Turbulent Times

As we entered the year 2008 full of optimism, we saw one of the worst stock market crashes in history brought about by massive write downs of the world’s large banks. Being an investor myself, my wife asked me what was happening and all I could say was that it’s a nightmare out there, especially in the US market. Fortunately, the Feds came into the picture, a bit late but they did what they had to with the 75 basis point rate cut enough to calm the market.

One can say that when America sneezes, the world catches a cold. All our markets are now linked with telecom technology and the speed of communication with 24/7 networks such as Bloomberg and CNBC, which was at its highest rating ever.

What is in store for us? It all depends if the US will end up with a recession or slow growth. I have a feeling that America cannot afford a recession when its banks are just reeling from the sub prime crisis. Thus we see aggressive moves with the cutback in interest rates, eventually to 2.75pct from the 3.5pct now and maybe even further as needed.

Real estate will continue to do well. I do not believe that the Philippines will be greatly affected as I see more of America’s back offices such as call centers, moving to lower cost countries. For those who have a medium- term view, you can start buying stocks gradually.

I still believe our Philippine peso will continue to appreciate to the 38 and 39 levels. At that point, a lot of Filipinos will start to buy dollars and perhaps even the Philippine government should buy dollars and reduce the debt so they could have a windfall. They should move towards domestic funding as there will be so much liquidity in the system. Money market rates and borrowing rates will go down. This is the best time to start or expand your business. We have to differentiate what we see in the stock market and the real economy because the stock market, while there are good equity research works, is more often affected by market perceptions, emotions and speculations. Meanwhile, the real economy that we see, the agriculture, manufacturing and services activities that we see still offer tremendous opportunities, with unserved market demand in specific areas that entrepreneurs have to spot. We will have volatile market but at the end of 2008, things should look much better for the real economy.

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Let me share with you views of the other entreps and what they wish for this country and PGMA:

DRA. VICKY BELO (Belo Medical Group)Being an entrepreneur satisfies our personal needs for freedom, flexibility, variety, creativity, responsibility, control and authority. Through sheer hard work, the entrepreneur can reap the fruits of his or her labor. Yes, although the advantages and rewards are high, so are the risks.

Filipinos in general are very creative and entrepreneurial in nature. With the phenomenal growth of small to medium enterprises and through the support of private and government-run agencies, Filipinos have generally become more business-minded than before. A heightened level of awareness initiated by the Go Negosyo team in the last 3 years has clearly defined a template for the thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs in the country.

School Intervention
Early intervention in our educational system of entrepreneurial activities can reinforce the child’s learning of basic business models in school. A classic example was the introduction several years ago of the interactive Kumon in the child’s formative years. The new method paved the way for a dramatic increase in literacy on mathematical models. Before Kumon was introduced, children in schools had a mediocre absorption of mathematics.

Family Nurturing
I was exposed to a business environment at an early age (I was 5 then). I would bake goodies and sell these to my classmates in school. My initial entrepreneurial attitude and natural talent in sales and marketing prepared me for something bigger in the future.

Leveraging Information Technology
I.T can be use as a catalyst to spread the entrepreneurial momentum all over the country. Access to entrepreneurial information and database is now available to a significant number of aspiring and budding entrepreneurs

Business Values Nurtured at Home
A solid family upbringing where children are constantly being exposed to a competitive and hardworking environment, combined with a passion for business are some of the factors that would help develop an entrepreneurial attitude.

What is your wish for our country in 2008?

Brand the Philippines as a Destination of Choice

Medical Tourism as the New Economy
Promote the Philippines as a destination of choice in Asia for business, tourism and wellness. The Philippines is a beautiful country with a glorious history and a warm and caring population.

Create a strategic road map for the country’s medical tourism. This is one of Belo Medical Groups primary thrust for 2008.

Sustained Growth Rate
Sustained Economic gains and less politics will definitely create new opportunities for start ups, early stage and growth stage firms.

An Integrated Plan for Global Warming
Advocacy and Awareness via our Belo goes Green campaign was a major initiative in 2007. We are counting on every institution to do their share in creating awareness on Global Warming.

Support for Go Negosyo’s National Campaign on Entrepreneurship

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ROBERT YUPANGCO (Zoobic Safari Adventure)
My theme for my group is: go full out with integrity! Honor your word, be whole/complete and no excuses! Be consistent, that is my wish for the government to do as well!

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HENRIK KELLY YU (Bigby’s Café)
Identify which industry to concentrate on so that the country can focus in one goal. Like tourism or agriculture. I wish for a peaceful year ahead.

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WILSONG NG (Ng Khai Development Corp.)
I have been to many countries, be it the United States, Canada, Middle East, Japan, Hong Kong, Italy, or where else, and it is great to see Filipinos wherever I go. However, it would have been really better than other than being wage earners, our brothers could do better. For instance, in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, there were so many Filipinos that it is officially declared that Tagalog is one of their major languages, and you see it spoken everywhere. However, you meet Filipinos in restaurants, and hotels, but most of the establishments there are owned by Hindus and other nationalities.

We believe that our aspirations is as low as our self esteem as a people, and therefore the best way to build up such confidence is not only to give them entrepreneurial skills, but also to build their cultural identity. One good way is to build up our Filipino food heritage.

You go to so many countries, and everywhere you go, you see Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese restaurants, but hardly Filipino restaurants. Moreover, you see Filipino waiters and attendants, but hardly any of them are the cooks.

In this regard, I would like to ask Joey who has the ears of PGMA if it is possible to put up also a scholarship to train Filipino chefs. Train thousands of them, even for free!

If we have thousands of Filipinos who are very good cooks, I envision a time when there will be Filipino restaurants, and Filipino cooks everywhere around the world! They will act as our ambassadors in many countries, and a free publicity to our country and our culture.

When you hear why people go to Thailand, it is because they have good experience in Thai restaurants in their locality, and when they go to Thailand, food is great and affordable!

We can do the same. We can train engineers, and welders, and when we lose them to other countries, we lose! But we train Filipino chefs in Filipino food and whether they choose to go abroad or stay in the Philippines, we win!

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JUSTIN UY (Profoods Int’l Corp.)
What we wish for 2008 is for the government to be more stable in its decision. For example, the case of San Miguel Corporation with the Sumilao Farmers of Bukidnon. As I understand, the property was sold to San Miguel Corp due to it was declared as industrial property. But right now due to the farmers popular protest, PGMA seems want to revert the decision to agricultural property and it should be under the Agrarian Reform. In the first place, it was the government who convert the agricultural property into industrial one and now they want to reverse it. So what will happen to the investors? San Miguel Corp can afford loses but how about the entrepreneurs like us? We can’t afford this type of failure.

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RAY GAPUZ (R.A. Gapuz Review Center)

PGMA is doing a great job in sustaining the country’s economic gains. I believe that the spirit of entrepreneurship will be better sustained through the integration of entrepreneurship in all college courses. This will give rise to “intra-preneurs’- professionals who utilize their profession as a springboard to developing a business. So there is no more need for a doctor to get an MBA, because early on in their studies they were already taught business principles which they can utilize should they decide to open one after graduation. This will lead to the development of a more self-sufficient professional who would no longer need to go abroad to earn extra income. So we can see more of nurse-intrapreneurs; dentist-intrapreneurs; biologist-intrapreneurs.

I wish that our country will be united towards the realization of peace through our faith and may it continue to enable the realization of its peoples’ dreams and aspirations.