UST confers an honorary doctor of commerce degree upon William Belo, an electronics and communications engineering alumnus, who founded Wilcon Depot, the country’s largest distributor of homebuilding essentials, on Thursday, Sept. 28, at the Dr. Robert Sy Grand Ballroom. (Photos by Patrice Jerica A. Beltran/ The Varsitarian)

THE UNIVERSITY conferred an honorary Doctor of Commerce degree on William Belo, founder and chairman emeritus of Wilcon Depot Inc., in a solemn investiture on Sept. 28 at the Dr. Robert Sy Grand Ballroom of the Buenaventura Garcia Paredes, O.P. Building. 

Belo, a graduate of UST’s Electronics and Communications Engineering program, founded Wilcon Depot in 1977, which has become the country’s largest distributor of homebuilding essentials. 

In his acceptance speech, Belo emphasized that starting a business was “no walk in the park” and required commitment beyond having the knowledge and skills. 

“It is not enough that I have a dream, a vision,” Belo said. “It is not enough that I was equipped with the knowledge and the skills. But, I must apply myself to work in my mission in business, learn from mistakes, and continuously adjust, improve, and innovate.”

The engineering alumnus also recalled how he started his business on Quezon Avenue, the location of the first Wilcon outlet, which has now expanded to over 70 stores nationwide. 

“Armed with very little capital but with overflowing confidence in my Thomasian education and ability to make things happen, through sheer hard work plus an undeniable passion for building and growing a business, I went ahead and opened my humble 60-square meter hardware store, which I called Wilcon, along Quezon Avenue,” Belo said.

Belo’s humble beginnings, according to UST Rector Fr. Richard Ang, O.P., can be credited for instilling resilience in the Wilcon Depot founder. 

“His upbringing, marked by perseverance, resourcefulness, simplicity as well as resilience in the face of adversity–those things taught him that greatness comes from the crucible of hardships,” Ang said. 

“He is a man of vision,” the Rector added. “His leadership in the corporate world has not only revolutionized the industries but also created opportunities for economic growth in the Philippines.” 

Belo was conferred the honorary degree upon the recommendation of the Faculty of Engineering and the UST Graduate School. 

Prof. Michael Anthony Vasco, the Graduate School dean, who read the address of petition for the degree, said Wilcon Depot revolutionized the hardware store concept and gave consumers a wider selection of homebuilding materials.

The College of Commerce and Business Administration dean, Assoc. Prof. Leonardo Canoy Jr., read Belo’s diploma.

In 2022, Belo was also recognized by the University with The Outstanding Thomasian Alumni Award for Accountancy, Business, and Management.

Belo was also conferred the UST Engineering Alumni Association, Inc. Presidential Award and The Manila Times Man of the Year of the Asia Leaders Award in 2019.

In 2018, he was inducted into the UST Engineering Hall of Fame and named Outstanding Thomasian Engineer.

“His (Belo’s) legacy will continue to inspire generations of Thomasians to reach their lovely ideals and embrace innovation without neglecting time-honored traditions,” Ang said. 

Belo is the 80th individual to receive an honorary doctorate degree from UST, which is given “to honor a distinguished person’s contributions within a specific field or to society in general.”


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