Director, Global Advisory and Analysis, Devex
Based out of the Devex Manila office, Pete runs Devex’s global research and consulting operations and monitors key trends in the international development business. Prior to joining Devex, Pete was a political and security risk consultant. In that role, he advised leading multinational companies, international organizations and embassies on the complexities of doing business in Asia, particularly the Philippines. An experienced emerging markets consultant, Pete was also a member of the Iraq Policy and Operations Group – the U.S. government’s interagency strategic planning, program management, and communications office for Iraq affairs. Pete is a principal author of the implementation guidance tools for the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights – a globally recognized standard for extractive companies operating in developing countries. He holds a Master’s Degree from Georgetown University and a Project Management Professional certification from the Project Management Institute.
Executive Director, Philippine Business for Social Progress
Rafael “Rapa” Lopa is executive director of Philippine Business for Social Progress, the country’s largest corporate-led social development foundation. He oversees PBSP operations and the implementation of the foundation’s poverty reduction programs. Passionate for his country, he has been involved in development work in the Philippines for more than two decades. In the 1980s, he immersed himself as a community organizer in rural villages and then served as executive assistant to former President Corazon C. Aquino. Rapa has focused much of his attention on microfinance and ventured into social business enterprise experiments, including as chairperson of MicroVentures, a social business enterprise that empowers women entrepreneurs involved in the retail sector. Rapa is also president of the Ninoy and Cory Aquino Foundation and on the board of the microfinance foundations PinoyMe and ASA Philippines.
John D. Forbes
Senior Adviser, American Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines
John Forbes is a senior adviser at the American Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines and senior counselor at Vriens & Partners, an Asia-focused corporate advisory firm. As chairman of the American Chamber’s Legislative Committee he has worked in the Philippines for more than 16 years and has invaluable experience in assisting companies to pursue trade and investment opportunities in the country. His clients have included Anheuser Busch, Boeing, McDonnell Douglas, Occidental Petroleum, as well as the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank and USAID. Prior to his time with the American Chamber of Commerce, John had been an American diplomat for nearly 25 years, a career which included several spells in the Philippines. He attended Georgetown, Princeton and Harvard universities and has published monographs on Jamaica and the Philippines. John is also the principal author of Arangkada! – a comprehensive 10-year road map whose objective is to help create $75 billion in new foreign direct investment, 10 million jobs and 1 trillion pesos in revenue for the Philippine government.
Marites is editor-at-large at social news network Rappler and one of the Philippines’ most accomplished journalists. For nearly a decade, she was editor-in-chief of Newsbreak magazine, a pioneer in Philippine investigative journalism. Her book “Shadow of Doubt: Probing the Supreme Court,” (2010) became a best-seller, exposing weaknesses in the country’s highest court. Concurrently, the book has also earned her two libel suits filed by Supreme Court Justice Presbitero Velasco. Unmoved by regular harassment including death threats, Marites has published a second volume on the Supreme Court, her newest book “Hour Before Dawn: The Fall and Uncertain Rise of the Philippine Supreme Court” (2012). She has won a number of awards including the National Book Award in Journalism for her pioneering book, “Power from the Forest: the Politics of Logging” (1993), and “Under the Crescent Moon: Rebellion in Mindanao” (2000), with Glenda M. Gloria. She was given the Courage in Journalism Award by the U.S.-based International Women’s Media Foundation in 1991 for her exposés on the plunder of Palawan’s forests and was listed among 50 Global Leaders by the consulting firm Eurasia Group in 2006. Marites founded the Philippine Centre for Investigative Journalism and heads the Journalism for National Building Foundation. She was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University and holds postgraduate degrees from the London School of Economics and the University of the Philippines.
Chairman, Applied Planning & Infrastructure, Inc.
Richard Hirsch is chairman of Applied Planning & Infrastructure, Inc., a Philippine firm formerly known as Louis Berger Group Philippines, Inc. APII was established in 2012 to participate in the Philippines’ public-private partnership program. A longtime resident of the Philippines, Richard was senior vice president and partner at the Louis Berger Group from 2001 to 2012. During his more than 25 years of service at the Louis Berger Group, Richard led pioneering initiatives for the company to open markets in the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia and South Sudan, successfully negotiating and managing a diverse portfolio of sustainable development contracts funded by USAID, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and private clients, including the Growth with Equity in Mindanao (GEM) program in the Philippines. Richard serves as a technical expert in the fields of development communications, public diplomacy and capacity building, has an Anthropology degree from Macalester College, and is currently engaged with Indigenous Cultural Communities in southern Mindanao and Kalinga to plan livelihood enterprises and facilitate consultations with tribal elders and community leaders.