Lopez unit director embarks on new adventureBy Tina Arceo-Dumlao
Philippine Daily Inquirer
For Arturo T. Valdez, the siren’s call to embark on the next great adventure is impossible to resist.
This is why, despite the obvious hardships and the very real possibility of losing his life, Valdez heeded the call to climb every major mountain in the Philippines, even becoming president of the Mountaineering Federation of the Philippines Inc., the largest mountaineering organization in the country.
Not satisfied with these accomplishments, the former undersecretary of the Department of Transportation and Communication also led the Philippine Mount Everest Expedition Team that put the first Filipinos—Leo Oracion on May 16, 2006 and Erwin Emata on May 17, 2006—at the summit of Mount Everest, a feat that he considers the pinnacle of his success in the mountaineering field.
And yet he was not done.
That siren’s call led him to organize the landmark Voyage of the Balangay, which entailed the building and sailing of a replica of the ancient Southeast Asian vessel around the Philippines and Southeast Asia in 15 months to trace the migration of Austronesian forebears and rekindle maritime consciousness among Filipinos.
Such thirst to conquer the unknown and to take great risks because of the promise of great rewards is also a major reason why Valdez did not hesitate to take on the challenge last July 2011 to become an independent director of Energy Development Corp., the country’s largest geothermal energy producer, which is also slowly increasing its footprint overseas.
The 63-year-old Valdez, whose career took him to enviable heights in the government and private sectors, tells the Inquirer that he did not have second thoughts about joining the Lopez group because he believes that his values are aligned with the espoused values of the group, such as nationalism, excellence, integrity, pioneering spirit and social justice.
It also helped that the group patriarch Oscar M. Lopez was a big financial backer of the Mount Everest climb and an Ilonggo like Valdez, who calls Bacolod City in Negros Occidental home.
The Economics graduate of the University of Sto. Tomas also sees many parallels between his work in the great outdoors and his new mandate as independent director.
According to Valdez, there are always opportunities in both fields to accomplish great things. The key is for talented and gifted people to come together and work toward accomplishing a single goal.
“We can accomplish anything, be it through the voyage or climbing the highest mountain. It is all about teamwork and unity. Unless people are willing to work together, you won’t be able to accomplish anything,” says Valdez.
In the balangay journey, for example, each member of the team is assigned a specific role and they must rely on each other to fulfill their roles to the best of their abilities. One person is tasked, for instance, to read the maps and another is responsible for reading the weather. Each of these tasks has to be accomplished for, otherwise, the mission will fail.
The same is true in mountain climbing, Valdez stresses, saying that putting Filipinos on top of Mount Everest entailed the collective effort of a team whose members understood their individual responsibility and were committed to fulfill a vision against all odds.
Such struggles that inevitably go with major expeditions are similar to what companies go through, Valdes says. There are challenges related to teamwork, motivation, in raising funds, as well as morale. There are also many crises that crop up that test the group’s resolve to forge ahead.
In the case of EDC, Valdez says the commitment is there to showcase its geothermal expertise, and he is having a grand time learning everything there is to know about geothermal development. He says that, as far as he can tell, EDC people are the best in their field and their expertise can be shared with the rest of the world.
To know more about what it takes to convert geothermal energy into power, he goes to the field as often as he can, aside from regularly attending meetings of the committees and the board.
“For me to appreciate more, I go out and actually have a look. I like to see for myself what is being done on the ground. I am the kind of person who will keep on studying,” says Valdez.
Also, he is that kind of person who will keep on looking for the next big adventure, such as helping make EDC the biggest in its field.
“I can also see through EDC that it is possible to balance environmental sustainability with positive economic impact,” says Valdez. “I want to be a part of that.”
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