An Honor to Inspire

Last Friday, Go Negosyo sa Manila was held at the Philamlife Auditorium which only has a capacity of 950 people. As early at 7:30am, we had already doubled the capacity and had nearly tripled it when the forum started. Students and teachers from different colleges in Manila, OFWs wanting to be entreps, and aspiring entreps around the Manila area attended the affair. We had to apologize that we could not accommodate everyone inside as we had people seating even along the aisles of the auditorium. But we set up huge screens and chairs in the lobby to accommodate everyone. The Go Negosyo fever is really catching on and it is such a heartwarming experience to see the enthusiasm of many people wanting to be inspired and learn more about entrepreneurship.

PCE Trustee Tony Tan Caktiong, founder and CEO of Jollibee who was seated beside me was also quite surprised with the warm response. Atty. Gozon of GMA Network, also a PCE Trustee, was also beaming with a smile when he was greeted by thousands of people. He has been joining us in our caravans and has been very supportive of this advocacy. While a lawyer, I believe he is an entrepreneur by heart and that mindset has led GMA 7 to being the number one TV station today with a market cap of close to a quarter of a billion dollars. MSME Czar Sec. Cerge Remonde who has been a very close partner in promoting entrepreneurship also joined us in awarding the Most Inspiring Entrepreneurs in Manila and in the lively discussion during the keynote forum. He represented PGMA since she was attending the APEC Conference in Australia.

Our special guest was Senator Mar Roxas, an investment banker before becoming a politician. He mentioned to me that his fund helped several entrepreneurs raise money like the one for the founder of Discovery Channel. He was also one of those bankers who helped Tony Tan raise money during Jollibee’s start-up days. He too was surprised that Go Negosyo has lasted this long and has grown its following. I told Mar it is because people want to be encouraged and inspired and hope is all what they have today.

The success of Go Negosyo is largely attributed to the entrepreneurs who come to support the caravans and our efforts in TV, print ads, book, website etc. Dr. Roland Hortaleza of Splash Corporation who is also a PCE Trustee attends our forums and expos especially the book signing sessions where entrepreneurs get to meet and greet the people, and were never short of giving quick advice for those who posed their questions. The Go Negosyo gathering has so many entreps sharing their time and talent to reach out to as many as we can such as Chit Juan, Les Reyes, Paolo Bediones, Victor Tan and so many more that this column cannot accommodate all the names. I believe these entreps really find honor in inspiring people. It is their way of sharing back with the people the blessings and learnings they have.

It was very moving to see this time in Go Negosyo Manila one of awardees, 93-year old former Senator Helena Benitez of PWU, who came up on stage and humbly accepted the due recognition for her contribution to our entrepreneurship community. She looked very sharp and energetic for her age and at one point even refused to be assisted. Mr. Jose Reyes of Aristocrat, who is already 84 years old proudly accepted the award and was supported by his children who were all present. Aristocrat at 71 years is where we all took our dates. We also gave two posthumous awards for FEU founder Dr. Nicanor Reyes, which was accepted by his daughter, FEU Board of Trustees Chair Lourdes Montinola who at first was reluctant to accept the award. But we had to explain to her that we have to give credit to the second generation of entrepreneurs like them who made their business even bigger. The other posthumous award was given to Philippine Star founder Betty Go-Belmonte, a true woman of vision and steward of press freedom. Philstar Executive Vice President Grace Glory Go accepted the award on her behalf. We also gave awards to other inspiring Manila entreps such as Robert Kuan as founder of Chowking, Gerry Chua of Eng Bee Tin, Makong/Masuki mami owner Willen Ma, Carlos Celdran of Walking Tours in Manila, Alice Guerrero of Tesoro’s and Alejandra Clemente of Rajah Tours.

Like the previous Go Negosyo caravans, Go Negosyo sa Manila exceeded our expected number of attendees and the Manila awardees were more than willing to accept our recognition. What makes these people attend our Go Negosyo events? Some say it is a rare privilege to see and listen to inspiring entrepreneurs as they share their stories and advice. But I would say, it is the entrepreneurs themselves who are deeply honored to give back to their community and share whatever talent and knowledge they have to help others. It is an honor for us entrepreneurs to have the opportunity to create that spark of entrepreneurial spirit among Manileños and we would like to thank everyone for giving us a chance to inspire.

Thanks to Joey Cuisia and the Philam group for lending the nice and elegant Philam auditorium and our Caravan partners especially the Chinese Filipino Business Club and many others who have continued to help us spread the entrepreneurship advocacy nationwide.

We are moving on to other areas with the Go Negosyo caravan and Go Negosyo sa Pampanga will be next. Originally slated for September 26, it is now moved to October 8. We have invited PGMA who expressed her eagerness to grace this event given that Pampanga is her hometown province. Again, we invite all Kapampangans to join us in this exciting and learning forum. It will be held at the Bren Guiao Convention Center in San Fernando. Admission as always is free.