Archive for October, 2007

Dream the Impossible

Sunday, October 28th, 2007

Over the past few weeks, the headlines again had a feast from the ZTE and into the alleged gift-giving at the palace, and then the accidental explosion that rocked Glorietta. Frustrating at it may be, the cycle of misery somehow continues to hound as some try to see if we will again fall into this cycle which we have been trying to break for many decades.

Despite the stock market crash last Friday in the US, the Philippine Peso stood its ground in all these negative news and even appreciated in the recent days. Our stock market fared pretty well, had a minor correction but was immediately back on its momentum. This is a good show of the solid fundamentals and demonstrates how Filipinos get tired of all the negatives and would rather look now at the positive side of things.

We should show less interest on the political reality shows that don’t get us anywhere. The controversies even derailed the very important cyber education project of DepEd Secretary Jesli Lapus. The cyber education is what we need to empower the poor children whose only hope is good education. This would have given them the chance to learn from other teachers and also surf the cyberspace and learn about new things and developments taking place worldwide.

Having done eight Go Negosyo caravans around the country just this year gave me a lot of positive insights. As we select the most inspiring entrepreneurs from each region, a lot of consultations and research were done with the different local business communities. All awardees had accepted the awards and taken on the challenge to help pursue the Go Negosyo advocacy of promoting the spirit of entrepreneurship in their respective areas. Big and small entrepreneurs have been awarded and it was clear that our choices were good as they are also the popular choice of the residents. We had our forums always full-house with many people taking down notes, while Go Negosyo book-signing can also be tiring.

Moving forward, Go Negosyo embarks on a bigger mission which is to help Gawad Kalinga in their community-based livelihood projects. Gawad Kalinga, one of the most recognized and respected development organization, will partner with us as we share common objectives and aspiration in nation-building. As they help in “kabahayan” or community-building, we can help in “kabuhayan”. Both of us would like to bring hope. Building homes, building negosyo.. Go Gawad Kalinga, Go Negosyo.

For a sustainable development momentum in the GK communities, we have to help them have sustainable sources of income. As we say in Go Negosyo, teach a nation to fish, feed the nation many lifetimes. This is where we see the synergy between our two organizations. After helping change their mindset and outlook in life, it is equally important to help them in raising their productivity, knowledge and skills.

The plan is to set up learning/productivity centers in the various regions, which will teach them relevant skills and basics of entrepreneurship and managing businesses at the community-level or in a cooperative set-up. They have already started with pilot projects supported by Globe and Shell, while other organizations are joining to help. We will now work on in organizing a council of advisers for the GK- Go Negosyo community projects to provide continuous mentorship. You can just imagine if all the communities around us would have vibrant and robust businesses that will uplift the quality of life of the residents, what a brighter Philippines it would be. To the other businesses, that spells a more vibrant Filipino consumer market. Thus let’s all join hands in making this work.

Big vision? Nothing is impossible, if we dream of it and at least try to make it happen. This is very common in many successful entrepreneurs. And I am glad we have the Philippine Star backing the good news of Go Negosyo and Gawad Kalinga.

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After the huge success in Pampanga last October 8, we immediately moved on to Cagayan de Oro last Friday October 19. It was again a jam-packed forum with over 3,000 kagayan-ons and we saw a better mixture of attendees with more micro-entrepreneurs and MFIs’ clients as well as college and senior high school students. We partnered with the very active Oro Chamber led by its President Elpi Paras and immediate Past President Ruben Vegafria.

MSME Chair and Presidential Management Staff head Cerge Remonde and Governor Oscar Moreno, who is another lead proponent for micro enterprises in the country, joined me in giving the awards to the most inspiring entreps from Northern Mindanao.

Knowing the dialect, Sec. Cerge and Gov. Moreno engaged a very good interaction with the crowd during the forum. We were joined by Go Negosyo advocates Jay Aldeguer of Islands Souvenirs, Joel Santos of ESA, BSP microfinance consultant Eduardo Jimenez and celebrity entrepreneur Dominic Ochoa. Hard-hitting moderators Cito Beltran and Cheryl Cosim moderated the forum.

Kagayan-ons had the chance to interact personally with the entreps as well as the awardees. The afternoon forum which focused on how one can start and grow a business was equally engaging as good relevant questions were thrown. Joel Santos moderated the session with Ronald Pineda of Folded and Hung, Chris Tan of Ideal Minds, Chinkee Tan of Vision Unlimited and corporate entrepreneur and PCE Executive Director Mon Lopez. They had a fulfilling time sharing their knowledge with the attendees. Not to be outdone, Dean Pax Lapid of Entrepreneurs School of Asia captured the full attention of the crowd with his fantastic lecture on the basics of entrepreneurship, from opportunities-seeking to vision-setting and importance of financial discipline. He was so passionate that he held on to the full house crowd up to the end of the session at 5:30pm.

We thank the hard-working kagayan-on DepEd Director Joey Pelaez and the Oro Chamber who got all possible support from the local business community and corporate friends like STEAG Power Inc. to help make possible the successful holding of Go Negosyo in the region.

The PCE Go Negosyo team of entreps also had the great opportunity to speak in two other forums with students. One with the Cagayan de Oro College headed by our good friend Chito Salazar of the AIM circle and the other forum was with the big conference of student leaders in Cagayan de Oro and Misamis Oriental, organized by Director Pelaez. We went there hoping to give hope but we were the ones who saw hope in the very good quality of student leaders in the region. That trip to Cagayan de Oro was indeed a very inspiring experience for all of us.

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Join us in this weekend’s annual celebration of GK at the SM Mall of Asia . For Saturday at 10am-3pm, GK Go Negosyo shall have their forums and exhibits. Our major partner ESA shall have their judging and awarding of winners in their Teenpreneur Challenge. This will be followed by forums with successful entrepreneurs who helped in the project. DA Secretary Arthur Yap, Sec Remonde, ESA’s Vivienne Tan and Joel Santos, Les Reyes of Reyes Haircutters, Toto Barcelona of Harbest and previous Go Negosyo inspiring entrep awardees. So see you there as we Go GK- Go Negosyo !

Can I Be An Entrepreneur?

Thursday, October 18th, 2007

While in Hongkong over the weekend, I came across a shirt that said “If you don’t try you’ll never know”. Unfortunately they didn’t have my size. That shirt best answered the most frequently asked question during all our caravans and speaking engagements. But for me, it is a question that they themselves should answer.

What has Go Negosyo achieved thru all these efforts? We are not a fix-it-all organization that promises you to be the next multimillionaire or that we are here to tell you that you will definitely succeed in business. We are here to give hope to those that have lost it and to inspire people thru the different stories of successful entrepreneurs by hearing it straight from them and seeing them in person. We also have their stories widely circulated thru the Go Negosyo book which has now sold close to 50t books and by the end of this year will maybe sell another 10t copies. Numerous people have come up to me and said that while they have not yet gotten into business, they have been inspired by reading the book and that they are now more conscious and have started to look what negosyo they would want to get into in the coming years.

After my talk during a recent speaking engagement at the Public Relations Society of the Philippines, I was approached by Mr. Armand Nocum who used to work for Inquirer and told me that he got inspired after reading the Go Negosyo column and the book that he quit the newspaper and decided to start a restaurant called Satti Grill House located in SM Fairview. His business is doing quite well since his restaurant offers Manileños a taste of Zamboanga and Sulu cuisine.

Another is the story is that of Estrella Castillo, an aspiring entrepreneur who wrote us early this year. I had the chance to meet her last February during the launch of Go Negosyo book at my place and that was the start of our mentorship with her. We have been following Estrella’s progress since she started her internet business and right now it is doing very well. She followed our advice and focused on offering internet services for research and surfing purposes for wider exposure of the kids rather than games. It developed a more wholesome ambience and character that has become her point of difference and that’s attracting a different market. Aside from computer rentals, they also offer other services such as typing, copying, scanning, fax service, payphone and have also invested on a loading wallet. She also offers privileges exclusive to members in order to attract a steady stream of clients. Aside from Go Negosyo, PLDT SMART Executive Butch Jimenez has also been providing the needed advice and assistance to Estrella. These are just some of those people who I met by coincidence who have shared their stories and got inspired by our advocacy.

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Our website is constantly being even improved and it is the only entrep website that in less than a year has rich content, from our uploaded archives of the Go Negosyo Bigtime episodes, previous Ask Go Negosyo columns, business ideas listings and entrep toolkits. We have not stopped improving the site and we will also be adding a year from now video clips of “How To Go Negosyo” by Ed Morato which are basically miniclip versions of negosyo tips. We our also in our third season of Go Negosyo Bigtime, this time featuring more business ideas as well as special coverages of our Go Negosyo caravans.

This is a feedback from someone who went thru our website:

Two days ago I found, the Philippines Entrepreneur website for the first time. This site is first class and top notch in my opinion. After reviewing it, signing up as a member, submitting my business listing, and surfing all around it for hours, I’ve found this site to be one of the best sites in the Philippines for empowering Filipinos to taking control of their personal, business, and financial lives through entrepreneurship and business ownership. is a site to help Filipinos become more knowledgeable about entrepreneurship, and even more important the “activity knowledge” they provide with their “get started with biz” page. Knowledge is useless without putting it into practice. Their “get started with biz” page puts knowledge into action with education training and tools such as an Entrepreneur’s Toolkit, business and entrepreneur articles, financial analysis of income statements & balance sheets, marketing segmentation and pricing, business plan creation, and making investments.

They’ve got this “ask for help” section where you can ask questions of leaders in different industries of Philippine business. This is pure empowerment! Education training, support and mentoring are what it’s all about in reaching success in the world of business. is a site that I see the users benefiting from as a learning site, a doing site, and even more important, now being able to teach to others what they just learned at the site. Leadership is about learning, doing, and teaching it. does of this very well.

I can’t say enough good things about I highly recommend you surf to their site and review it for yourself. Sign up as a member, add your business listing, work and use the site.


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Go Negosyo will have its final caravan for this year in Cagayan de Oro tomorrow at the Atrium in Limketkai Center. We will award the most inspiring entrepreneurs of Northern Mindanao which include the founder of Radio Mindanao Network founder Henry and son Eric Canoy, Alonzo Chiong of Oro Asian Automotive Center, Alfonso U. Lim of Limketkai Development Corp., Mercedes Mejia of SLERS Industries, Elpidio Paras who owns PARASAT Cable TV, Dr. Reynaldo Rafisura of Salay Handmade Paper Industries, Rene Jose Stuart del Roasario Sr., the “master blender” of Suka Pinakuran, Isidra Tan of Cheding’s Peanuts, Henrik Kelly Yu of the popular food joint Bigby’s Café and Eleanor Jose of Vjandep Pastel. Many of them have earned this award thru hardwork. PMS Director General and MSME Czar Cerge Remonde will be joining me to give the awards as well as PCE Trustee and ESA Executive Chairman Vivienne Tan. As with Go Negosyo Pampanga, there will be a keynote forum with Go Negosyo advocates such as Vivienne Tan of ESA, Jay Aldeguer of Islands Souvenirs, Gaita Fores of Cibo and Eduardo Jimenez, a microfinance consultant of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. There will also be a second business how-to forum in the afternoon with Victor Tan of Bobson Jeans, Ronald Pineda of Folded and Hung and Les Reyes of Reyes Haircutters. Our How-To Go Negosyo learning sessions will be conducted by the Entrepreneurs School of Asia led by Dean Pax Lapid and Joel Santos. The forums will be hosted by Cheryl Cosim and Dominic Ochoa with Cito Beltran as moderator along with Cheryl. Again we would like to invite everyone from CDO and its nearby provinces to participate in this one of a kind entrepreneurial event.

Yes, I Love My Country

Thursday, October 11th, 2007

Over the past weeks, the La Salle-Ateneo matches have been one of the most thrill-seeking series to watch. Witnessing the games and even that of La Salle and UE for the championship was both an exhilarating and inspiring experience. The amount of school loyalty, and to some extent fanaticism with a few fans on how they cheer for their school can almost always give goose bumps. During the game, you can see all the students wearing the jersey or the colors of the schools and heartily singing their alma mater’s anthem. If we can have the same intense pride and love that we have with our schools to that of our country, imagine the impact this will have building a truly nationalist spirit.

A week ago, my father Joecon received the Pinnacle Award from the Philippine Tatler, a society magazine. During his speech, he mentioned “love of country” as one of the reasons why he started NAMFREL during the dark years of the dictatorship. We could have migrated to Canada like my cousins, but he risked his life and that of his family for the love of country. He finally thanked my mother for her patience with him. It is now love of wife as his priority. The other awardees like Vicky Garchitorena and Tony Meloto all had something similar to say.

The week before, my aunt Lina Santiago had her book launch “Araneta, a Love Affair with God and Country”. It is a well written book by my aunt who talks how my grandfather, Salvador Araneta, served as Secretary of Agriculture during the Magsaysay government and how he fought for democracy from a distance while in exile in Vancouver.

While the ZTE drama was unfolding and the nation stopped for awhile, we noticed how the people immediately got back to work and their businesses. I guess people are now getting tired and have gotten used to all this noise. We are still now seeing the stock market and the Philippine Peso at an all time high, which are good benchmarks of optimism relative to other countries. I believe we are getting there– towards the building of a real nationalistic spirit that is needed to bring about an economic revolution. The momentum hopefully should push it to greater heights. All of this starts from selfless love of country. Go Negosyo, Go Philippines.

If we could only unite and rally behind our country with the same intensity as we do for our alma mater, this country will never stop its growth momentum. If we could only focus on the economy at all times, creating a mindset of optimism and an entrepreneurial attitude, searching and seizing opportunities, we can all expect a progressive country, an entrepreneurial country that will be dominated by more creative and innovative micro, small and medium entrepreneurs.

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Go Negosyo Pampanga was another successful entrepreneurship event last Monday at the Bren Guiao Convention Center in San Fernando. About seven thousand people attended the event composed mostly of college and 4th year high school students, microentrepreneurs being assisted by MFI’s and the rural banks. PGMA, a Go Negosyo advocate, arrived exactly at 10am. I must say our President does not follow “Filipino time” as she is always on time for every appointment. This is an amazing discipline that even I am not able to do always. As she was introducing the guests, both Pampanga Governor Ed Panlilio and Vice-Governor Yeng Guiao had the loudest applause. The Governor, who is also a priest, is a very humble person, who I noticed was wearing sandals. He clearly had the admiration of the people.

In my talk, I cited the President’s hard work and competent leadership as the reasons why we are seeing our economic gains reflected in the appreciation of the stock market and the Philippine Peso. She looked tired from all her trips but was still smiling. She cited the 11 Cabalen entreps as being role models to the kapampangans. On the other hand, she cited Go Negoyo for bringing hope to the different regions. The Philippine Star has also been a great partner in projecting our inspiring entrepreneurs as the new stars.

We also had a very productive afternoon forum in Pampanga with Go Negosyo advocates such as Richie Cuna of AFFI/Fiorgelato, Johnlu Koa of French Baker, Victor Tan of Bobson Jeans and Dean Pax Lapid of the Entrepreneurs School of Asia. We also had a “How To Go Negosyo” entrep learning session presented by ABS-CBN Bayan Foundation which was facilitated by Professor Luis Cruz of AIM. The afternoon sessions were specifically tailored for microentrepreneurs and how we can guide them in managing their personal wealth.

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We are non-stop in spreading the advocacy as we will have our next Go Negosyo Caravan in just a week’s time on October 19 at the Atrium in Limketkai Center, Cagayan de Oro City. The Cagayan de Oro Chamber of Commerce and Industry led by their President Elpie Paras has been very supportive in organizing this event as we are also part of their Oro Best 2007 – Business Entreprises, Services and Trade Exposition. As with our Go Negosyo sa Pampanga, we are also going to award the most inspiring entrepreneurs from Northern Mindanao and conduct how-to go negosyo seminars this time to be organized by the Entrepreneurs School of Asia. Once again, admission is free so we hope you can join us once again for Go Negosyo sa Cagayan de Oro on October 19.

Creative Entrepreneurship

Thursday, October 4th, 2007

I had the chance to speak before the Aid for Trade Convention in ADB where foreign dignitaries mostly trade ministers and the country’s top entrepreneurs and government executives discussed how enterprises in developing countries can have a more active participation in the global market. Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala echoed the statement of IMF and WB that no aid for trade package can provide more benefits to the majority of developing countries than a successful Doha Round that opens markets and reduces subsidies in other countries. He emphasized the key steps for effective aid for trade for the Philippines, to wit, identify export opportunities feasible for economic growth, specify the strategic public goods needed to exploit the identified export opportunities and then mobilize aid resources to supplement domestic efforts to create or produce these strategic public goods. Former Bulacan Governor dela Cruz on the other hand reiterated that education, health and changing the mindset towards a society of entrepreneurs rather than employees or workers are at the heart of the Bulacan development strategy. Bulacan is known for performing local government unit with many best practices towards improved local governance, streamlined license (I-SPEED), permits and investment processes, and effective marketing and support services (packaging, branding, etc.) to its growing SMEs. As a result, Bulacan is a haven of SMEs and despite the lack of big name large enterprises; it has the lowest provincial poverty incidence in the country.

Since most of the businesses here in the Philippines are MSME’s, it is really a challenge to compete globally given that export giants like China have far more superior production capability than ours. But as with any entrepreneur, we must focus more on our strengths. For us to be globally competitive, we must move beyond survival entrepreneurship and instead focus on creative entrepreneurship. This sense of creative entrepreneurship needs to be strengthened and propagated, and in the process give people a greater sense of hope. Creativity and continuous innovations allow our entrepreneurs to bravely face the challenge of competition, especially from other countries.

There are many ways to develop this mindset of creative entrepreneurship, but first is to create a general awareness that this brand of creative entrepreneurship is key to continuous growth. Creating this mindset as early as possible can develop into a good habit that yearns for continuous improvements. One must be exposed to available information and learning early on. Thus, we must improve the quality of public education and give students quick access to information especially those who are in need of proper mentorship. We should provide these students access to the outside world thru the use of the internet. The world wide web can be used not only as a vast information tool but also a networking engine that can connect them to people from all over the globe. Also, networking sites such as Multiply have become a breeding ground for young entrepreneurs who sell their products and services through the internet.

There are a lot of instances where we see creative entrepreneurship at play. A good example of this can be seen at the Rockwell Powerplant Mall every Sunday where they have the Baker’s Dozen cake and pastry fair where you can choose a wide array of deserts and pastries by home-based entrepreneurs. There are the usual participants such as Vargas Kitchen, Sanlo’s Empanada, but some of the more innovative products I’ve seen here include Cuptails in Dreams which sell cocktail flavored cupcakes. Another interesting participant is 16-year old Ange who sells her own version of frozen brazo de mercedes. The response for this kind of bazaar has been quite favorable that the mall administration has agreed to extend the fair till October. Moreover, you will see and enjoy this week the exhibit and forum of the Association of Negros Producers. See their unique products and new business ideas.

Bonifacio Highstreet is also a haven for new business concepts such as Sonja’s cupcakes, the Bo Concept furniture store and the Blow-up Babies photo studio. These quaint shops are just among many others that offer one-of-a-kind pieces/services that you can never find in department stores. Whether it is in food, art, furniture or apparel, the shops here sell very distinct designs which are ideal for people who are looking for unique gifts to give this holiday season. Likewise, the SM’s, Robinson’s and Ayala malls have started to offer specific areas that will allow new micro and SMEs to show and sell their wares.

One can always explore new technology findings and applications in DOST and other research agencies and websites to see a good source of new business or product ideas. These are just some of the many ways on how entrepreneurs can enhance their creative abilities in order to inject new excitement in their businesses.

I am frequently asked the question: Are entrepreneurs born or can you really learn to be a negosyante? My answer to this is we can all learn to become negosyantes. We can all have the drive for hardwork, passion etc. but we also need the gift of creativity. What do we mean by creativity? This is the ability to differentiate business models that are unique and those that are able to address consumer needs. For example, Vicky Belo who is a Go Negosyo advocate recently launched her Belo soap among her line of beauty products. I am told that her sales is close to the 80m a month level…wow that is a Superbrand in the making! This is an example of a business that is not being a “me too”. Tim Yap is another example of how one uses his name as a brand from his Embassy to his ODM limited edition watches to his events company. Creativity is what spells greater success. This for me is our leverage which we can use in the competitive global village that we live in today.

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We will have Go Negosyo sa Pampanga this coming Monday at the Bren Guiao Convention Center in San Fernando Pampanga. Her Excellency President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will be gracing the event to award the most inspiring entrepreneurs in Pampanga along with Pampanga Governor “Among Ed” Panlilio. Our awardees for Pampanga include Lolita Hizon (Pampanga’s Best), Peter Nepomuceno (Nepomuceno Group of Companies), Jaime Uy (Savers Group of Companies), Ryan Razon (Razon’s), Prudencio Garcia (Mekeni Foods Corporation), Jose Bituin (Betis Craft Inc.), Wilfredo Tan (Houseland), Emmanuel Angeles (Angeles University Foundation), Fatima del Rosario (Sasmuan Delicacies), Teresa Carlos from (Bank of Florida) and Michael Escaler (Pasudeco). Aside from the awarding, there will also be the Keynote and “How-to Go Negosyo” forums with Go Negosyo advocates, book signing and the afternoon Entrep 101 learning sessions by ABS CBN Bayan Foundation led by their President Ed Morato. As always, admission is free and no pre registration required so we would like to invite once again our Cabalens to come and join us for Go Negosyo sa Pampanga.