To See is to Believe

Last Thursday, we attended the wake of Frank Mayor. He was the father of good friends Joanne Ramirez and Val Sotto.

Joanne was the classmate of my wife in Assumption. She was also editor of our 55 Inspiring Stories of Women Entrepreneurs book. Val is the wife of Ping Sotto who is one of our Angelpreneurs and co-author of our How-to-start your own business book.

As we arrived, Joanne, Val and the rest of their family were talking to guests. I noticed that Deedee Siytangco seemed to be monitoring someone’s arrival, so I told my wife that maybe P-Noy was arriving.

To see is to believe. The president’s arrival was no fanfare. There was no wang wang or big entourage. P-Noy was not even surrounded by many PSGs. In fact, some businessmen have more bodyguards than him.

While the economy is on an upswing, P-Noy’s focus is on moral reformation. As a change agent leader, he started right by making a drastic change on the more visible symbols. He is living and breathing as a servant-leader.

I was able to have a brief conversation with P-Noy. He immediately mentioned that he has not been able to attend yet to my suggestion to have a gathering with Go Negosyo advocates, as he has been busy with the early stages of his presidency and upcoming SONA.

Something about Pnoy resonated among the people in the wake. He had the simplicity and the -down-to-earth style. Many Filipinos want to see this. Leadership by example is what a change agent needs to do. Sometimes, people have to witness in order to believe.

I guess, as more people will witness the acts of our new change agent leader, they too will believe. We need to encourage more change agents. Gawad Kalinga, Go Negosyo and many organizations are trying to be change agents in their own field.

Based on my meeting with the new DTI Secretary Greg Domingo, I believe that he is what the DTI needs today. While big businesses need a lot of attention since they contribute to the country’s growth, the numerous micro and small enterprises also need attention. They are eventually going to become the medium and large negosyos. DTI is the big mentor of negosyantes.

Our partnership with DTI, which started last year, is a start to helping men and women in government to think like entrepreneurs, to be enterprising and innovative in their programs. They, like us in private business, always have to be customer-oriented — giving what the market (or their constituents) wants. As what P-Noy said, “Kayo ang Boss ko”. DTI Usec. Merly and her regional directors carry that big responsibility of mentorship, but they cannot do it alone. We all need to help and do our share.

Now is the chance for those who have been complaining to become change agents. One president cannot do it alone. People like Sec. Greg and other leaders have accepted the task of sacrificing their own wealth and time with family to help others have a better future. Go Negosyo, together with other organizations, will launch an effort to build more social entrepreneurs so that more people can be change agents. This is why I continue to remain bullish about the Philippines’ future.

Let me share the views of others who are also bullish about the Philippines’ future.

From ROMY BERNARDO (President of Lazaro Bernardo Tiu & Associates)

“Amidst signs of global recovery, there is much talk about possible double dip in US and Europe. Asia has developed internal sources of growth — from infra and increasing consumption, especially China and India. Remittances we receive globally have proven to be resilient to downturns, thanks to the cost competitiveness and flexibility of Philippine workers. Plus BPO and KPO are expected to continue to grow double digit– despite downturns in the west, as we saw since 2008 as part of coping of big firms. Finally, improved business confidence with reduced political risks due to orderly succession and high trust on new leadership and competent professional managers in cabinet augers well. I see growth at five to six percent this year. And if no double dip happens, this can be sustained next year.”

From RAMON ARNAIZ (Chairman of the Board of ATR KimEng Capital Partners Inc.)

“We are more optimistic on the Philippines in the near term because its economy has been affected by the global financial crisis on the periphery rather than at its core, as is the case with the USA and several countries in Europe. Indeed, most of East Asia has been growing robustly this year as the region pulls away from the global crisis. This higher regional growth relative to the rest of the world provides a buffer from the travails of the developed economies. At the same time domestic economic fundamentals have been strengthened in recent years by fiscal consolidation, which although interrupted in 2008-09 by the global crisis, nevertheless was a major contributor to economic resilience. In addition, the domestic banking system is fundamentally sound and asset markets are neither frothy nor depressed. Finally, the political transition to a popularly elected government whose priorities are transparency in government, reduction of the budget deficit while supporting stronger growth and more equitable economic and social outcomes for the general population cannot be faulted. It only remains to be seen to what extent these will be achieved. Strong support from almost all sectors of society and competent policy-makers should make realization of these tasks less difficult than if the opposite were true.

“The USA and Europe will be in for a few years of austerity to reduce excesses built up in past years. It will be a time of adjustment not unlike what East Asia went through during the Asian financial crisis in 1997. Addressing these imbalances, including rising government deficits and public debts, cutting back household debt and recapitalizing financial institutions will affect negatively growth prospects. We would become more optimistic if the USA and Europe address these difficult issues promptly. When this happens is when we would have a more positive outlook on the developed economies.”

I will be sharing more views next week.