The Association of Certified Public Accountants in Public Practice (ACPAPP) is celebrating its ruby anniversary. Founded in December 1980, it was organized for practicing CPAs’ continuing professional development.

Philippine audit practice consists of giants like SGV & Co., with dozens of partners and small firms with as few as one or two professionals. Large and small firms alternate in heading ACPAPP and last week, Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Emilio B. Aquino inducted its 2020 directors and officers. It’s the turn of small firms this year and Anita C. Rodriguez of Cañete Rodriguez & Co. is president.

National growth requires entrepreneurship, which is hardly possible unless investors, suppliers, lenders, and of course the BIR, receive reliable financial reports. As independent professionals, external auditors provide assurance that company financial statements are up to scratch. Established Manila-based auditing firms are not geared to service multitudes of small clients scattered all over the country and small auditing firms have therefore proliferated.

As I learned the hard way, starting and growing an audit practice is no joke. I was a UP professor and a civil servant before retiring as Minister of Education in 1986, an EDSA casualty. Jobless at 47 with four kids and ₱600,000 from GSIS, I figured my best bet was professional practice—I passed the CPA exam 29 years earlier.

I had to master the equivalent of today’s Philippine Financial Reporting Standards (PFRS), revenue law and regulations, Securities and Exchange Commission, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Insurance Commission, and other issuances, and devise internal policies, systems, and procedures. I had to learn marketing—I knew expenditure management but not revenue generation.


HOUSE OF AUDIT Dedication of La Firenze Building, Laguna with Cardona (Cavite) Mayor Roy M. Loyola, Annie Licarte, the author, and Vivian Bendo; Behind are APAPP President Rico Baluyut, Arlene Aclan, ACPAPP ED Marifi Bautista Maring, and Agnes Aclan.

I was a member of the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA) but there were specialized organizations for CPAs who were teachers, accountants, internal auditors, finance officers of private companies, accountants and auditors in government, and external auditors.

Thinking of shortening my learning curve, I thought I’d join ACPAPP, the association of practicing CPAs. Its then president Leonardo Cabanero, a friend, was very apologetic on letting me know that my application was vetoed by board members from a large firm. In the fullness of time, I joined ACPAPP and was elected president in 2003. By then, my tiny practice (three employees plus me in 1986) was already the profession’s third largest.

Recognizing the large and growing number of small firms in the regions, we initiated the formation of provincial chapters during my year as president. The first was in Laguna, organized by the dynamic Arlene Aclan.

Aclan & Co. had a Makati office then, a small room in Legaspi Village’s Mile-Long Building. Both firm and the Laguna chapter have grown, and last November, the impressive La Firenze Building was inaugurated. Located in Balibago, Sta. Rosa City, it houses the auditing firm and companies of the Aclan children, Synctech Software Solutions, Inc., Mind Your Own Fitness Gym, and La Firenze Function and Events Place.

Congratulations to ACPAPP on its 40th anniversary, to its provincial chapters, and to Aclan & Co., CPAs.

Notes: (a) Before PFRS, there were GAAP and GAAS (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles and Generally Accepted Auditing Standards); (b) Board of Accountancy chairman Noe G. Quiñanola led the corporate toast at the Celebration and (c) This year, Arlene Aclan chairs the ACPAPP Committee for Professional Development – Luzon.

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