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Point of Law

Francisco Ed. Lim

Escobillo: A fast and furious life

Francisco Ed. Lim

May 28, 2015

More than three weeks ago, Evangeline “Vangie” Escobillo, who served as Insurance Commissioner from 2005 to 2007, was killed in a vehicular accident together with her husband, Retired Major General Nestor Sadiarin.

I don’t profess to know Vangie personally and her personal life was none of my business. My dealings with her were purely professional.

I first had the opportunity to work with her in the Capital Market Development Council (CMDC) when I was president of the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE). She was then Insurance Commissioner. Both of us represented our respective agencies in CMDC, a public-private sector group co-chaired by the Secretary of Finance and president of the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (Finex) to help develop our capital markets.

Vangie was reform-minded who introduced sweeping changes in the insurance industry. Among these reforms were the increase in minimum capitalization and risk-based capital framework for insurance companies, as well as the computerization of the Insurance Commission to make it more service-oriented to the public.

The protection of the policyowners  was a high priority for her. She also batted for the education of the investing public on the role of insurance in securing a bright future for them.

Vangie and I shared the same mind-set for investor protection and education. It was this mind-set that allowed our paths to cross again after our stint at the Insurance Commission and PSE, respectively. We both became members of Shareholders’ Association of the Philippines (SharePhil), a private organization whose mantra is shareholder empowerment through education.

As I expected, Vangie became a very active member of SharePhil. She eventually became a member of the board of trustees of SharePhil. She was actively involved in almost all our programs and activities.

A fairly recent activity in which she played an active role was the briefing jointly organized by SharePhil and Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) for MPIC minority shareholders. The briefing is part of SharePhil’s program to strengthen the relations of our listed companies with their local shareholders through periodic briefings.

Vangie was particularly active in recruiting new members for SharePhil. She did not hesitate to make use of her network in the financial industry to get new members for us. She even went out of her way to pay for the membership fees of some new members. That was how committed Vangie was to our cause.

Not only did Vangie share her professional convictions with SharePhil, she graciously showered us with her wit and vibrant personality.  She acted as our vivacious and witty emcee not only for our quarterly and annual meetings but also for some of our special events.

Vangie’s untimely demise came as a big shock to us. She was so energetic, jolly and full of life. It reminds us how fleeting life  is. Perhaps, she anticipated the unfortunate incident by dedicating much of her life to worthy causes such as SharePhil’s commitment to minority shareholder protection.

“Life is short, so seize the day” was certainly part of her mantra of life. To quote my friend, Insurance Commissioner Emmanuel “Manny” Dooc, she lived “a fast and furious life maybe knowing that her life would be brief—trying to achieve so much in so short a lifetime.”

We fondly remember Vangie greeting the trustees “Good morning, I’m late again” whenever she arrived for our early morning board meetings, perhaps because she spent the night before dancing with her husband, Nestor, also a SharePhil member.  Truth to tell, however, we really didn’t mind her coming in late as her vibrant presence and contribution to the board discussions more than made up for it.

Vangie was truly an asset to SharePhil. No doubt, SharePhil will always fondly remember Vangie. Again, to use Commissioner Dooc’s words, we will surely miss this “force of nature capable of unleashing tremendous energy.”

(The author, senior partner of ACCRALAW Offices, is president of SharePhil. The views in this column are exclusively his. He may be contacted at francis.ed.lim@gmail.com.)