Compiled and edited by the Aboitiz Eyes team with contributions from Darlene Arguelles, Lloyd Revilla, Claren Padinay, and Josiah Piola.
This special feature pays tribute to the late Rene B. Ronquillo, President and Chief Operating Officer of Hedcor Group, the company that pioneered run-of-river hydro in the Philippines and anchored the Aboitiz Group’s entry into power generation in the Philippines nearly 40 years ago.
To his family, especially his three sons, he was a superhero who never lost touch with his fun-loving childlike side. To Hedcor team members whose lives he touched, RBR was their leader, mentor, and father all rolled into one who set the standards and inspired them to do their best for nearly four decades. To all of us at the Aboitiz Group, he was the embodiment of our core values of Integrity, Teamwork, Innovation, and Responsibility.
RBR treasured his deep and loving relationships with people from both personal and professional aspects of his life, and those who have been privileged to be part of that group can confidently say they have all become better from it.
Mrs. Belay Ronquillo
Thank you for being with us during our moments of grief.
Today is a day to give thanks.
I thank the Lord for the 32 years I have known Rene and the 25 years we have spent our lives together.
I thank the Lord for the blessings He gave us; to have three wonderful sons.
I thank the Lord for blessing Rene with loving parents and siblings who have made him who he was to each of us.
I thank the Lord for my own parents and siblings for all the love they showered our home.
I thank the Lord for all the people who banged at heaven’s door for prayers and support.
I thank the Lord on behalf of my family, for the great blessings of having the Aboitiz family with us throughout Rene’s life journey ’til the end.
I thank the Lord for his coworkers, employees, and friends in the companies he had worked with who translated his and the company’s values into the workplace and their family lives.
What he left us all is a legacy of nurturing relationships, of always doing what is best, of being compassionate and just. Hopefully, all of these will ease our pain and what should remain is what he meant to each of our lives.
God bless you all.
Erramon I. Aboitiz
President & CEO, Aboitiz Equity Ventures
I first met Rene at 3rd grade in Sacred Heart School in Cebu. Romy was temporarily transferred to Cebu by Esso.
After some time, Romy and family moved back to Manila. But our close friendship with Rene developed when Romy and Chiki permanently moved to Cebu when Romy joined Aboitiz & Co.
Our relationship with Rene evolved both personally and professionally.
Being of the same age, we hung around together; we played tennis and golf together. I used to tease him by calling him my ATM. We partied together. We even took a trip to Europe together with Bobby Booth and Sabin.
Lots of stories.
We also worked together in Hedcor…in fact, I see many of Rene’s teammates from Hedcor here today.
When Ernie Aboitiz started Hedcor, which was our mini hydro business, he chose Rene to help him set it up in Baguio. Rene saw and was mainly responsible for the growth and development of Hedcor that started out almost like a backyard operation to what it is today, a professionally run owner, developer, and operator of numerous small hydros across the country.
In fact, it was really the entry of the Aboitiz Group into power generation.
The business had its ups and downs…most downs at the start, but Rene’s resiliency, perseverance, and dedication resulted in success in that endeavor. It is something Rene should be very proud of and something he felt totally responsible for. I know something he had in his mind up to the very end, its people, its future.
We also went through many things together in our personal lives. Many things we would love to share, others we probably want to keep to ourselves.
Our families became close; our wives Belay and Judy became friends; we saw each other’s children grow up.
It is therefore with great sadness that I stand in front of you today to celebrate the life of my friend.
Rene’s life was taken away from us too soon and it is hard to understand why tragic things like this happen to such good people.
Unfortunately, this is a question we do not have an answer to and probably will never have an answer to…..so it is therefore probably not worth dwelling on.
What we can however do is celebrate his life and remember all of the remarkable things Rene accomplished, how he touched all our lives, his positive attributes (which he has many) and how wonderful his life with all of us was.
It is incredibly sad that Rene’s life with us ended so soon. I cannot put into words how much I (and am sure all of us) will miss him. But knowing Rene as much as I do and knowing how positive a person he was, I am sure he would not want us to be sad today. If he was here with us, he would tell us to cheer up, move on and remember all the great memories we all shared.
Even though Rene may not be with us anymore, his memory will live on in all of us forever.
Rene, I truly appreciated your friendship and will never forget you.
Antonio R. Moraza
President & Chief Operating Officer, AboitizPower
For 38 years, Rene acted as a captain, steering the organization to new heights. More so, Rene acted as a father to our Hedcor team leaders and team members, molding them to become one of our strongest BUs.
When AP Gen and AP Corp were formed, Rene became our toughest critic and strongest advocate. He extended his wisdom to the CSUs, called us out when we were getting too fancy and lost sight of the big picture. And when we needed help, he was the first to give us support.
Many of us have great stories on how Rene touched our lives. He was very much involved with people within our organization and with our communities. He cared deeply for all those who worked with him. Truly a charismatic guy.
This is Rene’s legacy — truly an A-person who embodied leadership, integrity, empathy, and simplicity.
May we all be inspired by Rene and I enjoin everyone to offer a prayer for him and the rest of his family.
Manuel ‘Bobby’ M. Orig
First Vice President – Mindanao Affairs (Retired), AboitizPower
Today, a strong positive working culture and bias for performance exists in Hedcor practically because of the inspiration provided by RBR. That is validated by the fact that every year when there is an annual competition to recognize outstanding achievements, the Hedcor team always emerged as winners of many performance awards.
But I would consider as one of the greatest achievements of RBR is — before any other company has done it — he has taken the lead in developing run-of-river power plants and has proven that it can be a reliable and cheap source of electricity.
And because of this huge, huge success, many other companies have followed suit. This is an accomplishment that I believe our country will be in debt of gratitude to RBR and this is an accomplishment that all of us can be proud of and will always remember RBR for.
Emmanuel V. Rubio
Executive Vice President – Chief Operating Officer, AboitizPower Generation Business Group
In the 10 years that I have worked with him, I’ve considered him my beacon, my performance standard. We shared a lot of things.
We played a lot of golf and one thing I learned from him, he said, “Manny, the reason why I love golf is because golf gives you second shots, and most of the times it’s the second shots that matter.” That lesson told me a lot about Rene — he was patient, understanding, forgiving. If you don’t have those, Hedcor won’t be the Hedcor of today, given that there’s a lot of development that we’ve done in Hedcor.
To Hedcor, I’m sure Rene has been a father to you guys, a leader, a mentor. But to all of us, we look up to Rene as a pillar of AP. AP won’t be AP without Rene. It’s really a privilege to have worked with him.
Executive Director, AboitizPower
For most of us at Hedcor, RBR was the one and only president who has led us since we first started at the company. He was our mentor, advisor, leader, guide, teammate, and, most importantly, our friend. For me, it is his guidance and friendship I will miss the most.
RBR was the passion behind the great success of Hedcor over the years. He provided us the inspiration and motivation to do what we do, to strive to develop new green projects, to challenge the way we do business, and to look for better ways in what we do. He helped make us the kind of team members and team leaders that we are today.
Let us remember RBR for his passion in both his work and his enjoyment of life. He was always a great host and loved his food and wine. There was never a dull moment when he was around and in one of his storytelling moods. Certainly, part of who I am today is a result of the influence that Rene has had on me over my past 15 years here, and I am grateful for that.
Our condolences go out to his wife, Belay, his children and the rest of his family. His legacy will continue to shine in Hedcor and he will continue to inspire us all to do greater things.
Senior Vice President, Hedcor
Gregorio ‘Boy’ Jabonillo
Vice President for Business Development (Retired), Hedcor
Back in January 1986 at Asin Tuba, Benguet, I met RBR again since parting ways from Metaphil, Inc. I’ve known him since our colleges days in USC (University of San Carlos). My brief description of him: he was a comprehensive and a very humble man. He will always push you to the best you can. He will always be there to support you and always let you feel that he is always at your back.
All throughout those years, we had many experiences we drunk play darts together, we laughed together, and faced problems together. We have been friends for more more than 31 years and I had many good times and good memories with him that I will cherish forever.
Vice President Corporate Branding & Communication, AboitizPower
Amongst the executives, RBR was one who would be very involved in CSR. He was very passionate about community service. He would ambush me in my room, hunker down and talk about things that matter but not usually discussed — projects, communities, and service. He cared deeply because he understood and was humbled by the privilege of being in a position to change people’s lives.
Atty. Joel Ray Lopez
Former Mayor, Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur
It’s not really so meaningful to talk about the development of Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur without associating Hedcor and how it changes the lives of our folks in the upland areas – farmers who can now conveniently transport their products through farm-to-market roads built by the good investor. Neither would it be so meaningful and wonderful to talk about Hedcor without associating its greatest president, towering, handsome, intelligent, articulate, hardworking, and a very gentle person.
The day we think we’re the best and have reached the top will be the day we will start to decline. What has gotten us this far to date has always been, first and foremost, our teamwork. Nevermind who gets the credit. Never mind whose problem it is. We are all in this together as one. Walang iwanan. Walang selosan. We are one Hedcor.