Archive for December, 2007

Thank You

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to all the Filipinos who have contributed to a more optimistic environment in 2007. To those who have been sowing fear and pessimism that the Philippines is a basket case, there is still time to change your view and reap the rewards of investing in our country.

It’s been 2 years since Go Negosyo was born out of a way to bring back hope and fight the pessimism that was prevailing at that time. Peso was at a high of P56 (per US Dollar), the stock market index was below 2,000 level, inflation rate hit a high of 7.6% and interest rates hovering over 12%.

Today, we see our peso strengthened to a level of P41, the stock index soaring beyond 3,600 levels, inflation rate below 3% and interest rates around 9%. Countless of Filipinos are starting their own businesses and investing in the country. The success of Go Negosyo has been brought about by the entrepreneurs who have started to give back in helping this advocacy become today a battlecry or a brand that has motivated the people to take control of their own destiny.

2008 will be another great year for the Philippines. While a lot of banks have predicted the Philippine peso to appreciate even more, this will depend on the dollars strength or weakness. I believe we will be moving towards a stronger dollar especially as USA elections comes closer, the Peso should be trading within this range already. Foreign direct investments as well as the hot money in the stock market will continue. There will be volatility in the first quarter as the USA nears the end of the sub prime problem.

The President will definitely pursue her economic programs more aggressively this coming year 2008 and into year 2009. PGMA and her cabinet will definitely move for reforms to push this country to greater heights. Hopefully our legislators will focus on the laws that are needed to ensure a strong republic which lies on a strong economy. 2008 is the year of the rat, and ends with 8, my favorite number. A number of people say this is going to be a lucky year. While it may be true, luck comes only for those who have the right attitude, which is to be optimistic, hardworking, passionate and creative.

I would like to thank the following for helping us encourage Filipinos to take on the challenge and fight for this country not to be the basket case of Asia but rather the shining star of Asia. Special thanks to the staunchest entrepreneurship advocate and leader of our country PGMA, for always showing her full support in all the Go Negosyo activities and attending our forums and caravans whenever she is in the country. We also thank the equally supportive and dynamic MSME Council Head and PMS Director General Sec. Cerge Remonde, Senate President Manny and Congresswoman Cynthia Villar, Senators Mar Roxas, Kiko Pangilinan, the PCE trustees for their unwavering support, Tony Tan Caktiong, Joselito Campos, Atty. Felipe Gozon, Dr. Rolando Hortaleza, Carla Limcaoco, Imelda Madarang, Socorro Ramos, Harley Sy, Vivienne Tan, Gov. Luis Raymund Villafuerte and Myla Villanueva.

I would also like to thank the Go Negosyo key advocates and mentors who have joined us in all our caravans and spent their time mentoring in our website and helping other entreps such as Fe Perez-Agudo, Jay Aldeguer, Bernadette Allyson, Jenilyn Antonio, Santi Araneta, Maoi Arroyo, Senen Bacani, Arsenio Barcelona, Butz Bartolome, Paolo Bediones, Vicky Belo, Jay Bernardo, Henry Lim Bon Liong, Delby Bragais, Cathy Brillantes, Francisco Buencamino, Roberto Castañeda, Ruelito Cayamanda, Ben Chan, Yu Ming Chin, Sam Chioson, Jojo Clemente, Ben Colayco, Topax Colayco, Richie Cuna, Dr. Eugenio Dayag, Loudette Dayrit, Lin Deres, Illac Diaz, Milagros Espina, Danilo Fausto, Andy Ferreria, Gaita Fores, Julie Gandionco, Ray Gapuz, Clang Garcia, Jeffrey Hidalgo, Anthony Inocencio, Butch Jimenez, Eduardo Jimenez, Chit Juan, Mike Jurado, Johnlu Koa, Pax Lapid, Lex Ledesma, RJ Ledesma, Genevieve Ledesma-Tan, JC Leviste, Sammie Lim, Gina Lopez, Lloyd Luna, Jolina Magdangal, Dennis Mendiola, Francis Monera, Bobby Montelibano, Tess Ngan Tian, Dominic Ochoa, Eric Papa, Cecilio Pedro, Patrick Pesengco, Ronald Pineda, Angelita Resurreccion, Les Reyes, Leo Riingen, Paco Sandejas, Joel Santos, Richard Sanz, Herwin See, Tessie Sy-Coson, Victor Tan, Chinkee Tan, Chris Tan, Donnie Tantoco, Paulo Tibig, William Torres, Doyee Tumpalan, Orlando Vea, Jay Yuvallos, Avelino Zapanta and Jaime Zobel de Ayala. Congratulations again to the most inspiring entrepreneur awardees from Tourismnegosyo: Jay Aldeguer, Anton Carag, Jose Mari del Rosario, Don Ado Escudero, Ralph Espino, Jomar Fleras, Evangeline Garcia, Ariel Jersey, Joaquin Ernesto Po, Gov. Lray Villafuerte, Vicky Wallace, Robert Yupangco, in Cebu: Roberto Aboitiz, Steve Benitez, Kenneth Cobonpue, Jack Gaisano, Julie Gandionco, Augusto Go, Michel Lhuillier, Bernie Liu, William Christopher Liu Jr, Wilson Ng, Norberto Quisumbing, Justin Uy, in Bacolod: Dianna Lynn Agustin, Maria Corazon Bitong, Jose Maria Cajili, James Chua, Cecille del Castillo, Josephine Locsin, Benjamin Lopue Sr., Joseph Marañon, Roberto Montelibano, Joaquin Torre, Olivia Yanson, Association of Negros Producers Inc., Negros Kabisig Livelihood Foundation, Inc., IT Focus Team, University of Saint La Salle (Business Resource Center), In Baguio: Mario Alzona Jr., Nancy Busacay, Leonarda Capuyan, Michael del Rosario, Arturo Gayao, Evelyn Ibay, Pinky Magsino, Donna Rufino, Naty Sugguiyao, Religious of the Good Shepherd Sisters, in Manila: Helena Benitez, Carlos Celdran, Gerry Chua, Alejandra Clemente, Betty Go-Belmonte, Alice Guerrero, Robert Kuan, Willen Ma, Jose Reyes, Nicanor Reyes, in Pampanga: Emmanuel Angeles, Jose Bituin, Teresa David-Carlos, Fatima del Rosario, Michael Escaler, Prudencio Garcia , Lolita Hizon, Peter Nepomuceno, Ryan Razon, Wilfredo Tan, Jaime Uy, in Cagayan de Oro: Henry Canoy, Alonzo Chiong, Eleanor Jose, Alfonso U. Lim, Mercedes Mejia, Elpidio Paras, Reynaldo Rafisura, Rene Jose Stuart del Rosario Sr., Isidra Tan, Henrik Kelly Yu, for Gawad Kalinga’s Inspiring Entrepreneurial Communities: Freedomville GK Village, GK Selecta Village, GK Sunshineville and the inspiring People with Disabilities Entrepreneurs : Dennis Rhoneil Balan, Jocelyn Garcia, Antonio Llanes Jr, Juan Benedicto Magdaraog, Maria Gilda Quintua. Credit also goes to our able forum moderators Karen Davila, Anthony Pangilinan, Cito Beltran, Cheryl Cosim, Chal Lontoc and Eco dela Sala.

Special thanks to our key partners in government- Secretaries Jesli Lapus and Director Joey Pelaez and Sec. Romy Neri who helped us in several forums that focused on the students, to Sec. Art Yap and Asec Doy Salacup in GK- AGriNegosyo, Sec. Ace Durano and Usec Oscar Palabyab for the support during the Tourism Negosyo and Sec. Peter Favila and Usec. Carissa Cruz-Evangelista for the participation of OTOP entrepreneurs, Governors Gwen Garcia, Ed Panlilio and Vice Gov. Yeng Guiao.

We also thank Sec. Dodi Limcaoco, Mia Concio, Joey Isabelo and Edith del Rosario of the government media group.

Thank you also to our media partners especially to Miguel, Kevin and Isaac Belmonte and Gracy Glory Go of Philippine Star, Phil daily Inquirer, Manila Bulletin, GMA Network Inc., RPN9, ABSCBN, ANC, NBN, Aspac Law and Ad Agency and Creativoices Productions.

Our special thanks to the Corporate partners who have allowed us to spread the advocacy around the country throughout the year. Our gratitude to Gerry Ablaza and Maridol Ylanan of GLOBE, Mr. Genuino and Butch Francisco of PAGCOR, Mr. Lee and Fe Perez-Agudo of Hyundai, Nanay Coring of National Bookstore, Ramon Ang of San Miguel Corporation, Splash Corporation, Butch Jimenez of PLDT, Olan Pena and Bong Mojica of Smart, RFM Corp., Paramount Life Insurance, ICTSI, Kettle Korn, Selecta, Chinese-Filipino Business Club, Concepcion Durables Inc., Island Souvenirs, Philamlife, Philippine Airlines, SM Supermalls, STEAG State Power Inc., our partner organizations, ABSCBN Bayan Foundation, the Baguio Benguet Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Cagayan de Oro Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Entrepreneurs School of Asia, Gawad Kalinga, HSBC, Metro Angeles Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Microfinance Council of the Philippines, Pampanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Rotary Club International, our government partners, the Presidential Management Staff, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, DepEd, CHED, and the member-agencies of the Micro SME Council.

Discover Your Purpose in Life

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

While on a family vacation with some balikbayan relatives in Bora, I still had the chance to work on this column and get in touch with the office. As usual, my wife didn’t like the idea of me using the laptop while on vacation. As I looked around the impressive place where we stayed in, I realized how successful businesses all start with a vision. The Tiu family is an example of how a vision was successfully done. They are the owners of Discovery Suites in Ortigas who also had a vision of a world class resort in Boracay called Discovery Shores. The hotel is being managed by another balikbayan entrepreneur, Annabel Wisniewski of the Raintree Partners group, and HSAI Raintree Hospitality Management, a company she formed providing hotel management and consultancy. She also owns Chelsea Deli, Museum Café and manages the major Food Parks in the Makati business district. I am told the Raintree group helped the Tius conceptualize how this resort should be and I have been to many of the top boutique hotels in the world. Finally we have one in the Philippines. Discovery Shores is fully wifi so while enjoying the Bora beach you can still be connected to the office. Just beside it is a new place called Two Seasons offering free wifi. On second thought, don’t bring your laptop to Bora if you want to be at peace with your wife…just kidding.

In a way, everything actually starts with determining a vision. Some people go deeper into finding or discovering their purpose in life and those who are not able to do this tend to be lost. How do you see yourself today and far into the future? Many companies determine their purpose thru their vision- mission statements. As individual or entrepreneurs, it is important to try to define this and those who have remained focus on their purpose or vision have a greater chance of being successful.

Another good example is Nanay Coring of National Bookstore who has focused and become an expert in book retailing, Johnlu in excellent baked products and foodservice as French baker, Richard Lee in car distribution as chairman of 3 major car groups in the country (Hyundai, UMC Nissan and Volvo), and so many more successful entreps whose purpose and vision have been clearly defined and they remained focused on this. I believe this has bearing as well on their passion and what they love doing, which leads many entrepreneurs to excel in their respective fields, to relentlessly deliver customer satisfaction and in the end become truly successful.

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I received an email from Mr. Charlie Mejos asking advice on how to run a bakeshop for a cooperative. Given the topic, I decided to forward his query to one of our Go Negosyo online mentors, Johnlu Koa of French Baker and within the day we got a comprehensive reply from him. Thanks Jonhlu. Below is the email and Johnlu’s response:

Good day Sir,

Greetings of Happy Holidays and Prosperity in year 2008.

I’m an officer of an about- to- launch cooperative by January 2008 and we have ready equipment for a bakery and fund for it. However, we have no idea on how to completely run a bakeshop but it’s a good business in the location we have. I would appreciate any help that you could extend to us.

We’ll register this on first week of January 2008.

I’ve been reading the Go Negosyo online and dropping by almost everyday on your page.

Charlie Mejos, Jr.

Mr. Johnlu Koa’s reply:

Before you start, you must realize that there are five groups of people or “publics” that you need to face the moment you start your business: 1) your ORGANIZATION – this includes your staff, sellers, book keepers, managers, bakers, coop members etc.; 2) GOVERNMENT – local government, baranggay, city hall for permits, BIR for taxes, Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD), DOH, etc. 3) your SUPPLIERS – where to get your basic ingredients like flour, sugar, eggs, butter, fats, flavorings, etc. 4) your COMPETITORS – neighborhood bakeries, supermarkets around, household bakeshops doing small quantities for special orders, and 5) your CUSTOMERS – who are they and where do they come from; what they want (variety) and when they want it; the price they are willing to pay for it; seasonality involved like Christmas season, summer vacation and special occasions, etc.,

For a coop to survive, the key issue is the selling price to your coop members. Too low mark-up will make your operations lose money. Too high a mark-up will turn off your members and force them to buy outside. I believe that you must first survey from among your members and find out what their budget for bread is per week. From this survey or interview, try to set a sales target. The next step is to determine your fixed and variable costs. Fixed costs include utilities, depreciation, rent, salaries, etc. Variable costs include costs related to the production of a specific bakery product, say pullman bread or pandesal, which may include direct raw materials used, etc. In business school, we teach our students how to compute for their BEP or break-even point in sales. This means that upon selling that much quantities of products, your profit will just be able to pay for the fixed costs that you shall be incurring on a month-to-month basis.

At the risk of sounding too mathematical, let me introduce you to a formula which I regularly teach anyone who consults me:

   1 - VC
  where FC = Fixed Costs
     VC = Variable Costs

Let’s take an example. After summing up your rent, light, water, taxes, labor costs, etc. you realized that your fixed cost is Php50,000, the question now before you is how much sales must you realize a month in order for you to “break-even”? The concept of break-even is based on the expectation that whatever gross profit you realized will have been enough to just pay for all of your expenses or costs, including administrative costs. Before you continue, try to compute for your variable cost and average it out. Let’s say for a coop, instead of applying the industry mark-up of cost times 2.5 or 3, your opted to just mark-up at cost times 2 to make your price attractive to the members. This means that your variable cost is 50% of your selling price or something like 0.50 for every 1.00 selling price. After applying the formula, you will be able to determine your BEP at Php100,000. On a daily basis, you must be able to sell at least 3,300 in order to stay in business without losing. The final step is for you to come up with a product list that will motivate your members to buy your bakery products and make it to the 3300 sales target, on average, daily.

The above is the finance part of the business. Ultimately, it is the quality of your baked goods that will make your customers come back. You must have a “product-man” who knows the baking process from start to finish. He may or may not be a baker. He is just someone who understands the intricacies of the baking process, if not the business in general.
DEC 18, 2007

Reach for the Star

Thursday, December 13th, 2007

It’s been over one year now since I started writing for the Philippine Star and until now my colleagues can’t believe I write my own column given my schedule. I have managed to write a weekly column partly because of my Blackberry which my wife and kids keep complaining about. Sometimes, she thinks my mistress is my Blackberry and my executives hate it as they have no reason to escape from my emails and sms messages. Nevertheless, I have grown quite fond of it because it allows me to communicate effectively 24/7.

I never really planned on being a column writer for the Philippine Star. I never thought I had the capability to write well. My English and Communications subjects in school were average and at times even below average. I guess writing from the heart is what makes the articles come alive and more interesting.

In a way, the Ask Go Negosyo column has indeed inspired a lot of people to have a different perspective in life. People get inspiration from the column even if they do not own a negosyo. The column also hopes to instill in its readers the importance of having the right mindset and approach in life. As I said in my previous column, we should not have a bahala na attitude or blind faith and instead continue to have hope and become masters of our own destiny. We should never cease to dream and must always aim to Reach for the Stars.

This is sometimes easier said than done especially if one faces a great crisis in life. My father-in-law Jose Orosa who has colon cancer and has undergone so many operations and chemotherapies still continues to have the right attitude in life. Of course God is key to this, but what is important is how we accept and make the best out of the challenges that life throws back at us.

Last week, I was invited to be the keynote speaker during the graduation rites of the Adaptive Technology for Rehabilitation, Integration and Empowerment (ATRIEV) Center. Its founder is one of our awardees of the Most Inspiring People with Disabilities (PWD) Entrepreneurs, Mr. Antonio Llanes.

ATRIEV is a non-profit organization that provides visually-impaired persons access to post-secondary education, mainstream employment, and similar opportunities thru the use of adaptive technologies. ATRIEV also pioneered and institutionalized a computer literacy program for the blind through ATTRAC or the Adaptive Technology for Training, Resource and Access Center.

During their graduation rites, I was deeply touched in seeing a young child using the computer. With the help of IBM’s General Manager Jajo Quintos, ATRIEV uses a software that allows the blind to use the computer. While the young student was doing the demo, I got inspired because these people who have been born blind could have given up easily but just like Mr. Llanes, they decided to make something out of their lives. They continue to live and strive to become a productive member of our society.

During my talk, I mentioned how I pity on the other hand those who have no physical disability but seem to have a handicap, in terms of having a negativist attitude. I pity those who always harbor negative thoughts and feelings, which more often than not, lead to their downfall.

Last night, the Philippine Star was recognized by Go Negosyo, together with PCE Trustees Tony Tan Caktiong, Nanay Coring, Harley Sy, Myla Villanueva, Vivienne Tan, Gov. Lray Villafuerte, Dr. Rolando Hortaleza, and representing PGMA was MSME Council Chair and PMS Director General Sec. Cerge Remonde. The Philippine Star has played a big role in providing balanced reporting, not hiding the problems that this government may have but not to the point of exaggeration that it creates a pessimistic society. The Philippine Star has also been instrumental in spreading the Go Negosyo advocacy and in helping build the future stars that will save this nation from poverty. These are the entrepreneurs or negosyantes.

The Star has projected in its front page the inspiring stories of entrepreneurs from each of the different Go Negosyo caravan destinations and has frequently featured Gawad Kalinga, a group led by Tony Meloto who is trying to give hope and help Filipinos have a decent home to live in. Go Negosyo and Gawad Kalinga share the same objective. While both organizations are still far from attaining its goal, significant progress has been achieved and both organizations continue to rekindle the hope of every Filipino that they too can one day become a self-made person with the right mindset.

Life is short, and for those who have achieved great success, it is time to start paying back and build their intangible treasures in their next life. This Christmas and the coming year, maybe it’s time to stop calling ourselves “the sick man of Asia” as we are not. Instead, we are now heading to become the Shining Star of Asia.

Thank you Philippine Star and thank you to all the entrepreneurs who have been part of this advocacy. Let us continue to reach for the star and see this nation of ours move forward in solving poverty in this country.

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Last Monday, I was invited to the book launch of my sister-in-law Peachy Garcia-Concepcion entitled “Hold on Tight”. The book is for light reading and has good quality printing. I would say it is something all parents will be confronted with as our children gain their independence. Letting go is sometimes difficult. But if as parents you have been with them and have mentored them well enough, you can be assured that they have already developed the attitude and values you have instilled in them. Hold on Tight will be sold in all National Bookstore outlets and I encourage everyone to get a copy.

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For those who want to know more about ATRIEV and how you can help, you may contact their office at 927-6185 or email at Let’s support people who want to make a difference especially those who help others move up in life.

The Challenges of Nation Building

Thursday, December 6th, 2007

The Makati Standoff last Thursday showed us the price we have to pay for democracy. Sometimes, I feel that democracy is being abused and that it will take time for this country to reach a certain level of political maturity and good governance. The political realities of patronage still exist and old habits will take time to change. These are just some of the challenges of nation building and it cannot be fixed in one generation.

The stupidity that happened at the Peninsula last Thursday angered a lot of people even that from the opposition. For once, both sides said that was not the right way to do it. Let’s face it, PGMA has to finish her term and those who do not agree with her style will just have to wait till 2010. The arrogance of power was what irritated almost everyone I knew, pro or against this administration. In a way, it was a blessing in disguise that Trillanes and company did this as it showed both sides how irrational this group can be. During this ordeal, Michael Kadoorie the owner of the Peninsula hotels expressed Peninsula’s commitment to this country even with coup threats. My good friend Franc Delgado also mentioned to Mr. Kadoorie that this can be looked upon as an adamant adherence to the continuity of commitment to this country. Peninsula will forever be part of Philippine history. Though unsolicited, the Pen gained maximum publicity which sadly cost them 5M pesos worth of repairs. Still, it is not really a matter of paying for the cost of damage done at the Peninsula but the damage done to the country’s reputation… nakakahiya.

At this point, the greatest objective is for us to build a negosyo climate. We need to strengthen the middle class if we want to have a mature democracy. This means that the small and medium size negosyantes must grow in number so that the microentreps will have a chance to grow into small to medium size businesses. The country cannot be controlled just by large corporations. We must help increase the stakeholders that matter because if this happens, those who are properly employed or have a good business will never want to see absurdities like these happen. No businessman wants to see the country go down this way. We must build a country of industrious people who want to control their destiny.

Despite the controversy surrounding the imposition of curfew, it was great for those who have children to feel what it was like during Martial Law. I find it very difficult to get our kids home early these days especially as teenagers. That night, I got my kids home at 11:30 as we told them we won’t pick them up in jail. Maybe this is the kind of discipline we need to impose among our people. Not to say we reimpose curfew but let’s not allow people who blatantly violate the law, walk into a hotel, call a presscon with guns and all the fuzz. While media may have the right to cover important events, they need to obey when government officials ask for them to clear out. If they don’t, they should bear the consequences as people could have gotten seriously hurt.

After what happened, the stage is now moving to a different level and the battle of the presidency has now begun between Sipag at Tiyaga and Oras Na. Peso has breached the 42 levels and may go below 40 by next year. The fortunes of the Philippines have started to change and it can only get better. As I always say, those who are in the streets have always had a negative outlook in life even if they did not invest in the stock market or real estate. But if they had faith in the Philippines and did not convert their pesos to dollars, by today they would have earned 20 percent more of what they have, that is how big the peso has appreciated. That is the reward for being on optimist for your country. I am still bullish that the year 2008 will be a good year for those who will take action to pursue their dreams. The Philippine economy thru a Go Negosyo climate is what should be at the top of our minds especially when it comes to solving poverty. Go Negosyo, our answer to poverty. Go Negosyo, ang sagot sa kahirapan

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During the launch of Jun de Leon’s book “Our Father” produced by Vivienne Tan, Joel Santos and RJ and Liv Esteban, I was greeted by Mr. Ricardo Po, the founder of Century Canning Corp. He stopped to say that he was happy with the efforts I have placed in inspiring people and how Go Negosyo has been inspiring the nation. I told Mr. Po it is entrepreneurs like him that should take the credit for that and it is really about destroying the crab mentality that a lot of Filipinos still have. This attitude of pulling successful people down has to change and we should instead fuel our people by inspiring them to pursue their dreams.

The book launch had almost the full cast of 62 fathers of the country’s most famous personalities. I missed the opening as I came from the event of Jim Ayala who invited me for a special presentation by Ashoka, an organization actively making efforts to develop social entrepreneurs. That was another inspiring dimension of entrepreneurship — social entrepreneurship that we also discussed in the previous column. Anyway, the “Our Father” book had a lot of entrepreneurs aside from me. My kids wrote something pretty emotional especially the part where they know me as the Go Negosyo man and how I tend to ask them millions of questions whenever they get sick. The book also had PLDT-Smart’s Butch Jimenez with his children photographed in a dive suit as well as the Belmonte brothers with Mayor Sonny. Most of the stories were written by the women in their lives or their children which were very touching. Jun de Leon did an excellent job with the photography and he is also doing our Go Negosyo book Celebrity Edition which is a compilation of 50 celebs who have a negosyo. We hope this will set a new record as the biggest seller beating the first Go Negosyo book which is still a best seller in National Bookstore.

It is very encouraging for me and to the other mentors when people come up to us and say thank you for inspiring them. To all the entrepreneurs who have been part of this advocacy — Maraming maraming salamat! Let’s keep inspiring people to have hope in this country.