AS BANK of the Philippine Islands (BPI) marked its 168th anniversary last week, BPI President and CEO Cezar P. Consing reaffirmed BPI's goal of continuing to play a constructive and meaningful role in nation building.

BPI aims to do its share by "nurtur(ing) every Filipino's future with a trusted approach to managing money and innovation that makes life easier every day."

Consing said the BPI of the future will be "best described by four phrases: digitalized, financially inclusive, providing delightful customer experience, and sustainable."

Consing assured that BPI will be "Ready today, ready tomorrow."

Consing spoke after a thanksgiving mass -- officiated by the Most Reverend Broderick S. Pabillo, Auxiliary Bishop of Manila -- which was attended by officials and rank-and-file of the first bank in the Philippines.

Among those in attendance were BPI Chair Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban (former director and now advisor to the chairman), and incumbent BPI directors Dolly Yuvienco, Gerry Ablaza and this writer.

Earlier, BPI announced to the market the bank's first half financial and operating results.

The results, Consing said, "demonstrate the early returns of the initiatives that we have embarked upon in the last few years. The results also demonstrate the hard work and laudable achievement of many unibankers".

Consing took the opportunity to announce the promotion of 846 unibankers, including 138 new managers, 67 new senior managers and 66 new AVPs.

Consing waxed nostalgic as he traced the history of the unibank.

In BPI's early days, Consing said, BPI acted as the de facto central bank and printed the currency notes.

Later, BPI was central to the growth of agriculture, most notably with the financing of the sugar industry.

Before and after the second world war, BPI financed the country's industrialization, including the Philippines' first mass transit.

In the 1980's, BPI introduced the country to self-service banking by rolling out the first ATM.

With the acquisition of BPI Family Bank, the unibank powered the growth of consumer lending.

As a testament to BPI's strength and stability, Consing said, BPI went through -- and survived -- various critical periods in the country's history: the struggle for independence, World War II, post-war growth, martial law, economic collapse, financial restructuring and globalization.

Today, BPI is riding the crest of economic resurgence.

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