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What Is UREKA?

"The most recent UREKA Mega Manila Forum was a true statement of how the #WorldDiscoversYou through e-commerce. Learn more on how UREKA can help you bring your business to the world!"


Are you an entrepreneur aiming to take your business to the next level via e-commerce? Are you part of an organization seeking to connect with other stakeholders whose goals and values are aligned with yours? Perhaps, you’re an industry expert who wants to engage the local SME community by being part of the UREKA Forum consortium?

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Manila Keynote Speakers


President & COO

As one of the primary proponents of the UREKA Forum, Mr. Bautista was on hand to talk about how local entrepreneurs can harness the power of the Web to reach customers all over cyberspace. During the forum, Mr. Bautista spoke about the distinct edge of smart banking, and how businesses can create meaningful experiences by finding the appropriate innovative services and solutions that fit their business needs. He also expounded in detail how UnionBank is empowering SMEs as key drivers of economic growth, as well as how businesses can improve their capabilities and harness their strategic and critical thinking skills to create a bigger impact on the lives of more Filipinos.

Dr. Francisco “Paco” S.A. Sandejas

Independent Director - UnionBank
Director - PhilDev
CEO - Narra Venture

Serves as an Independent Director of the Bank. He is also the Chairman of the Technology Steering Committee of the Bank, and the director of Philippine Development Fpundation. He is the CEO of NarraVentures, a venture capital management and advisory group that has invested in over 25 high-technology companies. He also serves as Executive Chairman of Stratpoint Technologies, Inc. and Xepto Computing Inc.; and he serves on the board of Colixo, a payment solutions company. Dr.Sandejas also sits as a board director to investment portfolio companies of Narra Venture Capital Management LLC in Silicon Valley and other technology clusters in the United States. He completed his Ph.D. and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University and his Bachelor of Science in Applied Physics (summa cum laude) from University of the Philippines. He has co-invented the Grating Light Valve (GLV), has 6 US and international patents, and co-founded the Brain Gain Network ( Paco is an active consultant with the Philippine Government. He advises De La Salle University and the University of the Philippines, sits on the board of the Philippine S&T Development Foundation, and chairs the Southridge Alumni Association.


Unit Head Customer Segments Management Group

As the head of the group that specializes in UnionBank’s various innovative technological banking products and services, he has the seasoned expertise to advise SMEs in finding the right solutions for their businesses. Mr. Soliman’s participation in the UREKA Forum has been of great help to entrepreneurs who are still unsure of how to go about with their e-commerce venture from a financial solutions standpoint.

At the UREKA Forum in Iloilo, he took the stage to speak about the importance of partnering with reputable institutions—like those of the consortium—in order to properly grow one’s business on the online platform.

Albert Mitchell “Mitch” Locsin

VP and Head - PLDT SME Nation

Mitch Locsin heads PLDT SME Nation, an organization whose sole mission is to provide local entrepreneurs with all the technological solutions they need to grow their businesses exponentially. He joins the UREKA Forum as the movement sets its sights to engage Mindanao SMEs via Davao City, where he will be expounding on the idea of taking advantage of today’s business technologies to help Filipino entrepreneurs grow faster, reach more consumers, and engage wider markets far beyond their own locality.


President & CEO - SHOPINAS

Sheila Lina, President and CEO of Shopinas, discussed how a dynamic business website can play a critical role in strengthening any business' e-Commerce venture. She also highlighted the key do's and don’ts that business owners should keep in mind when creating their respective business websites and how they can make sure that they make the best out of their e-Commerce venture.


SVP & GM - Solutions Group

SVP & General Manager Mr. Josefino Paloma of AMTI was in attendance to talk about how local entrepreneurs can fully maximize technology to grow their businesses beyond their targets. He expounded on the idea of the Internet as a necessary but often under-utilized marketing and sales tool that businessmen must take advantage of, particularly if they aim to grow big and earn big. Additionally, he talked about a variety of things related to operating a business online—from websites, to e-Commerce platforms, to unique apps that businesses can create to offer a dynamic experience that’s well worth every Filipino consumer’s peso.


Division Head, Retail Sales and Business Development - AIR21

Ms. Yasmin Vasquez is responsible for overseeing the operations of hundreds of Air21’s branches nationwide. In Iloilo, she was present during the UREKA Forum to discuss the critical role logistics technology plays in creating a winning business strategy, particularly in the age of the Internet and e-commerce.

Also, she talked about how Air21 differentiates itself from other logistics providers in the country by bridging the gaps between zip codes and varying market segments.

Robertson "Dick" Chiang


Dick Chiang leads DragonPay, a leading online payment service provider in the Philippines. At the UREKA Forum in Baguio City, Dick Chiang joined a distinguished roster of industry experts as he discussed how DragonPay is adding to the overall e-Commerce experience by providing a convenient, hassle-free way to purchase online. He also provided a brief overview of their operations, their portfolio of clients, and how they see Philippine businesses playing significant roles in defining global e-Commerce trends.

Rajan Uttamchandani

Chairman & CEO - Esquire International Financing Inc.

Aside from being at the helm of Esquire Financing Inc. (EFI), Rajan Uttamchandani is also the President and CEO of Esquire International Financing Inc., a leading financing company with significant operations in the Philippines, India, the Middle East and other parts of Asia. Rajan joined the financing industry at a very young age through Esquire International. This early exposure contributed a lot to his financial and business expertise — an expertise that paved the way to the attainment of his vision of creating EFI, a company that caters to the financial needs of Philippine businesses.


President - GeiserMaclang Marketing Communications, Inc

A recognized and multi-awarded thought leader in the realm of strategic communications, Brad Geiser took the stage during the UREKA Forum in Iloilo to discuss the growing role of social media in maximizing the potential of brick-and-mortar businesses in the age of digital revolution.

Mr. Geiser has seen how marketing disciplines have evolved and analyzed how these developments can help make SMEs gain the upper hand in today’s highly competitive business environment. During the conference proper, he discussed how the Visayan SME community can take full advantage of social media to enjoy a long-term, profitable e-commerce venture—from crafting the appropriate communications in promoting products and services, to engaging new customers through targeted marketing strategies.

Henry Rhoel Aguda

Senior Executive Vice-President
Chief Technology and Operations Officer, Chief Transformation Officer

Henry Rhoel R. Aguda is a Senior Executive Vice-President, Chief Technology and Operations Officer, and Chief Transformation Officer of UnionBank. Henry holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mathematics and a Juris Doctor degree, Cum Laude from the University of the Philippines. He has over 20 years of experience as a senior executive with the telco, fintech and utilities industries.

He is also a Professor of Math, Information Technology, and Information Security.

Alvin Sheng Hui Tan

Head of Public Policy, Southeast Asia

Alvin is Head of Public Policy for Southeast Asia, where he is responsible for managing Facebook’s regional public policy issues and building economic growth initiatives. This involves working with multiple stakeholders, including businesses, governments, policy-makers and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to create initiatives that help people and businesses connect, grow and stay safe.

Before joining Facebook in 2015, Alvin spent 5 years at Goldman Sachs as Vice President and Executive Director (Executive Office) covering the Asia-Pacific region.

He previously worked in the United Nations Secretary-General's Executive Office in New York, Oxfam Australia, and the Government of Singapore (in various roles including as a tank platoon commander, a diplomat, and a counter-terrorism analyst). Alvin is also an active grassroots community leader in Singapore, and advises two Asia-based non-profits. He also serves on the Ministry of Information & Communication’s Media Literacy Council.

Alvin graduated with a First Class Honours in Economics from Sydney University, and a Master in Public Policy at Harvard University, where was he was awarded the Belfer International & Global Affairs Fellowship from the Robert and Renee Belfer Centre for Science and International Affairs. He is also a recipient of a Singapore Armed Forces Scholarship and the Tan Kah Kee Foundation Postgraduate Scholarship.

Reynaldo Lugtu

Head - Solutions Group
Microsoft Philippines

Reynaldo “Rey” Lugtu is a veteran in the information and communications technology sector. He is currently the Head, Solutions Group of Microsoft Philippines He held several senior posts previously such as Vice President, IT-Enabled Services at Globe Telecom, Country Head of Enterprise at Samsung Philippines, and President and Country Manager of Emerson network Power.

He is also adviser and director of several tech companies and startups as Chairman of ThincOffice Inc (creator of MyLegalWhiz), Independent Director of AudioWav Media Inc, and Director of Vireef Inc.

He is the Chairman of the SME market development of the Foundation of Filipino Entrepreneurs Inc (FFEI), Chairman of ICT Committee of the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX), Vice Chairman of ICT Committee of the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP), and member of the Makati Business Club and Philippine Chamber of Commerce.

He is a Professorial Lecturer in the MBA program of De La Salle University where he has been teaching for 15 years, and currently teaches Strategic Management. He is likewise an Adjunct Faculty of the Asian Institute of Management.

He earned his MBA from DLSU where he is also finishing his doctorate. He finished courses in business from INSEAD-Wharton University of Pennsylvania, China Europe International Business School, and Helsinki School of Economics.

He is likewise a business columnist of Manila Times, Manila Bulletin, BusinessWorld, The Standard, and the regional magazine CIO Outlook.

Eugene Jose Arboleda


EJ is the CEO of Taxumo, a tech startup that helps freelancers, professionals, and entrepreneurs with their taxes. He is also the Chief Technology Officer of Wunderman Manila - a digital advertising agency under the WPP group. He is a certified Project Management Professional, ITIL v3 Service Manager, and a SAP R/3 FI Consultant. He has been freelancing since 2010 as a web developer, project manager, and consultant.

Christine Jacob - Sandejas

UREKA Host, Former Olympic Swimmer & CNN Philippines Lifestyle Host

Swimmer-turned-television personality, Christine Jacob - Sandejas, took part in the UREKA Forum to help give Filipino SMEs a voice in the era of inclusive e-commerce. She’s been exposed to the challenges that a lot of entrepreneurs face, especially in terms of adopting new practices to grow their businesses further. Her participation in the UREKA Forum offered consortium partners a better look into how SMEs perceive the movement and how they can better strengthen their strategies to really win from the beginning of their e-commerce journey.

RJ Ledesma

UREKA Co-Host, TV and Event Host
Writer and Editor, Entrepreneur

RJ Ledesma is a known event and TV show host and successful food entrepreneur. He is also a writer and an editor. His column, Pogi from Parallel Universe, has been a mainstay every Sunday in the Philippine Star since 2006. This has translated to five best selling books, one of which is a finalist at the 30th National Book Awards. He is also the Editor-in- Chief of UNO Magazine, and has co-founded the successful Mercato Centrale food market.

He is also a certified yoga instructor, professional wedding and event host, Executive Vice President of his family’s real estate company, and the Honorary Vice Consul of Monaco to the Philippines.

Monette Iturralde-Hamlin

UREKA Moderator
Founder and President of TeamAsia

Maria Montserrat Iturralde-Hamlin (Monette) is the founder and president of TeamAsia, an award-winning integrated marketing communications firm. TeamAsia believes in bringing brands to the next level through its five core services: integrated marketing, experience, creative, content and digital.

Monette concurrently serves as chairman of the Philippine Association of Convention/Exhibition Organizers and Suppliers; chairman of Hopkins International Partners, Inc.; and a trustee and treasurer of the Women's Business Council of the Philippines. She served for three consecutive years on the Tourism Promotions Board as director representing the Meeting, Incentives Travel, Conventions, Exhibitions & Events Services & Facilities Sector. Monette has been recognized by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Philippines as one of the recipients of the 2016 CEO Excel award.

Arturo P. Boncato Jr.

Assistant Secretary
Department of Trade and Industry

Art P. Boncato, Jr. has a solid background on tourism business, policy formulation and advocacy as well as program planning and management. He was as a MICE (Meetings, Incentive Travel, Conventions, Exhibitions and Events) entrepreneur, a hotelier, and held industry leadership positions.

His career in the private sector focused on various segments in the fields of sales and marketing. He likewise had a stint in the  print and broadcast media.

Before joining the DTI, he was Assistant Secretary of the Department of Tourism (2013-June 2016) and handled special projects for Mindanao such as the Philippine Halal Tourism Project, chairmanship of Brunei Indonesia Malaysia the Philippines-East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) Tourism Cluster, Representative to the Bangsamoro Transition Committee as well as image and capacity-building programs for LGUs and business stakeholders. He also supported in managing the Department’s regional offices. He was Regional Director for Davao from 2010-2013.

Currently, his assignments at the DTI cover the Ease of Doing Business, E-Commerce, and the BIMP-EAGA as Philippine senior official. He is the supervising executive of the Competitiveness Bureau, E-Commerce, and BIMP-EAGA teams.

He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communication Major in Journalism. His executive education include courses in Digital Marketing, Social Media in Smart Destinations, Responsible Tourism, and Negotiations.

John Cary Lee Ong

SVP and Head of Transaction Banking Center
UnionBank of the Philippines

Mr. John Cary Lee Ong is a Senior Vice President and the Head of Transaction Banking Center at the UnionBank of the Philippines. He was Head of Treasury and Trade Solutions at Citi Philippines with 19 years of experience in various banking and banking-related positions in three multinational organizations – Citibank, Misys International, and Deutsche Bank.

Among his areas of expertise include trade finance, cash management, fixed-income brokerage, investment products, trust banking and asset management, treasury systems and treasury operations.

Beth Ann Lim

Head of SMB Community Engagement
Facebook APAC

Beth Ann has over 15 years of experience in Asia helping small and large companies develop strategic communication, branding, and marketing initiatives to help build their business. Before joining Facebook, Ms. Lim founded her own communications consultancy firm and held senior management leadership roles at Intel as well as a global PR agency.

Beth Ann holds an undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley in East Asian Languages. She is passionate about helping small and medium businesses succeed and is an active mentor in the start-up and accelerator community.

Navin Uttamchandani

Esquire Financing, Inc.

Navin Uttamchandani is the Chief Operating Officer of Esquire Financing Inc. Prior to joining EFI, Navin spent 6 years with Standard Chartered Bank, having assumed key responsibilities in the development and launch of Wealth Management and Priority Banking products and services.

He helped set up the Bank’s Bancassurance and Premium Currency Investments businesses, contributed to the conceptualization and management of its marketing programs, and developed frontline scorecards and incentive programs. He has also worked in Credit, Business Strategy, and Branch Operations.

Who Should Attend?


Clothes, gadgets, books, shoes… you name it! Retailers engage consumers directly by selling huge assortment of stuff. By making the shift to e-commerce, they have the power to interact with more potential buyers, thus growing their businesses beyond their locality.

The Filipino brand of hospitality has been one of the things the world has come to love about our country. Pair that up with the Philippines’ long-standing reputation as a top tourist destination, then you have a booming industry that even the smallest family-owned inn make a splash in the global scene. With the help of e-commerce, locals and tourists can efficiently find and book rooms months before they make their actual trip, avoiding the hassle of having to find one in the last minute.

From the most popular (i.e. start-up IT companies) to the least known solution providers (i.e. carbon emissions testing firms), these companies are in a niche industry that’s growing rapidly across the country and the region. The growing popularity of online platforms allows this industry to reach more customers in a shorter amount of time.

As a country rich in natural resources, Philippine manufacturers have the unique advantage of utilizing the finest materials for their products. Now, with these companies venturing into the e-commerce sphere, the need for a middleman can now be completely taken out of the equation, thus giving manufacturers the unique opportunity to grow their respective businesses at a pace they have never experienced before.

The world continues to be in awe with the creativity of the Filipino craftsman. From world-class singers and performers to one-of-a-kind painters and sculptors, Filipino artistry now enjoys a bigger spotlight with technological innovations and e-commerce setting up the stage for local talent to showcase their craft to the rest of the world.

Ube, barquillos, and even durian candy—these are just some of the pasalubongs Filipinos and foreigners love to snack on whenever they travel to a particular region in the country. By opening up a digital storefront for the humble food maker, these delicious treats can now travel across borders and connect with people outside of the Philippines who crave for an authentic taste of Filipino delicacies.

From handmade tchotchkes to sari-sari stores that sell farm animal feeds, homegrown Filipino entrepreneurs have the unique opportunity to take their business to the next level via e-commerce. By venturing into the digital marketplace, they can now grow their businesses ten-fold, while still earning their usual sum and expanding their physical stores.

As a globally known tourist destination, the Philippines has a wide variety of destinations and activities that continue to lure travellers from different corners of the world year-round. Online platforms, such as travel-centric websites, give tourists a stress-free time when deciding on where to go, what to attend, and how much to spend.

Services can range from household-related tasks (i.e. electric repairs or plumbing services) to industrial-related needs (i.e. construction or custodial duties). Businesses that provide such services can greatly benefit from having an online presence, especially when the customer is new to the area or has to maintain a particular property while being based in a different zip code.

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UREKA Customer Service and Secretariat

Phone Number: (02) 667-6388 local 6493 or 0917-5510857