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WHILE I was finishing my column this week on the vanishing and priceless paintings by noted artist Arturo Luz, Lee Aguinaldo and August Albor, which the former chairman of the board of Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corporation donated to the government of the Republic of the Philippines in 1986 for display in the Philippine Consulate General’s office in New York City and/or the offices of the Philippine Mission, I realized that next week is my birthday.

My birthday, on Oct. 28, will be my last birthday in New York.

After more than four decades in New York and Stamford, Connecticut, I am returning home to the country of my birth.

For 20 years, I worked as the in-house counsel of Ansor International Limited, a subsidiary of San Miguel Corporation, Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corporation, and Paper Industries Corporation of the Philippines.

After my stint at Ansor, the publisher of the Filipino Reporter, Bert Pelayo, invited me to join that staff of his publication as its marketing manager, for which I also write a weekly column entitled “Piece of Cake.”

My stay at the Reporter was the defining moment when I found my niche in the world of media advertising.

This prompted my long lost friend, Sandra Sotto, to write the following letter dated May 16, 1996.

Dear Tony,

What a long way from Ansor to journalism!

But you are such a good reporter.

Twenty years at Ansor International Limited

To record for posterity at my corporate life at Ansor, I commissioned a well-known novelist, Ninotchka Rosca, author of several works of fiction, to write of my life and times in my 20 years in New York City.

My primary motive though is to document the major role I played in winning the first hotly contested proxy fight between the Soriano-controlled Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corporation against the motley crowd of emerging Chinese-Filipino corporate raiders led by Alfredo Ramos, owner of the National Book Store.

In reality, there were two extraordinary events that happened in my life.

The first was being caught in the war zone of World War II and my harrowing experience of survival in the forbidding jungles of the Sierra Madre.

The second was when I was drawn into another kind of war in New York where nobody bleeds except in term of money — millions of money — the fiercely fought proxy fight between the Andres Soriano empire of Atlas Mining and A. Soriano Corporation, its general manager versus National Book Store owner, Alfredo Ramos, for playing a major role in winning the proxy fight on behalf of the Atlas/Anscor tandem and their retaining control of the management of Atlas Mining.

The author, being a noted novelist, the end product was a blockbuster novel of high adventure of an immigrant in the asphalt jungle of the Big Apple.

The novel is a treasure trove of fond memories, real and imagined, of my roller coaster life.

However, my primary motive to document my role in the proxy fight has not been realized for the author’s narration of the proxy fight is pure fiction.

Upon reading the manuscript of the novel, a retired executive of the company based in London commented, “I have read your memoir and it is quite witty and written with zest. The book, if ever published, will be a best seller in Manila.”

As marketing manager and columnist at the Filipino Reporter I started soliciting advertisements for the Reporter sometime in December 1994 after two years of in-between jobs.

At the beginning, I had only two small advertisers, a dentist and a photographer.

In the Nov. 24-30, 2000 issue of the Reporter I placed a full page advertisement titled “PASAsalamat on Thanksgiving Day to all my loyal advertisers for their continued patronage,” listing 75 big and small advertisers.

To name a few — Asiana Airlines, EVA Airways, LBC, BPI (now BPI Express Remittance Corp.), PNB Remittance Centers Inc., PRIMUS Telecommunications, SPRINT, Asia Society, Heidi J. Meyers Esq., Cardinez Law Office, Judge Victor G. Sison, Law Offices of Abad, Constancio & Mallonga, Neil A. Weinrib & Assoc., ADMERASIA, Designer Braces, Elizabeth Llamera, Wilma Fernandez Antonio, Rey Padilla & Co., Johnny Air Cargo, among others.

At the peak of my advertising production I produced a substantial six-figure sum in one year including receivables.

Life in Metro Manila

As an advertiser wrote in his article in the Reporter, he warns future retirees that the idyllic old country has changed beyond recognition, old friends, classmates, co-workers and bosses are no longer there and have passed away.

The old country simply ceased to exist and one has virtually become an alien paradoxically in his country of birth.

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