These Outstanding Business Leaders Received Lasallian Achievement Awards

The One La Salle Night of Excellence recognizes and honors distinguished alumni who have attained positive achievements in their fields through the Lasallian Achievement Awards.

A momentous occasion in its own right, this year’s One La Salle Night of Excellence celebrated not only its eighth year running last April 15 but also highlighted nine of the country’s key business leaders. These leaders—who are all alumni of De La Salle University—are lauded for making significant changes in their respective industries.

According to the De La Salle Alumni Association (DLSAA), the One La Salle Night of Excellence “recognizes and honors alumni who have achieved distinction and unusual positive recognition in their chosen fields, professions, or public service, and who have demonstrated outstanding achievement thereby serving as role models on a community, provincial, national, or international level.”

These esteemed awardees include:

Alfonso “Chito” G. Zulueta for Pharmaceutical Management

The top executive of pharmaceutical company Lilly—one of the world’s largest manufacturers of diabetes medications—Chito Zulueta is the recipient of the Lasallian Achievement Award for Pharmaceutical Management. He began his career in the field when he joined the company, which was known then as Eli Lilly in 1988.

He rose through the ranks as his career progressed, and he eventually became President of Lilly Japan, where he earned the Hyogo, Japan Prefectural Award in 2018 for his contributions to the development of the prefecture. In 2017, he was also named President of Lilly International, and he held the position until 2021.

To date, he focuses on venture capital company CZ Ventures LLC, which invests in early-stage startups. 

Benjamin I. Espiritu, Ph.D. for Business Education

As the awardee of the Lasallian Achievement Award for Business Education, Benjamin Espiritu can be described as a jack of all trades. In the business realm, he currently holds a number of board positions in different companies. He serves as the President of the Mindoro Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc.; Chairman of Banco de Mindoro Inc.; and CEO of Laudibus League Holdings, Inc. 

Outside of these positions, he was a part-time professor and Department Chair at the De La Salle Professional Schools Graduate School of Business. He has likewise shared his knowledge and experience by training more than 5,000 directors of banks, publicly listed companies, insurance companies, and distribution utilities. 

Edgar B. Saavedra for Civil Engineering and Infrastructure Development

The first of two recipients of the Lasallian Achievement Award for Civil Engineering / Infrastructure Development, Edgar Saavedra is the co-founder of Megawide Construction Corporation. As Chairman, President, and CEO of the company, he “oversees the strategization and implementation of the publicly listed company’s projects, many of which are key infrastructure pieces that improve the lives of millions of Filipinos across the country,” according to the DLSAA. 

He is likewise the Vice President and Trustee of the non-profit organization Megawide Corporation Foundation, Inc. The organization’s flagship Megawide Engineering Excellence Scholarship Program provides funding for the education of promising future engineers and architects in different universities, including the University of the Philippines. 

Eduardo “Edu” B. Manzano for Philanthropy

While foremost known as an actor, comedian, politician, and television game host among many other roles, Edu Manzano—the recipient of the Lasallian Achievement Award for Philanthropy—has been active in many philanthropic programs.

He is, for one thing, an avid supporter of the school’s many projects. These include Adult Night High School, which helps less privileged men and women earn their high school diplomas while balancing their work; the DLSU Dasmarinas Bahay Pag-asa program, a project for at-risk youth; the One La Salle Scholarship fund; the Kada Uno program, which provides aid for frontliners, among many others.

His support extends outside the university, as he is the founder of the Adrian Manzano Cancer Wing at the Philippine Children’s Medical Center in honor of his father, as well as the Ako Mismo Movement, which inspires volunteerism among Filipinos.

Edward K. Lee for Financial Services

As the founder of the digital platform CitisecOnline, which gives users quick access to the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE), Edward Lee is the recipient of the Lasallian Achievement Award for Financial Services. After founding Citisecurities, Inc. in 1986, he went on to become the governor of the PSE from 1994 to 1995. 

In fact, CitisecOnline became the very first publicly listed stock brokerage in the country, and he was even able to bring CitiSec to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. He went on to rebrand his company to COL Financial Group, Inc. and establish Caylum Trading Institute to further his financial literacy advocacies. 

Maria Grace Y. Uy for Information Technology

Maria Grace Uy—the only female on this list—is the only Filipino included in Forbes Magazine’s list of Asia’s Power Businesswomen. A licensed CPA and multi-hyphenate in her own right, she previously held a management role at IBM before establishing ComClark Network and Technology Corp. in Angeles, Pampanga with her husband Dennis. 

She currently serves as the President, Executive Director, and Chief Resource Officer of Converge ICT Solutions, which she founded together with her husband. Her leadership in Converge has also earned her the Woman in Telecoms Award from the 2022 World Communication Awards. 

Michael C. Cosiquien for Civil Engineering and Infrastructure Development

Michael Cosiquien—the second recipient of the Lasallian Achievement Award for Civil Engineering and Infrastructure Development—co-founded Megawide Construction Corporation with Edgar Saavedra just two years after graduating from college. DLSAA also describes him as “one of the Philippine government’s most trusted partners in developing and building vital infrastructure projects,” which include the Mactan-Cebu International Airport. 

He currently serves as Group Chairman of ISOC Holdings, Inc., and he likewise holds board positions in seven other companies. These include Ferronoux Holdings, Inc. and Citicore Holdings, Inc. 

Rene “RJ” A. Ledesma Jr. for Entrepreneurship

The multi-awarded Editor-in-Chief of The Business Manual adds another award to his belt, as he was awarded the Lasallian Achievement Award for Entrepreneurship. RJ is arguably best known for launching Mercato Centrale in 2010 with his wife Vanessa, which has become one of the country’s best food business incubators. 

RJ shares his entrepreneurial know-how with Go Negosyo, where he helps micro-, small-, and medium-scale businesses (MSMEs) as an entrepreneur mentor. What’s more, he is the co-founder of EasyFranchise—a digital platform that connects franchise owners to those looking to open their own businesses through franchising.

Wellington Y. Tong for Industrial Management

Wellington Tong—the recipient of the Lasallian Achievement Award for Industrial Management—serves as the President of the country’s leading steel company, Pag-Asa Steel Works, Inc. DLSAA describes him as a leader who “shepherds the company known for its tradition of bringing in cutting edge steel technology to the Philippines.”

Under his leadership, the company has received ISO certifications in Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems as well as in Environmental Management Systems. It has also become a partner company of the Philippine Industrial Energy Efficient Project, which is spearheaded by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization.