Archive for December, 2008

My Christmas Wish List

Thursday, December 25th, 2008

Merry Christmas. I am sure the first thing people would not do during Christmas day is read the newspaper, but I still decided to write this column. There would still be the Fil-ams who follow this column and those who decided to stay in America to conserve their resources this holiday season.

My friends say that there are now so many bargains in the malls in San Francisco. Everyone is trying to get rid of their inventory, in anticipation for a very weak first quarter in 2009. The only good news coming out is the proposed stimulus package of Obama, which he says will create three million jobs.

Back home, the traffic has been horrendous, which is a good sign of economic activity. People here are shopping. Christmas to Filipinos is something special. The Filipino family bonding is still very strong, even for those overseas workers coming home for Christmas. Being with our family is something important. The bad part during Christmas gatherings and parties is our tendency to gain weight.

One of the gifts I have received that was quite unique is a plastic bag with three canned goods and a White King champorado – one of the products we make. It was a pass around gift from a friend. It is to be given to those who need it more, and see their faces beam with joy. My wife, Marissa, together with our kids spent this season going around giving gifts to the many street children of Laura Vicuna and Vides. These are organizations that help street children. This is one of the traditional things that my wife has done for the past years. This season, they went to about three sites. I joined them in one of their visits. This is something different, because our children get to see how lucky they are and they get to realize what they have in life. The children in these foundations and organizations very much appreciate the presents and gifts that they receive. While we see the level of poverty in our country, we also still see these children smile.

I am too big for a Christmas wish for Santa. This morning, we open our gifts, and of course, my kids still qualify to make their requests from Santa. If the gifts are not as good as last year’s, lets blame our private bankers as this financial crisis has brought our standards lower. Even so, I still made my Christmas wish.

First, I thank God for blessing us with a daughter, especially at my late age of 50. My wife certainly set a record with Doctor Celdran. Isabella is already a year and a half old. She can already be my granddaughter. She is one of God’s greatest gifts to us. I wish that we would be blessed with a long and healthy life to be able to see her grow.

My second wish is for my wife, as she helps her father battle his cancer. She loves her father very much. Her wish is that God grants her the grace and courage that she needs in times like this.

My third wish is for my children. I wish that they will be able to soon realize their purpose in life, and pursue it the best they can. I wish for them to continue to realize that God is the source of all their success in life.

My fourth wish is for a friend who loves motorcycling all over the Philippines. He is now in Houston, fighting for his life. I wish that God gives him the courage to not give up. He has a great wife and loving family – his source of inspiration.

My fifth wish is for the Philippines. I wish that God grants our nation with a blessing that will uplift the level of poverty in this country and create a prosperous negosyo climate, which will foster more jobs. This wish is also for our fellow Filipinos, who continue to be prophets of doom for our country and government. May they realize that complaining is not the solution to our problem. It is about time that we start to find out how we can contribute to solving the problems we have. I wish that God will bless more Filipinos with the right attitude in life – a YES WE CAN attitude.

My sixth wish is for myself. I wish that He continues to guide me in pursuing the advocacy of helping the entrepreneurs in this country, especially those who are micro, small and medium. I hope that we continue to make them realize that through hard work, passion, optimism, anything is possible. The spirit of hope, that many cling on to, will not be lost.

And, my last wish is for our President to be able to leave a legacy behind in her last year and a half, by prohibiting people to tamper with the constitution in order to extend her term. I wish that God continues to bless her. Her economic reforms have prepared us for one of the biggest financial crises. In 2009, she continues to build a negosyo climate. She started with the objective of creating three million entrepreneurs by the end of her term. I wish that we may be all blessed to have created this number by the last year of her term.

Merry Christmas to all the readers of this column! I have been writing for The Philippine Star for almost three years now, and I never thought I would be able to write. To those who have made the Go Negosyo books into bestsellers in National Bookstore, thank you. To the thousands of viewers of our Go Negosyo Bigtime television show on Saturdays and Sundays at 8am, we thank you. Our TV ratings just continue to go higher. To all our sponsors: PLDT SME Nation, Smart, Globe, San Miguel, RFM Corporation, Concepcion Durable, PAGCOR, The Philippine Star, Splash, V-Cargo, Malacañan PMS, Proctor and Gamble, Philamlife, Banco De Oro, Belo Medical, Nokia, Insular, among others; thank you. We have all worked together in continuing to inspire people to believe in YES the Filipino can attitude. To all the entrepreneurs who continue to join me in sharing this vision, (if I were to name them all, there would not be enough space), you know who you are and thank you. Let us keep the YES the Filipino can attitude and continue to Go Negosyo.

Let me share with you some feedback on my previous columns.

“Sir, your gonegosyo column at phil star continues to inspire the aspiring enterpreneurs, as well as athletes & coaches who always believe that YES, THE FILIPINO CAN!”

“i agree with joey – passion and hard work is the key.”

“I just want 2 complmnt on ur column…What we really need now at least is 2 hav a positve percption n lyf, that evrythng has a solution.,gold(bsac-slu”

“Fantastic! I read d column of joey concepcion just 2day at phil star. I fully agreed with him. D filipinos can with their ‘yes’ attitude. I have been a lawyer for d past 13 yrs. Like pacquiao n d rest of many filipinos, i tried hard n had a dream, i started as a lowly court employee, study hard during d nights n worked dutifully during d day. From 1979 to 2006, i served d government. Wen i retired last 9/2006. Klients keeps coming in. I believe dat God’sblessings wil be upon us, if we put Him first in our lives. He worked wid pacquiao n me, HE wil work wid d rest of d filipino. Mabuhay. Atty torno, lubao, pampanga.”

“Great column 2day! Keep it up! Make more pinoys see the doughnut, not the hole! There is opportunity in adversity… but only 4 d positive minded!”

Outlook for 2009

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

Last week’s article, “A fighter’s attitude”, elicited a number of good comments from people. Manny Pacquiao’s story is like a typical story of a successful microentrepreneur. They start with a positive attitude and carry on to succeed and move up to become small and eventually a medium and large enterprise.

In a way, it is all about our outlook in life. What we intend to do with our lives make a big difference. While I may paint a bleak outlook for America in ’09, this does not mean that the Philippines will suffer the same faith. Since this column has been discussing in layman’s language what has happened and who has been hurt in the financial crisis, it started to develop a very strong following from readers. I am not an economist. But, being an entrepreneur who has witnessed the Asian crisis, I can somehow share some insights that may help others. Bloomberg and CNBC are also my favorite channels.

Interest rate cut was .75 pct. As of now, rates are down to .25 pct. This is something that has never been seen in history. From this very rapid reduction of interest rates with the feds dropping interest rates by another .75pct, by next year we will see this close to zero. This is a sign. It shows that America is desperate to find a solution. They are willing to print money and flood the financial system with dollars to save its economy. America does not have reserves, since the world currency is in dollars. All they need to do is to keep printing. In the long run, this could mean inflation. But, commodities and oil have also gone down considerably. What worries America today is not inflation, but deflation. For me, this is more serious than inflation, because deflation can lead itself to depression. This is what we all don’t want to see. But, how far is America from a depression? Frankly, I do not see a depression scenario, but a deep recession. The clear scenario presents America as a country prepared to do anything to prevent a depression from happening, even with interest cuts and massive pumping of dollars to save industries and financial system. Even if it also means depreciating the value of the dollar, which is good for their exports, since their domestic economy is suffering with very poor retail sales numbers. This is due to a tight credit being imposed on the American consumer.

It is sad to say that in ’09, we could probably see the Dow Jones hit a record low due to the massive business closures and layoffs that leads to low level of purchasing power. A problem like this cannot be solved overnight. It will take time. Asset values will have to drop. Lower profits of American companies will suffer in ‘09.

Basically, look at America Inc. similar to the GM and Chrysler. Whatever remedy these car companies have to do, America Inc. has to do the same. America Inc. has to fix its business model and reduce its costs to remain competitive. Many of the Japanese car companies operating in America pay wages half of what GM pays. They have better cars. They have moved faster in developing hybrid cars. In America inc., the workers who are the citizens are generally with no savings or highly leveraged. Their expectations on salaries are still high. Many of the executives fly in their own jets. There are just too many regulations that increase their cost to operate. A typical example in the US is during an emergency. You just don’t have an ambulance. You also have a police car and fire truck that come with the ambulance. I find this a waste. For America to come out of this stronger, they will have to feel the pain even more so that people will realize that real change is needed.

Let us brace ourselves for ’09. It will surely be a turbulent ride. But, towards 2010, things should look better. People ask me, with interest rates going down, what should they do with their money? I would say keep it in cash, and get ready to buy the Philippines’ assets, equities or other instruments. I believe that the Philippines is the place to invest. Interest rates will have to come down here, since the gap between the peso and the dollar rates will be close to seven to eight percent. Our currency will get stronger, as it has already breached 46 from the high 50s, if they continue to keep interest rates at this level. Our stock market may improve more, with the drop in USA markets next year. Over a long term, there are a lot of good companies here who are not highly leveraged. They will do very well. In three to five years, one can easily double his profits from his investments in the Philippines.

My recommendation is to buy Philippine stocks for the long term. Exchange Traded Funds (ETF) are index funds or trusts that allow investors to buy or sell an entire portfolio of stocks as a single security. Buy these stocks to be protected from a downside in the USA. Buy DXD, which is an exchange traded fund that shorts the Dow Jones. Since you will hold on to Philippine equities on the long term, use the ETF to protect you from the downside. This idea is only for long term investors who will buy good Philippine stocks.

As we see despite the crisis, the remittances are still there. The growth in call centers and BPOs will still be there because the basic business model of the Philippines is service. We provide the best services at the lowest cost. In addition, we expect pump-priming activities from government and with the election fever starting next year, we expect more spending in the system.

Manny Paqcuiao will elevate the Philippines’ awareness level to much higher grounds. People will now realize that we don’t live in trees anymore. A win against Hatton will create great awareness for the Philippines and hopefully create interest in visiting and investing in the country. The Go Negosyo fever will continue to spread the advocacy for a more positive outlook and for a change into an entrepreneurial mindset.

Let me also share with you quite an inspiring feedback.

“I think our country would benefit more from having a YES attitude, and to realize how better insulated we are from this financial contagion that has spread throughout the globe. Unlike others, there’s still much that we can do to protect ourselves for the harsh times that may be coming, and minimize the impact that it might have to our economy.

As a person familiar with the BPO industry, I understand how this might contribute to our countries growth. As someone who works from home, offering consulting and writing services to foreign clients, this has been a very interesting time. More businesses have been opting to outsource more than just back office work, and have been hiring us for such specialized tasks as architectural renderings, grant writing, and project management. All remotely. And often times, they see that the value we bring to their company is on par with our American counterparts, and even exceeds it.

If anything, I think now is the time to invest in the Philippines. I see all these forecasts made by Moody’s and S&P about the country, and I tend to ignore it. Despite their so called expertise, they never foresaw (admitted?) this crisis, despite the now blatant mistakes presented. I think we can all benefit from a little bit of optmism, and self-confidence. After all, who will want to invest in a country who doesn’t even believe in the product they are selling: themselves.

I’m just tired of blaming the government. I think it’s time to look to ourselves, at what we can do to help the government during this tough period. I honestly think the president will step down in 2010. She knows what the people will do should she break her promise and stay in office. I think now is the time to innovate, and think of ways to help ourselves, and each other, and to stop complaining. Because that’s what we’ve been doing so far, complaining. And where has this gotten us?

So thank you for showing a bit of optimism throughout this tough period. If this inspires someone to stop whining and adopt a YES attitude, then things will be better. Who knows, that person might inspire someone else too.

Respectfully,

Kris Vengua”

A Fighter's Attitude

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

Many wonder how Pacquiao reached this level of success in his boxing career. One could relate it to the many successful entrepreneurs today and how they are able to succeed in their businesses.

First, noticeably, are the values of passion and hard work. Manny is clearly passionate about his boxing career. It goes beyond just earning money. Coming from a very humble beginning in General Santos, his desire to have a better life is immense. This brings about greater passion for a skill. Hard work is something that is needed. The intensity of hard work comes from the motivation. It is all about how much you really want it. This hunger is clearly seen among those who come from poverty. That super energy we see in Pacquiao during his fights is basically what has brought him to where he is today.

Likewise, those successful entrepreneurs, even the Taipans, were once poor and they started with humble beginnings. Focus is something that is also very important. So far, Manny has remained committed to the sport of boxing, and not politics. Losing in the last election for a congressional seat to represent the first district of South Cotabato was a blessing for him. He remained focus on his boxing. Sometimes, even entrepreneurs lose focus and deviate from the skills that they are good at. They enter businesses they are not good at and then start losing money. I myself, as an entrepreneur, know the importance of being focused on a business that you know well, which also matches the skill you best have.

Hopefully, Manny Pacquiao does not fall into the 2010 fever of people convincing him to run. He should set his site on beating Floyd Mayweather and Ricky Hatton, then retire as the greatest fighter the Philippines ever had. This will make a history, which many generations will remember and look up to. Politics can always come later during retirement. Notably, Manny attributes his success to God and his country. He is very prayerful, which is very important. This is also observed among many successful entrepreneurs.

The Sy family, with the matriarch who banned Rated-R films in SM cinemas, initiated prayers that are heard in the entire SM department stores at certain hours of the day. Knowing God is behind the success. This helps us maintain our humility and keeps us away from temptation.

Tyson was also one of the greatest fighters, who had one of the worst endings in boxing careers. His success went up all the way to his head. He did not have a strong spiritual relationship with God. He fell into the temptation that comes with success. This is also very true with a number of entrepreneurs who fail in the end, because they forgot the source of their success. And, of course, one of the most important values is the YES attitude.

Even if people say that the odds are against him because Oscar de la Hoya has many titles and he has the reach and height advantage, Manny has a mindset of a fighter. This YES attitude is also seen in many successful entrepreneurs. They always maintain a positive attitude and look at problems with an eye for opportunity. They inspire others more, rather than discourage others, shunning the crab mentality that many Filipinos still have.

The “Yes the Filipino Can!” attitude would turn this nation’s doubting people into positive thinkers. The Pacquiao fever should further inspire people that the ‘YES” attitude can indeed change your life for the better.


* * * * *


Last week’s column entitled ‘Great Opportunities at Scary Times’ received a number of feedbacks. Some people criticized what I said about the president stepping down in 2010 as her term expires. They are doubtful if she will really step down and not extend her term.

Here are my thoughts on this. PGMA will want to make history. While it may be true that there are some people who would want to see her term extended, (which is part of our democratic process) PGMA knows what is best for the Philippines. Currently with the financial crisis hitting the world and probably getting worst in 09, she would want to end her career with flying colors – having the Philippines grow at four to five percent, while the rest of the countries post recessionary numbers.

I also received some strong comments on what makes me believe that the Philippines will grow next year. This shows that there are a lot of Pinoy pessimists out there with a mentality that says “we’ll never make it.”

Why will the Philippines grow next year? First, we are the lowest cost provider in the BPO and call center industries. We are one of the best English speaking nations, with many patient and call center service operators. A skill of patience in answering calls and providing service is required in these industries. Believe me, Pinoys are naturally great at this.

I was recently asked to join the Microsoft’s Software Advisory Board in the Philippines and attended a presentation by Gigi Virata, Director of Business Process Association of the Philippines. She showed how the call centers and BPOs grew 40%, almost attaining the market share of 10pct, which is their goal in 2010. With the problems today in India and other countries, this presents a big opportunity for us. Koreans are here to learn English. Yes, America is in deep trouble now, but if I had a company there, I would certainly outsource to bring down my cost so I can survive a recessionary environment.

Our economy is not as large, with still so much room to grow. Filipinos are not highly leveraged. Many pay in cash. Many do not have credit cards because they do not qualify to have one. While the CDE market does borrow from 5-6 or pawnshops, many can borrow within the limits (of their assets). The Philippines has properly spread out long term loans. We have been able to raise more money to shore up reserves. These came in timely, so we are prepared. Tourism is the sleeping giant. I now see the Philippine’s advertisements in CNN. This is a good thing, especially now that Thailand’s tourism will be affected due to the protests that grounded thousands of tourists.

In ‘09, we will start to see more spending by candidates who plan to run in 2010. This election spending until 2010 will help boost the economy. Interest rates will continue to decline in the world. And yes, America, Europe and Japan have entered a recession period. But, this does not mean we also will, especially on the basis of what I mentioned. Of course, let us not forget the YES we can attitude, backed up by a solid plan to avert a recession in the Philippines. This is what we need.

Crisis 101: Beat the Budget Crunch!

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

Crisis 101: Beat the Budget
Crunch!

James Lafferty
(President of Procter & Gamble); Nandu Nandkishore (CEO of Nestle Phils.);

Josiah Go (Chairman
of Mansmith and Fielders); Benedicto Cid (Managing Director of The Nielsen
Company)

 

December 11, 2008,
8:00-12nn, Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza, Makati City

With
the turn of events all over the world the past few months, the uncertainty
looming over our economy is unmistakably alarming. The ability to survive in
this ever-challenged market doesn’t come with a stroke of luck, but with
a strong perspective on how to stay relevant to the changing and demanding
needs of the consumer.

 

Crisis
101: Beat the Budget Crunch

is meant to provide the participants a holistic perspective on how to emerge a
victor in the market today. The different modules to be discussed will: 1)
uncover consumer trends; 2) showcase a model that can help add depth and
dimension in addressing these market changes; and 3) share how large companies
have been adjusting their spending given these circumstances.
With 4
powerhouse speakers coming from all fronts of the market, this seminar will
provide a complete analysis on the economic and consumer trends today.

 

Key
benefits of the participants:

ü  A better appreciation of the
changing value equation of the consumer

ü  An understanding of how strong
brands can withstand the problems of the economy

ü  Get a perspective on how to use a
model that can open into tapping a new market

ü  Get an outlook of the commodity
market in 2009.

 

Program
Overview:

Module 1: GLOBAL
BRAND MANAGEMENT
– “How strong brands withstand the test of the
economy?”

          Fight against the low price era /
the rise of housebrands

          Maximize on the strength of brands
to withstand the crisis

          Deal with the advent of
globalization and its effects to the commodity market (the rise of China)

 

Module 2: EXPLOITING
MARKET OPPORTUNITIES
– “How to stay relevant in the life of the
ever-changing consumer” – Nandu Nandkishore, Chairman & CEO,
Nestle Philippines

          Stay relevant despite the
ever-changing consumer

          Continuously deliver value when costs
are going up

          Expand the market to survive

 

Module 3: MARKET
DRIVING STRATEGY
– “How to create a new market via
game-changing innovations” – Josiah Go, Chairman, Mansmith and
Fielders Inc.

          Target non-customers to create new
demand

          Learn principles behind
game-changing
innovations           

          Conquer leapfrog profit

 

Module 4: PINOY
FISCAL HEALTH
– “How trends will affect the market in the
coming year” – Benedicto Cid Jr. Managing Director, The Nielsen
Company, Philippines

          Fearless forecast on how Juan dela
Cruz will respond to the economic crunch being felt around the world

          Consumer trends that will shape the
behavior of various industries

          Booming and losing markets

 

Who
should attend?

This
seminar is designed for both seasoned and new marketing practitioners who want
to have an understanding of how the current fiscal crisis can affect brands and
businesses. This program will provide a solid outlook on how to address this external
problem especially as business plans are created in preparation of the coming
year.


Registration
Form is attached below. Please email the form to markprof.foundation@gmail.com
or fax to 8282038 loc 103. For any concerns or inquiries please email/call and
look for Des De Leon.

 


MARKPROF
BUSINESS ACADEMY

c/o
Fone Net intl., Inc. FTI Admin Bldg., FTI Complex Center, Taguig City
Telefax 8282038 loc. 103 (Look for Des De Leon)


REGISTRATION FORM

CRISIS
101: Beat the Budget Crunch!

 11 Dec 2008 | 8:00 to 12:00nn | Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium,
RCBC Plaza, Makati City

 


Full Name of Company

 

Head
Office Address

 

Company
TIN

 

Telephone
Number

 

Fax
Number

 

Website
Address

 

Name
of Reserving Officer & Position

 

Officer’s
Email/Cell No.

 

We
are engaged in (Manufacturing, Marketing, Services)

 

Products
being produced or distributed

 

Types
of services offered

 

 

Participant’s
Name

Nickname

Position

Email Address

Mobile No.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A.
Seminar Investment (Note: Seminar Investment is Tax-Free since Markprof
Foundation, Inc is a non-profit organization)

Early Bird Rate: P2,500
             (if paid
before Dec 2)

Regular Rate:    P3,000
             (if
paid before Dec 8)

Onsite Rate:     
P3,500             
(if paid during seminar week)

Academe:
         P1,500
             (upon
registration of ID cards)


B. This registration
form, when completed, may also serve as your Invoice.

Total
Program Investment

 

Please
pick up check on

 

(Please
provide 24 hour notice for scheduling, selected Metro Manila areas only.)

C. Or you may deposit to
the following bank account (any branch) and please fax to us a copy of the
deposit slip complete with company name, contact person and contact telephone
number:

Bank: Metrobank (Boni Serrano Branch)
Account name : Markprof Foundation, Inc.
Account Number : 189-3-1895-12652

D. Cancellation
Policy:
Once we receive registration, cancellations made seven
(7) working days before the seminar will be charged 25% of regular program rate
as administrative fee. Cancellations made a day before or no-show during the
seminar mean forfeiture of payment (or will still be charged to client),
however substitution may be made at any point before the seminar.

 

*PLS. FAX or EMAIL BACK THIS REGISTRATION FORM TO US and AWAIT
OUR OFFICIAL BILLING STATEMENT to ensure your seat is reserved (confirmation of
seats based on payment.)

About Markprof Foundation, Inc.
(Moving towards a Better Philippines)

Markprof Foundation is a non-profit
organization supporting 25 dreams every year, realized by elevating Marketing
and Sales, not only as a noble profession but more importantly as an advantaged
position to effect meaningful change in society.

 

This is achieved through Markprof’s
cornerstone project – the Search for the Top 25 Marketing
Management Trainees of the Philippines.
An annual search that begins
with a rigorous five-step screening process, candidates for the top 25 are
identified from an initial pool of over one thousand applicants representing
the country’s major colleges and universities. Once admitted, the
trainees undergo a free-of-charge seven-weekend Marketing Bootcamp that provides
unparalleled training in Marketing and Sales, and professional career
counseling not usually afforded to them.

 

But the beauty of the entire program lies
on the Resume Equalizer advantage that a Markprof training
extends to its graduates, especially to those who were unable to attend
prestigious schools because of financial standing… a major consideration
amidst hiring trends that often put more premium on school rather than personal
competence.

 

To support this little advocacy, the
foundation produces an annual business knowledge forum through its Markprof
Business Academy
(MBA) Seminar Series, whose full
proceeds will go directly to the 2008 Marketing Bootcamp. Coming from a
successful execution in 2007, this year sees a bolder execution of MBA with
a bigger target audience as well as the vision of breaking the million mark, in
terms of ticket sales… which, in turn, is crucial in order for the
foundation to expand its reach in 2008 and make a difference in more lives.

 

markprof

MARKPROF
BUSINESS ACADEMY

c/o
Fone Net intl., Inc. FTI Admin Bldg., FTI Complex Center, Taguig City
Telefax 8282038 loc. 103 (Look for Des De Leon)

(more…)

Great Opportunities at Scary Times

Thursday, December 4th, 2008

The world continues to face a financial crisis equal to an intensity-10 earthquake that has never been experienced before. While this disaster does not directly bring danger to human lives, it has directly damaged wealth.

Over the past months, I have come across friends and family who have lost so much of their personal and family wealth during this financial crisis. I would say that close to 100 percent of those I know have lost so much. The range just depends. Maybe the luckiest person I know would have lost only 15 percent, but a number have lost up to 50 to 70 percent of their investments. If I were to name them one by one, my column space would run out. Many of them had placed a lot of their trust with their bankers to guide them on their investments. The problem is that many of these bankers use sophisticated instruments and derivative structures like accumulator, equity link notes, etc. The worse thing is that many were encouraged to leverage their portfolios to increase the returns of investments. When people borrow and leverage, their portfolio and assets drop in price. It is a certainty that they will be on margin call. This means that they have to add cash, or else the banks will start selling their assets to meet margin calls.

To some extent, Filipinos are more of bond investors than stocks, unlike investors in Hong Kong, China and India who have a higher weight on stocks. But still, a lot of Filipino investors have invested in emerging market bonds that have dropped to levels that were never seen before. Even investment grade bonds have also dropped tremendously. I would consider the Philippine bonds as an exception, since we have fared very well as compared to other Asian bonds.

The only ones spared in this crisis are those who have stayed in cash, or those who have invested only in the Philippine corporate and government bonds. The Philippine stock market has gone down to current levels of 1,900, from its high of about 4,000 index. Ayala Corporation, BPI and PLDT are coming close to the lows of the 90s. Even our own RFM Corporation is trading at 0.23 cents. That results to a market capital of 900 million pesos. The funny part is that our 50 percent share in Selecta with Unilever alone is worth more than P1.5 billion today, excluding the many other parts of RFM. You can see the amount of paper wealth destroyed in the past six months. It is sad to say that if this continues next year, we should see property values coming off. Many have been hurt in their investments. If margin calls will be made, people will be forced to sell their prime real estate.

Who do we blame for all these? The banks that we trusted have a great role in this mess, aside from the many complicating structures they have created for their clients. Banks have paid a price for these mistakes. Many of the banks, if not all the banks in the world, are trading at half of their values and some even at 20 percent of their high. If not for the support of the Feds last week, Citibank would have been in serious trouble. Hopefully, banks and investors will learn from this.

A good friend of mine who did very well buying Benpres sees the Dow Jones at 4t next year. Another chartist who I have listened to and who follows the Elliot Wave (a way of reading the charts) feels the same way too. There is a lot of fear that the worst will happen in ’09, which happens to be the Year of the Ox. We are indeed in scary times, but I still believe that the Philippines should still come out as one of the Asian stars that will perform in ’09.

My appeal is for those who want to change our constitution before 2010, we suggest people to start first the debate in 2009 on what is the best form of government. Maybe let us also get a provision to state that in 2010, those elected in the senate and congress will form into a constitutional assembly. But, let the people decide if they want Con-ass or a Constitutional Convention. Whichever is voted, full implementation on political changes should only happen in 2016. The needed changes on economic provisions of the constitution can be made effective immediately. There is nothing wrong in reviewing the constitution, but timing and perceptions must be considered. Any form of amendment before 2010 become negative to a lot of Filipinos, since they look at it with suspicion in extending the president’s term. As I explained to friends from the opposition, PGMA will not extend her term. She wants to see our democracy continue, especially in times like this. But yes, it’s time to start the debates on whether Mar Roxas’ Concon or Conass should be the way to review and change the constitution and what provisions must be revised to adjust to the current environment.

Last Friday, I was invited to attend the launching of Sen. Manny Villar’s “Pondo sa Sipag, Puhunan sa Tiyaga.” It is basically a program that will search for microentrepreneurs nationwide who have been doing well, amidst the challenges they face. Under the program, the awardees will be given P100,000 financial assistance that could give them a better chance to move up from micro to small. As I was listening to Sen. Manny Villar’s message, I noticed that it was exactly the same message I tell people during our caravans. He talked about the need for a change in attitude, which is what Go Negosyo wants to see. Manny’s line “Sipag at Tiyaga” is very similar to what Go Negosyo promotes in Filipinos. These are the values of many Filipino-Chinese entrepreneurs. As Go Negosyo was born, it came along with the line “sagot sa kahirapan.” The need for a new revolution, an entrepreneurship revolution, is what this country needs. While I work as a consultant on entrepreneurship for PGMA, I believe that we need to see more men and women realize that the solution to poverty is the creation of more negosyos.

It is important that every presidential candidate has a clear vision on how they intend to solve poverty, and on how they would encourage and support microentrepreneurs to move up the ladder. Governor Vilma Santos-Recto also has a good handle on how to create a negosyo climate. Governor Lray Villafuerte, as well, is a very enterprising leader. We saw that same intensity in the Negosyo programs of Jon-jon Mendoza of Bulacan. My thrust is to get local governments to take the lead in developing a negosyo climate in their respective provinces. The local officials shall be the Negosyo champions in their areas, and rightly so, because they can make a difference in improving the lives of their constituents. We aim to replicate the Go Negosyo model for mindset change and entrepreneurship empowerment to all provinces and localities in the country, as the way to propagate on a sustainable basis the huge advocacy to change the Filipino culture and mindset. The goal is to get all government agencies and private associations in their areas to support the enterprising leaders and the people in each province.

While India and Thailand have huge problems, this presents us with more opportunities to build the grassroots for a more meaningful growth and development. More call centers and BPOs would locate in the Philippines, and not just in Metro Manila. In fact it is already happening in other cities outside Manila. With everything else that is happening, especially in the promotion and development of hundreds of tourist destinations, more tourists are expected to come to the Philippines. This presents a lot of negosyo opportunities. The next President of this country must take the entrepreneurial success of the Arroyo administration to another level. This is our chance, and Yes, The Filipino Can!