The weekend before the SONA, I was invited by Myrna Yao for dinner to celebrate her birthday with a small group in her place. Myrna is an entrepreneur who started the Richwell Trading Corp. She is also the Chairman of the National Commission on the Role of the Filipino Women (NCRFW). It is a group that pushes for programs and policies on the advancement of women in economic, social, and cultural development. Myrna has been a big supporter of Go Negosyo, as she is a successful entrepreneur herself. She raised four daughters, and now has nine grandchildren.

During the intimate dinner with her close friends (among them are Sen. Loren Legarda, Tessie Coson, Sec. Angie Reyes, Sari Yap and Johnny Litton), Sec. Cerge Reymonde approached me and said that I would be happy with the president’s SONA. Sec. Cerge knows that I have been suggesting that the president comes out in the open to state her real intentions, so people would know that she has no intentions of extending her term. In the past, she has repeatedly stated that she will stay only up to 2010. A number of events have unfolded, like the ConAss that led to the suspicion that she will stay in power.

Sec. Cerge has been one of the best Press Secretaries that PGMA has appointed. He served as the Secretary of Presidential Management Staff (PMS) and the Micro Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) “Czar”. We have worked closely together to help build the MSME sector.

Indeed, after hearing the President’s last SONA, I would say that it was one of the best – probably even the best. It is quite clear that she will certainly step down as president in 2010. I am sure that the presidentiables believe she will step down, since they have started their indirect campaigns. If they believe that she was going to stay in power, they won’t risk spending. Funny how some newspapers, except for The Star, did not see how clear her message was. In fact, the first time PGMA mentioned that she was stepping down was in our Dream Big Philippines ad, where she mentioned her dream for the Philippines. “Believe that our dream of winning over poverty will happen – and the first step towards it is through an attitude change in all of us. As I end my term as President of the Republic of the Philippines in 2010, it is my wish to see the seeds of hope planted in all of you. Pursue your dreams and love your country. I am happy to say that it is happening”.

We have to give it to PGMA. She is a President who works 24/7. With the schedule she has, she still finds time to dive with friends in the different islands of the Philippines during summer. I know this since my sister Vina and Mary De Leon are part of her dive group. They sometimes stay up late or have to wake up early, as she finds time to enjoy diving between very hectic schedules. Then after, she is off to another engagement. I am a scuba diver and after a dive, the energy level drops off because of the nitrogen. The countless engagements and events together with the pressure of the critics will take a toll on you. It is amazing that she is always on time for every engagement. Her energy level comes from her passion to serve this country. To be successful as a negosyante and even as individuals who work for others; passion, optimism, hard work, persistence and the right work ethics are important to succeed, even as the president of this country. Manny Villar’s own line as an entrepreneur – “sipag at tiyaga” – clearly defines it. PGMA definitely has the values that give her that super energy the excitement to serve others. While her low ratings do not match her real efforts to serve this nation, she still does her best.

Businessmen cannot deny the fact that we are doing better than the rest in Asia. You can see this based on the earnings of the top corporations, on our stock market that has rebounded, on our Philippine peso that is stable, on our Forex reserves at all time high, on our real estate climate that is still growing, on Business Process Outsourcing that are also still growing, on our manpower of OFWs to crew ships (under the companies of Rica Limcaco and Doris Ho), among others. The Philippine bond issues as one of the best performing bonds. Inflation is at its all time low. The unemployment rate is also at its lowest, considering the financial crisis that struck the mightiest in the world. She has survived coup attempts and so many other detractors. One would say that it really is her destiny to be President of this country and lead this nation during this time.

While I may be a part-time pro-bono adviser on entrepreneurship, this is what I really see. Yes, there may be questions on issues like all other presidents before her. But, we have to give it to her. She is a president who is working very hard to help countless Filipinos rise from poverty.

I am also glad that aside from focusing on infrastructure development, she is also focusing on education during her last months in office. She is investing on building the minds of our children. Education is the great equalizer. As I see how the micro negosyos are today, many of them lack the creativity. This can be addressed through quality education, being able to develop the special skill and creativity that will lead to new ideas in business.

I am glad that she mentioned some statements about the presidentiables, what their platforms should focus on, and that they should stop looking at ways to criticize the government to get attention. It is about time that the electorate understands the presidentiables’ stand on issues about the constitutional changes.

PGMA has barely a year left. Let’s be part of finding a solution in making this country a better place. We owe this not only to our children, but to the countless OFWs out there who are fighting to give a better life for their family. Let us support the president in her last months of service. If she succeeds, we too will succeed, as our economy will continue to flourish. Whoever takes over as the next president in 2010, he or she will take over a strong economy and will have a greater chance to take it to a higher level.