A Call for Change

By the time this column comes out, it is highly probable that the first American-black president would have been elected – Barack Obama. He would also be one of the youngest since John F. Kennedy. His campaign slogan is “change”.

America would have voted for McCain, but a lot of people are quite disappointed on how President Bush had brought America to a state of financial despair. Millions of Americans have lost the values of their home, and their retirement funds now at a huge risk with the collapse of the stock market – many of which have the 401 K invested in. The worst part is having America inculcate a credit-oriented society, encouraging Americans to spend even on income that still has to be earned. This has placed many Americans in great financial despair.

Barack Obama brings confidence. This is very important if the American economy is to turn around. Without great amount of optimism, there is no way that the situation will improve. Democrats have done better in running an economy. President Bill Clinton did a great job turning in a budget surplus during his term. It is true that what America needs today is change, specifically in its old ways of spending beyond its means.

Closer to home, Go Negosyo kicks off with Batangas this Friday. Gov. Vilma Santos will be welcoming our team which includes Sec. Cerge Remonde, Vicki Belo, Gaita Fores, and Karen Davila. Just like many Filipinos, we look up to the Governor as a successful actress-turned government official, who has proven her critics wrong. She can indeed lead and manage a province like Batangas.

Go Negosyo has also started to partner with local government, which is a key component in encouraging negosyos in their respective areas. We need to cascade the Go Negosyo framework to the grassroots and local governments, who have like-minded objectives of developing entrepreneurship and dynamic livelihood in their areas. They would be in the best position to execute and sustain the Negosyo program at all levels. For instance, they are also key in ensuring a fast system of approving business permits and licenses, as they are key as well in linking many of the micro and small entrepreneurs with micro finance and rural bankers. More importantly, the key to local government success is creating a negosyo climate. This is the only way more jobs can be created.

My goal is to work closer with enterprising men and women in the local government and let them champion the cause of negosyo, with the national government providing support to their needs. They can provide assistance with networking, mentorship from the private sector, financing, technical support, design and packaging assistance. Hopefully the newly organized MSME council, which I am part of, will move in this direction, developing tourism and agri-business in different areas.

Similar to America, Barack’s call for change is what we need. Go Negosyo calls for change as well. Let us call for people to take control of their life and do something for a positive change. Change will only happen if more people will want it. Local leaders have to be the model of change. They must inspire more people and provide them confidence that they can do it.

I can still remember when I was a young boy. I failed grade three in La Salle. My parents were not happy, but they did not punish me. Instead, they encouraged me to do better. It was the embarrassment of failure that pushed me.

In a similar sense, there are local citizens of a region who struggle to barely meet their needs. Their local leaders should provide them with the encouragement and confidence. With these, we will see more change.

For instance, religious leaders give hope and confidence to their followers and supporters. Gawad Kalinga does the same. They all give hope. The change that America will have to go thru under the first black president will have to happen our own way in the Philippines.

Barack’s slogan of “Yes We Can” is similar to our “Yes the Filipino Can!” battle cry. What made him reach this level of success in life is his capability to inspire people that they can do it. As America faces its greatest challenge in history, we Filipinos also face a different challenge – the reduction of poverty in our country. Let us prove that YES WE CAN and YES THE FILIPINO CAN!

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In our Go Negosyo sa Batangas, we will be giving recognition to the local heroes who took control of their lives through their negosyo. Our congratulations to our Most Inspiring Batangueño Entrepreneurs, as they have worked hard for their success:

Small-Medium-Large Category 

* Francis Ganzon of Bangko Kabayan continues the rural bank’s 50 years of service.
* Juan Katigbak leads the Milk Joy Corporation, with his vision to provide nutritious milk and a stable source of income for Filipinos.
* Francis Laurel continues YKK Philippines Inc.’s 70-year of setting new industry standards in product quality.
* Peter Laurel continues to adopt the educational philosophy and guiding principles of Dr. Jose P. Laurel in the Lyceum of the Philippines University – Batangas.
* Corazon Mendoza gains recognition globally through CTM Knitting, Inc. for more than 18 years.
* Jose Mercado established the Merlo Agricultural Corporation, which is now at the forefront of the Batangas’ industry.
* Vicente Montenegro Jr. leads the Montenegro Shipping Lines, Inc. with his innovative management skills.
* Arcadio Perez commits to high quality and world class customer service through his company – Alps The Bus, Inc.
* Pedro Roxas leads the Roxaco Land Corporation, which is a prime mover and developer of high potential regions in the country.
* Mayolo Tolentino established the Maycar Foods, Inc. – a leader in high-quality and affordable processed meat products.

Special Award

* Diana Limjoco-Pollard of Digital Web Group is an online entrepreneur who creates websites out of skill, talent and hard work.

Micro Category

* Emmanuel Afable started Paper & Arts, Inc. with his family, creating innovative and environment-friendly paper products from recycled materials.
* Julius Braza chairs the Big A Multi Purpose Cooperative and leads his community in manufacturing and selling tamarind products.
* Tita Burgos has successfully established Tita’s Delight Bibingka and Pastries through dedication and hard work.
* Marichu Carstensen continues to develop her business, Doc’s Candles’s, through her passion for product development.
* Gerardo Caubalejo also serves as a leader in Carretonan Multi Purpose Cooperative, as they continuously upgrade their products through skills development trainings.
* Alexander Ilagan is also successful in Xandro’s Food Processing, which creates innovative Philippine agricultural food products.

Go Negosyo sa Batangas Caravan will be on November 07, 2008 at the Batangas Provincial Auditorium. Go Negosyo mentors and entrepreneurs like Rommel Juan, Dean Pax Lapid, Ping Sotto, Illac Diaz will also be there to share their stories and business advice.