Friday the 13th

Most people still believe that Friday the 13th is unlucky and people try to avoid doing major things on this day. July 13 was a different story for us. Despite it being Friday the 13th, we still decided to have the Go Negosyo sa Bacolod. Prior to the event, we even experienced gloomy skies and a brewing storm. Fortunately, the storm didn’t hit the country directly and we did have one of the best weathers on Friday the 13th. It was a perfect sunny day as we woke up in the sleepy town of Bacolod. It has been 20 years since my last visit and Bacolod has changed a lot especially with the new mall chains and restaurants that dominated the city.

Go Negosyo sa Bacolod was held at the La Salle Coliseum with the support of our co-chair Brother Rolly Dizon. That morning, people were lining up as early as 6am. It was filled to the rafters and thousands of people had to go home since the Presidential Security Guard had restrictions to do an SRO in the area where PGMA was going to pass by. The Negrenses came in by the thousands and this was the biggest crowd Go Negosyo has ever had. Close to 7,000 people filled up the La Salle gym and as PGMA came in, she was greeted warmly by the people. She did not care about security and posed with the people as she came in.

We brought in 25 entrepreneurs coming all the way from Manila, Cebu and Bacolod’s own to inspire the Negrenses. Most of the entrepreneurs from Bacolod already want to diversify their city from a mono crop to other industries. Danding Cojuangco is one of those who helped Bacolod transform itself beyond sugar by growing mango, bananas, mangosteen, pomelos, durian and other local fruits. When you go around the city you will see a lot of retail concepts that can qualify to be in the top malls in Metro Manila. Our group was treated to a dinner by Gaita Fores, a Go Negosyo entrep from Bacolod who brought us to her ancestral home and served us the famous chicken inasal among other delicacies. The Negrenses are great hosts and they cherish people who come to visit. Rissa Locsin and husband Dodo Villarama as well as Gina Bautista also attended the dinner.

Manila entreps had a great time in Bacolod especially Vicky Belo who was mobbed by her fans. I told her she was like a rock star as fans lined up for her autograph and picture. This is what we want people to idolize, the entrepreneurs. PGMA was happy to see the whole event and right after she awarded the entreps broke protocol and without any formalities got the mike from Paolo and gave a speech in Ilonggo with the right accent. The Bacolod entrepreneurs who were awarded by no less than the President were happy with the attention and honor given to them, plus the front page articles in Philippine Star about their success stories. Our partner Philippine Star has gone out of its way in supporting the Go Negosyo advocacy to help us create the new Philippine Stars, the negosyantes. The manila entreps surely inspired the people of Bacolod and I told the audience that day, that what we are seeing today is not a dream but a reality and to benefit from this economic boom one has to be a participant and not just part of the audience. We surely have planted the seed in the minds of the 7,000 people that attended. It is now up to them to be curious enough to nurture and water this seed. Even if only a few of them would one day be the Vicky Belo, Myla Villanueva, Vivienne Tan, Johnlu Koa, the Bayo sisters Dianna Lyn Agustin and Maria Corazon Bitong, Mr. and Mrs. Yanson of Ceres bus Liners, James Chua of Foodman, or other big tycoons who would generate thousands of jobs in the future, we would have attained our objective.