Over the past weeks, I have been trying to dodge the idea of celebrating my 50th birthday. Maybe it’s just part of the denial stage when age is catching up fast on us… or the realization of our immortality.
This week, there are two milestones that I celebrate – first is my birthday. As this column comes out, I would be 50 years and 4 days old. The second milestone is today, as my wife, Marissa, and I celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary.
Some of my friends have crossed the 50th mark. They say it’s just like crossing the 30th or 40th mark. While it all may sound so simple, actually it is not. One has to come to the realization that we all have to age. And yet, during our vacation in America, I am still asked to show my ID when I buy a drink or a cigar. It feels good to be mistaken younger for your age. However, Asians look naturally younger than Americans because of our humidity that causes a younger look.
Living a long life would be good, but living a long life that has purpose would even be better. As we entrepreneurs are so busy with the growth prospects and the problems we face with our Negosyo, we tend to forget many things that are important. Sometimes, priorities do change. Power, material things and wealth usually become the overwhelming reasons for us to exist. Then, our lives begin to suffer. We should remember the more important things in life that we should prioritize – time for our family and children, time for spirituality, time for exercise, and time to be with friends.
In the end, finding one’s purpose in life brings about more meaning. Go Negosyo has brought more purpose in my life, as I and other equally committed entrepreneurs continue to spread the advocacy with us to inspire the Filipino people. As we do this, we actually are the ones that get inspired by the stories of people from different stages of their Negosyo, as they overcome their challenges with great attitude and determination. It’s not really about entrepreneurs making millions, but it’s about learning from the kind of character that helps them overcome challenges in life. Through this, we all enrich our lives and become better people.
I finally decided to celebrate my birthday, despite having second thoughts. I was able to organize it in four days. But, what I really wanted was to express my gratitude to all advocates, supporters, corporate and government partners for helping make the Go Negosyo advocacy a reality and reach out to as many Filipinos as possible.
In the process of truly inspiring Filipinos, we also get inspired with the stories of many people who want to progress in life. In that evening of my celebration, I introduced a very inspiring entrepreneur who was awarded in Cebu by Go Negosyo. His name is Marx Melencio. He is a man who lost his eyesight after being shot only five years ago. And yet, he did not dwell on his misfortune; he even confided with us that it must have been a blessing in disguise. Today, Marx has an IT research company, employing about 89 people (around 17 of which are also blind). Stories like this are the ones that touch even those who have been successful in life.
Go Negosyo has given me greater purpose, together with the other entrepreneurs. I am sure their efforts in helping people will be rewarded in the next life. As we get older, we should start building on things that will matter most in our next life. This time, it’s either we graduate with honors or at the very least pass. Failure means hell.
Sometimes we take our married life for granted. With so much temptation around us today, many marriages do not last. It is admirable to see immensely successful people keeping their married life as a priority. Henry Sy and his wife have been married for 58 years. I am told despite his wealth and influence, he has given priority to his wife and family. The dangers to wealth and power are temptations. Sometimes before you know it, when you think you are the creator and self master of all, things start to go the wrong way. I do have friends whose marriages are on the rocks. At times I try to counsel and make them realize that marriage is a commitment for life.
Being married to my wife Marissa for 25 years has been great. We have been college sweethearts back then, but because we men love doing naughty things during the college days, she dumped me. Sometimes you only realize what is truly important when you have lost it. I have literally moved a mountain to win her back. It was not an easy task. I had to do so many stupid things, like placing a huge streamer outside her house to call her attention and see me. (The rest I won’t dare write about.) But, I guess it was the entrepreneur in me, being so persistent in what I wanted that in the end we finally got married. All I can say, with every successful man is a great woman.
This is important, since as entrepreneurs, we try to build our businesses. Our partners should be supportive in managing the family and in making sure that interest and attention is not lost. My wife is also an entrepreneur. She started the popcorn and cotton candy businesses with me when we were in college. As I look back through all these years of our marriage, I have been truly blessed to have a good partner who has helped me reach this point in my life. What else can be greater than to be blessed with a one year old daughter Isabella, at the age of 50 and with 25 years of marriage? We are like a young couple starting all over again. Isabella, our miracle child, is truly Gods greatest gift to us as I turned half a century old and celebrate our 25th anniversary. To me, the real measurement of success in life is having a happy family. To my wife Marissa, I love you.
To our readers, forgive the mushiness
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We would like to thank Cebu’s warm welcome of our Go Negosyo sa Cebu 2. Close to 3,000 Cebuanos filled the Cebu International Convention Center last June 20 to take advantage of the good forum program and expo we have prepared with our partners. Go Negosyo sa Cebu 2 was one of the event highlights of the Cebu Business Month celebrations.
In our second time around in Cebu, Go Negosyo recognized Most Inspiring Cebuano Micro Entrepreneurs who have proven to be running sustainable Negosyos despite their extreme challenges earlier in life. Together with Presidential Management Staff Secretary Cerge Remonde, Go Negosyo sa Cebu Co-Chair and Island Souvenirs President Jay Aldeguer, Cebu Chamber’s Edward Gaisano and Tess Chan, we led the awarding of trophies to Imelda Alinsonorin, Rey Calooy, Lady Canonigo, Cecilia Cañaleta, Saturnina Diez, Darliza Perez, Heidi Ragas, and Cherry Yack. A special award was also given to Marx Melencio, the 28-year old entrepreneur I mentioned above.
Go Negosyo sa Cebu was crowded with participants and supporters from various government and private sector partners, with booths showcasing livelihood assistance, business solutions, product innovations, micro-finance credit, trades and services, among others. It was engaging for everyone eager to get a head-start in business and to learn a thing or two about entrepreneurship.
Among the exhibitors is Cebu City’s MJ Jamero, a 20-year old student-entrepreneur who started her own brand of flip-flops in the city. MJ was one of those who got inspired by last year’s Go Negosyo caravan that she decided to “translate the entrepreneurial spirit into action” and put up her own business.
We would like to thank our Go Negosyo advocates who unselfishly shared their expertise to the Cebuanos: Entrepreneurs School of Asia Dean Francisco Lapid, Aspac Advertising’s Miguel Ramos, Ed Jimenez of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Stance Marketing’s Palou Abustan, Gaita Fores, Justin Uy, Wilson Ng, Steve Benitiez, Mila Espina, Felix Taguiam, Paulo Tibig and Alvin Tan. Celebrity entrepreneur Joyce Jimenez, with her own line of Private Joyce lingerie, also impressed the crowd with her participation in the forum and in the negosyo session.
Special thanks to Commission on Higher Education Regional Director Dr. Enrique P. Grecia and Dr. Carlyn Dela Pena, Department of Education Culture and Sports – Center for Student and Co-Curricular Affairs Executive Director Joey Pelaez and Atty. Buboy Sotto, People’s Credit and Finance Corporation’s Marlon Denina and Dom Pantalita, SB Corporation Visayas Area Manager Cesar Antonio, Development Bank of the Philippines Senior Vice President Corazon Conde, Dan Arcenas of the Rural Banks Association of the Phil., Alex Almendrala and Rudy Villanueva of NATCCO.
Our awardees were endorsed by the Micro Finance Council of the Philippines, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Citigroup, Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc., Cebu Micro Entrepreneur Development Foundation Inc., Taytay sa Kauswagan Inc., and Mr. Peter Wallace.
Our Go Negosyo sa Cebu would not have also been made possible without the help of our partners PLDT SME Nation, Smart Communications, Condura, Entrepreneurs School of Asia, RFM Corporation, San Miguel Corporation, Ariel Detergents, Nokia, Splash Group of Companies, Banco De Oro, V-cargo, Sterling Group of Companies, Hapee Toothpaste, and the President’s Social Fund.