urban migration and making Angeles City an attractive destination of job-creating employers and investors, consequently improving the quality of life not only in the countryside but also in the National Capital Region. When this mission is accomplished, we will have created a role model in transforming other Philippine universities and we will have provided other educational leaders a template for sustained changes for the betterment of Philippine education.Therefore, casting all modesty aside, my message to the other colleges and universities in this room is that you will find it to be in your best interest to be a partner or collaborator of Holy Angel than for you to be our competitor.

If we work together rather than against each other, we will improve the quality of Philippine higher education and be much stronger when we face our future new competitors that we don’t yet know as competitors. These are the overseas institutions that will begin attracting our best and brightest students when our first cohort of senior high school students graduate a little more than two years from now. If you wish to be our strategic partner or collaborator, please feel free to approach any of my Holy Angel colleagues.

Yesterday morning, I arrived from a two-week business trip to the United States. During that long flight home, I added up all the days, weeks, and months that I had traveled to the Philippines – away from my family – during the last 20 years. The total is the equivalent of almost two years ... 10% ... just like tithing. I have been happily married to my high school sweetheart for the past 34 years. I would like to call on my wife Gemeline to stand and be recognized. We have been blessed with three lovely daughters, all of whom grown up, unmarried, and living in three different time zones. As the only man in our family, I am proud to have always had the last word: "Yes, Mom" or "I'm sorry, Hon."

It was my family who allowed me to be the absentee parent for the equivalent of two years, thereby enabling me to pursue my passion for quality, to spend the legacy years of my professional life in my country of birth, and to honor my late parents by allowing me to leave my legacy to my late father's home province. This award goes to my Gem and our three daughters as well. Thank you, Hon. I love you.

Thank you very much.

Date Posted: 10-25-2015