Tuesday, May 23, 2017


By Roger Pe
Business Mirror
May 24, 2017 issue 

The 90s were the best of times for Filipinos in Jakarta. Indonesian employers kept an eye on Filipinos, those who were experts in their respective fields, as among their prized recruits.

In advertising, a number of Indonesian company owners successfully lured Pinoys and put them in stellar positions. They were called Advisors, a term loaded with three enviable Ps - power, prestige and privileges.

Professional Filipinos were generally preferred for their hardwork, competence and efficiency. Aside from their knack for communicating in English, the locals easily gravitated to them. They naturally exuded warmth, charm and blended well, culturally. They were their Malay neighbors and looked the same, as opposed to the ‘orang asing putih’.

Among the many Filipino admen transported to the world’s 4th most populous country during that time were Ronald Garcia and his wife Marivic. 

Both have a solid background in advertising. By then, Ronald has built a career in Media, from being a Research Assistant in Basic-FCB to Media Director in Dentsu, Young and Rubicam-Alcantara where he met his wife who was a Senior Account Manager at the time in the same agency. Marivic was Account Director in the country’s first full-service direct marketing agency when they left for Indonesia.

In Lintas Jakarta, Indonesia’s biggest ad agency, Ronald assumed a Media Director role (for Initiave Media) and Marivic worked her way up, from being an Associate Account Director to Group Account Director position.

Trained and honed by Manila’s Madison Avenue-like world of advertising, those credentials propelled both of them to mentor their Indonesian wards for a good 4 years.

While it was a dream posting for them, the political upheaval in Jakarta was brewing and unfolding. The fall of Suharto in 1998 has caused a lot of civil disturbance prompting the couple to come back to Manila to ensure the safety of their two young children.

Back to Manila

Not expats anymore, the Garcias began a new life in Manila at the height of the Asian Financial Crisis. Ronald joined Universal McCann briefly as McCann Philippines’ first OOH (out-of-home) Media Head. Whereas, Marivic worked in Lintas Manila and then Dentsu, Young & Rubicam where she stayed for many years to be on top of its key corporate accounts.

In 2001, having seen a bright opportunity in out-of-home advertising, Ronald established Outdoor Media, a full-service out-of-home advertising services provider that provides tailor-fit solutions to clients’ key geographical priorities - nationwide. 

From the attic of his home in Valle Verde, he worked day and night to deliver the rush requirements of his clients all by his lonesome self. As he gained the trust and respect of more clients, he began to get more and more projects and started adding employees. 

The name was later changed to OMG Advertising when Marivic joined forces with Ronald in 2013, (only after agreeing that he would put up an office in Bonifacio Global City). It was inevitable for the two to work together, to better manage a growing number of clients. 

They now have more full-time employees and a dependable group of Local Coordinators all-around the country. They have taken their team places in and out of the country to see the work that they do and compare them to that of more advanced countries, so they get better at what they do. In the process, they also get to see the world.
More on Ronald on his entrepreneurial success: 
What were the challenges you faced and how did you surmount them?

Practically starting from scratch was a major challenge. Working as a one-man team at home, investing on strategic partnerships, putting up processes, checks and balances to ensure integrity of the work, and scaling up, were also tough. Increased sales also meant more cash infusion and more work, and so, I had to do a lot of balancing act. 

Making hard decisions, prioritizing projects that will bring in higher margins, keeping eye on the goal and making sure every project is delivered in a timely and accurate manner, while gaining strength from the love and support of my family. 

How do you make yourself different from other players in the industry?

Unlike other players in the market who come with a long list of inventories, we provide customized OOH solutions and locations that are based on the Clients' strategic and geographical priorities. 

OMG’s proprietary softwares are one-of-a-kind, how do you market them and make clients aware of them?

We've recently invested on digitizing our processes and data by developing the following: Geogen, a locations-search tool that helps us identify priority locations based on total population per city/province broken down per age group and gender split, in seconds. 

It can also generate a list of nearby relevant establishments that maybe points of interest in relation to the target audience.

The other software is called the AdTracker, which basically functions as on online library of all our work, searchable by brand, campaign and/or campaign period. It even has a campaign summary that contains related details, including campaign results whenever available. 

In the future, it can also serve as a digital monitoring portal for paperless billing requirements. Over time, it can include competitive OOH ad campaigns, too. It can be as robust as we'd like them to be in terms of building market data.  

We'd soon be giving free access to our clients meeting a minimum revenue commitment in order to make work faster, more accessible by computer or smart/android phone. 

How do you keep up with new technology in the industry?

OMG Advertising recognizes that the future of media lies in the use of digital technologies to drive desired business results, and so, we invests a lot on new technologies that would help us and our clients win in the marketplace. We don't wait for new technologies to fall into our laps. We create them based on our needs.

What pieces of advice you would give to people in the industry?

Take care of your reputation. It’s the most important thing you can own. If you do good, good things come to you. 

Your business philosophy is?

Take care of your people, and they will take care of the business. 

If you were a piece of billboard what would you like your market to know about you?

OMG Advertising can help you win in the market place.  

What is your goal in the business and how do you see OMG in the next 5 years?

Our goal is to be seen by our clients as more than just an OOH Services Provider (Supplier) but more as Business Partners. We'd like to be in the forefront of the Out-of-Home Advertising industry, helping clients win in the marketplace one community at a time. 

What is your unique brand leadership and management style?

Our style is Management By Objectives. You set your own goals and your desired rewards and the kind of support needed from the company and then we agree on the parameters. In a sense, you work for the reward you want.  

Memorable anecdotes you learned throughout career?

Time and again, we've proven that every problem presents an opportunity. You just need to look beyond the difficulties at hand. As they say, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. 

Who is Ronald as a person, outside of the office?

Ronald is very much a family man. His life outside of work revolves around the family. He loves to travel and discover new places and documents them in photographs for posterity. 

Are you looking to going regional?

If the right opportunity comes, why not?  

Who influenced you much, who were your mentors?

I was influenced, to some degree, by Tony Mercado's management style. I liked that he was a progressive thinker, quite advanced for his time. I was also influenced by a former boss, Boy Pangilinan who taught me much of what I know in Media, my grandmother and the nuns in my former school who inculcated the right values in me growing up.  

Saturday, May 13, 2017


by Roger Pe
Business Mirror
May 14, 2017 issue

Social media went abuzz. Newspapers made headlines. The nation was in disbelief when the result of the 2016 Bar Exam was bared to the public on May 3, 2017. 

What gives? Not one from blue chip universities made it to the Top 10 list. Law graduates from schools in the provinces lorded it over. Imperial Manila’s bubble was shattered. The ‘promdis’ got their revenge, one newspaper said. And the biggest shocker of all, a university far, far way, in a place many call a university in a forest, registered 100% passing.

The punters never placed a bet on Palawan State University. But alas, they should have known better. The province has a rich heritage of academicians, past and present.

PSU in a nutshell

The university was first known as Palawan Teacher’s College, created to train additional teachers (most available educators then came from Luzon and only a few wanted to be assigned to far away towns). 

Briefly, it opened night classes using four borrowed classrooms from nearby Palawan National High School, and eventually became Palawan State College in 1984.

A school of Law was established when Dr. Teresita Salva became president in 1991, and Teodoro Peña, sponsor of transitioning the school to state college was appointed its first dean. The latter was an economist, lawyer, banker, parliamentarian, corporate director and has a Master of Laws from Yale University, an Associate in Arts and law degree, with honors, from the University of the Philippines.

Atty. Teodoro Pena
By virtue of a republic act sponsored by Congressmen Alfredo Abueg, Jr and David Ponce de Leon, the school became a university three years after. 

Today, the first university in Palawan is arguably, the best in the Mimaropa region and among the top 20 in the whole country. Through the years, it has performed well in the Bar exam, thanks to its OIC President Marissa Pontillas and Assistant Dean of School of Law, Maria Gisela Josol-Trampe, herself alumna of the school.

It is but important to interview its dynamic and current Dean, Perry Pe, 2016 president of Management Association of the Philippines (MAP). A Master of Laws graduate of Columbia University in New York, Bachelor of Laws degree holder from the Ateneo de Manila University, Pe also holds a Bachelor of Arts, major in History and Political Science from the De La Salle University. He is also a Trustee of the De La Salle University in Manila and the University of St. La Salle in Bacolod City.

Many international legal publications, among them Legal 500, Chambers Global, Asia Legal Business, AsiaLaw, have named Pe as a leading lawyer in his field from 2003 to the present.

He also sits as Trustee of the Foundation for Economic Freedom (PEF) and the Honorary Consul General of the Kingdom of Denmark in Manila. He previously served as Chair and President of the Philippine Association of Law Schools.

Pe acted as a legal consultant to the Asian Development Bank, advising the bank and its foreign expatriates on various local regulatory matters from 1987 to1990. 

Among his achievements was acting as a legal consultant to the World Bank team that drafted the policies, guidelines, rules and regulations, including the tax and tariff customs manual, and for the conversion and commercialization of the former US Naval Base in Subic Bay in 1991. 

Here are Pe’s insights on provincial law schools, why he thinks it is beneficial for undergraduates and his confidence on the Filipino lawyer as far as ASEAN is concerned:

School of Law Dean Perry Pe

ROGER PE: What makes an outstanding law school?

PERRY PE: Three things: 1. You need an excellent, goal-driven and subject-focused law faculty 2. You need the school administration's support for your projects and endeavors 3. You need a strong alumni base, which will give back to their law school alma mater. From here, you can then have programs, like offering scholarships to outstanding college undergraduates who want to go to law school.

RP: There are a number of provincial law schools in the Philippines, how many are up to the standards and keep up with those in the big cities?

PP: We have a law school association composed of law deans known as the Philippine Association of Law Schools (PALS). I used to be its President and then later on, Chairman (from 2007 to 2012). This is our advocacy group. We try as much as possible to keep everyone abreast with the latest in law school administration trends and standards, for example, in faculty development. 
We also have a Legal Education Board (LEB) that accredits law schools. Lately, our LEB has instituted nationwide law school entrance examinations, known as PhilSAT. Most law schools in the country are members of PALS. I think we have perhaps, a total of around 125 law schools all over the country, 90 of which are members of our association. From this number, around 55% are from Metro Manila, and the rest are from the provinces.

RP: What’s the average cost of studying Law in the Philippines (let’s make the Top 5 schools, as example: UP, Ateneo, San Beda, UST, USC).

PP: UP Law is a state institution and therefore, its tuition is heavily subsidized, just like my school Palawan State University Law School. Private schools like Ateneo, San Beda, UST, FEU and the new one on the block, DLSU Law, perhaps average anywhere from P60 to P90 per semester. Compared to provincial law schools, it is around P40 to P60 per semester.
RP: What do you think are the biggest and daunting challenges being faced by provincial law students today? Would they be disadvantaged if they opt to stay in provincial universities?

PP: Primarily on research, but with the advent of Internet facilities, the gap has considerably decreased. In fact, University of San Carlos Law School won the international moot court competition last year and represented our country in the prestigious Philip Jessup competition in Washington DC.
Certainly, no one will be disadvantaged if students stay put in the provinces. In fact, the cost of living will be more beneficial, plus family support can play a crucial factor in their studies.
RP: Currently, is the number of law students nationwide rising?

PP: Perhaps not in the next 4 to 5 years. The reason for this is the K to 12 Program, where there might be a dip in law school enrollment. Also, as I have mentioned, our LEB has implemented a PhilSAT law school entrance examinations this year, which could potentially affect enrollment as well.
RP: How do you help improve standards in Palawan State University?

PP: By continuing my faculty development and support programs. And by ensuring more law school scholarships, I have to recruit the best undergrads to enroll in law school and help give them the means to do it.
RP: What is annual percentage of enrolment increase of students taking up Law in PSU?

PP: Before the K to 12 and PhilSAT, I think I was doing around 8 to 10% increase yearly since the time I took over the deanship in 2003.
RP: To what do you attribute PSU’s remarkable performance in this year’s bar exam?

PP: Plain and simple, hardwork. Diligence. The candidates were very focused, and really wanted to pass the bar exams.  Plus, they were looking out for each other's welfare, both in their respective studies and in their health. As a dean, I can never ask for more. They were just an amazing batch. In PSU Law, over the past years, we were already averaging anywhere from 40% to 55% bar passing. In fact, at one point, we got a 67% bar passing rate. I knew it was just a matter of time for us to get a 100% over-all passing rate. This takes into account both the first-time takers and repeaters.  
RP: How did you rise to become the dean of PSU’s School of Law?

PP: This is quite interesting. In 2003, PSU School of Law was looking for a dean (his predecessor was Atty. Roy Rafols), who should be, as much as possible, from Palawan, and who has a Law Master's degree. Being a state university, PSU is headed by the Chairman of Commission On Higher Education thus, this requirement). 

Supposedly, during that year, 
I was the last one from Palawan with a LLM degree, who has not served the PSU community. I said yes, with the condition that I serve it from Manila because I work and based in Manila. My other condition was that I will only serve for one term of 3 years but this did not happen. I am now on my 14th year. I hope they already replace me.  
RP: What do you want to see happen to PSU’s School of Law in the next 5 years? 

PP: I want PSU Law to maintain its high bar passing rate.  100% of course is always the goal, but I will be happy with 80% to 90% general passing. This is foremost for me.  Another is to make PSU Law a research institution with concentration on environmental and mining laws, but I need major funding for this. 

RP: Can a Philippine law graduate practice law in the US and other first world countries?

PP: Of course. We already have a lot of Philippine law school graduates who are working with several major white-shoe international law firms. Our law graduates are no longer parochial. In fact in ASEAN, our graduates can easily dominate legal practice, especially in the fields of international law, commercial law and arbitration.  However, we have to open up our legal profession. I see this opening up in the next 5 years.

RP: What made you choose Law as your course early on in college?

PP: It's the nobility of the profession.  

RP: Tell us where you were born, raised and spent your childhood, tell us about your family, your growing up years.

PP: I was born in Pasay City, and spent my childhood summer years in Puerto Princesa City, Cuyo and Roxas. I started schooling in Holy Trinity College in Puerto Princesa but transferred to Manila after 3 years. My family is from Cuyo, Palawan and I am a member of the Lim clan (of the RBL Fishing) from Cuyo.

RP: How was it like studying Law in Ateneo, what kind of a student were you?

PP: Tough but I really loved it. I like to believe that I am a diligent student. I finished my law in Ateneo in 1985, studying the 1973 constitution. The following year, 1986, there was the EDSA revolution, and in one sweep, the things I learned got diminished. Hahaha! Good thing I passed the bar exams.
RP: Your favorite subjects, specialization until you became a full-pledged lawyer?

PP: My favorite subjects in law school were Constitutional law and the commercial laws (Corporate and Mercantile). Now I am a corporate lawyer.
RP: Please share us your experiences, anecdotes, hardships when you were preparing for the Bar exam.

PP: Just don't lose focus. Concentrate on the basic elements of a particular legal issue or topic or of a particular legal theory. Apply first what is the general rule before you take on the exception. The reverse will be a disaster.
RP: Describe the feeling when you passed the Bar exam?

PP: I will not trade it for anything else.
RP: Outside of PSU, what makes you busy?

PP: I have my practice in Manila. I am a partner in Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc & De Los Angeles.
RP: What makes a good or bad lawyer?

PP: In handling a case, there is no such thing as handling a big case or a small case, there is only a small-time lawyer.  You have to treat all cases with the same passion, diligence and dedication, as if your client will go to jail if you fail. This is true, be it for litigation work or corporate work.

RP: Do you have regrets in taking up Law?

PP: None at all.  
RP: What characteristics should a student have for to become a successful practicing lawyer? Does a strong personality contribute?

PP: You must have the right attitude for it. You can never go wrong in being humble in the things you do. If you can settle, by all means settle. A bad settlement is always better than a good case.
RP: Do Bar topnotchers automatically get a job and become successful?
PP: No. I will rather have an average bar passer with the right attitude than a bar topnotcher with an air of arrogance or superiority complex.

RP: What are the challenges many lawyers face today?

PP: To be ethical.
RP: Would you recommend Law as a course to high school graduates? What are the most important advice would you give?

PP: Yes, I would. For high school graduates, please spend your time and energy in things that can help your family and your community.