Kadtu kamo para mainspirasyon kayo! (Come and Be Inspired!)

Tomorrow Go Negosyo goes to Bacolod and the University of St. La Salle coliseum is expected to be full to the rafters of students, teachers, government employees and their families, and everyone who is or would want to become a negosyante. No less than Her Excellency President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will attend our event and this is her first time to visit the school after the young brothers of La Salle asked her to resign more than a year ago. But PGMA is always reconciliatory and forgiving. Brother Rolly Dizon who is co-chair for this big event was one of my teachers when I was in grade school and high school. He was a strict teacher and principal and I have a high regard for Brother Dizon. He has under his stewardship brought about some of the best entrepreneurs today in this country. I am sure Ateneo will not agree with this statement but if we look at the top IT companies such as Gerry Ablaza who is the CEO of Globe, Ricky Banaag of Intel, TJ Javier of Microsoft, Jojo Quintos of IBM, Dondi Mapa of Dell, Nilo Cruz formerly with HP, Ronnie Latinazo of EMC… all of them are La Sallites. Anyway, Brother Rolly has been a strong influence to many of us and it is his same passion to help make the minds of his fellow Negrenses towards optimism and entrepreneurship that made him an active co-chair of the Go Negosyo sa Bacolod.

We also have a number of entrepreneurs who really want to inspire and share their stories like Gaita Fores who comes from Bacolod, PCE Trustees Vivienne Tan, Governor Lray Villafuerte, Myla Villanueva and other Go Negosyo mentors such as Paolo Bediones, Dra. Vicky Belo, Johnlu Koa, Victor Tan, Les Reyes. Ray Gapuz and Joel Santos. Go Negosyo Cebuano awardees Jack Gaisano, Wilson Ng and Jay Aldeguer will also join us in Bacolod. We will also award the most inspiring Bacolod entrepreneurs: Ms. Josephine Locsin (Tumandok Crafts Industries), Ms. Dianna Lynn Agustin and Ms. Maria Corazon Bitong (BAYO), Mr. and Mrs. Yanson (Yanson Group of Companies, Ceres Liner Bus Co.), Mr. Jose Maria Cajili (Chicken House), Ms. Cecille del Castillo (Dungganon Bank, Negros Women for Tomorrow’s Foundation), Mr. James Chua (Foodman), Gov. Joseph Marañon (Mambukal Resort), Mr. Roberto Montelibano (GH Foods Inc.), Mr. Joaquin Torre (Riverside Medical Center), Mr. Benjamin Lopue Sr. (Lopue’s Group of Companies). We are also awarding the outstanding Bacolod support organizations, the Association of Negros Producers Inc. (Ms. Mary Ann Colmenares), IT Focus Team­ (Hon. Jocelle Batapa-Sigue), Negros Kabisig Livelihood Foundation, Inc. (Dr. Carmen Benares) and the University of Saint La Salle Business Resource Center (Elsie Coscolluela). The Manila, Cebu and Bacolod awardees are all there to inspire. We also have the support of key government officials such as MSME Czar Secretary Cerge Remonde and Director Joey Pelaez of DepEd who is also our partner in Teen Negosyo this coming July 26-31 in Baguio City. We expect over 6,000 people to attend and we invite everyone to take advantage of the presence of over 25 entrepreneurs and mentors and be inspired, informed and empowered. We hope the people of Bacolod will take part of what is happening to our country, Phil Inc. It is no longer a dream, it is now a reality.

* * * * *

It’s nice to hear stories of the Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines who had to get into a negosyo to pay for their tuition. In my case, many people do not believe that I sold my clothes while in high school to Eloys not to pay for my tuition but to be able to take out dates. My mother is from Iloilo so you know they are very thrifty. I credit my mom in a way because she has given me the drive to pursue things and has brought me to where I am today. So to these young kids never be ashamed that you had to do these things, it is going to be what will propel you to greater heights. It is what will give you the hunger for success. Let me share with you some of their stories: Carl Pahati, an Accountancy student from Cebu partnered with his friend and sold snacks to his team mates in the varsity team. He hopes to expand this business since he wants to be like his entrep idol, Mrs. Julie Gandionco of Julie’s Bakeshop. Richard Caluyo on the other hand got into a candle-making business for unemployed mothers as part of their school’s livelihood project. He learned how to make candle wax and later trained the mothers. His entrep idol is Boni Commandante of Buhi Corporation. Ben Secratario, the son of farmers from Bicol, already has a feasibility study to put up an agri-business in their region. His entrep idol is Jollibee’s Tony Tan Caktiong. Roma Padua started as a dealer of Avon, Natasha and Sarah Lee during her first year college to earn extra school allowance. She helped one of the poorest barangays in Roxas City thru a “tahong project” which now sells chips, burger patties and lumpia made of tahong. Her entrep idol is Ambassador Frank Alba of Prudential Life whom she says remains humble in spite of his numerous accomplishments. Roma’s tahong project became really successful thru online website inquiries and advertisements on their local TV stations. Another young woman, Cherrie Atilano, plans to set up an organic farm business propelled by her interests in organic produce since her major is in Agriculture and she sees that there is a huge market for naturally grown products given that people have become more conscious of what they eat today. It is indeed reassuring to know that the TOSP finalists whom I believe are the future prime movers of this country possess the same entrepreneurial attitude as their entrep idols which will hopefully propel Philippines Inc. forward.

(The Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines is a continuing project of RFM Foundation, the Commission on Higher Education with National Bookstore, the Rotary Club of Makati Central and the TOSP Alumni Community.)