TABLE TALK – 07/11/10

Marfred Jandoc Pranada (1970-2010)

11 July 2010

yu, reginald t. (table talk)By JCI Sen. REGINALD T. YU, ITF

Trainer, Inspirational Speaker and Author, Communicator

They found him in the run-down, fifth storey condominium building located at a government-funded housing compound for policemen one Thursday afternoon, the eighth of July to be exact. The unit, held under the name of his younger brother — a police colonel of the Northern Police District — is situated at the Pamayanang Diego Silang Village in Barangay Unusan, Taguig City, not far from the upscale denizens of the ritzy Fort Bonifacio Global City.

Sprawled face down on the floor, soaked in his own blood, with a kitchen knife still lodged deep in his right abdomen, the nauseating backdrop confirmed his mother’s worst suspicions when countless attempts to reach him went unanswered for days. Crime scene investigators placed the approximate period of death to be early Monday morning, July the fifth — based on the body’s advanced stage of decomposition.

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Copious gore stains found in his bedroom floor points to a desperate attempt to flee from his assailant(s), as they flailed their deadly weapons in every possible direction.

His lifeless body, most likely enfeebled by the relentless hacking from behind, must have mustered just enough strength to crawl towards the exit door. Ironically, there were no signs of forced entry.

More than three dozen stab wounds, mostly found at the upper back shoulders and pectoral areas, picture the grim, destructive fate of a young man who appeared to have suffered an agonizing death at the hands of his assassins. The fatal blows seem to have been the lacerations found at his nape. What made it most foul was the way the act was allegedly treated with absolute ambivalence by his perpetrator(s): evidence seemed to indicate that his assailant(s) even took their sweet time to use the victim’s bathroom to grab a quick shower and consume whatever morsel left from his cupboard before casually taking his most valuable possessions — including the car keys — while the man already lay dead.

It was a crime scene played out too eerily often in the pages of the Philippine tabloids. Only this time, the victim was painfully one of our own.

Marfred Jandoc Pranada’s story was not supposed to end this way. His was a life of action and bold ventures with people and profession, of a uniquely personal triumph in search for excellence, of hopes raised and dashed in the name of service to others. For what he accomplished in his short lifetime, what was well begun — and inescapably, too, his prolonged personal struggles to find his own place in this world — he will forever be respected and remembered.

His story is a tale of triumph and tribulation. Born during the afterglow of youthful volunteerism and reared in his personal achievements as an executive, educator, badminton athlete and entrepreneur, and now arrived as his tragic loss, whose instruments most poignantly play the Junior Chamber’s note of mourning.

For many who dismissed this young man as a maverick during his life, brushing aside his quixotic advocacies as anathema to their own motives, the end seemed unrighteous and tragic. But for those who knew Marfred well, his death — painful as it was — created an epiphany of sorts. It took a gruesome, senseless death for many to appreciate what he had accomplished in his life — a life lived with a flair for exuberance and energy that had marked his forty-year story on this earth as both refreshingly flexible and disconcertingly unpredictable.

Marfred’s shining star — albeit short — seemed to be predestined as one of significance. Born in South Vietnam on May 17, 1970 but raised in Manila, he was the eldest of three siblings. Despite being born to low-middle class parents, his father’s untimely passing when Marfred was only nine years old accelerated his introduction to the hard knocks of life. For a family struggling to make ends meet by relying on meager rental income from their small apartments in San Andres, Manila, it was a period of hard work and sacrifice; but it was through his many missed lunches, sleepless nights of burning the midnight oil, and enduring all sorts of odd jobs to support his family that molded him to what he was to become in his adult years — a man imbued with remarkable motivation and tenacious determination to carry him out of mediocrity.

Although initially schooled at the Ateneo de Manila University where he was supposed to complete a degree in Political Science, Marfred transferred to the neighboring campus at the University of the Philippines (U.P.) in Diliman upon the advice of his mother, as rising tuition fees from the renowned Jesuit-run school could no longer accommodate his younger siblings the opportunity to continue their studies from their subsistence income.

The decision to shift from political science to U.P.’s then newly-offered Business Economics course proved providential. Marfred slowly found himself drawn to the lure of demand and supply, consumer theory, international economics and financial analysis. Through sheer will and intellect, he completed his degree in Business Economics in 1991, graduating cum laude, and landing him at the top five percent of his class.

A full scholarship offer to complete an MBA course abroad took Marfred to Canberra, Australia, where he obtained his master’s degree with high distinction at the Australian National University, graduating at the top one percent of his 1995 class. Armed with impeccable academic credentials, Marfred became one of the country’s most promising executives. He first joined the consulting firm of Price Waterhouse Coopers in 1997, where he developed an impressive clientele portfolio. After four years, he transferred to Bangkok, where he served as Executive Vice-President for Asia for AccessCAPITAL Thailand, Limited. There, he maximized his expertise in corporate finance and capital raise relations for private equity placements and business practice development. At a tender age of 29, Marfred was cited in the prestigious Marquis “Who’s Who” as one of the “500 Next Asian Leaders.”

In recent years, Marfred worked for a number of globally-recognized companies, such as Accenture and Sartori International, tapping his vast proficiency as a management consultant par excellence. His diverse investment banking experience in Southeast Asia and Australia working on cross-border transactions in corporate finance, specialized technology investment funds and corporate advisory projects for mergers and acquisitions and joint ventures, quickly raised his profile as one of the industry’s most sought-after consultants in economic research analysis. Soon, he dabbled in teaching work by working as a part-time professor in business and economics at the Center for Research and Communications (now, University of Asia and the Pacific) and later, at the Entrepreneurs School of Asia.

But Marfred’s ascension to genuine renown shone most brightly in Junior Chamber. An auspicious call to satisfy his nagging curiosity about a young men’s organization which was featured in a full-page newspaper advertisement that he came across in October 1998 became his life’s turning point. Joining “Asia’s first and premier leadership development organization,” he quickly saw his place in Junior Chamber International Manila (formerly, Manila Jaycees), as he thrived in its mission of mobilizing youthful dynamism for community service. Silently, but effectively, working at the sidelines, Marfred labored hard as Committee Chairman for the Youth Leadership Awards and as Co-Chairman of JCI Manila’s Meetings Committee in 2000. The following year proved to be very busy for Marfred in the Junior Chamber organization. While serving as JCI Manila’s Director for Business and Government Affairs — his only elected post — he also assumed the helm of Junior Chamber International Philippines’ official news publication, the Philippine Leader as Editor-in-Chief. At this time, he also accepted the challenge to revive inactive national organizations within the Asia-Pacific Region as an officer of Junior Chamber International’s Asia-Pacific Development Council.

A visionary advocate for entrepreneurial ventures, he almost single-handedly pushed for the introduction of business-related programs in the Philippine Junior Chamber organization. Much to his yeoman efforts, he shepherded the victory of its first few batches of business students during the globally-renowned Best Business Plan Competition and pioneered the country’s participation of the Creative Young Entrepreneurs competition, both sponsored by Junior Chamber International.

But it was his passion for teaching that moved Marfred to pursue a long career in Junior Chamber training. Obtaining his JCI PRIME diploma as a JCI-certified trainer during the Asia-Pacific Conference in Taegu, South Korea in 2001, there was no looking back for this young man. Together with fellow JCI Manila officer and trainer Richard Denis Domingo Tan (who later became inexorably identified with him, both in personal and JCI-related pursuits), they created the JCI Manila Training Institute in 2004 with the noble aim of providing training opportunities for JCI members, regardless of chapter affiliation. For three consecutive years, the JCI Manila Training Institute earned for his chapter an unprecedented three-time “grand slam” for the “Most Outstanding Individual Development Program Award” from 2004 to 2006.

Marfred’s rise in the ladder of JCI Training was no less than phenomenal. He moved from being a Certified Local Trainer in 2005; Certified National Trainer in 2007; International Graduate in 2008; to being International Training Fellow (ITF) in 2009 — the highest training certification level a trainer may receive from Junior Chamber International. Bearing ITF Number 126, Marfred has distinguished himself among one of only four Filipinos in Junior Chamber history ever to have reached the pinnacle of JCI training. With his newly-minted title, he chose to accept as many offers to training young people as his schedule — and as his legs — would permit. From Thailand to Australia, Korea to Belgium, Marfred quickly established himself as one of the most recognizable faces in Junior Chamber International, having developed personal friendships to more than a thousand members all over the world, besting even those who have had the benefit of becoming elected national or international officers.

His final tour of duty in Junior Chamber International was perhaps his most cherished: that of being appointed JCI Training Commissioner for the Asia-Pacific in 2010, a role which he relished with much aplomb and vigor. Tasked with reviewing JCI’s overall training strategy, providing support for the implementation of administrative operations of JCI’s academic program and evaluating all certification applications, it was a role that complemented his unassuming, yet exacting persona; sometimes, in his seeming earnestness to play the part of a “trainer’s policeman,” he had his share of ruffled feathers from his equally-ardent constituents.

But Marfred’s love for the organization was never put in question. And this devotion was duly rewarded by his peers in Junior Chamber. He was adjudged the “Most Outstanding Trainer” during the 2005 JCI Philippines National Convention in Davao, the “Most Outstanding JCI Member of the Asia-Pacific” during the 2007 Asia-Pacific Conference in Chung-Li, Taiwan, and the “Most Outstanding JCI Senator of the Asia-Pacific” in the 2008 Asia-Pacific Conference in Busan, South Korea.

Marfred’s untimely and unjustly violent death signals a long, somber tone of sorrow. For not only did Junior Chamber International lose one of its greatest trainers, it also obliterated a promising career that might have seen better days of the organization and the nation he represented. He chose to live a life of single-blessedness to focus on a lifelong career of service. Yes, for many, his words and actions may not have been of the populist kind; he did not say what everyone wanted to hear (and many within and beyond his circle took offense). But his fidelity to what he believes is right had remained adamant and unwavering.

For Marfred, ideas about what can be accomplished may have differed from those of most mortals. They are far grander, informed by a vision as vast as the human determination to bring them into being.

To be sure, Marfred Pranada’s short but colorful life story will continue to spark a chronic, yearning noise, which could only be silenced by a more blaring clamor of a new generation of young leaders who are willing to take the same enormous risks and triumph again — all in the name of “Being Better.”

Let his passing be a hard lesson that we in Junior Chamber should not take lightly ever again. Let his death signal a clarion call for us to be vigilant. Let us all come forward and continue to great work he has done, whether it be for ensuring safer neighborhoods in our communities, or for more effective training practices in our own circles. Let us do it with the same passion that Mafred exhibited in his lifetime.

Only then we can be comforted with supreme confidence that Marfred did not die in vain.

Paalam, kaibigan (Farewell, friend).

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