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From Where We Sit

Going back to one’s roots

As we grow older, the urge to go back to our roots becomes stronger. Lately, I am having more and more of these urges to go back. For people managers such as myself, one of the most pressing desires is to go back to professional associations such as the People Management Association of the Philippines (PMAP). It was in 1995 that I started to become very active with PMAP. My employer then became a member and designated me as a regular representative.

I became an active member due to the influence of the late PMAP past president Lina Aseneta †. Tita Lina—as everyone fondly called her—and I started with PMAP on the same year. We were both part of the Awards Committee, and we worked together to screen nominees for the prestigious Employer of the Year (EOY) award.

After my first year of membership, Tita Lina never stopped contacting me to attend general membership meetings and take an active role in committees. When Tita Lina chaired the membership committee, she insisted that I should be a member of that same committee, which I obediently abided by. I did what I could to recruit new members and do whatever tasks assigned to me, even if it was already beyond what I can do. Believe it or not, I once performed a folk dance, which was the best committee performance that year.

I was a very young human resources (HR) practitioner then, green horn, rough edges, and all. PMAP welcomed me with open arms. It was at PMAP where I have learned the true essence of volunteerism and the real meaning of labor of love. I have seen men and women who have dedicated themselves to the cause of PMAP and the HR profession in general.


I remember attending my first Annual Conference which was then called the National Conference. It was held in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone. I would not describe the conference as topsy-turvy, but it was really borderline of chaos. Check-in was difficult, the conference venue was a make-shift gym, the hotel rooms were converted barracks of United States military personnel, the presentation materials were not as fancy, the sound system not as crisp, the stage lighting not as impressive, and the overall program, although not bad, is far from what PMAP can produce now. Looking back, it was nothing but learning, fun, and networking at its finest.

From 1995 to 2005, I had 10 solid years of active membership in PMAP. When I moved to the Business Process Outsourcing industry, I had to let go of my active membership. Work required frequent travel and extended working hours, including working the graveyard shift, making it difficult to maintain an active membership with the association.

During my 10 years of active membership, I was able to form lasting friendships. I was with the Awards Committee for the most part, exposing me to the best people management practices. This exposure has proven to be valuable to advancing my HR career.

In 1997, I completed a diploma course in HR offered by PMAP, with no less than HR gurus as my professors. The diploma course provided the backbone in my technical expertise in people management. I have done a lot of hosting chores for various PMAP events, which has paved way to my career as a public speaker. I was the chairperson of the Awards Committee in 2003, providing a venue for me to further hone my leadership skills.

I can proudly say that a whole chunk of what happened to my career is greatly impacted by the 10 years of active membership with PMAP. I am fully grateful to PMAP for all of the opportunities, and this is where the yearning to go back comes from.

After being away for more than a decade, I have slowly returned to revive my active membership. It started in 2017 when I attended the Annual Conference as representative of our firm, P&A Grant Thornton, which even had an exhibit booth during the 54th Annual Conference at the Manila Marriott Hotel to launch our Human Capital advisory services.

I am slowly immersing myself again into the PMAP mainstream. I have come back, because it is already time to give back to the association that has been very good to me. It is my fervent desire to help young HR practitioners and their organizations institutionalize best people management practices.

This year will mark my official reentry to mainstream PMAP during the 55th Annual Conference. The 2018 theme is FOCUS – FUTURE • OUTSIDE-IN • COLLABORATION • UNISON • SUSTAINABILITY. The conference is happening from October 10 to 12, 2018 at the ASEAN Convention Center, Clark Special Economic Zone, in Clark Field, Pampanga. I will be the concurrent session chair for the World Institute of Action Learning (WIAL) segment during the second day of the conference.

Although the venue is not the same as my first Annual Conference in late 1990s, it brings back a lot of memories of that very first time I attended. The roads may be different, the attendees a lot diverse, the program much better, the accommodations fancier, the food tastier but, for sure, it will be full of learnings, fun, and friendship—things that PMAP has provided people managers all these years. It is definitely good to be back.

Obet Cruz is a Senior Managing Consultant of Advisory Services.

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As Published by The Manila Times dated 10 October 2018