The Challenges of Nation Building

The Makati Standoff last Thursday showed us the price we have to pay for democracy. Sometimes, I feel that democracy is being abused and that it will take time for this country to reach a certain level of political maturity and good governance. The political realities of patronage still exist and old habits will take time to change. These are just some of the challenges of nation building and it cannot be fixed in one generation.

The stupidity that happened at the Peninsula last Thursday angered a lot of people even that from the opposition. For once, both sides said that was not the right way to do it. Let’s face it, PGMA has to finish her term and those who do not agree with her style will just have to wait till 2010. The arrogance of power was what irritated almost everyone I knew, pro or against this administration. In a way, it was a blessing in disguise that Trillanes and company did this as it showed both sides how irrational this group can be. During this ordeal, Michael Kadoorie the owner of the Peninsula hotels expressed Peninsula’s commitment to this country even with coup threats. My good friend Franc Delgado also mentioned to Mr. Kadoorie that this can be looked upon as an adamant adherence to the continuity of commitment to this country. Peninsula will forever be part of Philippine history. Though unsolicited, the Pen gained maximum publicity which sadly cost them 5M pesos worth of repairs. Still, it is not really a matter of paying for the cost of damage done at the Peninsula but the damage done to the country’s reputation… nakakahiya.

At this point, the greatest objective is for us to build a negosyo climate. We need to strengthen the middle class if we want to have a mature democracy. This means that the small and medium size negosyantes must grow in number so that the microentreps will have a chance to grow into small to medium size businesses. The country cannot be controlled just by large corporations. We must help increase the stakeholders that matter because if this happens, those who are properly employed or have a good business will never want to see absurdities like these happen. No businessman wants to see the country go down this way. We must build a country of industrious people who want to control their destiny.

Despite the controversy surrounding the imposition of curfew, it was great for those who have children to feel what it was like during Martial Law. I find it very difficult to get our kids home early these days especially as teenagers. That night, I got my kids home at 11:30 as we told them we won’t pick them up in jail. Maybe this is the kind of discipline we need to impose among our people. Not to say we reimpose curfew but let’s not allow people who blatantly violate the law, walk into a hotel, call a presscon with guns and all the fuzz. While media may have the right to cover important events, they need to obey when government officials ask for them to clear out. If they don’t, they should bear the consequences as people could have gotten seriously hurt.

After what happened, the stage is now moving to a different level and the battle of the presidency has now begun between Sipag at Tiyaga and Oras Na. Peso has breached the 42 levels and may go below 40 by next year. The fortunes of the Philippines have started to change and it can only get better. As I always say, those who are in the streets have always had a negative outlook in life even if they did not invest in the stock market or real estate. But if they had faith in the Philippines and did not convert their pesos to dollars, by today they would have earned 20 percent more of what they have, that is how big the peso has appreciated. That is the reward for being on optimist for your country. I am still bullish that the year 2008 will be a good year for those who will take action to pursue their dreams. The Philippine economy thru a Go Negosyo climate is what should be at the top of our minds especially when it comes to solving poverty. Go Negosyo, our answer to poverty. Go Negosyo, ang sagot sa kahirapan

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During the launch of Jun de Leon’s book “Our Father” produced by Vivienne Tan, Joel Santos and RJ and Liv Esteban, I was greeted by Mr. Ricardo Po, the founder of Century Canning Corp. He stopped to say that he was happy with the efforts I have placed in inspiring people and how Go Negosyo has been inspiring the nation. I told Mr. Po it is entrepreneurs like him that should take the credit for that and it is really about destroying the crab mentality that a lot of Filipinos still have. This attitude of pulling successful people down has to change and we should instead fuel our people by inspiring them to pursue their dreams.

The book launch had almost the full cast of 62 fathers of the country’s most famous personalities. I missed the opening as I came from the event of Jim Ayala who invited me for a special presentation by Ashoka, an organization actively making efforts to develop social entrepreneurs. That was another inspiring dimension of entrepreneurship — social entrepreneurship that we also discussed in the previous column. Anyway, the “Our Father” book had a lot of entrepreneurs aside from me. My kids wrote something pretty emotional especially the part where they know me as the Go Negosyo man and how I tend to ask them millions of questions whenever they get sick. The book also had PLDT-Smart’s Butch Jimenez with his children photographed in a dive suit as well as the Belmonte brothers with Mayor Sonny. Most of the stories were written by the women in their lives or their children which were very touching. Jun de Leon did an excellent job with the photography and he is also doing our Go Negosyo book Celebrity Edition which is a compilation of 50 celebs who have a negosyo. We hope this will set a new record as the biggest seller beating the first Go Negosyo book which is still a best seller in National Bookstore.

It is very encouraging for me and to the other mentors when people come up to us and say thank you for inspiring them. To all the entrepreneurs who have been part of this advocacy — Maraming maraming salamat! Let’s keep inspiring people to have hope in this country.