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Confessions from an ‘Association Man’

banking01-070616By Octavio Peralta

Part Two

Managing an existing association is challenging enough, what more when starting a new one—an “association of associations” at that! This is the story of the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives (PCAAE).

In primary school, our teachers told us about the 3Rs in education: reading, (w)riting and (a)rithmetic. In association building, there are also 3Rs to a successful start as you will learn from this column.

The PCAAE story began years back with an aspirational idea to “give back” to the association community that has been my source of living, knowledge and many friends around the world. After all, though educated as a mechanical engineer, then pursuing a development banking career and later on becoming an association executive “by accident,” I believe that associations play a vital role in nation-building.

This role comes in the form of, among others, providing specialized educational programs that are not available in schools and elsewhere; setting industry standards and guidelines; helping government in policy formulation for specific industries to improve production efficiency and exports, as well as serving the economic, social and environmental needs of a diverse constituency in urban and rural areas.

As secretary-general of the Association of Development Financing Institutions in Asia and the Pacific (ADFIAP), I have developed, over a course of 25 years, an international network of friends and allies in the association and MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and events) worlds. I have also been a long-time member of the Washington, D.C.-based American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), a 90-year-old association with 21,000 members all over the world. My ASAE membership also bolstered my confidence to take a crack at forming PCAAE.

But there were elements of serendipity and luck, as well, along the way.

At the IMEX 2010 in Frankfurt, I unexpectedly bumped into the general manager of the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), lawyer Rene Padilla, who was also thinking of creating a society of association executives in the Philippines. The following year, also at IMEX Frankfurt, my colleague at ADFIAP, Cora Conde, met Stanie Soriano, then head of the MICE department of the Tourism Promotions Board, the marketing arm of our Department of Tourism (TPB). They discussed the possibility of setting up an association of associations in the country.

After several more meetings, an agreement was made by TPB, PICC and ADFIAP to form the PCAAE. With their help and those of my friends, who voluntarily shelled out money from their own wallets for legal documentation, the PCAAE was finally registered in October 2013 as a nonprofit organization with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The creation of PCAAE was, thus, sealed and made possible with the support of three organizations with the same goal and advocacy. TPB provided financial support; PICC offered its facility for use; and ADFIAP acted as the PCAAE secretariat.

On November 20, 2013, at the First Association Executives Summit held at the PICC Manila, the PCAAE was officially launched, participated in by over 200 founding members from 72 associations and other membership organizations nationwide. ASAE and another Washington, D.C.-based organization, the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), which provided technical assistance, completed the five “founding pillars” of PCAAE.

The building of PCAAE can, thus, be summarized into the following:

  • A spark can light a fire—One idea can certainly come into fruition if a group of like-minded and passionate individuals and institutions come together, support one another and make it work.
  • 3Rs in association building—Relevance, relationships and resources are three key ingredients needed to start an association. Relevance comes in the form of a clear purpose, mission and vision. Building and nurturing relationships will come a long way in this process, and resources, both human and financial capital, are required to effectively and efficiently put ideas into action.

Associations are converging in today’s “sharing economy”—In an environment where cooperation and collaboration are mainstream, associations and other membership organizations are more than ever sharing and networking for a common good and enduring sustainability.

This November 23 and 24, we are again holding at the PICC the PCAAE Associations Summit 4 (AS4), which we expect to draw over 200 association professionals here and abroad. AS4 will feature local and international speakers who will share best practices in association and membership organization governance, leadership and management. The event will also shine the spotlight on the best associations and association professionals through the annual ANG SUSI Awards that aims to recognize the key role of the nonprofit sector in national sustainable development.

Interested associations or association professionals may get in touch with Enrique Florencio of the PCAAE Secretariat at +632 816-1672 or e-mail [email protected] Also check out the web site,, or on Facebook (

The writer, Octavio “Bobby” Peralta, is pleased to provide more details on PCAAE at [email protected].


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