Corporate execs take ‘token’ jobs for Ilonggos

By: Alex P. Vidal

“The best executive is one who has sense enough to pick good people to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” – Theodore Roosevelt

THE names of Dr. Rogelio Florete and Salvador Sarabia Jr. are associated with the corporate world; each holding executive positions in their respective business empires.

Florete is a media and jewelry mogul, while Sarabia is a former tourism undersecretary under the Arroyo administration whose family made a name in the optical and hotel industry.

They can steer the wheels and expand their business domains without having to belabor themselves in other areas outside the parameters of their corporate interests.

But they accepted the challenge from Iloilo City Mayor Geronimo “Jerry” Treñas to take an active role in the management of the city’s tourism and business affairs without any emolument in return worth their time and expertise.

Florete is now the head of the Iloilo City Festivals Foundation, Inc. (ICFFI), a newly-formed foundation that will handle the staging of all festivals in the city, primarily the Dinagyang Festival.

Florete’s new role outside his private corporate office requires him to mingle and have a tete-a-tete with ordinary people, something he rarely does in the past as a security-conscious and very private person.




As in charge of the Dinagyang Festival’s publicity committee, Florete recently met the Iloilo press together with Iloilo City Tourism Officer Junel Divinagracia and publicity assistant Florence Hibionada.

Florete went down from the totem pole of his corporate cocoon to solicit the suggestions of media people on how to ensure the successful coverage of next year’s brand-new edition of Dinagyang Festival.

Florete is supported by the foundation’s interim officers who are also mostly corporate geniuses in their own right: Felipe Uygongco as vice chairperson; Atty. Jobert Peñaflorida as president, Dr. Ronald Raymond Sebastian as vice president, Roland Uy as treasurer, and Judgee Peña as public relations officer.

The gathering of stars in the business sector to help spruce up the city’s festivals and other tourism programs is a major pull upward for the new City Hall administration.




As the new director Iloilo City’s MICE or meetings, incentives, travel, conferences, conventions, exhibitions, and events, Sarabia recently hogged headlines when he officially announced the major changes in next year’s Dinagyang Festival.

Under the new festival, where Kasadyahan will be separated from the Dinagyang, revelers can now join in the “sadsad” merrymaking, according to Sarabia.

“It will be more vibrant because Dinagyang will now be more experiential, there will be a twist, more people involvement,” Sarabia, who is Treñas’ executive assistant, explained.

The foundation headed by Florete will partner with the city government to handle the Dinagyang and Sarabia suggested that the celebration will be joined by private companies, non-government organizations, and other stakeholders that will form their own tribes.

Under the new plans, the street dancing will start at the Provincial Capitol and will end with a mass or any religious event at the Plaza Libertad.

They held stakeholders’ consultation in July, where they gathered feedback on how the public would like to see next year’s Dinagyang Festival set on January 25-26.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)