Archive for July, 2007

The Crystal Ball

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

The SONA speech of PGMA was great. This is the usual comment of fellow entrepreneurs. The President showed that she really means business and she wants to seriously leave behind a deep and solid legacy. She did speak in full confidence since the Philippine economy is indeed much better than what we had during her last SONA. The peso has hit the Php 44 mark and the stock market has risen almost 2 to 3 times. Even the attitude of other people who wanted to see her impeached has totally changed. This is proof again that the bottom line of every President’s performance or report card is the Philippine economy. Whatever people say, it’s the economy of the country that will gauge the success of the President.

So what does the crystal ball say for the Philippines? Exciting times are ahead for many people who want to be part of this ‘gold rush’. Still, many questions are raised. What happens to those in the C, D and E sector and how can they benefit from this gold rush? It’s been only less than a year since we have seen this stock market and the peso appreciated. On the peso appreciation, despite the world price of oil hovering at $73 per barrel, the peso appreciation definitely tempered the world oil price impact on local fuel and power prices. Can you imagine the impact if the dollar were at Php56/$1, with oil price at $73? People even say that oil prices may even hit 100 dollars/barrel. What would its impact be? Also, commodity prices all over the world from corn, wheat, sugar, milk etc. have increased, partly due to impact of oil price inputs and also due to supply contraction in some commodities. The current trend of traders betting or hedging on commodities also magnifies the issues. Moreover, uses and demand for these commodities have expanded that drive up their prices. For example, there are moves to use alternative energy sources like bio-fuels using sugar and corn. Weather patterns are also changing that affect supply conditions and prices of these commodities. Almost all these commodities are imported, including some medicines and other critical products. Thus, a much stronger peso has significantly minimized the cost pressures of these items thus leading to relatively more stable consumer prices. This is where the ordinary Filipino has benefited.

Now what about the stock market? As more companies are able to raise cash thru IPO’s and follow-on offerings, they can now rapidly expand their business. The property sector has remained so exciting. I recall this was the sector that was hit hard by the Asian crisis 10 years ago, and it is now back on its feet. More entrepreneurs are starting to develop houses and subdivisions. Buildings will be built for offices, call centers, BPO’s as a big shortage is expected. Interest rates will remain low pushing banks to lend again aggressively. Furthermore, much needed government infrastructure projects are all moving forward as mentioned in the SONA and this will further propel regional development, and in a general sense, greater confidence that will translate to stronger investment inflows and employment and income opportunities for Filipinos. And with better confidence in the economy, further Peso appreciation can take place. This in a way is the virtuous economic cycle we all want to see.

How long will the good times last? My crystal ball says it has just begun. To those who have doubts and are still doubting, having a pessimistic attitude and complaining, I pity these people. I always say that for people to benefit more in this growth stage, they have to act and do something productive. We are all living in the most exciting times and I hope to see more millionaires and billionaires created before PGMA hands over this presidency. If she graduates with honors, we will all benefit. Let’s support a Go Negosyo climate because this is what’s going to change our country’s future.

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Today will be the opening ceremonies of Teen Negosyo sa Baguio in Teacher’s Camp, a five-day entrepreneurship training and conference, in partnership with DepEd Secretary Jesli Lapus, DepEd’s Center for Students and Co-curricular Affairs headed by Executive Director Joey Pelaez, and the Philippine Trade and Training Center. Providing support is the hands-on MSME Czar and PMS Director-General Cerge Remonde. Almost 2,500 students and teachers from all over the Philippines are expected to take part in this conference which aims to nurture the seeds of entrepreneurship in the hearts and minds of the youth today. In keeping with our objective of creating entrepreneurial icons that Filipinos especially the youth can idolize, we will also be awarding the most inspiring entrepreneurs in Baguio and the Cordillera Administrative Region. Our awardees include Mrs. Donna Rufino who is the owner of the pioneering Star Café in Baguio, Mr. Michael del Rosario whose family owns the popular Sunshine Bakery/Grocery and Hotel Veniz, the Good Shepherd Sisters, Evelyn Ibay of Ibay’s Silver Shop, Pinky Magsino of PNKY Collection, Arturo Gayao of Gayao’s Furniture, Mae Sugguiyao Shiu of Chico River Quest, Inc., Mario Alzona Jr. of ALPA-PCM, Inc., Narda Capuayan of Narda’s Handwoven Arts and Crafts and the BITICK Women’s Organization that markets wine from indigenous ingredients. Aside from the awardees, a number of Go Negosyo entrepreneurs and mentors will also be coming up to Baguio to inspire the youth. The Go Negosyo heroes going up are Les Reyes, Victor Tan, Ronald Pineda, Ray Gapuz, Johnlu Koa, Chit Juan, Paolo Bediones, Cito Beltran, Jay Bernardo and Rudy Ang.

Friday the 13th

Thursday, July 19th, 2007

Most people still believe that Friday the 13th is unlucky and people try to avoid doing major things on this day. July 13 was a different story for us. Despite it being Friday the 13th, we still decided to have the Go Negosyo sa Bacolod. Prior to the event, we even experienced gloomy skies and a brewing storm. Fortunately, the storm didn’t hit the country directly and we did have one of the best weathers on Friday the 13th. It was a perfect sunny day as we woke up in the sleepy town of Bacolod. It has been 20 years since my last visit and Bacolod has changed a lot especially with the new mall chains and restaurants that dominated the city.

Go Negosyo sa Bacolod was held at the La Salle Coliseum with the support of our co-chair Brother Rolly Dizon. That morning, people were lining up as early as 6am. It was filled to the rafters and thousands of people had to go home since the Presidential Security Guard had restrictions to do an SRO in the area where PGMA was going to pass by. The Negrenses came in by the thousands and this was the biggest crowd Go Negosyo has ever had. Close to 7,000 people filled up the La Salle gym and as PGMA came in, she was greeted warmly by the people. She did not care about security and posed with the people as she came in.

We brought in 25 entrepreneurs coming all the way from Manila, Cebu and Bacolod’s own to inspire the Negrenses. Most of the entrepreneurs from Bacolod already want to diversify their city from a mono crop to other industries. Danding Cojuangco is one of those who helped Bacolod transform itself beyond sugar by growing mango, bananas, mangosteen, pomelos, durian and other local fruits. When you go around the city you will see a lot of retail concepts that can qualify to be in the top malls in Metro Manila. Our group was treated to a dinner by Gaita Fores, a Go Negosyo entrep from Bacolod who brought us to her ancestral home and served us the famous chicken inasal among other delicacies. The Negrenses are great hosts and they cherish people who come to visit. Rissa Locsin and husband Dodo Villarama as well as Gina Bautista also attended the dinner.

Manila entreps had a great time in Bacolod especially Vicky Belo who was mobbed by her fans. I told her she was like a rock star as fans lined up for her autograph and picture. This is what we want people to idolize, the entrepreneurs. PGMA was happy to see the whole event and right after she awarded the entreps broke protocol and without any formalities got the mike from Paolo and gave a speech in Ilonggo with the right accent. The Bacolod entrepreneurs who were awarded by no less than the President were happy with the attention and honor given to them, plus the front page articles in Philippine Star about their success stories. Our partner Philippine Star has gone out of its way in supporting the Go Negosyo advocacy to help us create the new Philippine Stars, the negosyantes. The manila entreps surely inspired the people of Bacolod and I told the audience that day, that what we are seeing today is not a dream but a reality and to benefit from this economic boom one has to be a participant and not just part of the audience. We surely have planted the seed in the minds of the 7,000 people that attended. It is now up to them to be curious enough to nurture and water this seed. Even if only a few of them would one day be the Vicky Belo, Myla Villanueva, Vivienne Tan, Johnlu Koa, the Bayo sisters Dianna Lyn Agustin and Maria Corazon Bitong, Mr. and Mrs. Yanson of Ceres bus Liners, James Chua of Foodman, or other big tycoons who would generate thousands of jobs in the future, we would have attained our objective.

Kadtu kamo para mainspirasyon kayo! (Come and Be Inspired!)

Thursday, July 12th, 2007

Tomorrow Go Negosyo goes to Bacolod and the University of St. La Salle coliseum is expected to be full to the rafters of students, teachers, government employees and their families, and everyone who is or would want to become a negosyante. No less than Her Excellency President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will attend our event and this is her first time to visit the school after the young brothers of La Salle asked her to resign more than a year ago. But PGMA is always reconciliatory and forgiving. Brother Rolly Dizon who is co-chair for this big event was one of my teachers when I was in grade school and high school. He was a strict teacher and principal and I have a high regard for Brother Dizon. He has under his stewardship brought about some of the best entrepreneurs today in this country. I am sure Ateneo will not agree with this statement but if we look at the top IT companies such as Gerry Ablaza who is the CEO of Globe, Ricky Banaag of Intel, TJ Javier of Microsoft, Jojo Quintos of IBM, Dondi Mapa of Dell, Nilo Cruz formerly with HP, Ronnie Latinazo of EMC… all of them are La Sallites. Anyway, Brother Rolly has been a strong influence to many of us and it is his same passion to help make the minds of his fellow Negrenses towards optimism and entrepreneurship that made him an active co-chair of the Go Negosyo sa Bacolod.

We also have a number of entrepreneurs who really want to inspire and share their stories like Gaita Fores who comes from Bacolod, PCE Trustees Vivienne Tan, Governor Lray Villafuerte, Myla Villanueva and other Go Negosyo mentors such as Paolo Bediones, Dra. Vicky Belo, Johnlu Koa, Victor Tan, Les Reyes. Ray Gapuz and Joel Santos. Go Negosyo Cebuano awardees Jack Gaisano, Wilson Ng and Jay Aldeguer will also join us in Bacolod. We will also award the most inspiring Bacolod entrepreneurs: Ms. Josephine Locsin (Tumandok Crafts Industries), Ms. Dianna Lynn Agustin and Ms. Maria Corazon Bitong (BAYO), Mr. and Mrs. Yanson (Yanson Group of Companies, Ceres Liner Bus Co.), Mr. Jose Maria Cajili (Chicken House), Ms. Cecille del Castillo (Dungganon Bank, Negros Women for Tomorrow’s Foundation), Mr. James Chua (Foodman), Gov. Joseph Marañon (Mambukal Resort), Mr. Roberto Montelibano (GH Foods Inc.), Mr. Joaquin Torre (Riverside Medical Center), Mr. Benjamin Lopue Sr. (Lopue’s Group of Companies). We are also awarding the outstanding Bacolod support organizations, the Association of Negros Producers Inc. (Ms. Mary Ann Colmenares), IT Focus Team­ (Hon. Jocelle Batapa-Sigue), Negros Kabisig Livelihood Foundation, Inc. (Dr. Carmen Benares) and the University of Saint La Salle Business Resource Center (Elsie Coscolluela). The Manila, Cebu and Bacolod awardees are all there to inspire. We also have the support of key government officials such as MSME Czar Secretary Cerge Remonde and Director Joey Pelaez of DepEd who is also our partner in Teen Negosyo this coming July 26-31 in Baguio City. We expect over 6,000 people to attend and we invite everyone to take advantage of the presence of over 25 entrepreneurs and mentors and be inspired, informed and empowered. We hope the people of Bacolod will take part of what is happening to our country, Phil Inc. It is no longer a dream, it is now a reality.

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It’s nice to hear stories of the Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines who had to get into a negosyo to pay for their tuition. In my case, many people do not believe that I sold my clothes while in high school to Eloys not to pay for my tuition but to be able to take out dates. My mother is from Iloilo so you know they are very thrifty. I credit my mom in a way because she has given me the drive to pursue things and has brought me to where I am today. So to these young kids never be ashamed that you had to do these things, it is going to be what will propel you to greater heights. It is what will give you the hunger for success. Let me share with you some of their stories: Carl Pahati, an Accountancy student from Cebu partnered with his friend and sold snacks to his team mates in the varsity team. He hopes to expand this business since he wants to be like his entrep idol, Mrs. Julie Gandionco of Julie’s Bakeshop. Richard Caluyo on the other hand got into a candle-making business for unemployed mothers as part of their school’s livelihood project. He learned how to make candle wax and later trained the mothers. His entrep idol is Boni Commandante of Buhi Corporation. Ben Secratario, the son of farmers from Bicol, already has a feasibility study to put up an agri-business in their region. His entrep idol is Jollibee’s Tony Tan Caktiong. Roma Padua started as a dealer of Avon, Natasha and Sarah Lee during her first year college to earn extra school allowance. She helped one of the poorest barangays in Roxas City thru a “tahong project” which now sells chips, burger patties and lumpia made of tahong. Her entrep idol is Ambassador Frank Alba of Prudential Life whom she says remains humble in spite of his numerous accomplishments. Roma’s tahong project became really successful thru online website inquiries and advertisements on their local TV stations. Another young woman, Cherrie Atilano, plans to set up an organic farm business propelled by her interests in organic produce since her major is in Agriculture and she sees that there is a huge market for naturally grown products given that people have become more conscious of what they eat today. It is indeed reassuring to know that the TOSP finalists whom I believe are the future prime movers of this country possess the same entrepreneurial attitude as their entrep idols which will hopefully propel Philippines Inc. forward.

(The Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines is a continuing project of RFM Foundation, the Commission on Higher Education with National Bookstore, the Rotary Club of Makati Central and the TOSP Alumni Community.)

Women of Vision

Thursday, July 5th, 2007

PGMA, Vicky Belo (Belo Medical Group), Nanay Coring (National Bookstore), Chit Juan (Figaro), Margarita Fores (Cibo), Julie Gandionco (Julie’s Bakeshop), Gov. Gwen Garcia, Doris Ho (Asia Society), Gina Lopez (ABS-CBN Foundation), Sandy Prieto (PDI), Tessie Sy (SM), Vivienne Tan (Entrepreneurs School of Asia) and Myla Villanueva (MDI Technologies Inc.)… What do these women have in common? Aside from beauty and brains they have a strong character and I consider them women with vision.

When Isaac and Kevin Belmonte invited me over lunch since they were not able to attend my birthday, we ventured into a discussion of why some of the Go Negosyo women entreps are successful and somehow intimidating to their spouses. Women of vision do tend to intimidate their husbands and require a very understanding spouse to have a win-win relationship. I believe it’s because they are women with passion and a drive to excel. They have become inspiration to many women… and even to men…Vivienne for example decided not to join her father’s empire and set up her own school to prove her independence. She was even voted by People Asia’s 7 most beautiful women but that didn’t distract her from pursuing more meaningful goals in life. My experience with Gov. Gwen during the Go Negosyo sa Cebu showed that she is a driven person and quite enterprising and creative in promoting ways to have a progressive Cebu. I will be kind to say that in a way many of them are dictators, a term I myself use in the company. However, both Nanay Coring and Julie Gandionco because of years of experience have a way of exuding their motherly leadership and this must be the reason for their success. Tessie Coson, the elder sister of Go Negosyo advocate Harley Sy, is a very outspoken and articulate woman. My experience with her during the Citibank Microentrepreneur of the Year Awards shows she is capable of taking bigger roles in their family empire. Doris Ho and Gina Lopez are both social entrepreneurs who have been truly passionate with their respective advocacies, Asia Society and Bantay Bata. Currently, Gina is also working on helping microentrepeneurs thru microlending and education. Myla Villanueva, the world-renowned Filipina technopreneur, who is frequently out of the country and a supporter of Go Negosyo is a very enterprising and systematic leader herself. Gaita Fores and Chit Juan have also been successful in growing their respective food businesses, not running out of innovations in food offerings and service. And of course, our President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who has been a strong advocate herself for Go Negosyo has withstood the toughest periods in her career by keeping focus like an entrepreneur in pursuing the key development goals of Philippines Inc. I guess everyone would agree that these women are tough and very busy and somehow the challenge for them always is on how to maintain a balanced family life; and yes they are able to do it which makes them even better individuals. That ended our interesting lunch. The rest is a secret.

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Go Negosyo goes to Bacolod this July 13 and no less than PGMA has agreed to join this second leg of the caravan. The one day forum will be held in the La Salle coliseum while the 2-day expo/exhibit will take place in SM Bacolod. Brother Rolly Dizon will co-chair the event with the support of Bobby Montelibano of the Bacolod Chamber of Commerce. As what we have done in Go Negosyo sa Cebu, we will also be awarding the most Inspiring Bacolod Entreps. I am glad that PGMA has agreed to come and visit La Salle despite the move of some La Salle brothers over a year ago asking her to resign. I guess PGMA is always for reconciliation. We hope Go Negosyo takes Bacolod like a storm and inspires the youth and aspiring entreps in the area. MSME czar Secretary Cerge Remonde and his 33-member agencies in the MSME Council and their offices in Bacolod and Negros region, plus high school and college students are expected to be there so we are expecting a huge crowd of over 5,000 participants. It will be a good sight to see more and more young people getting exposed to these forums and meeting the new Philippine Stars, the entrepreneurs. We all agree to starting them young, as we believe that creating these interactions would lead to many good changes in their lives and better entrepreneurial mindset among many Filipinos. And we encourage more people to join in our band wagon of optimism.

These Go Negosyo caravans and forums would not have been possible without the support of Globe, Pagcor, Philippine Airlines, PLDT-Smart, Hyundai, Island Souvenirs, DTI-OTOP, RFM, La Salle Bacolod, SM Supermalls, and Bacolod Business Inn.