Cantilan Bank Celebrates 30 Years of Progressive and Excellent Community Banking Services

More than 500 attendees packed into a basketball gymnasium in Cantilan’s town square to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Cantilan Bank. The gala highlighted the banks remarkable growth over the past three decades and underscored the important role microfinance services played in their success.

MABS started working with Cantilan Bank 11 years ago, when it had just three branches and 35 employees. Now, the bank is 260 employees strong with 12 branches across Surigao. The bank-wide loan portfolio grew from around P50M to P652M. The number of microfinance borrowers is 39% of Cantilan’s total borrowers with a client base of over 8,400 hard-working microentrepreneurs, small farmers, and store owners. The number of deposit accounts is 58,522 with P524M in deposits. More importantly, there are 3 depositors to every borrower, and voluntary savings by micro-depositors comprise 50% of total microloans outstanding. Indeed, the bank has grown drastically by continuously evolving to better serve their clients.

Recently, Cantilan has progressed from a 4th class municipality to a 2nd class municipality, a ranking based on the collective annual income of the town. Beyond any doubt, the growth of the bank facilitated Cantilan’s economic development and provided a better life to the citizens of the region.

Cantilan has been on the forefront of innovation in rural banking, becoming the first rural bank based in Surigao to offer automated teller machine (ATM) services and among the first rural banks in the country to embrace mobile phone banking services powered by GCASH platform. Additionally, Cantilan Bank was among the first rural banks to participate in the MABS program back in 1999.

President and Chairman of the Board Lt. Gen. William K. Hotchkiss III (Ret.) addressed the audience with inspiring words and described the bank’s latest efforts. “[Cantilan Bank does] dedicated and committed countryside banking and development services to the people, to the communities which we serve,” stated Lt. Gen. Hotchkiss. Over the past year, the bank has piloted financial inclusion programs to unreached sectors of the community, allocated resources to environmental improvement and sustainable farming initiatives, joined the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting to ensure peaceful elections throughout the country, and made a formal stance against the mining activities that are destroying the mountainsides and watersheds. Finally, Lt. Gen. Hotchkiss was proud to announce the bank’s commitment to the principals of consumer protection and transparency. “Cantilan Bank is no longer just about the financial bottom line,” he declared. “We are beyond that. Maybe a step, maybe two steps, beyond that.”

Deputy Governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Nestor A. Espenilla, Jr. then took the stage to congratulate the bank on its 30 years of dedicated service. “I am here to celebrate with you an institution that has exemplified the true essence of community banking,” he told the crowd. “Your participation in this endeavor is a powerful indication of your commitment to your clients’ well-being.”

He went on to say that Cantilan Bank has extended well beyond a traditional bank. “What makes [Cantilan] different is its willingness and imagination to try innovative techniques and new approaches that transcend traditional banking practices to serve its community.”

With at least 200 shareholders, rather unusual for a rural bank, Deputy Governor Espenilla said that Cantilan has the institutional strength and stability to ensure its success for many years to come. He continued, “Let me assure you that Bangko Sentral will support you in this task.”

MABS Chief of Party John Owens and Deputy Chief of Party Mely Agabin provided the attendees with a look back on the past 11 years since the MABS-Cantilan Bank partnership began. They emphasized to the bank and its employees how proud they should be of the work they have accomplished and their contributions to the economic development of the region.

During his remarks, Mr. Owens reminded the bank’s employees of a quote Lt. Gen. Hotchkiss said ten years ago: “When I was in high school, I said to myself that whatever I make of myself in this world, when I retire I would like to go back to the provinces and give back to my community. I have made good on this promise.” Yes, he has. The impact his bank has had on this community is indisputable.

Cantilan Bank’s commitment to its clients, employees and partners was evident throughout the night, culminating in an awards ceremony that recognized two outstanding microfinance clients, 15 employees for their loyalty in service and five partners, including MABS. The night also included an entertaining dance number from the talented branch heads that brought the crowd to its feet.

The RBAP-MABS program with the support of USAID congratulates Cantilan Bank for its many years of success and continued dedication to microfinance services.

Until next time, Mabuhay ang Cantilan Bank!