BACOLOD, Philippines - Yesterday was a big day for the Philippine National Bank. All over the archipelago, the PNB marked 100 years made alive by new management. There was a big celebration in Manila with food prepared even by chefs who hailed from Negros Island.
While there could be cause for celebration by PNB itself, it is hard to say that the same mood reverberates among most Negrenses given that thoughts of PNB remind them of the systematic pillage done to the sugar industry during the Marcos years. Of course, this is not to blame PNB at all. They were just the bank.
Nevertheless, how many still remember having to walk into the august lobby of the PNB along Lacson Street, with the weight of the crop loan bearing down on their shoulders? A new lease on life would be granted by having a restructured loan but then it was just like giving the planters more rope to hang themselves with.
This article becomes all the more relevant to the Negrenses in the US, UK, or Australia, because while reading this, they know that the main reason they are there right now is because greener pastures had to be sought beyond the cloistered lifestyle which cradled them.
Try it for yourself. Have coffee with someone from Negros today and ask them, "What do you remember about PNB?". Incidentally, the building is indeed there in Lacson Street but with a new look. While it is only an architectural facelift, it could have somehow been arranged by the Higher Being to clad it with Alucobond panels as if to say, let's hide away all the bad vibes brought about with the old look.
For the longest time since 1969, PNB building was the tallest building in the island. All that is going to change when the buildings of the Ayala group are finished. The condos, the hotel, and a totally reworked Capitol area.
Overall, Negrenses could say, "Congratulations PNB!" but really, it's much ado over nothing.
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