Archive for January, 2008

Turbulent Times

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

As we entered the year 2008 full of optimism, we saw one of the worst stock market crashes in history brought about by massive write downs of the world’s large banks. Being an investor myself, my wife asked me what was happening and all I could say was that it’s a nightmare out there, especially in the US market. Fortunately, the Feds came into the picture, a bit late but they did what they had to with the 75 basis point rate cut enough to calm the market.

One can say that when America sneezes, the world catches a cold. All our markets are now linked with telecom technology and the speed of communication with 24/7 networks such as Bloomberg and CNBC, which was at its highest rating ever.

What is in store for us? It all depends if the US will end up with a recession or slow growth. I have a feeling that America cannot afford a recession when its banks are just reeling from the sub prime crisis. Thus we see aggressive moves with the cutback in interest rates, eventually to 2.75pct from the 3.5pct now and maybe even further as needed.

Real estate will continue to do well. I do not believe that the Philippines will be greatly affected as I see more of America’s back offices such as call centers, moving to lower cost countries. For those who have a medium- term view, you can start buying stocks gradually.

I still believe our Philippine peso will continue to appreciate to the 38 and 39 levels. At that point, a lot of Filipinos will start to buy dollars and perhaps even the Philippine government should buy dollars and reduce the debt so they could have a windfall. They should move towards domestic funding as there will be so much liquidity in the system. Money market rates and borrowing rates will go down. This is the best time to start or expand your business. We have to differentiate what we see in the stock market and the real economy because the stock market, while there are good equity research works, is more often affected by market perceptions, emotions and speculations. Meanwhile, the real economy that we see, the agriculture, manufacturing and services activities that we see still offer tremendous opportunities, with unserved market demand in specific areas that entrepreneurs have to spot. We will have volatile market but at the end of 2008, things should look much better for the real economy.

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Let me share with you views of the other entreps and what they wish for this country and PGMA:

DRA. VICKY BELO (Belo Medical Group)Being an entrepreneur satisfies our personal needs for freedom, flexibility, variety, creativity, responsibility, control and authority. Through sheer hard work, the entrepreneur can reap the fruits of his or her labor. Yes, although the advantages and rewards are high, so are the risks.

Filipinos in general are very creative and entrepreneurial in nature. With the phenomenal growth of small to medium enterprises and through the support of private and government-run agencies, Filipinos have generally become more business-minded than before. A heightened level of awareness initiated by the Go Negosyo team in the last 3 years has clearly defined a template for the thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs in the country.

School Intervention
Early intervention in our educational system of entrepreneurial activities can reinforce the child’s learning of basic business models in school. A classic example was the introduction several years ago of the interactive Kumon in the child’s formative years. The new method paved the way for a dramatic increase in literacy on mathematical models. Before Kumon was introduced, children in schools had a mediocre absorption of mathematics.

Family Nurturing
I was exposed to a business environment at an early age (I was 5 then). I would bake goodies and sell these to my classmates in school. My initial entrepreneurial attitude and natural talent in sales and marketing prepared me for something bigger in the future.

Leveraging Information Technology
I.T can be use as a catalyst to spread the entrepreneurial momentum all over the country. Access to entrepreneurial information and database is now available to a significant number of aspiring and budding entrepreneurs

Business Values Nurtured at Home
A solid family upbringing where children are constantly being exposed to a competitive and hardworking environment, combined with a passion for business are some of the factors that would help develop an entrepreneurial attitude.

What is your wish for our country in 2008?

Brand the Philippines as a Destination of Choice

Medical Tourism as the New Economy
Promote the Philippines as a destination of choice in Asia for business, tourism and wellness. The Philippines is a beautiful country with a glorious history and a warm and caring population.

Create a strategic road map for the country’s medical tourism. This is one of Belo Medical Groups primary thrust for 2008.

Sustained Growth Rate
Sustained Economic gains and less politics will definitely create new opportunities for start ups, early stage and growth stage firms.

An Integrated Plan for Global Warming
Advocacy and Awareness via our Belo goes Green campaign was a major initiative in 2007. We are counting on every institution to do their share in creating awareness on Global Warming.

Support for Go Negosyo’s National Campaign on Entrepreneurship

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ROBERT YUPANGCO (Zoobic Safari Adventure)
My theme for my group is: go full out with integrity! Honor your word, be whole/complete and no excuses! Be consistent, that is my wish for the government to do as well!

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HENRIK KELLY YU (Bigby’s Café)
Identify which industry to concentrate on so that the country can focus in one goal. Like tourism or agriculture. I wish for a peaceful year ahead.

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WILSONG NG (Ng Khai Development Corp.)
I have been to many countries, be it the United States, Canada, Middle East, Japan, Hong Kong, Italy, or where else, and it is great to see Filipinos wherever I go. However, it would have been really better than other than being wage earners, our brothers could do better. For instance, in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, there were so many Filipinos that it is officially declared that Tagalog is one of their major languages, and you see it spoken everywhere. However, you meet Filipinos in restaurants, and hotels, but most of the establishments there are owned by Hindus and other nationalities.

We believe that our aspirations is as low as our self esteem as a people, and therefore the best way to build up such confidence is not only to give them entrepreneurial skills, but also to build their cultural identity. One good way is to build up our Filipino food heritage.

You go to so many countries, and everywhere you go, you see Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese restaurants, but hardly Filipino restaurants. Moreover, you see Filipino waiters and attendants, but hardly any of them are the cooks.

In this regard, I would like to ask Joey who has the ears of PGMA if it is possible to put up also a scholarship to train Filipino chefs. Train thousands of them, even for free!

If we have thousands of Filipinos who are very good cooks, I envision a time when there will be Filipino restaurants, and Filipino cooks everywhere around the world! They will act as our ambassadors in many countries, and a free publicity to our country and our culture.

When you hear why people go to Thailand, it is because they have good experience in Thai restaurants in their locality, and when they go to Thailand, food is great and affordable!

We can do the same. We can train engineers, and welders, and when we lose them to other countries, we lose! But we train Filipino chefs in Filipino food and whether they choose to go abroad or stay in the Philippines, we win!

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JUSTIN UY (Profoods Int’l Corp.)
What we wish for 2008 is for the government to be more stable in its decision. For example, the case of San Miguel Corporation with the Sumilao Farmers of Bukidnon. As I understand, the property was sold to San Miguel Corp due to it was declared as industrial property. But right now due to the farmers popular protest, PGMA seems want to revert the decision to agricultural property and it should be under the Agrarian Reform. In the first place, it was the government who convert the agricultural property into industrial one and now they want to reverse it. So what will happen to the investors? San Miguel Corp can afford loses but how about the entrepreneurs like us? We can’t afford this type of failure.

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RAY GAPUZ (R.A. Gapuz Review Center)

PGMA is doing a great job in sustaining the country’s economic gains. I believe that the spirit of entrepreneurship will be better sustained through the integration of entrepreneurship in all college courses. This will give rise to “intra-preneurs’- professionals who utilize their profession as a springboard to developing a business. So there is no more need for a doctor to get an MBA, because early on in their studies they were already taught business principles which they can utilize should they decide to open one after graduation. This will lead to the development of a more self-sufficient professional who would no longer need to go abroad to earn extra income. So we can see more of nurse-intrapreneurs; dentist-intrapreneurs; biologist-intrapreneurs.

I wish that our country will be united towards the realization of peace through our faith and may it continue to enable the realization of its peoples’ dreams and aspirations.

Myla's Reflections on a Rising China

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

The following is a very interesting article from Go Negosyo advocate and Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship Trustee Myla Villanueva. Being one of the leading technopreneurs in the country, Myla talks about her recent trip to China for a speaking engagement about technopreneurship and China Mobile’s first Mobile Innovation Forum.

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Reflections on a Rising China
By Myla Villanueva

Before the holidays, I received a call from Cambridge Professor Alan Barrell inviting me to speak in Beijing before 1000 Chinese university students for Cambridge University Education without Borders.

The goals of CUEWB which aims to share educational resources worldwide and break the barriers between educational institutions, students and industrial organizations was close to the callings of GoNegosyo, and also close to my heart.

Professor Barrell who has spent 30 years in various areas of technology was one of the first recipients of The Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion. He asked me to speak about technology entrepreneurship in a developing country. His passion for entrepreneurship reminded me of GoNegosyo founder Joey Concepcion’s own.

A few days later, I also received a call that an invitation from the Chairman’s office of China Mobile was forthcoming, to attend their first Mobile Information Forum in Guangzhou on the same week. While I live partly in Hong Kong and my work in technology dictates traveling across oceans up to 10 times yearly, I have never had the opportunity to interact this closely in the mainland with young Chinese students. It was also expected that the China Mobile conference would be attended by 1,500 Chinese government officials, business executives and technology experts. I was happily China bound.

I thought long and hard about what to say to the students. The technology message was easy enough. It would not be lost on them that theirs is one of the hottest technology markets in the world. There are over 160 million internet users in China, and albeit small in relation to its population, the opportunities for the future are vast, with user growth registering a 23% increase yearly.

Earlier in November, local internet hero Jack Ma launched the most anticipated internet IPO since Google. His company,’s value soared to 26 billion USD overnight exceeding the earnings multiples for Google more than fives times, at over 250 times earnings.

I wondered, however, what are the aspirations of the Chinese youth about to graduate and enter industry? Are they keenly aware of the international attention, responsibilities and expectations that lay ahead of them as future leaders of the oft-talked about Chinese Century? Will they have similar dreams as our students in Go Negosyo caravans? Will our messages be lost in translation?

I settled on the topic: From Silicon Valley to Home and Back to the Future recalling my own student days in the Valley and the great difficulties and joys of building a technology enterprise in a developing country like the Philippines. I talked of starting as a young woman fresh out of college, progressing to the international industry work of today, where mobile technology is headed, and about my fifth technology start-up, Novare, that is in fact beginning to serve some Chinese, Israeli, and European companies in the emerging field of fixed-mobile convergence.

All my concerns of connecting were quickly dispelled upon arriving at the National Library Hall. The auditorium was packed with students eager to learn and exchange ideas, and the energy was palpable. After nearly seven hours of discussions, there were nonstop questions from the students fielded to the various speakers and the professors from Cambridge. Many aspire to educate themselves further via master’s degrees if it can be afforded, and preferably in other countries. Most of the Cambridge Chinese students who co-organized the event were looking forward to coming back home to China to work.

Up to this month, I receive emails from them commenting on ideas discussed during the forum. I was asked to come and help inspire, but it was I who was inspired by the forward-looking, future leaders of our neighboring country.

Dinner that night was with a thoroughly modern urban couple. A lady friend who is a fast rising tech executive and her husband, a CEO of a major internet company invited me and my daughter Blanca to their home.

The traffic and pollution were also thoroughly Manila modern. There are after all 3 million cars in the core of the city of 10 million.

The Olympic fever was omnipresent, with English signs and billboards proudly signifying their readiness to be host in August of this year.

Upon arriving in the four- story townhouse, Blanca and I were quickly greeted at the door by their 5 year old daughter who said hello and Merry Christmas in fluent English, tutored this early on in the language. Our daughters exchanged Christmas cookies, a chocolate Santa and a tea set. A very gracious and beautiful couple, we spoke over traditional Chinese faire about the one child policy (they agree its best) and how they are very much happy with governance and where their country is headed.

Next stop was Guangzhou; formerly known as Canton, for the China Mobile (CMCC) forum.

To put in perspective the scale at which the telecommunications industry is growing in this country, China Mobile is now one of the most valuable companies in the world, with a capitalization of $360 Billion USD. (The most valuable company globally is also Chinese, in the recently listed PetroChina, making history as the first to hit a valuation of 1 trillion dollars on mainland bourses). The two largest state-owned mobile companies share an astounding 520 million subscribers, a penetration of 39.9% and a ways to go before connecting its1.3 Billion people.

The waiting room for the CMCC Chairman Wang Jianzhou’s guests was a testament to the drawing power of the event on Western thought leaders. Nicholas Negroponte of the One Laptop Per Child project and Chairman emeritus of MIT Media Labs, Jim Balsillie, CEO of RIM, makers of the iconic Blackberry, Chris Anderson author of international bestseller “The Long Tail” and editor-in-Chief of Wired Magazine, Intel’s China hand and a friend Mr. Chris Thomas, a GSM Association delegation led by another friend Craig Ehrlich came in support of CMCC’s vision. On the China front were top government party leaders, educators and captains in the Banking, Technology and Manufacturing industries.

Showing its desire to stamp its own brand at technology leadership, we are now seeing rising Chinese global brands Haier (in consumer electronics and durable goods), Lenovo (the company which bought the PC business of IBM), Huawei,, Baidu, and yes, ZTE. China Mobile has also indicated the launch of its own standard of 3G technology and next -generation mobile called TD-SCDMA (as versus global and American technology of Qualcomm, called W-CDMA). With a market that immense, just serving the local demands makes technology bets backed by government vastly sustainable.

Guangzhou is a very charming city. The placid waters and iridescent night lights of the Pearl River Delta viewed from my hotel window belied the fact that this is the fastest growing city, in the fastest growing province in the fastest growing economic power in the world today. But the pressures of the frenzied growth and industrialization are showing. The gap of incomes between the richer denizens of the coastal cities (and cities at large) and inland rural poor is widening. The Economist references officials stating that by 2020, about 60% of the population will be living in cities and towns, implying more than 200 million will be migrating from the countryside, further stressing urban infrastructures. The costs of supporting education and health care are growing. The costs of development to the environment are seasonally apparent in the air, to a first time visitor wondering whether the haze is smog or fog.

Finally back in Hong Kong, I realize that this is the first country I have lived in outside of the Philippines since my college days in the Valley, at the cusp of the Internet boom and its glory days. It calls to mind a current article in Foreign Affairs by John Ikenberry stating “The rise of China will undoubtedly be one of the great dramas of the twenty-first century”.

I do feel extremely fortunate to be here and experiencing yet the advent of another amazing story unfolding, differently, on its own terms, and uniquely China.

Myla Villanueva is a Go Negosyo advocate and PCE Trustee, founder of Novare Technologies, founder of the MDI Group, and Chairperson of the global Mobile Innovation Program and Member of the Executive Management Committee of the GSM Association. For comments write to

An Entrep's Advice for 2008

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

In the following columns, we will be getting article contributions from different entrepreneurs who have been actively supporting the Go Negosy fever. But before we get into that, let me share with you first what happened during our lunch with PGMA. Last Monday, PGMA hosted a lunch to thank the Go Negosyo advocates and Inspiring PWD entrepreneurs for helping bring a positive outlook in our country. We also recognized Philippine Star’s efforts in supporting Go Negosyo by bringing positive news that has brought about a better Philippines. Aside from their balanced reporting of current events, the Philippine Star continuously gives support to advocacies like Go Negosyo and Gawad Kalinga that brings hope to a lot of Filipinos that we do have a future.

During the lunch, Gracy Go and Isaac Belmonte were greatly pleased with the President’s warmness towards what the group has been doing. Sec. Cerge Remonde who heads the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) council was also there as he has been instrumental in mustering the government support needed in this partnership. During lunch, the President had an interesting talk regarding internet in the Philippines with Orlando Vea, founder of Smart Communications and Myla Villanueva of MDI Technologies. The President expressed keen interest in the growing internet access in the countryside and was really interested in having internet access to poorer communities which SmartBro is providing. PCE Trustees also shared their time with the President such as Gov. Lray Villafuerte, Dr. Rolando Hortaleza of Splash Corporation, Carla Limcaoco of Philippine Transmarine Carriers Inc. and Imelda Madarang of RFM Corporation. Other Go Negosyo advocates also shared their time with the President and the Inspiring PWD awardees include Henry Lim Bon Liong whom aside from heading Sterling Corporation is also into hybrid rice production, Johnlu Koa of French Baker, Gaita Fores of Cibo, Paul Zaragoza of Pentium Group and PCE Executive Mon Lopez.

The lunch also provided us an opportunity to present our Most Inspiring Person with Disabilities (PWD) Entrepreneur Awardees such as Antonio Llanes of Adaptive Technology for Rehabilitation, Integration and Empowerment of the Visually Impaired (ATRIEV), Dennis Balan of DRCB Photography Services, Dickoy Magdaraog of Sparkplug Studios, Jocelyn Garcia of Tahanang Walang Hagdanan and Gilda Quintua of MGLQ Deaf Tour Assistance Philippines. There was also a short demo from an ATRIEV student, Beverly Bravo on how the blind uses a computer using a special software.

We also presented the plans to the President on how we can continue to push Go Negosyo to greater awareness to balance the political fever that is about to start. Politics is not the answer to poverty. While a stable political environment is necessary for the economy to move, Filipinos should not be trapped into thinking that politics will change this nation. We presented the plans for “Go Negosyo, Sagot sa Kahirapan” which basically means adapting a negosyo mindset as our answer to poverty. For 2008, 50 celebrities will join us in this advocacy that Go Negosyo is indeed our answer to poverty. These celebrity entrepreneurs showcase the different businesses they are in and encourage people to do the same.

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ATTY. FELIPE L. GOZON (Chairman and CEO, GMA Network Inc.)

In general, the government should establish an environment that is entrepreneur- and investor friendly. In particular, this means reducing drastically bureaucratic government red tape requirements for starting and doing business; minimizing graft and corruption (whether petty or large-scale); providing tax and/or non-tax incentives to businesses that are needed by and/or that contributes much to the growth of our national economy; implementing efficiently and objectively our laws; making revenue collection more efficient and reducing national indebtedness; making capital available to entrepreneurs at affordable rates; providing the judiciary with sufficient resources and competent personnel to expedite resolution of cases; making our elections less susceptible to cheating and improper machinations; making the economic policies and directions of the government more stable, consistent and predictable; making available sufficient skilled and non-skilled workers who are at par with, if not superior to, the workers in other progressive countries; making available at affordable prices modern equipment and machines; etc.

I wish for the country more prosperity, higher economic growth that can be felt by the poorer sector of our society, political stability, substantially improved peace and order, less natural disasters and/or calamities, unity and harmony, drastic reduction of poverty and incidence of hunger, etc.

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RICHIE CUNA (President, Association of Filipino Franchisers Inc.)

I hope that the government will be able to implement basic government regulations on the protection of the growing franchising industry in the Philippines. More power to PGMA and the entrepreneurs of the country.

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ROBERT KUAN (Founder, Chowking)

My thoughts about spreading entrepreneurship is to recognize not just the already high profile entrepreneurs and their business but to recognize and inspire a lot of small business that are well run by “Mom and Pop” that can be grown into big businesses someday if only they have a vision for the future.

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ARIEL JERSEY (Founder, EZ Maps)

I wish that PGMA will continue her support to PCE programs for the entreps. Encourage, create programs and give incentives to aspiring entreps. I wish that PGMA will be honest, truthful and independent in all her decisions. Focus on her job and avoid politics. I hope that our country will have political stability. If we achieve this, peace and progress will follow. More tourists and investors will come.

Fernando’s Views on Entrep Development

Thursday, January 10th, 2008

Entrepreneurship and Development: Supporting Young Filipino Entrepreneurs
By Fernando Zobel de Ayala

Go Negosyo is a movement that constantly inspires. I congratulate Joey Concepcion for the outstanding work he has done with the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship and for creating a program for entrepreneurial support. I also thank him for allowing me to share some thoughts in his column.

Joey has brought so much awareness and the much needed encouragement for the youth to pursue an alternative career path beyond the traditional corporate life — the path of entrepreneurship. This is certainly not the easy route for anyone, especially with the intensified volatility of markets and the increasingly competitive business environment. But there are great opportunities for individuals with the courage to pursue their dreams. Entrepreneurship offers an exciting way to engage all of one’s senses. It requires creative energy, self-discipline, a keen analytical mind, an appetite for risk, and the ability to constantly innovate, reinvent, and evolve.

Entrepreneurship puts one at the center of a thriving economy. For after all, a country’s capacity to grow rests on the ability of its people to develop new businesses, generate new jobs, and create new wealth.

According to the Department of Trade and Industry, the majority of entrepreneurs create new businesses in the small and medium scale, which today account for 99.6% of the country’s total business enterprises and generate 69.1% of all jobs. Clearly, SMEs are a major backbone of our country’s economy. It must be sustained with the necessary support not only from government and public policy, but also from the private sector and the academe.

How can we continue to encourage the spirit of entrepreneurship, especially among our youth? To my mind, the private sector can play an important role and contribute to sustaining the entrepreneurial drive. We have tried to do our part, in a modest way, through the Ayala Foundation, Inc. (AFI). AFI has chosen to focus on entrepreneurship as one of the key areas of its corporate social responsibility initiatives, alongside education and the environment.

We believe entrepreneurship builds on our innate creativity and innovativeness; the ability to spot, to create, or to take advantage of opportunities around us and to transform them into something useful and productive. In addition, by encouraging the entrepreneurial spirit of the Filipino, we also nurture the values of integrity, independence, hard work, excellence, and responsibility.

There are, however, a number of challenges that we face in harnessing the potential of entrepreneurship among Filipinos. One of the most pressing ones is to increase entrepreneurial opportunities among the youth.

One of the ways that the Ayala Foundation is addressing this challenge is through a program called Technology Business Incubation (TBI). The first TBI established to promote entrepreneurship in the field of technology is our partnership with the University of the Philippines under the UP-Ayala Technology Business Incubator (TBI). Launched in 2000, the UP-Ayala TBI assists new technology businesses by offering them a space in the incubator building at the UP Diliman campus at lower than market rates. An additional benefit is that they can tap into the unique skills and talents of the professors in UP who can also offer students part-time work on campus. The start-ups are likewise offered a range of services and training programs to facilitate business growth.

In today’s global business environment, there is an enormous need for information, technology, and communication (ICT). Many of our youth have a unique skill in this area and can certainly play an important role in the development of this sector. Currently, the UP-Ayala technology business incubator houses nine techno-preneurs in information and communications technology – both hardware and software design. They currently employ over 160 people. Two of our incubatees have already graduated from the incubator to become full-fledged medium to large-scale businesses.

The UP-Ayala TBI caught the attention and garnered the support of the World Bank and its InfoDev Program because of its unique feature of being supported by the private sector. Many of the other business incubators in their global program were supported by the government.

Buoyed by the success of the UP partnership, AFI also recently opened a new incubator at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) which will have the capacity to house 15 to 17 businesses, primarily engaged in software development and services.

As in UP, the technology business incubator at AIM offers a range of services and training programs to assist entrepreneurs in growing and nurturing their businesses. These include an Innovation Forum and the Kape at Teknolohiya series where scientists, technical experts, venture capitalists, and entrepreneurs meet to discuss the possible commercialization of scientific or technical discoveries. In the past year, some of the topics discussed included Open Source software, mobile telecommunications, the internet, biotech, health and medicine, and renewable energy.

TBI also supports technology start-ups through its training programs. These programs have included a series on Intellectual Property Protection for businesses as well as Technology Licensing Policies and Practices for universities. Through these courses, entrepreneurs and university science administrators are taught how to file for copyrights, trademarks, and patents as well as develop technology licensing agreements between developers and academic institutions. These practices help ensure that both developers and university research labs are protected and are appropriately rewarded commercially for their discoveries.

The latest offering at TBI is the Technology Boot Camp, an intensive three-day course on how to take a technology business from idea to marketplace. This seminar walks entrepreneurs through the essential steps of building up a business plan, sourcing funds, making a pitch to investors, marketing, and operations.

The boot camp is unique in the sense that almost all instructors and lecturers are themselves successful technology entrepreneurs or venture capitalists or both. They include the likes of Dado Banatao of Tallwood VC and Denny Roja of Acuity Ventures, Paco Sandejas (Narra VC), Dan Pagulayan (ICCP), Donald Lim (Yehey), Winston Damarillo (Exist Global), Joey Gurango (Gurango Software), Dondi Mapa (Dell), Dickie Gonzales (PESO), Martin Lichauco (AO Capital), and many others.

This camp is also unique because it ends with a session where each entrepreneur makes a three-minute presentation to a panel of venture capitalists in the hope of attracting enough interest to warrant a serious discussion and proposal for equity in their ventures. In this year’s Tech Boot Camp Release 1.0, about 75 entrepreneurs of various ages attended the three-day camp and vied for the attention of VCs through their project presentations. The camp has attracted so much interest that a second Tech Boot Camp and perhaps even a Biotech Boot Camp are planned for 2008.

By pushing these technology incubator services, we hope to encourage and nurture the next generation of entrepreneurs to propel the country forward and enable us to compete more aggressively in the global business arena.

We hope that in our own modest way, we can make entrepreneurship a launching pad for the Filipino youth to create a better future for themselves and for the country, while striving to showcase the ingenuity, talent, creativity for which the Filipino is known. By doing so, we too share in the spirit to “GoNegosyo”.

Interested parties for the AFI Tech Boot Camp may contact Mr. Guillermo Luz at tel. no. 752-1214 or email at or Mitch Barcelon at tel. nos. 928-9344 and 928-9451 or email at

Do It in 2008

Thursday, January 3rd, 2008

It was indeed a very happy year in 2007 for those who believed in this country, especially those who started believing as early as 2006. The good spirit at the start of the year is clearly evident with the amount of people traveling for the holidays. This year, our family decided to spend it in Hongkong where my dad Joecon and his twin brother Raul also had their 76th birthday celebration. We were about 80 people on this trip, all the way to the grandchildren with my Tita Mely Hechanova although they were smaller in number since the men in their side of the family are less prolific than the children of the twins. The funny part is that my wife and I had the youngest grandchild considering our age, with Isabella now 9 months old. She is definitely the best Christmas present we ever had. While we were in NAIA, there were a lot of people and it felt like there was a party in the airport. It was like an exodus as I saw people escaping Manila as if there was a coup.

Spending the holidays in Hongkong was cheaper than going to Boracay and Cebu. With the peso at 41 compared to a year ago and with the boom in tourism in the Philippines, the prices of hotels in Manila have gone up tremendously. This was primarily because the hotel rates are in pesos and not in dollars with Fil-Ams and our Asian neighbors wanting to see the Philippines. Walking thru the ocean terminal in Hongkong was like going to Rockwell or the SM malls since we saw so many familiar faces. We had great bonding time with the Aranetas, Fores and Oledans as Pinoy bands played all over the hotel. This was typical Filipino camaraderie. There was also so much tsimis, leave it to my sister Vina and she can tell you more who was in Hongkong (and with whom).

Kidding aside, I wonder where the pessimists spent their holidays this year. I guess maybe plotting their next moves on how to sow greater fear or maybe planning another rally on how this government is getting nowhere. I wouldn’t blame them having converted their pesos to dollars at 56. They lost 25pct. Not having invested in real estate and trying to now buy where condos are going for over 100t pesos per square, or missing the stock market increase this year with the stock index soaring beyond 3,600 levels.

As I mentioned in the column last week, 2008 will be another good year for the Philippines as we will benefit from the Asian economic surge. Aside from this, new malls and community centers are being set up all over the Philippines which allow opportunities for new entrepreneurs to set up their businesses. What is important is for entrepreneurs not to become a “me too” and instead be more creative and innovative in their products and services. The peso should break the 40 levels soon but towards the mid of this year with the dollar getting stronger. I would convert my pesos to dollars when it breaks 40 and invest in peso-dollar bonds which is one of the best performing bonds over the past years.

We still don’t know for sure if a recession will hit the USA and how it will impact the Asian economies. My belief is that even if there is a very mild recession, it will just affect the stock market. The real economies of Asia will continue to do well specially the momentum of growth that is happening in China. You can also see this Hongkong as I saw lots of people there waiting in line to enter the luxury brand stores.

Opportunities on tourism are growing rapidly and if we can sustain a peaceful environment, there is no reason why people from other countries in Asia like China, Malaysia and Singapore won’t visit the country. DOT Sec. Ace Durano is a good marketing man who knows where to focus our efforts which is in the Asian market. Korean visitors are already taking the country by storm and it is only a matter of time before our other neighboring Asian countries also start invading the Philippines.

My advice for the New Year is don’t just make your resolution in paper, go out and DO IT IN 2008.

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Let me share with you feedback from people who have written to us these past few weeks:

(Feedback on a previous column, “The Challenges of Nation Building)

Hi Joey!

I agree with your recent column The Challenges of Nation Building and I agree that it’s going to take a while for Philippines to recover and change but there is hope and that hope can come nearer if our people will start making an effort to selflessly serve each other and our nation.

Being overseas for many years, I struggle with the idea of returning and investing in the Philippines, but 7 yrs ago I came back for a couple of years of volunteer work and helping the needy, then I realized that Filipino are worth investing. Since then I’ve been coming back and searching for ways to build businesses that will create jobs and training opportunities for the less fortunate.

I can’t wait until I can come back for good.

Den Enguillo
Delegate Coordinator
Euromoney Seminars Asia

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Hello Joey,

Absolutely fantastic article! To start solving our problems is to start thinking different – thanks for inspiring our country men. My heart is crushed whenever I ride a taxi. Taxi drivers are slowly killing themselves – 24X7 driving, no heavy or nutritious meals, stress in the streets, etc.

Also for the traffic enforcers such as MMDA – they are exposed to pollution. I hope Mr. BF equips his people with masks and HMO. I was pondering on this. If you are a jeepney driver, how can you progress to become a sales man or a business man or a computer wizard? Life is more than becoming just a jeepney driver. What can we do with these people that they can be more than who they can be?

Aside from inspiration and identifying their dreams, what else do you think should be done? I was thinking of an NGO that will provide open specific short education that they can use in whatever specific field they pursue. A good example would be becoming a computer programmer or a chef. I myself is an open source hobbyist and I believe that the spirit of open source principle can be applied not only in software but also in other areas. Being free to pursue freedom from the bondages old Filipino mentality.

Darwin Pintado