The Philippine Star

Or­tiz-Luis shares se­crets of stay­ing power

- By JEN­NYLEI CABERTE Taguig City · Philippines · Philippine Franchise Association · Charles Wright · United Kingdom · Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur · De La Salle University · U.S. Chamber of Commerce · Taguig · Central Luzon State University · La Salle University

The fiery leader of Filipino ex­porters and the steady guid­ing hand of the coun­try’s big­gest trade as­so­ci­a­tion, the Philip­pine Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try (PCCI), Ser­gio Or­tiz-Luis Jr. has wit­nessed first-hand and sur­vived many bat­tles, both in the busi­ness and health arena.

Ser­gio Or­tiz-Luis Jr. or sim­ply “SOL” to friends and peers, prob­a­bly has one of the most rec­og­niz­able faces and names in the Philip­pine busi­ness land­scape for sev­eral decades now. He has out­lived – lit­er­ally and fig­u­ra­tively – many of his con­tem­po­raries.

One af­ter­noon in his of­fice at the PCCI na­tional head­quar­ters at the Com­merce and In­dus­try Plaza in McKin­ley Hill, Taguig City, Or­tiz-Luis shared some se­crets of his stay­ing power, as fol­lows: Pick your fights

Although Or­tiz-Luis has been a fix­ture in Philip­pine busi­ness up to to­day, he has de­cided sev­eral years back that he will no longer take on mat­ters that are too tax­ing, es­pe­cially af­ter he al­most suc­cumbed to ill­nesses trig­gered by his smok­ing habit.

“I don’t do any­thing I don’t en­joy any­more; I will only have headaches,” he said.

Or­tiz-Luis is the honorary chair and trea­surer of PCCI, and pres­i­dent of both the Philip­pine Ex­porters Con­fed­er­a­tion Inc. (Philex­port) and Em­ploy­ers Con­fed­er­a­tion of the Philip­pines (ECOP). He also sits in the boards of 24 com­pa­nies, but these are things he con­tin­ues to en­joy be­cause of the peo­ple he works with and the re­la­tions he has built with them.

For ECOP, Or­tiz-Luis has been fight­ing these days for a win-win ver­sion of the Se­cu­rity of Ten­ure (SOT) bill. The SOT pre­vi­ously ap­proved by Congress was ve­toed by Pres­i­dent Duterte. Now, Or­tiz-Luis said they are work­ing on a new ver­sion.

At Philex­port, he is con­stantly on the look­out for wild fluc­tu­a­tions in the for­eign ex­change rates, and has been ad­vo­cat­ing trade lib­er­al­iza­tion. Or­tiz-Luis was also in­stru­men­tal in putting up the Philip­pine Fran­chise As­so­ci­a­tion, earn­ing for him the ti­tle “The God­fa­ther of Philip­pine fran­chis­ing.”

At PCCI, Or­tiz-Luis’ main con­cern is con­tin­u­ously im­prov­ing the coun­try’s busi­ness at­mos­phere to get more in­vest­ments and cre­ate more mean­ing­ful jobs. Clean liv­ing

Or­tiz-Luis recalls that about 10 years ago, he was prob­a­bly the heav­i­est smoker in the busi­ness sec­tor. “My ex­er­cise was walk­ing to my car. Then I had a rup­tured ap­pen­dix, so I was con­fined in a hos­pi­tal. I was not able to smoke for about two weeks. When I went out, I con­tin­ued to avoid smok­ing, although I started to gain weight be­cause of in­creased ap­petite. I got wor­ried. My friends con­vinced me to play golf and from then on, golf be­came a re­li­gion for me. I feel younger now than 10 years ago. My di­a­betes is un­der con­trol. Ten years ago I was sickly, so I said an­other 10 years (of liv­ing) would be a bonus. Now, an­other 15 years seem easy.”

He shares that he ad­vised some of his close friends, who had since passed away, to im­i­tate his clean-liv­ing tact. “They were younger than me, so I told them that if they would not stop, when I go to heaven, they’d al­ready be there wel­com­ing me.”

Need­less to state, no one has ever been hap­pier than his wife Marge, when SOL de­cided to quit smok­ing and lead an ac­tive and healthy life­style. ‘Golf is sa­cred.’

While pick­ing the game late, Or­tiz-Luis’ love for golf has be­come so in­tense: “My golf days are sa­cred days,” he declares. Now with a 23 hand­i­cap, Or­tiz-Luis al­ways try his best to play a round of golf ev­ery Wed­nes­day and Sun­day. His home cour­ses are Wack Wack and Val­ley Golf. He also chairs Eastridge Golf and Coun­try Club.

Or­tiz-Luis’ cur­rent drive av­er­ages only 160 yards, although his far­thest reached 315 yards – aided by luck, how­ever, – when the ball hit the car path three times and went far­ther on­ward to the green. Prob­a­bly the most mem­o­rable noon­time of his life was when he scored his first and only hole-in-one at Hole No. 12 of Val­ley Golf at 137 yards, which is guarded by wa­ter in front of the green.

He said he used an old 9-wood Call­away that he bought for P1,000 just a month ear­lier. “We were sup­posed to play just one more hole but de­cided to con­tinue for three more, be­cause it was still early. I re­mem­ber I was talk­ing to some­one over the phone and then I was told that it was my turn. I thought of try­ing the old 9-wood for the first time, and it was 12 noon when I hit it. I thought at first it went over, un­til I saw a lady Korean golfer, who was ahead of us, jump­ing and clap­ping when she saw that I hit a hole-in­one,” he re­called with glee.

Mem­bers of the diplo­matic com­mu­nity and fel­low busi­ness­men are his usual golf bud­dies.

Or­tiz-Luis was con­ferred four honorary de­grees - Doc­tor of Hu­man­i­ties (hon­oris causa) by the Cen­tral Lu­zon State Univer­sity in 2006, Eu­lo­gio “Amang” Ro­driguez In­sti­tute of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy, An­ge­les Univer­sity and Academy of Multi-skills UK. His other aca­demic cre­den­tials in­clude a Bach­e­lor of Arts, a Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence in Busi­ness Ad­min­is­tra­tion, and a Mas­ter of Busi­ness Ad­min­is­tra­tion de­gree from De La Salle Univer­sity (formerly De La Salle Col­lege.) Trust and con­fi­dence

To keep one’s foot­ing in the busi­ness world, Or­tizLuis said, the most im­por­tant is “you have to earn the trust and con­fi­dence of your col­leagues.”

“I’ve al­ways thought that in work and in as­so­ci­a­tions like this, it is im­por­tant that you have a record that if you work, you work for the in­ter­est of ev­ery­body. The trust and con­fi­dence of peo­ple you work with are im­por­tant, oth­er­wise, you will not be happy with all the ten­sions that come with it,” he noted.

These are just some of the rea­sons why Or­tiz-Luis con­tin­ues to be con­sid­ered as the “heart and SOL” of the Philip­pine ex­port in­dus­try and cham­ber move­ment.

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