Profiles and Feature Stories

Filipina makes history in global cement industry

(By Carol Espiritu)

Filipino Lizza Vicaldo, 39, is the first Asian female cement plant manager in the Lafarge global family. As part of the Lafarge cement team, it becomes even more remarkable that Lizza also happens to be the group’s first female cement plant manager who is not an engineer.

How Lizza, plant manager of the Lafarge associated plant, Republic Cement in Norzagaray, Bulacan, became head honcho of the male-dominated cement manufacturing world and now doing very well, is a success story fit for Ripley’s.

Lizza graduated with a CPA certification, worked first as an auditor for leading audit firm SGV, then became accounting manager for a start-up firm. She subsequently joined a cement company as financial analyst and later on promoted to head of corporate planning and accounting.

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Traversing the borderless corporate world

(By Edu Lopez, published in Manila Bulletin, B-11 – February 15, 2008)

When Samir Cairae graduated with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur, India in 1988, most of his classmates went to the United States to join the growing number of Hindu-Americans in the technology sector.

But for some reasons, Samir did not jump on the bandwagon to America.

Instead, he left for France to seek his fortune in the country whose history, culture, art and architecture had always fascinated him.

When be got to France, the engineer found himself enjoying a full scholarship at the premiere French business school, the Hautes Etudes Commerciales in Paris where he also learned to speak French.

Samir’s management and technology education were put to test in 1992 when he joined Sehlumbcrgcr, the world’s largest oilfields corporation.

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Leading a firm, helping the young

(By Tina Arceo Dumlao
published in Philippine Daily Inquirer, Sunday Biz – January 06, 2008)

OXFORD UNIVERSITY graduate Ian Thackwray is a man of many passions. Two of them are to lead a company from good to great and encourage the young to get an education.

Thackwray feels fortunate that as chief executive officer of Holcim Corp., one of the country’s leading cement manufacturing companies, he can pursue both at the same time.

The Chemistry major, who went to Oxford at the same time as actor Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean), has been in the Philippines for just a little over one year, but has already helped Holcim return to profitability on the back of higher sales.

Demand for Holcim products grew in his first year of operations and Holcim is on track to growing revenues even further this year on expectations that the property sector will remain upbeat and that government will spend more on infrastructure.

“The most important thing for us is to continue to be a reliable supplier in the market” Thackwray tells Sunday Biz in an interview. “To the best of my knowledge we have not failed to supply the needs of any of our customers. We have been a consistent and reliable supplier,” he says.

Providing him as much satisfaction as generating more sales for Holcim, if not more, is sharing his time and resources with some grade school students in the Padling, Pinagtulayan, Coral, Baraka and Bangkal public elementary schools near Holcim’s biggest plant in Bulacan.

Thackwray says it was his French wife who first got him involved with children when they were still living in Shanghai and he was still president for Asia of Dow Corning, which makes products such as breast implants and ignition systems for cars.

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Rebuilding Albay’s Shattered Dreams

(Orendain & Associates, published in Manila Times- January 06, 2008)

LEGAZPI CITY, Albay — Tears stream down her cheeks, but typhoon victim Rebecca Potentado is smiling. After almost one year of painful waiting, she can now help finish building houses not only for her family, but also for many other Bicolanos left homeless when super typhoon Reming ravaged the Bicol region on November 30, 2006.

Armed with newly learned skills from cement manufacturer Holcim Philippines’ seven-day Galing Mason basic masonry skills training program, 49-year-old “Aling” Rebecca says her priority project is to fast-track construction work for her new house. The local government and various local and international civic organizations awarded her a basic unfinished structure in the Taysan Resettlement Area which she will proudly finish, applying her freshly acquired masonry techniques. After that, she says, she will assist her neighbors in building their own houses.

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The cement industry in the eyes of a veteran player

(By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat, published in Manila Bulletin, B-7 – August 15, 2007)

Cement is one commodity that is highly controversial and is often maligned for its cartel-like operation Now, this local industry is placed in a more precarious situation after the giant foreign players acquired most of the local cement plants.

Renato C. Sunico, chairman and president of Iligan Cement Corp., one of the five cement plants under the Republic Cement Corp. that are controlled by French firm Lafarge Holdings (Philippines) Inc., comes to the defense of foreign capitalists.

A veteran having spent more than 20 years of liis life in the industry, Sunico gives us a better appreciation of the industry and its make-up.


Sunico had been connected with the cement business long before he joined the actual cement manufacturing industry.

He was with Amon Trading, a distributor of cement and a majority owner of the Republic Cement then. Aside from Amon, other original owners of the 50-year old Republic Cement were Jardine Davies, De leon and Delgado groups.

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The Concrete Choice

Whether it’s paving a small side street or building a country’s complex highway system, engineers have major considerations to keep in mind. Among the most pressing concerns are how they can make roads safer for drivers and stronger for heavy transport, which material to use to make the roads last longer and, of course, how to get the best value for the money they spend.

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Philippine Cement Industry: Worried but Fighting Hard

(Featured at Tambuli:
Monthly Magazine of the Federation of Phil. Industries
Vol. 1 Issue #11 – December 31, 2004)

Philippine cement manufacturers continue to put up a hard fight to remain viable in a business environment that never seems to run out of surprises. Demand for cement remains weak as infrastructure growth in the last three years left much to be desired. Amid the prolonged slump, members of the Cement Manufacturing Association of the Philippines (CeMAP) had been forced to continue operating at an undesirable capacity utilization rate of 55-65%.

Significant increases in costs of inputs rendered the business environment even more challenging. An industry that relies heavily on power and fuel, the recent increases in power and fuel prices and the looming prospect of even more increases had posed a challenge to business prospects. World coal shortages had led to higher prices. Shipping and freight costs have also shot up to historic levels, sometimes ending up more expensive than some raw material being transported.

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Competition Drives Product Innovation

Cement makers customize product offerings
(reprinted from the Consumer Welfare Month supplement
in Manila Bulletin, October 11, 2004)

With the threat of imports ever hanging like a Damocles sword and with local demand inching painstakingly slow in a market battered by cost hikes, local cement producers are innovating and creating new ways to reach the precious cement user. Above the din of battle for the market, there is only one sure winner: the consumer.

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Bulacan Cement firms tally P6M for community development
Companies spend on Health, Education, and Livelihood for adopted communities">Bulacan Cement firms tally P6M for community development
Companies spend on Health, Education, and Livelihood for adopted communities

With the unenviable problem of managing the largest provincial population growth rate in the country, Bulacan Governor Josie Dela Cruz has found welcome allies in the companies comprising the local cement industry in Bulacan.

The three Cement Companies, situated in Norzagaray Bulacan namely Republic Cement Corporation, Continental Operating Corporation, and Union Cement Corporation , have poured in approximately 6 Million pesos combined thus far in 2003 for community development initiatives

focusing on the areas of health, education, and livelihood assistance. All three are members of the Cement Manufacturers Association of the Philippines (CeMAP), which is a member of the global “Cement Sustainability Initiative” coordinated by the World Business Council for sustainable development.

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Pro-Files: This country needs professional
managers like FELIX ENRICO R. ALFILER ">Pro-Files: This country needs professional

(By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat, published in Manila Bulletin, B-15 – February 25, 2004)

He is the perfect choice for a job in a trade association whose image has been tarnished one way or another, largely because of the very nature of its operation. Felix Enrico R. Alfiler, president of the Cement Manufacturers’ Association of the Philippines, formerly the Philippine Cement Manufacturers Corp. (Philcemcor), offers an air of freshness for an industry that’s aching for change.


It was an executive search agency that got Alfiler’s name into the pool of candidates for the job of running the trade association of the country’s 17 cement companies. His background readily appeals to the taste of the international cement players, which now account for 90 percent of the industry’s total production capacity.

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