Philippine Affiliation: Regional Economic Zone Authority, ARMM Philippines
U.S. Affiliation: Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
Aleem Siddiqui Matabalao Guiapal is a descendant of the Sultanate of Rajah Buayan (Royal House of Maguindanao) and great-grandson of Datu Matabalao. Having seen and experienced living as Internally Displaced Person (IDP) in his younger years, he learned to value education as a medium towards self-empowerment. He later translated it into various networking strategies that have brought investors to ARMM and opportunities to other Moro professionals to obtain scholarships in the Philippines and abroad. This had him cited in 2010 as one of the 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre in Jordan.
Guiapal currently serve as executive director of the Regional Economic Zone Authority where he is in charge of the policies, plans, and programs of the economic zones in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) under the leadership of ARMM Regional Governor Mujiv S. Hataman. His major area of interest is in the development of the agricultural industry, tourism, investment and finance and comprehensive sustainable development (REZA 2020 Plan). His ultimate goal is to develop and implement a six-year plan based on the US model of solutions-based economic development that will generate investments and jobs and empower the cooperatives and SMEs in the ARMM.
Prior to joining the ARMM, he serve as Bureau Director of the Muslim Economic Affairs of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos under the Aquino Administration (2011-2016). His flagship program called NCMF Investment Forum and the International Islamic Finance Conference (IIFC) gained international support both from public and private sectors and was honored by the HRD Asia awards 2013 in Jakarta, Indonesia Chaired by President Fidel V. Ramos for His Contribution to Society. His initiatives in the said office also led in the filing of the Bill on Islamic Finance in the Philippine Congress and recommendations to strengthen the Philippine Halal Industry.
He is a consistent academic scholar and Dean’s lister in his student years and member of the first team to represent Mindanao State University – Iligan Institute of Technology in the All Asians Debate. He also represented the said Institute in the Mr. University Philippines. Other than academic leadership award, he was awarded the College Debate Award and the College Dance Award. As a student leader, he held positions as Vice President of the Student Council of Representatives (Notre Dame of Cotabato Boys’ Department), Governor of the School of Law of the Manuel L. Quezon University, and Class President (MDM 2008) of his batch in the graduate school.
Guiapal is an alumnus of the Asian Institute of Management, a Visiting Fellow at American University in Washington DC (US-ASEAN-Philippines Halal Initiatives) and a Visiting Researcher at the Faculty of Economics of Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand. He was awarded Ten Outstanding Muslim Youth (TOMY) in 2008; and cited as the First Filipino Paper Presenter (The Power of Social Network: Organizational Strategy of the Young Moro Professionals Network) at the Harvard Conference, Harvard Project for Asia and International Relations (HPAIR 2009), Boston, USA. He holds a master’s degree in development management, international certificate in enterprise development and resource mobilization, Cross-border Trade (NUS Business School) and a degree in political science (cum laude) and law.