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Isla Lipana & Co. celebrates 100 years of trust, values-grounded service

The partners and principals as of July 1, 2022

The year 2022 marks a significant year for the country’s accounting and professional services industry as Isla Lipana & Co., the Philippine member firm of the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) network, celebrated its centennial anniversary on July 1 at the Marriott Hotel Grand Ballroom in Pasay City.

The firm’s partners and staff, as well as former executives, celebrated this momentous event with its clients, among them government agencies and leading corporations.

Roderick M. Danao, the firm’s chairman and senior partner, showed his appreciation to the firm’s clients for their long-standing trust in the firm.

“This once-in-a-lifetime milestone would not be perfect without you, clients and stakeholders,” Mr. Danao said during the event. “I would like to express my gratitude to you for sticking out with us through ups and downs. Thank you for the trust. Thank you for the support.”

The senior partner credits the firm’s resilience amid economic disruptions, wars, and political upheavals in the last 10 decades to its firm hold to the values handed down by its predecessors.

“These values remain true today as PwC values of active integrity, making a difference, care, working together, and reimagining the possible,” he said.

Acknowledging that the future is being shaped by numerous disruptions such as eroding trust in institutions, Mr. Danao continued, PwC launched The New Equation strategy in 2021, which focuses on two interconnected needs of clients, namely building trust and delivering sustained outcomes.

“We believe that success in organizations of the future will be the ones that create a virtuous circle of building trust and delivering sustained outcomes,” Mr. Danao said. “Our dear clients and stakeholders, we look forward to working with you to create a better future and a better country for our people and our society.”

The three former senior partners (front and center) Tammy Lipana, Corazon de la Paz-Bernardo and Judith Lopez join the current partners and principals for the ceremonial toast.

Echoing those statements, Corazon S. de la Paz-Bernardo, who served as the firm’s chairman and senior partner from 1981 to 2001, emphasized in her keynote address that values will continue to drive the firm forward, as it did from the start.

“What does it take to reach 100 years for a public accounting firm in the Philippines? Strict compliance to our code of professional ethics is a must: Integrity, high-quality service, independence, continuing innovation and professional development, and care for individuals are values that are critical in achieving the continued respect of its people, clients, and the public,” Ms. de la Paz-Bernardo said.

The importance of the firm’s partnership with PwC was further stressed by Deals & Corporate Finance Managing Partner and Markets Leader Mary Jade T. Roxas-Divinagracia.

“Our firm is strengthened by our relationship with PwC, observing traditions while inspiring innovations. It allows us to bring to the market relevant services backed by deep experience and capability,” Ms. Divinagracia highlighted while sharing the numerous programs the firm has been and will be offering to clients as a member of the PwC network.

Centennial projects

A main highlight of the celebration was the showcase of the several projects Isla Lipana & Co. has in place for its centennial year, which were introduced by Atty. Alexander B. Cabrera, the firm’s chairman emeritus and ESG leader.

More than transforming its strategies, Atty. Cabrera started, the firm has transcended its profession by going beyond its services and bringing meaningful initiatives that will greatly benefit stakeholders. “It’s really about doing good and taking care of our stakeholders,” he pointed out.

One of the firm’s first initiatives for its centennial is the “100 Days of Christmas” feeding program, which benefitted more than 10,500 Filipinos, mostly children. Atty. Cabrera vows to continue this program in the following Christmas seasons.

Another important project from the firm is the “Our Values” project, which features winning entries from a photo story contest, with each photo reflecting timeless Filipino values.

First Asia’s Got Talent champions El Gamma Penumbra reinterpreted the photos in an artistic shadow play performance, which was first introduced by Veronica R. Bartolome, Consulting managing principal at Isla Lipana & Co.

“Through photos and images that connect the eyes, the minds and, most importantly, the heart, the photo project illustrates that values are the real treasures that we can leave to our children. Thus, PwC Philippines’ photo story project is aimed at educating the youth,” Ms. Bartolome shared.

Also, Atty. Cabrera said that the photos will be used for digital modules that teachers nationwide can download and use. The first leg of the project, so far, received 6,000 downloads from public school teachers.

Another project concerning education encouraged the firm’s staff to “think and act like little children” in creating educational games centered on Math, Science, and English subjects, Atty. Cabrera added.

Isla Lipana & Co. is also undertaking a project that seeks to inspire and empower the business community through the wisdom of Philippine companies and institutions that are as old or older than the firm.

“The Centenarian: In the Mind of the CEO” series, coupled with the Philippine Centennial Club, gathers executives from organizations that are a hundred years or older to share the lessons and values they have learned from the organization they currently lead.

“100 Voices for 100 Years” live song performance by 50 partners and staff with pre-recorded part by 50 more from other offices

“As of today, fewer than 100 companies in the Philippines were able to breach successfully the centennial barrier, each with a unique story of success and of struggles,” Aldie P. Garcia, the firm’s Assurance Managing Partner and VisMin Business Leader, shared.

“And what better way to celebrate the firm’s 100th year than to gather these organizations and share the lessons for everyone to learn from, bringing out experiences, both good and bad; the values; the visions; and the strategies for every Filipino business, especially the MSMEs (micro, small, and medium enterprises), to use,” he continued.

The firm also has set up a Healthcare Heroes Fund for medical frontliners. Funded at first by Isla Lipana & Co. Foundation and in partnership with BPI, the plan is to give a grant in the form of a unit investment trust fund initially valued at P100,000, and is expected to mature in five years. Isla Lipana Foundation is looking forward to partnering with other Foundations, corporate supporters and individuals who feel the same gratefulness to our healthcare frontliners.

Celebrating the firm’s people

The celebration also paved the way for a tribute to Jose C. Florento, formerly the chairman and senior partner of Isla Lipana & Co. from 1970 to 1981. Mr. Florento passed away last month at the age of 101, having lived as long as the firm. Malou P. Lim, currently the firm’s vice-chairperson and tax managing partner, led the tribute.

The 100 arch that welcomed guests at the foyer

Capping off the celebration was the introduction of new and existing partners and principals from assurance, tax, consulting, deals and corporate finance, and affiliate member firms, led by those in the executive leadership team.

The new assurance partners are Aira Regina S. Arboleda, Justo Jesus S. Namuco, Vergel E. Pabillon Jr., Dexter DJ V. Toledana, while Jimmy D. Disquetado is the new Business Services Partner.

The new tax partners are Chiara Feliz C. Gutierrez and Joel Roy C. Navarro; the new Tax-Client Accounting Services Partner is Floredee T. Odulio; the new Deals and Corporate Finance Partner is Catherine H. Lipana-Gomez; and the new Japanese Business Development Principal is Kentaro Tojo.

A ceremonial toast was shared by all partners and principals, together with former chairwomen and senior partners Ms. Bernardo; Tammy H. Lipana (2006 to 2009); and Judith V. Lopez (2009 to 2013). Ms. Lopez led the toast.

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