Last Friday, I tried a different ice cream brand just to see how good it was versus our very own Selecta – now the number one ice cream brand in the Philippines.

I remember buying Selecta from the Arce family in 1989. We acquired it at around 20 million pesos at that time. Elmer Yanga, my personal assistant, had his charm in convincing families to sell. He helped me close the transaction. My brother John, then starting with RFM, was tasked to lead team Selecta. With his strong “intrapreneurial” ability and passionate leadership, he steered the growth of the ice cream company with the help of his young dynamic team. The rest was history. From practically a nil market share in 1989, Selecta has grown to be the undisputed number one ice cream brand in the Philippines.

Going back to trying that other ice cream brand, it gave me a bad stomach. The very next day, I was scheduled to be the commencement speaker at the La Consolacion College to address three thousand graduates, parents and teachers. I thought I would not really be able to make it. I called my super doctor Mike Celdran, who has been my doctor since I was a child. With Dr. Mike’s help, I was able to address the graduates. Hopefully, I was able to inspire the students who responded with a standing ovation.

In my talk, I shared the importance of confidence, especially in their stage in life. They have the whole world and their lives ahead of them. They must not lose confidence, but instead strengthen it along with hard work. I also shared my own experiences when I failed in grade three, and when I was just starting as a young entrepreneur at my 20’s. Those were times when my confidence level was put to the test. Instead of giving up and beating yourself with negative thoughts, it is important in life to believe that you can do it. This is the message that I expressed to the graduates.

I also shared the story of Ray Gapuz and Ronald Pineda, who are certified and successful entrepreneurs. Ray, despite of all the controversies around him, continues to build a review center that is making records in the Philippines and abroad. Even being a graduate of nursing, he succeeded in being an entrepreneur instead, and he was able to use what he learned in college. Ronald, instead of becoming a practicing dentist, became an entrepreneur. Now, he successfully runs the fashionable Folded and Hung. These are the stories that our graduates need to learn from these days. There are many ways to build their future and not end up unemployed or give in to depression. All they have to do is to work hard, believe, and have confidence that they can do it.

To the graduates: as your parents have worked hard and saved for you to reach this point in your life, seeing you graduate gives them great joy. It is a blessing to graduate from college or from a university, as many Filipinos still do not even finish high school because their parents cannot afford. Make use of the skills and knowledge that you have gained through the years that you have spent in school. Remember the values that your school has taught you and the values that your parents have passed on to you. One day, you will be in the same page as parents, beaming with joy and great pride to see your children march. This is how we understand why God has blessed us with families. Learning does not stop on the day of your graduation. Continue to strive to be the best in using the skills that you have learned. I hope to see that many of you would be able to start your own negosyo one day. I hope and pray for your success. Continue to love your country and give back something to help make it become a great nation.

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The other night, we had a very good turnout for our Go Negosyo gathering to celebrate the renewal of our partnership with PLDT for 2009. It was also highlighted by a book signing event for our third book on women entrepreneurs.

It was great to see the women entrepreneurs and different mentors from the Go Negosyo community, as they had fun in signing books and sharing stories and tips with the public. These are activities we do to allow one-on-one direct mentorship and interaction between our entreps and the micro SMEs. It was an evening of candid fun and enjoyment. There were also a lot of walk-ins who had their Go Negosyo books signed, mingled with the entreps and asked for negosyo advice.

Nanay Coring Ramos was also there. In fact, she was the earliest among our guest entreps to be at National Bookstore Glorietta 5. She was one of the suki women entrepreneurs who had a lot of fans who asked for her signature and negosyo advice. The women entreps featured in our third book also had a blast in mingling with the crowd. They were busy signing books and enjoying conversations.

We thank our PLDT SME Nation partners, led by Eric Alberto, Kat Abelarde, Ameel Azurin, and Vanny Rono, who were also busy presenting the latest useful gadgets and technologies that can aid SMEs. Aside from the women entrepreneurs from the book, we would like to thank the other Go Negosyo mentor entrepreneurs who had fun with us last night: Myla Villanueva, Tweety De Leon, Johnlu Koa, Ray Gapuz, Les and Dina Reyes, Ping and Val Sotto, Rommel Juan, Joey Qua, and John Francis Alvarez. Thank you also to Joanne Rae Ramirez for joining us, and to Tintin Bersola Babao for hosting the event.

Let me share with you some feedback from our Go Negosyo community.

“I went to the book signing event! Congratulations! It was so fun! I really enjoyed talking to the mentors especially to Ms. Michelle Dayrit of Miladay! She was so nice! Socorro Alejandro and Yoling Sevilla were really nice as well. Thank you for the free book! :)” Elaine Adoptante 

“Go Negosyo is not an answer-all type of advocacy, nor does it even pretend to be, but whenever any man, woman or child is inspired by its advocacy, directly or indirectly, the proponents of Go Negosyo have already done us the biggest favor we do not deserve or expect from others to do to or for us. I myself did not seek to be chosen to be featured among the women entrepreneurs in the latest Go Negosyo book. The good Lord has blessed me, my family and my business already long before Go Negosyo came to be. However, the morale boosting effect of Go Negosyo on me, my family and people I do business with is unbelievable! While I did not seek either honor or recognition from others like Go Negosyo, it is undeniable that what this type of advocacy is delivering a message far greater than perhaps even the original intent/s of its founders and supporters. To the Go Negosyo people, please do not be disheartened when there are people out there who may criticize or disapprove of what you have done, are doing or will be doing for the past, present and future entrepreneurs of our only country, The Philippines. Just get going and keep going!” Donna Jiao