THE Philippine National Bank (PNB) heralds its 100-year anniversary this July with the launching of its commemorative coffee table book PNB: One Hundred Years of Service Excellence.
The book is a celebration of a company’s history, one parallel to that of the nation. The bank, created through a PNB Bill drafted by its first president Dr. Henry Parker Willis, opened its Escolta office on July 24, 1916. The only bank authorized to issue legal tender, PNB functioned for sometime as the Philippines’ de facto central bank.
Although it was privatized 20 years ago, PNB remains to be a financial institution that keeps the common Filipino’s needs at heart, working tirelessly through the nation’s storied past. The bank has been around long enough to survive two occupations, World War II, the terms of nearly every Philippine president, and the Martial Law years.
Throughout that history, PNB has managed not only to continue its service to the Filipino people, but to expand its reach across the country, and constantly make its way towards globalization.
One Hundred Years of Service Excellence is a 300-page journey rendered not only through astute writing, but a generous collection of images of the bank and the nation from the last 10 decades.
Archival film photos are paired with stunning present-day images, classic advertisements and celebrity endorsements for PNB, and the expansions and innovations the company continues to make today.
Less a chronicle of personalities than a document of historical shifts and achievements, the book recognizes the company’s growth has not been the sole work of a few men and women, but of an entire organization of people working on all levels to adapt to the needs of the times as the change.
A whole chapter of the book is dedicated to navigating PNB branches all over the Philippines, and the world, from Singapore to New York to London and beyond. It is a bank that knows Filipinos will always find their way to any place in the world and will need financial services to keep them in touch with their family back home.
The magnificent, and unmistakably Filipino architecture of PNB buildings is a key focus of special section within the first chapter. PNB has always had Filipino aesthetics in mind, employing Pablo Antonio Sr. to design a handful of the bank’s provincial branches in the late 1930s. He would eventually be declared a National Artist.Other architects that worked on PNB’s offices in Makati in the 1960s were Carlos Arguelles and Juan Nakpil. Rounding out the group was Jun Palafox, who in the 1990s, envisioned the current main office in Pasay.
The book is keenly aware not only of PNB’s history, but the way it’s been woven into the needs of a nation that’s also come into its own over the last century. For instance, the bank issued Philippine Guerrilla Notes during the war, in an effort to aid resistance against the Japanese. The bank was also central to financial recovery after the war, helping both big industries and small-time business owners get back on their feet in a time when the nation was merely at the cusp of independence.
In the latter parts of the book, we find the place PNB has made for itself today through gorgeously shot photographs of PNB branches all across the world. They’re spaces big and small, surrounded by the mundane day-to-day activities of common people.
PNB remains strong and relevant as ever, wherever the Filipino may go. It’s an institution that’s taken on the responsibility of bringing financial services to the nation, and done its work quietly and diligently for the past century.
Ultimately, the book makes for a testament to a bank that continues to find its place in the everyday life of Filipinos, serving their needs with a characteristic warmth and excellence.
One Hundred Years of Service Excellence is published by Philippine National Bank with editorial services, design and photography provided by Media Wise Communications, Inc./Muse Books.
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