(from left) Eternal Gardens President and COO Numeriano B. Rodrin, Vice President for Human Resources Management Division Victoria C. Nava, 35-year service awardee Executive Secretary Rosario T. Lachica, Chairman and CEO D. Edgard A. Cabangon and Vice Chairman Benjamin V. Ramos (Photo by Rudy Esperas)
ETERNAL Gardens celebrated its 40th anniversary last Thursday (August 11) with a grand festivity at Citystate Tower Hotel in Ermita filled with rejoicing over the accomplishments of the past four decades, and fondly remembering and paying tribute to its founder, Ambassador Antonio L. Cabangon Chua, whose leadership made the success possible.
As D. Edgard A. Cabangon, chairman of the board of Eternal Gardens, noted in his brief remarks, “It is exactly five months since my Dad passed away. I am sure he is now looking down on us, happy that we are together on this great occasion.”
The Ambassador bid farewell to Eternalites and the rest of the ALC Group of Cos. on March 11, a Friday, a day he spent without fail going to Quiapo Church in Manila in keeping with his devotion to Jesus as the Black Nazarene.
A brightly lit stage splashed a greeting in bold letters extolling the occasion, while an almost life-size standee portrait of the Ambassador was by the right side of the stage, showing him in confident pose, smiling and his arms folded before him.
“We best honor and show our love for him by keeping alive his legacy of hard work, determination and perseverance to reach our goals,” Cabangon told the Eternalites. The crowd that filled the grand ballroom of Citystate Tower Hotel included officers and staff from the head office in Makati, and managers and representatives from each of the 10 branches of Eternal Gardens.
Highlighting the occasion was the presence as special guests of pioneer officers and sales workers who helped the Ambassador set up the company and overcome great hurdles encountered in the earliest days 40 years ago, when the concept of the modern first-class memorial park was something new and unfamiliar with Filipinos.
Among them were former Mindoro Oriental Rep. and Gov. Rodolfo G. Valencia, veteran publicist and newsman Juan P. Dayang, marketing executive Antonio Lorenzo and several sales agents who pioneered the offering of the products and services of Eternal Gardens to the public.
In his own remarks, Valencia, who had been the Ambassador’s business associate for several years before he left business to join politics, said among the business undertakings where he had worked with the Ambassador, “Eternal Gardens, under the direct leadership of Pareng Tony, proved to be the most successful.” At that time of his younger days, the founder was better known as Col. Tony Cabangon Chua, being a reservist in the Armed Forces.
Valencia recalled that under the Ambassador’s vigorous management, the pioneering leaders of Eternal Gardens attracted many accomplished memorial-industry professionals to join the fledgling company. Among them were Tony Lorenzo, Gabriel Vida and many other competent memorial-industry expert workers.
Four decades after those early struggling days, Valencia said, he was happy to see that “Eternal Gardens is one of the most successful business enterprises in the country,” growing from one humble park in Baesa, Caloocan, to a chain of 10 memorial parks in key places all over the country today.”
Presentation of the Service Awards also highlighted the special event. A total of 33 Eternalites were recognized for their loyal service to the company for five, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 35 years, headed by Executive Secretary Rosario T. Lachica, a 35-year service awardee.
In her message, Lachica thanked the management of Eternal Gardens and the Cabangon family “for all the opportunities you have given me all these years.”
Another important part of the evening was the unveiling of the trophy for the Business Excellence Award of Eternal Gardens. Measuring 6 feet in height, the stainless-steel trophy will be awarded at the end of the year to the branch of Eternal Gardens that will be adjudged best in excellence in the areas of sales, finance, operations, marketing and human resources. The award will be held for one year by the winning branch and the same trophy will be passed on to the succeeding winners each year.
This article was first published in the Business Mirror.