Pagbabago Pilipinas!

Last Saturday, I was part of a forum in a two-day conference in Tagaytay called “7.0: Media Nation Building”. The [email protected] Foundation was behind the efforts in organizing the conference. I was even surprised to find out that there was an actual organization with that name.

[email protected] is a cultural-social movement for the radical transformation of the Philippine society. Different leaders in their respective industries and disciplines established this foundation. In fact, reputable actor Bart Guingona is the foundation’s current president. Even Dr. Chito Salazar, who leads the PHINMA Education Network, is part of the foundation.

Talking about pagbabago, I remember launching an awareness campaign that calls for PAGBABAGO about two years ago. I think the real change is already starting to happen.

First, it is important to note that the previous PGMA administration did not leave our country bankrupt. The right engines for growth were started. A very clear vision on economic activities was also laid out. The business community knows this. I was even told in the latest economic briefing that the new team of PNoy acknowledged that PGMA did do a good job on the economy. As negosyantes, our concern is the economy.

The rise of PNoy came at that point when pagababago was very much needed. He is a leader who is perceived to be honest and who lives simply. His family reputation is a testament to those perceptions. PNoy and his sisters, especially Ballsy and Viel (who can be regarded as the ‘first sisters’), resemble their mother’s simplicity.

Moral reformation takes time. It will not take 100 days or one year. It will take PNoy’s full six years or even longer. But definitely, we will see better transparency and better governance for the next six years. This is the reason why our stock market has hit an all time high of 4,000 index. If my friend Rante Aguila is correct in his prediction, it will hit 7,000 after one to two years.

Foreign and local investors are looking at our country as a corporation – Philippines Inc. Good governance and greater transparency commands a premium to investors. This is why our stock market will do better. Even the latest one billion dollar bond was the first peso-based dollar bond. Years ago, countries like Brazil have done this, but these countries are investment grade. The Philippines is not yet investment grade and yet we succeeded in having the peso bond in dollars. This is proof that investors are confident with our economic managers, Secretaries Purisima and Domingo.

During the forum which was attended by media personalities like Jessica Soho, Luchi Cruz Valdez, Isagani Yambot, Vergel Santos, Marites Vitug and John Nery, I mentioned that this is really our chance to be the shining star in Asia and reverse our cycle of misery once and for all. I mentioned that the media plays a big role in all these, as confidence is built on what people hear, read and see.

A number of questions were asked about the current problems on PNoy’s style of leadership. I answered by saying that every leader has his own style. Definitely, he does not have the very hands-on style of PGMA. But, it does not mean that his style is bad, especially if he is able to get competent cabinet secretaries to run things for him so he can focus on his strong areas.

Within a year, I believe the organization of PNoy will improve much. Necessary changes would take place. The Philippines should be the shining star of Asia, but not because we are wining a boxing fight or a billiard championship or a Filipino singer makes it to Glee. We should be the shining star because our local negosyantes are doing well and our economy is grabbing the limelight from the rest from Asia.

Our peso will appreciate to 42. As early as September, the peso is at 43.90 levels already. The next five months are the strong months for the peso. This is aside from the IPOs to be launched and new investments to come in from PNoy’s USA trip. If the government does not do something, we could see 38 as early as January or February next year. Interest rate reduction is the only way to stop the peso from appreciating. This should be good for the negosyo climate. We will definitely see our FOREX reserves much larger than our total foreign debt. Hopefully, in 2011 – 2012, we will come close to be rerated as investment grade. I do hope we see this day come. Those who have talked down on this country for the past years will surely eat their words.

The challenge is for us to see consumer spending continue to increase. Greater spending will allow companies to grow. We need to see more micro and small entrepreneurs become medium and large. We are a country with millions of micro entrepreneurs. Many of them may not able to become small. This is a huge challenge. This is why Go Negosyo was established. Our purpose is to help micro and small entrepreneurs become medium and large one day. But, this will not happen overnight.

We need to see an attitude change among Filipinos. We need to start believing that this is a great country and that we don’t need to beat ourselves down. Yes, we had the hostage tragedy, which was a mistake, but we do need to move on. There are good things that are happening and we need to build up on these good things.

It is time for our cycle of misery to end. Poverty is our biggest problem. The solution starts by giving people greater confidence and hope that we are on the road to great success. Those on the brink of giving up must be able to hold on, try new ideas and work even harder. Big business must continue to help mentor micro and small businesses to become medium and large. This is my personal quest as I embrace the advocacy of Go Negosyo.

I owe my success of being an entrepreneur to my parents, teachers and friends who have mentored me. It is time that we help others succeed from poverty. Yes, pagbabago is happening but this is a process and it takes time. Those who neglect to believe this will miss every opportunity that this country offers. Start believing.