Yalong is the third leg of the tripod that keeps GMA standing. The two others, of course, are chair Felipe L. Gozon and president Gilberto R. Duavit Jr.
Like many of the Philippines’ movers and shakers, Yalong was a “graduate” of SGV & Co., the country’s top accounting firm. One of his closest friends there was Jaime J. Bautista, the current president and chief operating officer (COO) of flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL).
From the rival
He has been with the company since 2002 and aside from being in charge of finances, he also sits on the company’s board of directors. In 2010, GMA 7 posted a net profit of about P3 billion, so Yalong and the rest of the management team must be doing something right.
But before helping steer GMA into the behemoth that it is today, Yalong, like many in the industry, started out with the rival company, ABS-CBN.
“I got an invitation from Geny Lopez to join ABS-CBN. I started out as comptroller, and my boss at the time was Gaby Lopez, who was finance director,” Yalong says in a recent interview with the Inquirer.
“I saw how ABS-CBN grew. I was there when they became number 1,” he says. His apprentice at the time was, not surprisingly, Rolando Valdehueza, ABS-CBN’s current CFO.
He recounts how ABS-CBN reaped the benefits of the end of Martial Law in more ways than most people at the time.
When leading networks’ IBC 13 and RPN 9 were sequestered, the leading TV programs at the time had but one place to move to: ABS-CBN.
This, together with a sparkling initial public offering (IPO), gave ABS-CBN the content and resources it needed to climb to the top of the country’s television industry.
“For some time, ABS-CBN monopolized the industry. They controlled close to 70 percent of the market,” Yalong says.
Like all good things though, his stint with ABS-CBN had to end. He left the company after a decade and, as a courtesy to his boss the late Geny Lopez, Yalong refused to take a job at other broadcast companies, despite several requests.