Split threatens old Cebu group

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Saturday, May 3, 2014


DON'T look now but trouble may be brewing in one of the oldest Filipino-Chinese associations in Cebu. A petition is being circulated asking for more transparency in the administration of the association’s affairs.

A member told me at breakfast yesterday that he saw the petition but begged off from signing it because he didn’t want to make enemies. But he said he fully supports the call for more transparency.

The petition is seen as an effort to break the alleged total control of a single family over the association. This situation has allegedly given rise to conflict of interest in certain transactions entered into by the management of the association.

The association reportedly earns a net income of between P500 million to P1 billion a year from its business operations but because it is a charitable organization, it is not allowed to declare dividends. Its members include most of the oldest and wealthiest Chinese families in Cebu.

Since those who are reportedly behind the petition are also influential members of the local Chinese community, you can expect a real dogfight. Third parties are desperately trying to arrange a truce between the two groups but the way things look, it is a matter of time before the conflict escalates and breaks into the open.

***

Also yesterday morning, I had a very interesting discussion with another friend, a dear one whose counsel I hold in high esteem. The issue was about “moment of truth.”

In customer service, moment of truth refers to that “instance of contact or interaction between a customer and a firm that gives the customer an opportunity to form an impression about the firm.”

In bullfighting, it is “the point when the matador is about to kill the bull.”

In ordinary life, it is “the moment at which one’s character, courage, skill, etc. is put to an extreme test.” It is when you form the impressions that are most lasting.

Many years ago, I asked a local company to honor an obligation that the courts ruled was lawfully owed to a poor family. That, to me, was the moment of truth not only for the company but also for the family that owned it. Sadly, they flunked it.

The family in whose behalf I intervened never got the money due them. It was a small amount but it could have gone a long way in helping them survive the loss of their breadwinner. I’m not sure, though, who lost more: the poor family or the rich one, who said they believe in palabra de honor but whose words I cannot trust.

***

I was a gangling 15-year-old when I moved to Cebu in search of my place in the sun.

The first time I heard my first 5 p.m. fire department siren (we lived in Sikatuna-Bonifacio near the Parian fire station), I nearly fell down the stairs in panic. I haven’t heard a siren until then.

I nearly got lost when I passed by Colon for the first time because I was so engrossed looking at the pictures I did not notice that my uncle had left me.

When I went to a movie house for the first time, I tripped and rolled to the lowest level of the balcony section because I didn’t know it had stairs. There were no movie houses where I came from. There is none until now.

You could buy a bottle of Coke for twenty centavos. Fare on a Subaru Sambar jeepney to Urgello was ten centavos. With twenty five centavos, you could watch two movies at Gala theater.

The city is much different now. I have also learned to live differently but every now and then I wished things were they were when I was 15.
(frank.otherside@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 04, 2014.

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