Be an optimist in 2019!

To all those who have followed this column since 2006, I wish you all a happy new year! It’s been 12 years since I started writing for The Star, and with over 800 columns, written every Thursday and another bi-monthly column.

This year, Go Negosyo also celebrates 14 years of active entrepreneurship advocacy. I have served two presidents as presidential adviser for entrepreneurship, a pro-bono role that has led to the creation of the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship, also known as Go Negosyo.

It’s been a long journey, but God has blessed us to keep on going. In return, we have blessed others, most especially our micro and small entrepreneurs. But this journey is far from over. We have put inclusive growth and micro and small entrepreneurs’ development at the forefront of our mission

We are fortunate to have Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez as a great partner in this advocacy. He worked with us in RFM Corp. and Go Negosyo prior to serving government and is knowledgeable about the needs of MSMEs. After working with me for 22 years, he’s now the first secretary who’s putting much needed time and effort in helping our entrepreneurs and see everything happens as planned.

Despite the challenges the country is facing, I’ve always been an optimist. I believe that there will never be a perfect president, but we can strive to be better citizens and take an active role in nation-building. I pray that every leader will have the courage and wisdom to guide the country towards prosperity.

In the New Year’s message of our parish priest, he said that life would always have its ups and downs. While we are blessed with our happy lives today, we need to find purpose – no matter how small, as all of us can contribute significantly. For us Catholics, it’s our spiritual faith that we turn to when challenges come. For those of different faiths, I am sure it’s the same. Our respective gods will always be our source of strength and support.

Some people ask me why I support President Duterte; it’s because of his vision of an inclusive economy wherein no Filipino will be left behind. I think I’m not the only one, as seen in the President’s ratings, with over 70 percent of our countrymen sharing the same view.

We need to invest in the Philippines as if it were a business, with the government working as its manager. We are embarking on a massive capital expenditure through the infrastructure program Build Build Build. There is no other way to move forward without first laying down the foundations for progress through such projects.

While the government ensures that the big-ticket projects are executed, the private sector must also invest as well. Since all Filipinos are shareholders of the country, we must be optimistic and should support and participate in nation-building. Negativity will not lead to success. But I’m happy that most entrepreneurs are positive in nature.

Let us all claim 2019 to be a great year for our country! Let me share the views of some of our government partners in the advocacy:

“This 2019, my wish is for us Filipinos is to love and respect our beloved country even more. Tourism is an industry that champions inclusivity, as exhibited by the jobs and livelihoods created for the local communities, and that is why we must be more responsible with the way we treat our beautiful destinations. Taking care of our tourist sites will not only preserve them for the next generations, but it will also sustain the growth and development of both urban and rural areas, and all sectors of society.” – Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat

“I wish for more Filipinos to be happier, as they feel and experience a better quality of life, with more job and business opportunities during the Duterte administration. We hit record level BOI-approved investments, two years in a row, 40 percent and 47 percent growth in 2017 and 2018, creating more excitement in 2019.

“As more jobs and negosyos are generated, opportunities also abound for micro and SMEs, coupled with the comprehensive DTI support on training, mentoring, P3 micro financing, Go Lokal market access, more and more Filipinos are empowered and given a chance to prosper. Trabaho at Negosyo Kabuhayan para sa lahat, leading to a more inclusive growth.

“Growth is also becoming more inclusive as our kababayans feel the other socio-economic reforms such as free education, healthcare, investment, ease of doing business, financial reforms, plus the aggressive infrastructure program that have started to improve the way we live.” – Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez

“My wish is for the Muslim rebellion and communist insurgency to end and for most of our people to get free education from elementary to college. Inclusive economy can come in only when we allow foreign investments to come in with the least restrictions, when peace and order is constantly maintained and the greater population has been educated. We have to do it the Singapore and the Chinese way.” – chief presidential legal counsel and presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo.