The Rural Bank of Dipolog was conceived and hatched as an idea for community service way back in 1957 when the late Justice Florentino Saguin retired after serving the government in various capacities.
My father and I discussed the several options I broached to him for a possible investments vehicle using his meager retirement benefits. One possibility was for investing the fund in Makati real estate. The land prices in Makati, then, ranged from Php 28 to Php 30 per square meter in what is now prime land. The other possibility was for putting up the funds for the establishment of a Rural Bank in Dipolog. At that time the only credit entity in Dipolog was a small PNB agency located at the old capitol building. It was very obvious then that the local economy was in dire need for credit. The only sources of credit were the usual usurious money lenders that thrived in small communities like Dipolog.
Although a Makati investment was a very safe and attractive possibility, as was proven by the meteoric rise in Makati real estate, my father’s decision was most emphatic in opting for opening a rural bank in his own home ground.
I most clearly remember his statement for his decision. He said, ” I want to spend what little time I have left and what little resources I possess for the benefit of the small people from where I came. ” The decision was final.
And so, after complying with all the requirements of the Central Bank and the Securities and Exchange Commission the Rural Bank of Dipolog, Inc. was granted its charter in October of 1957 and was inaugurated on November 2, 1957.
We started with a “paid in capital” of only Php 50,000. Our rented office was at the Lacaya Building which was the only concrete building of consequence in Dipolog at the time. Justice Florentino Saguin was the first Bank President. His only previous exposure at finance was as Chairman of the Mindanao Emergency Currency Board which printed and issued Emergency Money for the use of the Guerrilla movement in Mindanao and to support the local economy during the war. This was the so called “Saguin Money”.
Our total work force consisted of only three people. After undergoing the mandatory training at the Central Bank we were ready for business. I acted as Manager, among many other duties. The other employees were the late Mrs. Gregoria Espiritu, CPA who was the Bookkeeper – Accountant and the late Mrs. Araceli Zapanta as Cashier – Teller. The workings and methods of Rural Banking then were so simplified and was so designed for untrained folks to do in the rural areas. This was purposely the idea behind the passage of the Rural Banks Act of 1952.
Our operation, although simple and unsophisticated, was coupled with a sense of mission and purpose as to be of service to an unsophisticated clientele. With a lot of frugality and hard work we attained the purpose of our mission so much so that after only six months of operation we were already in the black. The government generously granted the system exemption from taxes and free training. For several years from its inception we were given counterpart capital for which we paid a nominal dividend of only 2 percent. Our rediscounting rate was a nominal one half of one percent.
And so it was and that is how it went for the next decades that followed. We maintained continuously and persistently our sense of mission. Management never, for a moment, placed in danger and jeopardy our obligation and duty towards the trust of our depositors. Not for a single instance has the institution ever withheld a withdrawal because of lack of liquidity. We have never skipped payments towards our financial obligations to the Central Bank by way of rediscounting.
The public’s trust and confidence in our institution is of greatest importance. That is the absolute corporate policy handed down by Justice Florentino Saguin to us. It has become a culture that management is bent on upholding and maintaining.
There were good times and bad times. There were times in those 52 years when the nations economic circumstance was nearly dashed because of bad economic governance by governmental authorities. Banks in those times, especially Rural Banks, were most vulnerable. Out of more than 1,000 rural banks more than one third failed and most of those that survived were hardly operational. Only those imbued with the highest sense of integrity in management and corporate governance remained viable and healthy. A lot have failed in the night.
After all those tumultuous and hard years, I was vehemently admonished and forewarned that the rural banking system in this country is out of the woods.
Far from it! There are still black clouds in the country’s economic horizon.
With better times in prospect, the Rural Bank of Dipolog Inc. hopes to grant you all better and more benefits. Yours is a healthy, serving and caring bank. Your bank will continue serving our community and you.
May God Bless us all.
By Atty. AUGUSTO G. SAGUIN
Co – Founder / Chairman Emeritus