Archive for June, 2007

Cebu Explodes

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

That’s right! Cebu explodes with optimism and great enthusiasm towards entrepreneurship, as can be seen from the eyes of the thousands of students and other attendees in the GoNegosyo sa Cebu last Tuesday. It was so well attended that you could barely walk to the front row of the plenary hall of the Cebu International Convention Center. We are fortunate to have a very hard-working co-chair in the GoNegosyo sa Cebu, Islands Souvenirs president Jay Aldeguer. He is also this year’s CBM Entrepreneurship Conference Chairman. CBM is the Cebu Business Month which the Cebu chamber of Commerce and Industry is currently holding. Thus we also had the full support of CCCI as key officials like its president Francis Monera, Sam Chioson, Dr. Mila Espina, Tess Chan and Teri Pono all attended the GoNegosyo.

More than two thousand people attended the opening of GoNegosyo sa Cebu: The Entrepreneurship Conference, which consisted mostly of students from all levels, partner government agencies and of course, Cebu’s most successful as well as budding entrepreneurs. It was so jampacked that the students were seating on the floor that even our special guest PMS Director General Cerge Remonde and Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia found it difficult to go their seats. PCCI president Samie Lim also graced the occasion as we awarded Cebu’s Most Inspiring Entrepreneurs.

The GoNegosyo Caravan in Cebu was truly a tremendous success. Even young students and aspiring entrepreneurs from nearby areas such as Dumaguete and Bohol came and they did the right thing by attending the event which is the first and most important step in wanting to take control of their destiny and achieving their entrepreneurial dreams. I guess this is the first time that the Cebuanos have witnessed a big gathering of the new Philippine stars, the entrepreneurs. Manila-based entrepreneurs Vivienne Tan, Ronald Pineda, Les Reyes, Ray Gapuz, Gov. Lray Villafuerte, Victor Tan, Joel Santos and Professor Jay Bernardo joined our Cebu stars and entrep awardees Bobby Aboitiz, Steve Benitez, Kenneth Cobonpue, Jack Gaisano, Julie Gandionco, Augusto Go, Bernie Liu, William Liu, Michel Lhuiller, Wilson Ng, Norberto Quisumbing, Justin Uy, Melanie Ng, Mike Jurado, Jay Yuvallos and Pete Delantara. We also had entrep educators and DTI-OTOP entrepreneurs who shared their advice and stories during the whole day forum.

GoNegosyo sa Cebu would not have been a success without the involvement of these advocates and mentors and the support of the other partners like CHED, DEP-ED, DTI and TESDA.

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Last column talked about the new Philippine Stars who are the entrepreneurs and I told the Belmonte brothers the best time to really shine as a paper is now since The Philippine Star has always encouraged people by writing positive news even during those darkest days. I am not saying this because I write for the Star or the Belmontes are good friends since the Prietos of Inquirer are also good family friends.

Good news is now IN and bad news is OUT. Not to say that bad news should never be reported but surely it should never be exaggerated to sell a paper. Good news is what will sell today. Rico Hizon who is not your typical OFW in Singapore, aside from anchoring BBC, has a baby project called He too has joined this advocacy of spreading more good news. GoNegosyo believes that we should highlight the positive news because it is what encourages people to have a positive mindset and succeed. So many people are now busy focusing on how to make money thru the stock market. Billions are being raised in the stock market and now every one has a chance to become a multi-millionaire. At last, we now see the beginnings of a new Philippine era. The politicians should allow the new Philippine stars to take the center stage so that we can finally become the shining star in Asia.

The New Philippine Stars

Thursday, June 21st, 2007

You may think I am referring to the Philippine Star newspaper which is ran by the Belmonte brothers Isaac, Kevin and Miguel and their Auntie Gracie, whose combined entrepreneurial abilities have given rise to the circulation of their broadsheet; nor am I referring to the new webpage that Kevin Belmonte initiated of which we have a small investment in.

What I am really referring to as the new Philippine Stars are the entrepreneurs. The Phil Star newspaper has given full support to Go Negosyo over the past months and now they are helping us build the future stars of our country. Phil Star has recently started featuring inspiring entrep stories in the front page of their newspaper thus helping create positive news which the Philippines sorely needs. The Star has always been an advocate of good news, and it has proven this thru its support of Go Negosyo, that it’s not only bad news that sell but also good news. People are fed up of reading bad news and they want to be inspired, they want to be empowered and more informed. They want to have the confidence to pursue their dreams of becoming the new millionaires or billionaires of this country.

We have witnessed fortunes improved dramatically in the last 12 months. In the recent Go Negosyo Caravan presscon, a writer asked me how real is the current report on strong economic growth and how will this trickle down to the masa or the greater Philippine population. My answer to him is if he has been following Go Negosyo for the last 18 months, the basic message we are trying to advocate is that good news shared and published can inspire more people and bring about confidence. We believe that our advocacy of promoting an optimistic and entrepreneurial mindset has somehow helped Filipinos to gain more confidence and to take control of their destiny rather than just complain and not do anything about it. For economic growth to trickle down or for them to benefit and ride with any economic upturn, they must do something productive like start even a small negosyo.

Of course the PGMA government has done its share in managing the fiscal deficit as well as the trade balance. On top of the Philippine growth we have seen greater remittances from OFW workers and a vibrant stock market. Given these circumstances, people might ask: Are we in a dream and when we wake up will it still be there? I can clearly say that this is not a dream and for those who did not just dream but took action by investing in property, stocks, bonds or a negosyo in the last 18 months, have made a fortune. For those who thought they were in a dream and have lost the opportunity to do something about it, it’s not too late if they wake up now and have the WE BELIEVE attitude. So many people are excited of the opportunities that are now coming from investment deals to the series of IPO’s that will hit the market and a lot of new and innovative categories and business models. It is now the year of the new Philippine Stars, the entrepreneurs..the negosyantes.

To emphasize this, we will be awarding the inspiring entrepreneurs of each city where we will have the Go Negosyo caravan. The first leg of the caravan will be in Cebu on June 26-27. I am fortunate to have a very dynamic co-chair Jay Aldeguer, the marketing genius behind the fast-growing Islands Souvenirs shops. For this destination, Go Negosyo works in partnership with the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry headed by Francis Monera and Sam Chioson, in time for their Cebu Business Month. Manila-based entrepreneurs will fly to Cebu to join fellow entreps from the host city in the various forums lined-up. We are expecting the MSME Czar himself Sec. Cerge Remonde and Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia to join us in the awarding ceremonies of the Most Inspiring Cebuano Entrepreneurs.

Aside from the usual Go Negosyo forums, exhibits and book signing session, we will be awarding the 12 most inspiring Cebuano entrepreneurs: Bobby Aboitiz of Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc. and Aboitiz & Co., Steve Benitez of Bo’s Coffee, world famous furniture designer Kenneth Cobonpue, Jack Gaisano of Metro Gaisano Malls, the founder of Julie’s Bakeshop Mrs. Julie Gandionco, Augusto Go who is known and respected both in the Cebu business community and the academe as the president of University of Cebu, creative retailer Bernie Liu of Penshoppe, William Liu who is the owner of Primary Structures Corporation, the man behind the MLhuiller Group of Companies Michel Lhuiller, technopreneur Wilson Ng of Ng Khai Development Corporation, automotive giant Norberto Quisumbing of Norkis Trading Corp. and the humble Justin Uy who exports his world-renowned Philippine Brand Mango in 42 countries. The awardees and other Cebuano entreps shall be joining us in the interesting forums we will be having during the day so we invite the general public, the youth, the students to join us at the Cebu International Convention Center on June 26 and more expos that will take place at the SM City Cebu. Admission in both the forum and expos, as always, is free. As we go to Bacolod, Cagayan de Oro etc., we shall be mounting the same forums and recognizing as well the most inspiring entreps from these areas.

It is also high time we make known the corporations and institutions who help spread the advocacy of entrepreneurial optimism nationwide and they are Globe, Pagcor, SM Supermalls, PLDT-Smart, Hyundai, Island Souvenirs, CICC and Marriott Cebu. Thank you for partnering with us.

And of course to Philippine Star, congratulations for being the first newspaper to sell more good news and for taking part in creating the new Philippine stars.

The True Meaning of Success

Thursday, June 14th, 2007

This column will deviate a bit from the usual topics of Go Negosyo and will talk about what to me is a true definition of success in life. On June 15, my parents will be celebrating their 50th Wedding Anniversary and will be taking their vows in a church in romantic Paris after attending the canonization of Sister Marie Eugenie de Jesus Milleret, the nun who founded Assumption in Rome. Sometimes, many of us define success in its purely material way and I always want to share that success is succeeding in different areas that are equally important in life like marriage and family, spirituality and health. The world normally gauges success in the amount of material wealth and the amount of power or influence we have. To reach 50 years of marriage nowadays is quite rare. In fact as an entrepreneur gains much success, marriage and family tend to take a back seat and temptations do set in.

In being a successful entrepreneur, it is important that your spouse is supportive or oftentimes your partner as well in business, and in a way it is your family that becomes the reason why you want to strive harder. As we look at other negosyantes with successful marriages like Henry Sy Sr., whose wife Felicidad I am told is a devout Catholic, John Gokongwei whose wife Elizabeth has been the influence in his life and still a lot of others out there, we get amazed and inspired at how they have managed to keep a closely knit family and a happy marriage while at the same time being extremely successful in running their business empires.

We are 8 children and all of us are married, and so far I would say we have been mentored quite well, almost all have stable and happy marriages. My father was supposed to be a priest and my mother a nun. They are both devout Catholics and as young kids whenever we watch TV and there was a kissing scene, my parents made us close our eyes. This is the same practice we now do with our own children. God has blessed them with 27 grandchildren with my daughter Isabella being the latest addition.

Today with more Filipinos leaving their spouses to help alleviate the material conditions of their family overseas, the chances of keeping their marriage is much less and this is the social cost our nation has to pay. But these people in a way don’t have better alternatives if they want to see their children get into better schools and move up in life.

My parents’ marriage is not perfect and not all marriages will ever be. But despite my father’s busy schedule when he was starting as a negosyante and as an advocate in many civic organizations, he made sure my mom’s attention was met. As far as I know we are 8 children no more than that (well the truth comes out only when you die and people start appearing, just kidding). I believe the formula of success in my parents reaching 50 years of marriage is that they have spent time in making it work equally to what someone would do with a business. They have a strong spiritual foundation thru these years which have bound their marriage. Congratulations mom and dad for inspiring us to achieve the real true success not just in business but in marriage and family.

Let me share with you what my brothers and sisters have to say:

My parents taught me to always place God at the center of the family. The family that prays together stays together. There is no perfect marriage, both have to believe in the sanctity of marriage and of its vows. Both have to put in their best to make it work. 50 years after, 8 children, 8 in laws, 27 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild are the fruits of their union together. Arthur and I will be turning 25 years this December, that is just half of where my parents have gone through. But what they both taught me has helped my own marriage.

Dearest dad and mom, from my heart to both your hearts united in Jesus, a happy 50th year golden celebration of love and compassion. May God continue to bless and grace our family now and forever.

My parents’ marriage isn’t always perfect, they have their good days and their bad days as everyone does. But their marriage has always been strong and committed. They have always placed God at the center of their life and our family. They have shown me what loyalty, fidelity and perseverance means. I have seen that love really does bear all things unconditionally. I’ve seen my mom stand by my dad through every challenge in his life. Through jail, through elections, through public service, against any and all odds, my parents have stood together and they always will. They have been an inspiration in this way. It is one constant that I have always known, that they would be together forever.So on their 50th wedding anniversary, my wish is that my dad slows down and spends more time with my mom and our family. Life is short and what is most important is the love that surrounds you day by day. May you have many, many more years together!

My Dad and Mom have been married for half a century! 8 children, 25 grandchildren and 2 angels comprise the Concepcion-Araneta clan. As their 5th child, I am very grateful that I have parents who remain married. It is the value I wish me and all my siblings will follow as it entails unending love despite anything and everything. It is giving of oneself for another. It is commitment. With God in the marriage, how blessed can they be. Dad and Mom, thank you for being great parents.

Dad and mom’s marriage will probably be a template for my own marriage – but with some editing down the stretch. It is evidently deeply God-centered and family first. Dad may have his pendulum swings of temperament but he is such a teddy-bear softie at heart who dotes on his grandchildren a lot. Mom is the ever-protective, overly concerned mother hen who takes to prayer primarily when some of the flock veer off course. One common trait I admire is how they live such a simple and straightforward married life. Two simple living souls with God-centered, family-first roots should be a recipe forheaven.

It is said that no matter how thinly you slice it, there will always be two sides. On the one side is heaven; on the other is … purgatory? Marriage is a continuing and supposed-to-be improving relationship. It should be more than a medium for propagating the species. Since eight of eight of us were ‘propagated’, their relationship must have been great at the start. However, we all tend to lose it all lot and so do my parents now more so then ever late in life. But through the difficulties, cracks, clashes and falls, they have persevered … still together.

My parents are wonderful people, as individuals they are unique and together they have become even more special. Their dedication to each others lives and to the commitment they made 50 years ago is incredible. What has inspired me most is their patience for each other and most especially their constant support for each others causes.

My parents are perfect examples of placing God before oneself which Dondi and I try to emulate. I thank God for them and pray that they will have many happy and healthy years ahead.

Being the youngest in the family of 8 and the last to get married gave me the opportunity to learn the virtue of true understanding and selfless love from my parents who have nurtured and constantly guided me to be who I am now. I have always looked up to Mom and Dad with utmost respect because they continue to lead by example. God is always placed in the center of their lives. They have always been caring and sharing to their community most especially the poor. Their sense of love and pridefor our country has given each of their children a sense of loyalty and pride to our motherland. But most of all, they are true to their commitment of loving each other for 50 years.

On their Golden Anniversary, each day is truly a celebration of a wonderful blessing. Looking at each moment with great pride, I continue to pray for you and hope that I too may follow your way.

Happy 50 years Anniversary Mom and Dad. Thank you for being that great example to us. We love you so much.

We Believe (Part 2)

Thursday, June 7th, 2007

Last week’s column talked about the power of WE BELIEVE and how these two words can convert this pessimistic society into a nation filled with optimism. Even with the stock market hitting new heights and the peso closing at the 45 levels, there are still a number of Filipinos who don’t believe what is happening and think this is all orchestrated. These are the people who have missed on an opportunity and will continue to miss on many things as they have gotten stuck to a pessimistic attitude. Given that all economic fundamentals are in place and showing stronger performance, people should ride with the growth rather than be doubtful or cynical. The benefit of growth will not automatically trickle down to the people if they themselves do not do something productive such as venturing into business.

Many years ago, I used to have this attitude and thought that the Philippines was a hopeless case. One day I said to myself I might as well migrate to another country if I continue to have this kind of defeatist attitude. Ever since then, I decided to accept the fact that our country has problems and that we should get involved and find ways to contribute to its success.

After selling Cosmos for a good price, I felt that if I could share what I went through with more people then maybe it would be the start of creating more negosyantes. I guess this role of helping as an advisor to this administration has given me a greater purpose in life. It feels good to see this country moving forward and see those entrepreneurs who continued to believe even during the darkest days of the Philippines economy be rewarded.

Take for example the Lopez family who are the relatives of my mother who had been hit with the Asian crisis but continued to remain firm in their vision and held on to their business. They are now seeing a turn around on their stock which was trading below 1 peso and has now breached the 5 peso levels. That is a fantastic five-fold increase in just one year! A lot of stock market price have doubled or tripled and even our own companies RFM and Swift which we’re trading at half its value have doubled.

It’s still not too late for others who want to benefit from this booming economy. What we need is an attitude change. The number one bestseller Go Negosyo book of 50 Inspiring Entrepreneurial Stories speaks of more people wanting to move up in life and make their first million. These entreps possess the “We Believe” attitude and are now enjoying the effects of their positive attitude.

Let’s focus on the economy. Now that the election is over, we hope and pray that everyone should turn their focus in contributing what’s good for the economy because what is good for the economy will be good for everyone. This is like the traditional “bayanihan spirit” where everyone works for a common good. Now is the time for the business sectors, politicians and the rest of our country men to unite and support the remaining years of PGMA. Like that basketball team I mentioned in last week’s column who cheered and used WE BELIEVE as their mantra. Let’s cheer the same words for our country.

Let me share with you more excerpts from our readers:

Yes I think the economy is for REAL.

TRANSPARENCY IN ALL GOVERNMENT TRANSACTIONS – I think this is one task that our government should prioritize. While for us, private individuals, let’s pray for our country to be united. We still have a chance to show the world that democracy is working in this country.

In my opinion, the country’s economic progress is for real once the financial status of our poor kababayans increases. The cause of poverty is fear and ignorance. I suggest the government and private individual must focus on self-development because their attitude is what really counts more than IQ and skills.

I think the country’s economic progress is for real. The government should focus now on the economy by improving the peace and order situation, in order to attract more tourists and earn their dollars, so that it can further improve our peso exchange rate. We also need to create more jobs, so that our OFW need not to work at foreign land and increase the salaries of our public school teachers so that they can concentrate or focus on teaching the pupils and not their sidelines.

I would say that it is for real, for many have recognize and felt the changes around especially the business sector. It is important that we (the government, business people, middle class and the poor) support each other and maintain the ball rolling. If not, we will not be able to attain the required level of the economy’s growth and will fall back immediately with a loud “bang” where we came from; we all suffer for we are all in the same boat.

Yes I do believe that the economy is rising… as they always say… “numbers do not lie.” However, there is no clear answer as to whether people (like me) really feel the economic uproar… even if we are preaching that the economy is getting better, the buying power remains the same. If the price of a basic commodity remains the same for the longest time, then the economy improved. For us to really improve, let us put corruption in check. Give more budget to education and health. Of course this is easier said than done, but hope springs eternal.

I would surmise that improving economic indicators since last year can only be considered tangible and beneficial, if its effects has trickled down to the micro-level – in short, does it have a direct correlation to the market indicators directly affecting the common Filipino in his daily life? Economic progress may have been successfully established but I think the most effectual way to gauge this, is to correlate this with the present standard of living of the Filipino – average income, spending capacity, and the like.

They perceive that the economy is getting better because they gauge it through the continuous appreciation of the Peso, which is due to the influx of OFW’s dollar, not the investor’s dollar. The government should attract investors to infuse their dollar in solid, concrete investments that could create jobs and employment. Not in speculative portfolio investments. We, the citizenry could also contribute our share by paying our taxes honestly.

I’d like to say that to some extent, the effect of the steady growth in our economy is now slowly being felt by some “privileged” sectors. The term “privileged” refers to industries and business sectors who were able to position themselves in the forefront of competition among the major players who drive the economic growth engines. Some of these industries are already starting to share to their constituents the positive effect they are gaining…But the real challenge I think for the government to make ordinary Filipinos feel the impact of the recent economic gains is to empower SMEs and other community-based entrepreneurship.