In its inaugural list of the ALB Philippines Client Choice list, we put the spotlight on the top lawyers in the country when it comes to client service. These lawyers were selected based on client recommendations sent directly to ALB. The list is in alphabetical order, and certain lawyers have been profiled.
John Jerico L. Balisnomo
Danny E. Bunyi
Nilo T. Divina
Erwin Jay V. Filio
Mark S. Gorriceta
Simeon V. Marcelo
Maria Concepcion P. Simundac
Clarence Darrow C. Valdecantos
Danny E. Bunyi
senior partner, Divinalaw
Bunyi is a senior partner at Divinalaw in Makati City, Philippines.
He has 31 years of legal experience in a wide range of areas including corporate law, banking and ﬁ nance, M&As, cross-border transactions, as well as commercial contract drafting and review.
His work in servicing the ﬁ rms’ clients has paid off with multiple awards in areas of banking and ﬁ nance, corporate and commercial law, private equity and venture capital. He has also been recognized for his work as an external counsel.
Before joining Divinalaw, Bunyi was senior vice president and corporate secretary for the Development Bank of the Philippines, one of the largest government-owned banks in the country.
He solidiﬁ ed his banking background when he assisted one of the largest banks in the world in establishing a branch in the Philippines. He also handled the acquisition of a foreign bank’s assets in behalf of a Philippine bank and eventually helped upgrade the Philippine bank to a full commercial bank. Bunyi also served as counsel for the issuance of preferred shares of a major real estate developer.
Despite the pandemic, he has remained active over the past year. Bunyi served as counsel for a major logistics company to obtain government approval for the entry of a foreign shareholder, assisted a local information bureau in selling the majority of its shares to a foreign entity, and handled the establishment of a trust corporation by the largest insurance company doing business in the Philippines.
“In my interactions with Atty. Bunyi over the years, I have always found him to be extremely professional, efﬁcient and extremely knowledgeable,” says a client. “Speciﬁcally, his knowledge of the law is outstanding and worth admiring. I would deﬁnitely recommend him for his services.”
Nilo T. Divina
managing partner, Divinalaw
Divina is the managing partner at Divinalaw, the ﬁrm he launched in 2006 in the Philippines, halfway through a career focused on a wide range of corporate law.
Before starting Divinalaw, he was executive vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary at Equitable PCI Bank which is now BDO Unibank, Inc. - the biggest bank in the country.
Divina is also a scholar. He has served as the dean of the Faculty of Civil Law at the University of Santo Tomas since 2009. He has also authored four books in Commercial Law that are considered as primary resource material for law students and lawyers alike, including the recently published “Questions & Answers on the Revised Corporation Code” which features a foreword from then-Chief Justice Diosdado M. Peralta. His newest opus, “Divina on Commercial Law: A Comprehensive Guide” (Volume 1 and 2) is set to be released this month.
Divina has been practising law for 31 years across a wide range of areas, from immigration to estates and trusts, to family law and insurance. Through those decades, he has worked on a number of high-proﬁle cases and with big names as clients. Between 2004 and 2006, he acted as general counsel for Equitable PCI Bank when it merged with Banco de Oro Universal Bank, then two of the largest banks in the Philippines.
Divina also served as counsel in relation to a cross-border acquisition of a multinational company engaged in manufacturing electrical components, has worked with foreign ﬁrms in carrying out due diligence on the corporate organization and business presence in multiple countries, acted as counsel for an international internet-based market research and data analytics ﬁrm in the harmonization of its contracts with Philippine law.
Divina has been recognized for his work with multiple awards and is regularly included in top 100 Philippine lawyers list.
“You don’t have to talk to anyone else,” says a client. “Atty. Divina can cover the legal, strategical and taxation sides of any case with excellent results.”
Mark S. Gorriceta
managing partner, Gorriceta Africa Cauton & Saavedra
Gorriceta is the managing partner at Gorriceta Africa Cauton & Saavedra, and also serves as the Head of the Corporate Group and Head of the Technology Media and Telecommunications Group at the ﬁrm.
He has in-depth expertise and experience in complex corporate transactions, commercial contracts, and regulatory matters.
ALB named Gorriceta as the Managing Partner of the Year at the ALB Philippine Law Awards 2020 and that same year he was recognised with several other awards. With all those accolades, it is little wonder that he is widely seen as a leading tech lawyer in the country.
In fact, his pioneering work on digital assets, ﬁntech, blockchain, virtual currencies, e-commerce, data privacy and artiﬁcial intelligence has made him a sought-after legal counsel to the most impactful technology and online companies in the Philippines.
Gorriceta is particularly versed in the ﬁelds of capital markets, M&A and securities law. He was lead counsel to DM Wenceslao & Associates, the real estate developer of Aseana City, on its 8.1-billion peso ($155 million) initial public offering. He was also the lead Philippine counsel to Universal Entertainment Corporation in its issuance of $600 million in 8.5 percent senior notes.
The ﬁrm, Gorriceta Africa Cauton & Saavedra, has also racked up a fair bit of recogni-tion. In 2020, ALB named the Firm as the Technology Media & Telco Law Firm of the Year and Construction and Real Estate Law Firm of the Year at the Philippine Law Awards. In 2019, the Firm was also named by ALB as the Innovative Tech Law Firm of the Year and Technology Media & Telco Law Firm of the Year. In 2016, the ﬁrm won accolades as the Rising Law Firm of the Year at the ALB Philippine Law Awards.
“Mark provides full-service treatment for our ﬁrm to address our requirements and challenges,” says a client. “He is also very responsive and accessible, providing the time necessary to solve our legal needs.”
founding partner, Gulapa Law
With 17 years of legal experience behind him, Gulapa is the founding partner of Gulapa Law in the Philippines.
Throughout his career, Gulapa has made great strides for himself and his namesake ﬁrm. A year after it was established, Gulapa Law had earned recognition from most international legal publications as a leading ﬁrm and Gulapa as one of the top lawyers in the country. ALB named Gulapa Law as one of the Firms to Watch in Asia in 2017 and one of the Best Boutiques in Asia in the same year.
Notably, Gulapa’s ﬁrm is the ﬁrst, and to-date only, Philippine-based ﬁrm to have a full-service ofﬁce in New York City since 2017 as well as a representative ofﬁce in San Francisco since 2018. The ﬁrm also opened an ofﬁce in Cebu in December 2020 and is set to open a new ofﬁce in an emerging Southeast Asian city this year.
Over the years, he has worked with big-name clients such as the Asian Development Bank, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), AC Infrastructure Holdings Corporation, Manila Water, Kyuden International Corporation, Megaworld Corporation, Filinvest Corporation and SM Group among others.
Gulapa himself is qualiﬁed to practice law in the Philippines and New York. From 2006 to 2011, he was also licensed as a foreign legal practitioner in Vietnam. He obtained his JD degree (with honours) from the Ateneo de Manila University School of Law and his LL.M. degree in Trade Regulation (as a Vanderbilt scholar) from the NYU School of Law. Gulapa’s own practice areas include project development, project ﬁnance, construction, corporate law and M&A, and competition law. Much of his experience lies in trade regulations within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which has allowed him to participate in important government projects in the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, and Japan.
“Working with Atty. Aris Gulapa makes me conﬁdent that we will ﬁnd practical solutions to complex and seemingly impossible legal and business problems,” says a client.
Greg Joseph SJ Tiongco
co-managing partner, Tiongco Siao Bello & Associates Law Offices
With a range of specialties spanning an 18-year career, Tiongco is the co-managing partner at Tiongco Siao Bello & Associates Law Ofﬁces (TSB Law).
Tiongco is best known for his work in corporate law, with particular expertise in M&A. He served as corporate counsel to a number of local and international publicly listed companies and their subsidiaries as well as several well-known non-government organisations and foundations.
He further advised on the acquisition of the National Transmission Corporation (TRANSCO), the biggest privatisation deal in the Philippines. Moreover, he supported China Telecom in its participation in the establishment of the Philippines’ “Third Telco” – Dito Telecom. He worked on the establishment of Emerging Power Inc. and advised it on its acquisitions, which facilitated the entry of Nickel Asia into the power sector.
Tiongco also has a long and in-depth labour and management relations practice. He has acted as counsel to one of the biggest international manpower agencies, leading local manpower agencies and to a number of major business process outsourcing companies.
With his seasoned team, TSB Law has participated in various litigations over the last 15 years, including corporate takeovers, contract disputes as well as complex criminal cases.
Tiongco also has extensive experience in data privacy, e-commerce and ﬁnancial technology regulations having provided advice to various healthcare, ﬁnancial and technology companies including the owner of one of the biggest super-apps in Asia.
In 2017, he became an accredited arbiter of the Philippine Dispute Resolution Center. Tiongco previously served as Special Legal Counsel for the Presidential Commission on Good Governance (PCGG) and was a legal consultant to Mandaue City in Cebu.
“Greg has assisted me and my team in strategic and extremely complicated regulatory issues that required a ﬁrm grasp of the law as well as pragmatism and business acumen,” says a client. “It was a pleasure partnering with him and learning about the ins and outs of regulatory legal practice through him and his team.”
To contact the editorial team, please email ALBEditor@thomsonreuters.com.