PA Joey Concepcion with daughter, Catherine.

It is almost 5 a.m. this early Tuesday morning, June 4, when I decided to write this column. It’s the 26th birthday of my daughter Catherine. In two-nights’ time, on June 7, she will wed her husband-to-be Roman Oscar Javier Lopez Puno. They’ve been together for almost nine years, half of which was spent in a long-distance relationship. While others would deem that a hurdle too challenging, it only strengthened their resolve and commitment to each other. They are each other’s first and only relationship. As my mother is a Lopez-Araneta, this makes them third distant cousins, making us even more like family.

My friends have been telling me to get ready to cry as it’s different when you’re giving away your little girl. I know my wife Marissa will cry as she always does.

Last Saturday, I was surprised to see the lifestyle editor of The Philippine STAR Millet Mananquil pen a beautiful story about my wife and me. Family is so important to both of us, and we’ve dedicated our life as a married couple to ensure that we protect, provide, and give our children the best life possible.

I have realized that as a father, what really drives us to succeed as individuals, entrepreneurs, professionals, and workers is our love for family. In my 14 years of helping small entrepreneurs through Go Negosyo and working as an adviser to two presidents, I have seen that regardless of status and class, we are all driven by love for family. We all want to build and provide a good future for our loved ones.

I have been incredibly blessed in my own life, and while I have been able to take care of my own family, other Filipinos have not been given the same fair opportunity and capacity. This should not be the case. It’s an injustice and this is why I’ve fought so hard and continue to fight for other Filipinos so that they may have the chance to thrive and succeed through mentorship and entrepreneurship. Speaking as a parent, there is no greater joy and pride than to be able to provide for your family. To Filipinos, we all know, family is everything.

Both my mom and dad are in their mid-80s now and I’m so glad that they are still with us today to witness our family grow, with their granddaughter on the path to starting her own brood soon. Catherine is very close to my mom. In fact, when she was a baby, she would sleep next to her.

It was from my own loving parents – who put in the time to mold and mentor us – that I’ve learned how to become a good parent (well, I hope my children would agree). I have realized that if one’s success is not motivated by the love of family, many things can go wrong. But if you act and lead with love, you can only expect more blessings to come into your life and your family to flourish.

Catherine will be the second child of mine to get married. I have a grandson now, a cute baby boy named Alonzo, and I look forward to seeing my other three children find love and start families of their own so that they, too, may experience the joy of being a parent. I do hope that my wife and I will be blessed with a long and healthy life to see all my children  walk down the aisle and be blessed with more grandchildren. I hope that what I have learned from my own parents – unconditional love, hard work, and duty to the greater good – which I have taught my own children will be passed on to the next generation. God’s greatest gift is, indeed, family, and for that, I’m thankful for mine.

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Last Monday, June 3, I had a meeting with Transportation Secretary Art Tugade, Land Transportation Office Chief Asec. Ret. Gen. Edgar Galvante and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board chair Martin Delgra III to discuss pro-poor digitalization initiatives.

DOTr expressed its full support to the digitalization of micro-entrepreneurs and, in fact, shared programs of the agency on training and mentorship that could be aligned to the ongoing pro-poor digitalization efforts of my office and Go Negosyo. DOTr’s flagship program Tsuper Iskolar with TESDA aims to train people, such as rebel returnees, to get them ready for the Public Utility Vehicles (PUV) modernization program.

During the meeting, Sec. Tugade concurred with the utmost importance of connectivity in the three pillars of inclusive growth (tourism, agribusiness, and digitalization) which I presented. He said that while the digitalization framework addresses the systems aspect of connectivity, Secretary Tugade emphasized the relevance of infrastructure in the framework.

We will work closely with the DOTr in equipping and empowering entrepreneurs in the transportation sector to become adept with the digitalization processes.

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