FELIX Taguiam is the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) president for 2020 to 2021. He was elected into office a few days before the months-long lockdown of the city, causing a pause in most businesses and upsetting all the scheduled activities of the chamber, including its flagship project, the Cebu Business Month (CBM).
Taguiam, a Science electronics and communication graduate of the University of San Carlos, is president of Deco Sales Inc., Decoline Inc., UJT Traders Inc., Deco Air Center, Global Paragon Motors Inc. and Aeropro Meditech Inc. He is also involved in other businesses in different capacities, and is member of several socio-civic clubs, like the Cebu Filipino-Chinese Volunteers Fire Brigade and the Cebu Lions Eye Bank. He had served CCCI as trustee, as treasurer, as vice president for membership development, as chairman of the CBM sports committee, as CCCI chairman for its transportation committee and other capacities, before his election last March as the 38th president of the association.
Taguiam is married to optometrist Dr. Elizabeth Sy Taguiam, co-founder of Associated Cebu Eye Specialists Inc. They have two children: Kimberly, a doctor of medicine graduate, and Clarence, an electronics and communication engineering graduate.
Get to know CCCI’s president better through this interview with SunStar LIVE!
SunStar LIVE! (SSL): Outside of the business circles and associations you are active in, you have been rather low-key. Are you a native Cebuano?
Felix Taguiam (FT): Yes. I was born in Cebu City on June 1, 1962 of mixed Filipino-Chinese descent.
SSL: How did you start your business and how did you make it successful?
FT: I started a business when Dad got sick. I opened a car service center on May 1, 1976 with my siblings. It was not easy but it was in line with my father’s business selling automotive parts. I was 13. We really went through hard times.
SSL: What skills do you have in successfully growing your various companies?
FT: My marketing acumen has been honed by being a roving salesman where I had to watch what’s new in the market. This provided me with the impetus to open and grow various companies. My motto is: “Always be first. Let others follow.”
SSL: What are the kinds of businesses you have ventured in?
FT: I have been a trader all my life. My businesses are mostly involved in the transport industry. From a small car shop, I ventured into car accessories; then automotive air conditioning; then to transport refrigeration; then the family went into truck van manufacturing; then refrigeration truck assembly; then distributing automotive equipment for the garage industry. I also ventured into renewable business.
SSL: As CCCI president, is there any move to still hold the planned activities and events of the association despite the Covid-19 pandemic?
FT: The association’s flagship project “CBM 2020 Bring It On” was initially put on hold but we retooled it into a purely virtual series of activities such as the “CBM Bring It On Tourism” held last Aug. 19 and the “CBM Bring It On Entrepreneurship” conducted last Aug. 26. We hosted the Visayas Area Business Conference last Aug. 27 to 28, which included the Department of Finance’s “Sulong Pilipinas.” The chamber office remained open during the enhanced community quarantine with a skeletal work force and work-from-home arrangements, so we could cater to the needs of our members and conduct our solidarity initiatives for the community. This included our engagement with local government units, Project Balik Buhay and our international partners. The chamber has successfully glided into the new norm with its virtual services, observing workplace health standards and utilizing various online platforms to conduct general membership meetings or webinars for its training and mentoring. Our internal activities continue by our shift to teleconferences and virtual meetings as well as daily focused interactions with our members.
SSL: With all the businesses and other concerns on your hands, do you have time to relax?
FT: Yes. I used to play golf. I stopped eight years ago due to time constraints. I love traveling and I traveled monthly around Asia before the pandemic for pleasure and business—to look for new products and services.
SSL: How is CCCI going to help Cebu businesses after we return to less strict lockdowns or the new normal?
FT: In line with our call encouraging businesses to adapt the workplace health protocols under the new norm, we conducted webinars with medical experts for chief executive officers and the companies’ hygiene and infections prevention and control officers. We also encouraged establishments with training for Covid Alert Teams. This is the first agenda before opening. It will take a while to go back where we were before. We are all hoping a vaccine will be available soon and that this virus will not mutate. We have to co-exist with it. We have to adapt and reconfigure our workplace into a safe environment for our human capital and customers/consumers. We have distributed to our members 10,000 test kits, face masks, hygienic products and, to our chamber chapters, digital temperature guns.
On the economic revival side, we conducted several surveys among our members to get the pulse regarding their actual situation, needs and recommendations. Based on these, we have started our programs generated through strategic planning exercises. We have also formulated recommendations and lobbied with institutions which have the resources and propensity to invest and act on these recommendations like the city and national governments, the Regional Development Council and Project Balik Bahay and Project Ark. We are still not finished with the work at hand hence, we have joined forces not only with the business community but with the enablers—local, national and international. To beat the pandemic, we will heal as one.