Are Angels for Real?

Last Monday, I hosted a dinner at our home, to make it more personal, for the launch of Go Negosyo’s campaign for the year 2007 which carries the theme “Teach a nation how to fish…” I also chose this night to formally announce the tie-up of the private sector and government (Philippines Inc.), headed by PGMA with the assistance of MSME czar Cerge Reymonde in seeing thru the implementation of our efforts for a unified Go Negosyo campaign.

To my surprise, close to 400 entrepreneurs and enterprising government officials attended the event. I really did not expect such an attendance which only means that a lot of people really want to see this country end its cycle of misery by helping promote a mindset of entrepreneurship. The next generation of taipans were all present that night from the Zobel’s, Sy’s, Tan’s, Lopezes, Gokongwei’s to the upcoming taipans like Ben Chan of Bench, Joey Antonio of Century Properties Group, Doris Ho of Magsaysay Shipping, Dr. Rolando Hortaleza of Splash Corporation…this column won’t fit my page allotment if I mention all of their names. The young entrepreneurs were also there like Imelda and Eric Teng of Maldita, Gonzalo Roque of Kamiseta, Ronald Pineda of Folded and Hung, Dimpy Camera known for her brazo de merecedes and Mary Grace Dimacali who owns Mary Grace Ensaymada. Citigroup’s microentrepreneurs of the year were also present that evening like Jennilyn Antonio, Nolie Estocado with Citigroup (Phil) head Sanjiv Vohra, Steve Lawrence and Mark Jones. Thanks to Citigroup who also sponsored the dinner for that evening. Our guest of honor was the CEO of Phil Inc. herself, President GMA with PMS Head Cerge Reymonde, and the young cabinet secretaries Arthur Yap, Ace Durano, Carissa Cruz-Evangelista, Peter Favila, BSP Governor Tetangco and of course Senator Mar Roxas who has been to almost every Go Negosyo event. I don’t want to sound like my idol column writer Tessa Prieto-Valdez who writes for her own paper, but I just want to describe the energy that filled the place was like the energy when you see how the stock market is doing now. It’s really a nice feeling seeing all the entreps gathered to support one advocacy and it has been a long time since we have seen this kind of warm reception. So is it for real? This was the common comment people asked me that night. My answer is it will be for real for as long as we continue to keep the optimism alive and of course if the government continues its reforms and support for micro, small and medium entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship in general. We have to be players and not just an audience if we want to benefit in the economic boom.

We prepared an audio visual presentation with the theme song “Posible”, a composition of Rivermaya who also made a live rendition of the song for free. The song and the video presentation encapsulated the message of our theme for 2007 which is “Teaching our nation how to fish, feeding our nation for many lifetimes.” This is what we need to do to see this country continue with its momentum. My talk focused on one angel story which over the weekend prior, I was thinking of what message can best deliver the essence of Go Negosyo to a crowd like this. Not only were my prayers answered but someone’s prayers also got answered. This is part of her story:

“…I am a 49 year-old housewife and mother of three. My eldest is on his 4th year in architecture at UST. We have been pulling all our resources and trying hard so he could finish college. Next is a 9 year-old girl who is suffering from an irreversible congenital heart disease (blue baby) who needs medical attention from time to time. My youngest is an 8 year-old boy. Both are in Grade II at our town’s public elementary school. My husband was a 5-vessel graft bypass patient and a diabetic who needs expensive lifelong maintenance medications (Six-hundred to Eight-hundred pesos per day). I too am a cardiac patient and have suffered myocardial infraction almost two years ago. But despite all the trials, I know life has to go on and we must learn to live with it regardless of its uncertainty and hardship.

I am running a small business at home in balut & salted-egg making. It is a business I have grown accustomed to since childhood and what my town, Pateros, has been known for. I like the business as it also gives me the opportunity to give others the chance of livelihood through the “mambabalut” (the person making the balut) and the “tinderas” of balut who make a living by selling the balut we make.

But I couldn’t advance the growth of my business due to the daily needs I have to sustain for my family. Most of the time I worry about how to pay our supplier for continued supply of duck eggs to keep our business going because there are medications we cannot forego to keep my family alive.

God has been good though, for He continues to help us find ways and most of the time send us people who helped us go by from time to time. But I know it can’t be forever and we might not get help all the time. We have to help ourselves.

To make my business grow, I need to supplement my income. And the only way I could think of is to have an additional source of income to help me sustain my family’s medical needs.

We are living in a sizable lot area owned by my parents. It is a pity I couldn’t maximize the use of our place due to lack of capital. There is a store area w/c is also our kitchen fronting the house where I sell the balut and salted eggs we make. It used to be a carinderia space before I had an attack.

There are two possible businesses I could think of right now which I feel would be feasible in our area. One is the PLDT My DSL internet cafe and the other is a backyard piggery business. The computer shop/cafe my son could easily help me run and the piggery my husband and I could jointly maintain without us having to leave home.

I wrote because honestly, we don’t have the capital to help us start and make go of our plans. I can only pray for an angel to save us. I will appreciate very much if you could help us thru your GO NEGOSYO…”

Mrs. Estrella Castillo

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During my speech, I acknowledged the right entrepreneurial spirit that Mrs. Castillo has. That despite all the trials and challenges, she never lost hope and even pushed harder to look for solutions and opportunities. She knows she has to do something and that is the kind of attitude we are advocating in Go Negosyo. In the middle of my talk, I asked Mrs. Castillo to join me up on stage and called on PLDT’s Butch Jimenez who was going to help get her set-up an Internet DSL center and Secretary Arthur Yap who will help her set up an agri business. I guess being in the presence of the audience that night made me realize that angels do exist and they are the God-sent people who continue to lend a helping hand and give hope to the many Estrellas out there. Go Negosyo together with its network of partners extends the needed help and mentorship to aspiring entrepreneurs. I believe that is what the Go Negosyo advocacy is all about.