The University of Santo Tomas conferred the Doctor of Commerce degree, honoris causa, upon the Founder and Chairman Emeritus of Wilcon Builders’ Foundation, Inc., Mr. William T. Belo on September 28, 2023, at the Dr. Robert Sy Grand Ballroom, Bl. Buenaventura García Paredes O.P. Building.
The honoris causa degree recognizes a distinguished person’s significant contributions within a specific field or to society in general. UST Graduate School Dean Prof. Michael Anthony C. Vasco, Ph.D., in his address of petition, commended Belo not only for the heights of his business acumen, but also for his belief of providing support for human development by sharing the fruits of his success through avenues like the Wilcon Builders’ Foundation, which provides educational assistance to underprivileged children and individuals, helps victims of calamities, and aids efforts to protect the environment.
UST Rector Very Rev. Fr. Richard G. Ang, O.P., Ph.D., said that “This occasion is also a fitting tribute to Mr. Belo’s humble beginnings and cherished personal values. His upbringing was marked by perseverance, and resourcefulness, and simplicity, as well as resilience in the face of adversity. Those things taught him that greatness comes from the crucible of hardships.”
The Father Rector also remarked that Belo’s business acumen led him to pioneering ventures and his innovative approaches have given birth to thriving enterprises and opened doors for countless individuals. He added that “As an Electronics and Communications Engineering graduate [in 1973], he understood that education is a cornerstone of innovation and progress… His legacy will continue to inspire generations of Thomasians to reach their lofty ideals and embrace innovation without neglecting time-honored traditions.”
In his acceptance speech, Belo shared his first steps toward his dreams. He credited his strong drive to succeed to his Thomasian education, saying that to run a business, “You must always be hands on and ahead of the curve. Hard work beats talent when talent does not work hard.”
Belo recalled, “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 [in 1977].”
“It’s not enough that I had a dream, it’s not enough that I was well-equipped with knowledge and skill, I must apply myself to work in my mission in business, learn from mistakes, and continuously adjust, improve, and innovate,” emphasized Belo.
Belo also thanked the people who helped and continue to help Wilcon develop, saying that “One reality of running a business is you cannot do it alone. If you want to continually grow, a business’ success is owed to a lot of people. You must build meaningful, mutually beneficial, and enriching relationships.”
From the first Wilcon store along Quezon Avenue, Belo has since expanded its operations and eventually established Wilcon Builder’s Depot and Wilcon Home Essentials as names trusted by industry professionals, home enthusiasts, and homeowners nationwide. Wilcon Depot now carries a wide variety of local and international products and services. Other positions held by Belo include being the Designo Atelier Inc., Director, Markeenlo Realty, Inc. Director, and Coral Agri-Venture Farm, Inc. President.
As of 2023, Wilcon, now led by its President Lorraine Belo-Cincochan, has a total of 86 operating stores nationwide, with 18 branches in Metro Manila and 68 more stores in key cities and municipalities of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. He has also previously received the 2022 The Outstanding Thomasian Alumni (TOTAL) Award, the 2019 The Manila Times: Man of the Year at the Asia Leaders Award, the 2018 ASEAN Business Awards, the 2018 UST Engineering Hall of Fame and Outstanding Thomasian Engineer, the 2017 President’s Award of the Philippine Retailers Association in cooperation with the Department of Trade and Industry, and many more awards in his long career.