MEET VINCE DIZON. He is young looking. He dress casually. A guy surely, if he will take his shirt off has no six pack in his frame. But he packs a lot of gray matters between his ears. He is a Capampangan whose roots are from Porac and Capas, Tarlac. I know he wouldn't mind if I tell him straight to the face that he is short of two showers against his late father who was was so handsome that he was oftentimes mistaken to the late actor Jose Mari Gonzales.
Kong Esting, who was the BFF of my brother Benjamin, was a good natured person with pleasing personality and spent most of his time as corporate lawyer to big firms. I remember he had a special liking to George Peco, a diminutive public school teacher in Porac who was a drinking buddy and sidekick to my coyang Ben. George was Cong Esting's pet peeve. If the three meets, expect laughter.
Back to Vince. He worked in the senate before he was appointed to head the Bases Conversion Development Authority. It was on his lap to finish on time the infrastructures n the New Clark City which hosted the very successful Southeast Asian games. President Duterte took notice of Vince's capabilities. He named him as a member of his cabinet in charge of flagship projects. It can be said that success depends upon the reliability and responsiveness of the people who were given the task. And Vince can be relied upon. All the time.
Consistency and meaningful response to presented big challenges will lead to enormous success. I am talking here about the success of Clark Development Corporation, an agency of government created by law as an answer to the destruction brought about by the eruption in 1991 of the nearby Mt. Pinatubo. Retro. Double whammy. The former US military installation was blanketed in ash and was in disarray when the American troops who were settled in the area since 1900, hurriedly left and never look back.
In the last several years since 1993, Antonio 'Tito' Henson the first president of CDC and who did the cleaning of the 4,400 hectares installation revved up to its highest glory. And the success can't be attributed to one person. Clark Freeport now earns billions annually and employs more than 100,000 workers. But that's going ahead of a story. How it achieved such status is by no means simple.
It was an herculean tasked on the shoulders of retired Air Force General Romeo David when then President Fidel Ramos gave him the marching order to transform the former air base into a vibrant economic zone. The area was a buyers' market, so locators were only paying ten cents per square meter. It was deliberately done just to attract investors. David stayed as president for three years. Then he was succeeded by honchos who didn't stay long like Serg Naguiat for four months and replaced by Rufo Colayco who made good in allowing more duty free stores.
It was in 2001 when things started to look bright. Manny Angeles was appointed president and chief operating officer by then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. More success came with the late Levi Laus at the helm. The industries started pouring in. Development was at its peak. From a mere 22 thousand workers employed in several business activities inside the economic zone, it steadily grew to 70 thousand in nine years. Hotels and casinos, restaurants and theme parks, golf courses and other recreational activites were established, thus making the economic zone a tourist destination.
In all these developments, I remember the young Noel Manankil who every now and then made presentations to the members of the board of directors. (I was a member from January 2001 til 2009 and I was promoted to be a member of the the Bases Conversion and Development Authority). He was impressive. Very diligent. Very precise on his figures. Very graphic on his presentations.
So it came not much a surprise that he was appointed by President Duterte to head now Clark Freeport. Manankil was a commerce graduate of De La Salle University. Passed the board in 1991. For a time worked at SGV. Joined CDC in 1996 and climed the ladder of leadership steadily. He said, there more things to be done for the Freeport and vowed success. By all indications he will achieve it.