Rekindling Pride in PNB/memorabilia

Manila Bulletin, July 27, 2009 | Go to article overview

Rekindling Pride in PNB/memorabilia


Pride is often associated negatively with vanity or arrogance. We often hear it said “pride cometh before a deep fall.” But taken in a healthy context, pride is a positive force. Taking pride in a gloried past, in one’s inner strengths, in an institution, can be a powerful force that can inspire people to achieve greater heights.Last week, we celebrated the 93rd anniversary of the Philippine National Bank. Significant considering what PNB has been through, the ups and downs it has experienced, from being the biggest bank during its hey days (remember the “Nakasandal sa Pader ad?”), even acting as the Central Bank before the Central Bank was established in 1949, to bank runs in late 90’s to its recent rehabilitation. Today, PNB has emerged as a remarkable turnaround story from its P13B loss in 1999 to P1.1B income in 2008. And PNB’s outlook for the year ? With its strong year to date performance, 2009 is expected to be better than 2008, thanks to an effective competent management team led by President Omar Mier supported by a dynamic board. PNB certainly has a very rich history. PNB then was THE BANK. I recall during my early days in banking, no bank even came close to PNB.Historic Memorabilia fit for a MuseumProudly displayed in various PNB offices last week were various memorabilia that showcased the Bank’s great heritage and the prominent role it has and continues to play as a pillar in the Philippine banking industry. But even more significant is the immense affection that its past and present employees have for our institution. I was awed to see historic and really old memorabilia. Have you ever seen handwritten accounting ledgers? The Bank exhibited those dating back 1913 up to the 1950s . They were giant book bound of parchment papers that measured almost a meter in length with accounting entries all painstakingly done in neat and beautiful handwriting, like those we receive in formal handwritten wedding invitations today. According to PNB director Wash Sycip, the famous “master bookkeeper”, good handwriting was a major qualification for the accountants then.Accountants today do all these now through computers. The Bank’s first steel gates used in 1913 at the first headquarters in the old Masonic Temple was a beautiful ornate work of art which took everyone’s breath away.Personnel records, bank equipment such as the “humongous” adding machines and “cute” electric fans (the small fan used by former PNB President P.O. Domingo when he was a messenger in 1955), 93-year old passbooks showing deposit and withdrawal entries of 10, 20 , 25 centavos by hand, land titles the length of a whole manila paper – all these and more were in the PNB exhibit. …

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