By Floro L. Mercene
Before World War II, Don Antonio Floirendo, a mining engineer by profession, started a small business in Divisoria. After a few years as his business thrived, he decided to branch out to other enterprises.
When the national government embarked on a program to develop Mindanao following WW II, Don Antonio tried his luck in Davao. Together with his wife and brother-in-law, they came to Mindanao with the view of establishing new businesses there. As the exclusive dealer of Ford vehicles, he opened the Mindanao Motors Corp. in Cagayan de Oro on February 11, 1947, the first ever vehicle distribution company in Mindanao. Then followed the Davao Motor Sales (DAMOSA) on April 14, 1948, in Davao City.
A few decades later, Don Antonio became the supplier of Ford vehicles, including pickup trucks, engines, and machinery, that almost all private vehicles running in Mindanao came from his dealership. For his success, he was acknowledged as “The man who put Mindanao on wheels.”
In 1950, Don Antonio bought a 60-hectare land in Marapangi, Toril, Davao City, funded by his two companies. With an initial 25,000 head of swine, he put up the Nenita Stock Farms becoming the biggest piggery in Asia. This enabled Don Antonio to create his “Triple A” abattoir, recognized as the most modern slaughterhouse in Asia.
Not one to rest on his laurels, Don Antonio established the Tagum Agricultural Development Company, Inc. (Tadeco) on December 20, 1950. Fortune Magazine recognized the plantation as “the biggest abaca plantation in the world.” The Bureau of Prisons in the Davao Penal Colony forged an agreement with Tadeco to take charge of the abaca farming within their 200-hectare property.
Don Antonio Floirendo became the president of the Davao Abaca Producers Association (DAPA) and Tadeco was frequently visited by Philippine presidents, being the head of icon companies promoting progress and care.
On April 2, 1951, President Elpidio Quirino signed Proclamation 247 allotting 1,023.8574 hectares of the Dapecol land to Tadeco. On March 18, 1953, Don Antonio opened the Panabo Hemp Company, Inc. This is an affirmation that before the creation of Tadeco, the Floirendo’s already owned and operated billion-peso worth of assets.
(To be continued)