Europe-PH News

Filipino Frenchman

December 19, 2011

Vicki A. De Leon

Europe-PH News

Improving the lot of his fellow Filipinos remains at the forefront of the businessman and advocate Hubert D'Aboville's passions, writes Vicki A. De Leon.

The Frenchman Hubert d'Aboville may seem like your ordinary expat businessman, but nothing can be father from the truth.  The King of France granted the d'Aboville family the rank of nobility in 1486.  He descended from Francois-Marie d'Aboville, a brilliant French artillery officer who helped end the American revolution and gain American independence who also became an important figure during the Napoleonic wars.  His brother Gerard is in the Guinness Book of World Records 1980 for having rowed across the Atlantic Ocean.  And together with his four brothers, Hubert joined the Paris-Dakar rally in 1979.

Hubert is down-to-earth, genuine and the most service-oriented individual you will ever meet.  Moreover, he is a real champion of improving the welfare of the Philippines, his adopted home for 30 years.  "I've lived here over half my life.  My wife and children are Filipinos, so I consider myself more Filipino than French," he says at his shoot at the Zen Gardens of Greenbelt 4, Ayala Centre.

Though Hubert first set foot on Philippine shores in 1977, he permanently moved from Paris in 1981 when he was offered to head the Philippine operations of Becob, a timber multinational company that sponsored him for the motorbike rally.  After a few months, he met Ara Valenzuela, and they married in 1982.  In 1987, Hubert decided to leave the timber business and become involved with reforestation instead, but he still needed to work.  "Any country that is being developed will need power.  I therefore wanted to go into power and electricity," he says.  The next year, Hubert put up his own company, Paris-Manila Technology, Inc. (PAMATEC) which brought in French technology in power generation, distribution and protection.  In 1992, he created the Together-Ensemble Foundation to facilitate quick relief operations during natural calamities and to promote progress in the rural areas.  "I believe in rural development.  I hope we can bring investment to the rural areas,"  says Hubert.  This led to the creation of PAMATEC's Philippine Rural Electrification System (PRES) in the poor island of Masbate financed by France that brought electricity to 18,000 households.  A detailed account is found in Hubert's book published in Paris, Management of an International Project Against Poverty.  "On all my activities, I put CSR as a cornerstone of business."

Now on his 5th year as the longest-running president of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Hubert says he is responsible not only for giving service to the Chamber's 700 members but to bring European investors into the country.  He is currently involved in two projects for the ECCP: an Integrity Initiative, to eradicate corruption in business and government and Energy Efficiency, to reduce electrical consumption and attain sustainability.

In February, Hubert organised the first Malasimbo Music and Arts Festival, held at the foot of Mount Malasimbo, overlooking Puerto Galera Bay, Mindoro.  A unique festival that combines world-class music, visual art installations and indigenous culture in the utter beauty of nature, the festival has set a benchmark for international festivals in the country.  The 2nd festival is already slated for 2-4 March 2012, which will bring home a legendary Afro-American Filipino musician, Joe Bataan, for the first time.

Hubert is filled with so many realistic ideas for Filipinos, should we make the effort.  "Filipinos, especially the OFWs, should join together by family, by village, by province, to move forward and make investments here that will create jobs so that Filipinos don't have to leave their country."


Source: Philippine Tatler; News; 17 December 2011

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