President's Corner FY 2017-2018

President’s Corner

About Zenaida P. Alcantara

A wealth of experience in two allied professions has transformed Atty. Zenaida P. Alcantara into a picture of confidence and expertise in auditing, accounting, legal and tax practice, and business advisory.   Defying traditional expectations about the number 13, she owned the thirteenth slot in the 1972 CPA Board Exams, after graduating magna cum laude from the University of the East earlier that same year.  Later she would add to her academic achievements the distinction of being a Dean’s lister at the Ateneo de Manila University School of Law, where she pursued her legal studies.  She went on to graduate with her Bachelor of Laws degree in 1987, passed the BAR examinations that same year, and took her first steps in the legal profession the following year.

Zeny, as she is known to friends and family, prides herself on having built a career spanning four decades of extensive professional experience in both the legal and accounting professions.  The foundations of her singular career were established when she marked a decade of work as an auditor at SGV & Company, where she served from 1973 to 1983.  The chance to spread her wings came when she joined Filinvest Land, Inc. group of companies in 1983 as its comptroller, rising to the position of Head of the Filinvest’s Internal Audit Group.  She went on to serve as Comptroller of Yupangco Cotton Mills, Inc., a position she held from 1989 to 1993.  Armed with twenty years of wide-ranging experience, she established her own law practice,  the Alcantara Law Office, from which she made a name for herself as a legal consultant and tax practitioner.

A dedicated member of the accounting profession, Zeny has been an active officer / member of the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA) for at least three (3) decades.  Having witnessed the creation of the PICPA Metro Manila Chapters in 1990, Zeny is justifiably proud of having the distinction of being one of the pioneer Chapter officers for the Northern Metro Manila Chapter, which she served as Executive President in 1990, going on to become Chapter President in 1992.

At the National level, Zeny is a long-time member of the Tax and Legislation Committee and the Chapters Committee (now GARCA), serving either as a member or the Chair of these Committees. She became a member of the National Board of Directors when she was named as Sectoral Director for the Commerce and Industry Sector, for FY July 2007 to June 2008.  Greater responsibilities came when Zeny was elected Regional Director for Metro Manila; sat as a member of the National Board of Directors for a two-year term, from FY 2009 to 2011; and was appointed to her first-year term as Vice President for Operations (for FY July 2009 to June 2010), and to her second year as Vice President for the Commerce and Industry Sector (for FY July 2010 to June 2011).

In 2016, she was again elected as Regional Director for Metro Manila, and she sat her second two-year term as a member of the National Board of Directors for FY2016 to 2018.  She was appointed as the Executive Vice President for FY July 2016 to June 2017, and, in recognition of her years of singular and dedicated service to PICPA, she was hailed as PICPA National President for FY July 2017 to June 2018.

Education has always been a priority for Zeny.  So it was that during her term as National President, she was a steadfast champion of the professional development of PICPAns across the country.  Indeed, it was through her initiative, the CPD Council (which was revived under her watch) was mandated to develop and copyright training modules as the intellectual property of PICPA. This passion for education and research helped her to address lifelong learning challenges that inspired accounting professionals to attend PICPA seminars and conferences; and to work for the improvement of the quality of seminars offered, in terms of content and delivery of the resource persons. These twin achievements saw a dramatic increase in the number of seminars offered and, more importantly, the attendance and involvement of CPAs and non-CPAs in unprecedented numbers.  Under her impetus, regions and geographical area offices also conducted their conferences, and saw the active participation of CPAs nationwide, as evidenced by well-attended conferences across the country; indeed, inspired by her promotion of CPD, more chapters were also able to offer seminars for their members.

Such was Zeny’s zeal in promoting the interests of her fellow accounting professionals that the PICPA Annual National Convention held in November 2017 at the Philippine International Convention Center, attended by 5,200 delegates, registered the highest number of attendees for the first time since its inception.

Believing in the universal importance of the accounting profession, Zeny has actively represented the Philippine accounting professionals as PICPA representative before international bodies.  She has served either as a council member or as a voting member at the International Federation of Accountants Conference (IFAC), the Confederation of Asian and Pacific Accountants (CAPA), and the ASEAN Federation of Accountants (AFA).  It is an enduring source of pride for Zeny that for the first time, two Filipino CPAs were appointed to the chairmanships of committees in CAPA and AFA.  With her encouragement, PICPA hosted the IFAC meeting of its PAODC Committee, where Zeny participated as an Observer.

One of Zeny’s proudest moments came when she represented the Philippine accounting professionals before the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), which had invited the PICPA President to the 34th International Standards of Accounting and Reporting (ISAR) Conference and Accounting Workshop of Experts held at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland from October 31 to November 3, 2017.  Zeny was also in attendance at the 35th and 36th ISAR Conferences held in 2018 and 2019 in Geneva, and she enthusiastically promoted PICPA’s participation in conferences organized by the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference (APEC).

With her encouragement, PICPA held three international conferences in 2018: in Dubai, UAE in January 2018; Sydney, Australia in June 2018; and London, United Kingdom in June 2018.  And, with her support, PICPA hosted the historic signing of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the Institute and the Professional Regulation Commission, implementing the ASEAN Mutual Recognition Arrangement on Accountancy Services that will recognize the ASEAN Chartered Accountants.

Zeny’s term as National President was also marked by great strides in the improvement of PICPA’s financial position.  The robust financial condition shown in PICPA’s audited financial statements for the fiscal year ending in June 30, 2018 resonated through capital improvements and initiatives to implement systems improvement. These received general acclaim and contributed greatly to the PRC’s conferment of the award as Outstanding Accredited Professional Organization in Accountancy on PICPA in 2019.

At the helm of PICPA, Zeny has promoted social responsibility with micro-enterprise capacity building through the CARD MRI, Inc.; organized free seminars for teachers, barangay and LGU finance officers; and gathered donations for calamity-stricken areas and other entities that were generously shared through the PICPA chapters.

As Chairman of the PICPA Foundation, she has worked for its accreditation with the Philippine Council for NGO Certification, thereby enabling the Foundation to obtain its tax-exempt status. She also directed the First Joint Accounting Research Summit, which brought educators and students together to deliver and publish research findings and output.  She likewise spearheaded the selection of awardees to the Parangal San Mateo Award given in June 2019 , which is conferred on deserving CPAs who exemplified the Foundation’s ideals and are chosen from a national selection of nominees.

An appreciative PICPA conferred on Zeny the Outstanding PICPA Member Award in 2006; hailed her as the Outstanding PICPA Lady President in March 2019; and presented to her the PICPA Honorary Life Member Award in November 2019.  And in recognition of her distinguished achievement in the pursuit of her profession, she was awarded the 2019 Outstanding Alumna of the College of Business Administration of her alma mater, the University of the East, by the UE Alumni Association, Inc.

Yet with all her professional achievements and success, she considers her happy family life as her greatest treasure.  She is married to Luis, a fellow CPA, with whom she has four children: Allan Roy, a lawyer; Louis Paulo, a civil engineer; Isa Portia, who followed in her parents’ footsteps as a CPA; and Carlo Fernando, a financial manager.