Former president of Manila Water and Globe Telecom passes away

Isagani de Castro Jr.

(UPDATED) Filemon ‘Jun’ T. Berba Jr., an electrical engineer, chaired the organization behind the Philippine Science Centrum, the country’s first interactive science center-museum

MANILA, Philippines – One of the Philippines’ foremost electrical engineers has died.

Filemon “Jun” T. Berba Jr., a former head of Manila Water Company and Globe Telecom, passed away on April 4, Tuesday, a member of the family confirmed to Rappler. He died one week shy of his 85th birthday.

His wake will be at the Haven of Angels Memorial Chapel in Sumulong Highway, Antipolo City from April 8 to 10. Inurnment is scheduled on April 11, Tuesday.

Berba, a magna cum laude graduate of the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Engineering, was president and CEO of Ayala Corporation’s Manila Water from 1997 to 2003.

“As its first president, Mr. Berba was instrumental in driving the transformation of Manila Water as it transitioned from being a public utility into a private company dedicated to providing excellent service to the East Zone,” the Manila Water, which provides water to the eastern side of Metro Manila, said.

“Mr. Berba helped create the strong foundation towards the company’s vision of being a global leader in water and environmental service,” the utility company said.

Berba served as president and CEO of Globe Telecom from 1995 to 1997.

The UP Engineering Research and Development Foundation Incorporated (UP ERDFI), of which Berba was an adviser, credited him for building “landmark industries” in the Philippines.

“Graduating as a BSEE [Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering] magna cum laude in 1959, Jun had a distinguished career that started as a cadet engineer with General Electric. After obtaining his MBA with high distinction from Wharton [University], he came home to build landmark industries,” the UP ERDFI said.

Among those cited by the foundation are the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) Oil Pipeline from Batangas to Pandacan, and Berba’s work in companies such as the Lopez-owned Philippine Electric Corporation (Philec), the country’s largest transformer manufacturer and provider of equipment electric cooperatives and private utilities; and Ayala Corporation’s Integrated Microelectronics Incorporated (IMI), one of the top electronics manufacturing service providers in the world.

Ayala Corporation seconded Berba to the IMI as its president and CEO from 1991 to 2003. He was president and CEO of the First Philippine Holdings Group’s Philec from 1987 to 1990.

“Jun was a builder and nurturer of institutions, a servant leader in the truest sense of the word,” the UP ERDFI, which was set up to support the UP College of Engineering, said in a Facebook post.

It added that Berba also played a “key role” in the building of the UP Bahay ng Alumni (House of the Alumni), and was one of the “Top 100 Distinguished Alumni of the UP College of Engineering’s First Century.”

Berba was once a Management Man of the Year awardee of the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP). He was president of MAP in 1982.

Science museum and exhibits

Berba remained active in various business firms as an independent director and in non-profit endeavors after his retirement.

He was chairman of the Philippine Foundation for Science and Technology, the organization behind the establishment of the Philippine Science Centrum, the country’s first interactive science center-museum located in Marikina City, and its Traveling Interactive Science Exhibits.

The foundation was established in 1984 by a group of private individuals in response to government’s call “to create an environment of science conscious and literate populace, especially among the youth.”

“The idea of travelling exhibits came to him when, realizing that the country is an archipelago, and not everyone in the country has access to the same opportunities as those who live in the metropolitan areas,” says the UP Beta Epsilon fraternity in a profile about Berba on its website.

Beta Epsilon said getting into the state university gave Berba “the chance to fulfill his father’s thwarted dreams of becoming an engineer,” adding that he “would also become much more than an engineer, using his expertise to not only improve systems but also work with the people and make their lives better.”

“After graduation, he turned down lucrative offers from bigger companies so that he could practice his profession the way he wanted it to be. He worked at the General Electric as a technical service engineer where he did not get paid as much as he could have been in other firms, but he loved what he was doing,” it said.

“He also earned a scholarship to study his masters in Electrical Engineering, but he instead decided to pursue an MBA from Wharton’s Business School. This background would provide the material for his success. He went from being an engineer to becoming a professional manager,” Beta Epsilon said.


In a toast in 2015 to his Mapa High School classmate, retired Chief Justice Art Panganiban said Berba was their “consistent and uncontested math topnotcher.”

“His phenomenal grasp of how numbers compute and the amazing speed and accuracy by which he figured them was enough inspiration for me to aspire to be a chemical engineer. Had it not been for my strong-willed father who decided that I should be a lawyer (but that’s quite another story altogether), I could have been an engineer, though only second to Jun in intellect, speed and accuracy,” Panganiban said on the publication of Berba’s book, “Leadership for Extraordinary Results.”

“As acclaimed by the testimonies and praises of his peers, he has rightfully become the top honcho – the ‘chief justice’ as it were – of his engineering-management profession,” Panganiban added.

Commenting on Berba’s book, Sid Consunji, chairman and president of the engineering conglomerate, DMCI Holdings Incorporated, said, “It shows that good moral values coupled with intelligence and hard work and the ability to work with people make a man for all seasons.”

Berba was also a pioneer of the Philippine Productivity Movement, which is based on the principles of Total Quality Management or TQM.

The Philippine Quality Program, a national quality award that sets a standard of excellence for Filipino organizations, paid tribute to its chairman emeritus.

“We mourn for the passing of Mr. Jun Berba who served as the first president of the Philippine Quality Award Foundation (PQAF). His outstanding accomplishments and unrelenting dedication to developing performance excellence have left an indelible mark on the entire PQA Community,” the organization said in a Facebook post.

Berba was also a member of the board of advisers of the De La Salle University, and he also established the Godparent Program at the Philippine Science High School. –