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Metrobank’s Valencia bids HK goodbye

16 February 2018

By Daisy CL Mandap

His smiling face is what sets Metrobank Hong Kong’s former remittance manager Fred Valencia apart from many of his colleagues in the banking industry. But what his smile and his comforting Batangueno accent do not reveal is the hard climb that Valencia, 59, had to take before he got to where he is now, as assistant vice president of one of the country’s biggest banks.

Valencia finally said goodbye to Hong Kong on Feb. 8, after many fond farewells from the people he made friends with here, where he was posted twice as the bank’s remittance head in the past decade or so.

Fred Valencia (left) with some of his best friends.

Valencia started working as a messenger for Metrobank in 1978, when he was just 18 and barely out of high school. Impelled by the desire to continue his studies and earn a degree, he worked for the bank in the morning, and in the evening, took up banking and finance at the Far Eastern University.

He recalls, again with that disarming smile never leaving his face, that with a salary of just Php300 a month he had to put aside a big chunk of his pay to pay the relatively high tuition fee at FEU of Php700 a semester. This left him with barely enough for his personal expenses that he would sometimes skip a meal just so he could stay in school.

Often, he would walk from his boarding house on Galicia Street in Sampaloc to Metrobank’s office in Binondo, or to his school in Morayta, Manila, because he didn’t have money for transport.

Valencia says with nary a tinge of regret, that he was forced to look after himself that early because there were 10 of them children in the family, and everyone had to find ways to fend for themselves.

But 40 years on, and he is still with the bank which he credits for the relatively comfortable that he now leads, along with his wife and three grown-up children.

“Ang Metrobank din naman ang nag mold sa akin para mabigyan ko ng mas magandang buhay ang aking pamilya,” he says.

From being a messenger Valencia slowly, but steadily, began his ascent in the company. His easygoing nature ensured he got along well with many people, and made him an ideal ambassador of goodwill for the bank in many of its branches abroad.

For virtually the second half of his four decades with Metrobank, Valencia was posted as remittance head in some of the bank’s branches abroad, including in Tokyo, Taiwan, Osaka, Hong Kong and Seoul.

He was posted twice to Hong Kong, where he quickly became friends with many Filipinos, professionals and domestic workers alike, and even staff at the Consulate. When he left Hong Kong in 2010 after his first posting here, no less than the then Consul General, Claro S. Cristobal, led the send-off party for him.

He was sent to Hong Kong a second time in 2014, and as was his wont, Valencia took on the re-assignment with relish. He quickly re-established contacts with his old friends in the community, and also renewed friendships with various OFW groups.

His effort paid off when the very next year, the Hong Kong branch copped two of the top awards given annually by Metrobank : Best Branch and Most Improved Branch.

He had been in Hong Kong for just over three years when he again got marching orders, though this time, it came with a sweetener, his promotion to AVP. Like a good soldier, Valencia said he was good to go from the time he got his recall order, but a delay in the processing of the papers of his successor, Mark Yabut, forced him to stay put.

When Valencia did leave Hong Kong last week, it was with a hint from the top brass that his stay in Manila would only be for a short while, as he would be sent back to one of his old posts abroad.

But wherever he gets sent next is something that does not worry or faze Valencia. For this ever-smiling bank official, every new assignment is a challenge that must be met, and conquered.

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