Creativity and Balance

Last Thursday, we witnessed the launch in Cebu of the DTI “One Town, One Product” project led by the energetic Undersecretary Carissa Cruz. To have more interaction with the Cebuanos, we mounted a Go Negosyo forum where we invited GoNegosyo mentors such as Julie Gandionco, who is the owner of Julie’s Bakeshop. Julie is a very sweet and humble grandmother and matriarch of the Julie’s Bakeshop, which has over 500 branches.

She is the creative person behind this, but it was her son who expanded the business to what it is today. We also had Justin Uy, the very soft spoken dried mango king. Justin has a real good rags-to-riches story. The Philippine Brand Mango is seen in all Costco and Sam Clubs stores in the US and if I am not mistaken, he has now about 14 big buying stations all over the Philippines. Jay Aldeguer of Island Souvenirs also joined our forum. Jay focused on a growing tourist market in Cebu selling uniquely-designed shirts and other souvenir products.

You can see his stores all over the place. Other panelists include Usec Carissa Cruz and Visayan entreps like Ferlina Galvan (Ibajay Small Coco Farmers Development Cooperative) and Coralie Labra (bags and pillows made of Sinamay). We also had Mayor Bentham dela Cruz from Anlam, Negros Oriental who talked about his OTOP product which is nangka. For the first time aside from being a columnist for Star, I also had to be a co-host with Cito Beltran.

Looking at the furniture, bags and handicrafts from this region, one really wonders how Cebuanos developed this kind of creativity. I even asked the panelists this question but my own answer to this is thru their export products. Exporting to the world requires you to be the best and excellence is the key. The exposure of exporters to a wide range of customers helped in the development of their creativity by teaching them how to improve and create new designs.

As generations passed by, their creativity has been absorbed and applied in other types of products. Even the young and dynamic Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia has an entrepreneurial mind and has good creativity, as we see in her numerous city projects. This to me is why Cebu has achieved so much.

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Last Friday, the Citigroup’s 4th Annual Microentrepreneur of the Year (MOTY) Awards was held at the Metropolitan Museum. Winners for the Masikap Category were as follows: National Winner Consuelo Valenzuela (manufacture of products made of woven leaves of sabutan), Jocelyn Llamoso (manufacturing of handcrafted bags and placemats), Leovigildo Aday (Taho production), and Marites Vistal (buy/sell of palay, rice corn and banana, sari-sari store, passenger jeep operator). For the Maunlad category, the winners were: National Winner Jennilyn Antonio (peanut butter manufacturing); Nolie Estocado (manufacture of tin and wire handicrafts); Rizalina Magdula (junkshop operator); and Luz Pagdanganan (restaurant and catering services). For the Special Awards, Mr. Jose Ortega was awarded the Special Innovation Award (manufacturing of housewares and other dry goods) and Ms. Rizalina Magdula the Special Environment Award (junkshop).

Aside from recognizing the truly inspiring microentrepreneurs, the MOTY Awards likewise highlighted the role of bigger banks in extending support to the rural banks and MFI’s with wholesale lending so they can retail to the microentreps. It was very clear that the loan officers were huge contributors to the success of the entreps by providing them with guidance when needed and sometimes encouragement when tragedy struck.

You can see in the eyes of the winners the struggle that they went through. It was really heartwarming to see Filipinos wanting to succeed in life. Somehow seeing an event like this makes you in touch with the real world out there and I am glad that judges like Fernando Zobel, Marixi Prieto, Tessie Coson Sy and BSP Governor Tetangco took the time to pay tribute to these people. I hope that the P4.2B being lent out to microentrepreneurs will continue to grow each year at a faster rate.

This is a good measure of how entrepreneurship is taking off in the micro sector. In the forthcoming Go Negosyo Para sa OFWs and Balikbayans on December 15 to 17, we expect more than 50 MFI’s to be present to serve the needs of the participants in the forum and exhibits.

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The death of Max Soliven reminds us of how fleeting our life is. Mr. Soliven was someone of great influence as publisher, chairman of the board and columnist of the Philippine Star and his death is a real loss in Philippine journalism. You really don’t know when your time comes so we have to live life to the fullest. As I always tell a lot of friends, the challenge is trying to keep a balanced life.

My friend Franco Delgado, an entrepreneur who has a JV with Thailand’s largest oil company PTT to set up gasoline stations, has been known to enjoy life to the fullest. This guy lives his life like a cat with 9 lives. Franco and I together with another friend Michael Tan (Asia Brewery CEO), had a discussion as to what is more important, having a well balanced life or harmony with one’s self. We had a lot of tequillas that night so we could not convince each other. But I still retain that a balanced life is more important which means giving enough time for business, family, spirituality and a healthy lifestyle.

Others may define success in a purely financial way like assets size but in the end that person might either be unhealthy because of no exercise and a 24/7 workload, or he has forgotten his family because of work. Also in our spiritual life we forget that the source of our success or power is God. It is really not easy to maintain a balanced life. The movie “Click” of Adam Sandler is the best movie to describe this.

As we approach Christmas there seems to be a lot more people smiling and in many social occasions a lot more praises about PGMA and how she is running the government. People seem to be more supportive now. Those who were pessimist and whiners probably didn’t invest in the stock market last year and are probably now regretting and feeling left behind. While those who were confident of the market will have a better Christmas and hopefully give out nicer gifts, as they enjoy the Bull Run in the stock market, which more than doubled.

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Below is a very inspiring letter from Ms. Cynthia Yeadon, an entrepreneur who is now based in UAE.

Dear Sir,

I’m very grateful for sending me the Go Negosyo Mail Blast. Sad to say that I left Manila last September because my husband got a job here in Ras Al Khaimah, U.A.E. to set up an international flight. I am married to a British national , an aircraft engineer and we stayed in the Philippines for almost 9 months and within this period I was able to put up a food cart Shawarma business with two outlets.

It’s really doing good because of the special sauce that I am using. It’s so inspiring and fulfilling when you get compliments from your customer who tasted your product. In fact I was planning to put up another outlet in Makati, near my condo unit in Gil Puyat Ave. I know it would be a very potential outlet because my condo is along the place of the call centers. Unfortunately I was not able to do it because my husband got a call from his colleague to come to U.A.E .

I was left behind for a month to sell my foodcart business, which I did. It’s so frustrating isn’t it? Anyway, I am very glad and grateful to receive some more news about Go Negosyo, where I was so inspired and got some tips on how to start and put a small business like food cart business. Every Sunday I have to read newspaper just to take a look and catch up any activities of Go Negosyo, where I learned and got inspired to start a small business, although it’s not easy for me because I’ve been away from the Philippines for almost 15 years, but because of the encouragement and inspiring message of the successful entrepreneurs I got the courage to do it.

I owe this from the people who made and contributed to Go Negosyo a successful organization. To be honest with you the fist time I attended the Go Negosyo is for the sake of curiosity, and I never thought that out of my curiosity it made my dream come true, to become an entrepreneur. Joey, hope you will continue sending me some news about Go Negosyo.

Thank and more power.

Cynthia Yeadon