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Last week, the Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines (TOSP) was revealed in Malacañang. Congratulations to John Michael Dellariarte, Kenneth Isaiah Abante, Jerome David, Ruthell Moreno, Juan Carlo Tejano, Angelina Bombarda, Kurt Gerrard Sy, Daniel Philip Dy, Maria Janua Polinar, and Jay-R Mendoza for making it to this year’s top 10. We are very lucky to have P-Noy to personally award the trophy to the TOSP winners. One of them even got too excited, that she gave our President a tight hug and a quick kiss on the cheek. I could only imagine what P-Noy’s security aides might have felt at that moment. Nonetheless, P-Noy was such a sport by letting the girl steal a kiss from him.
In my speech during the program, I mentioned that these outstanding students had to thank their parents above anyone else. They are the real outstanding people here, because they have raised their sons and daughters to aim high and to work hard to reach for their dreams. Of course, their teachers and mentors who were instrumental in molding them deserved to be recognized. I also said that these students came from poor families but they have taken a different approach in life, and this should be emulated by all of us. I ended by saying that TOSP is being held not just to honor top students, but also to promote role models that will promote excellence and give back to our society, and now it’s THEIR time to do so.
Meanwhile, P-Noy’s message to the TOSP was short yet meaningful. He mentioned that with the very unpredictable weather, PAGASA is doing its best to keep Filipinos informed. However, weather forecasts involve a lot of scientific terms that an ordinary person may not be able to understand, so it is also PAGASA’s duty to report it to the people as simple as possible. Like PAGASA, the TOSP according to P-Noy is gifted to be able to understand more than the rest of us. It is their duty, therefore, to share their knowledge to those who were not as blessed as them.
A week ago we (RFM) did a non-deal roadshow in Singapore and Malaysia, where we met over 30 fund managers. We basically responded to the many groups that requested to meet us. It’s been awhile since we did this. If I recall it correctly, the last time was in the early 2000s. I can confirm that it is really the time for the Philippines; that we are at the tipping point of our success as a breakout nation. Many funders and investors are looking at emerging markets like the Philippines. The macro economy makes it easier for consumer-oriented companies like ourselves to attract foreign investments, as they do believe that the Philippines is on the right track towards good governance and greater fiscal discipline in managing the budget, and seeing to it that capital expenditures are properly bidded out. We are glad that our stock price is one of those that has benefited from the surge of optimism in the country.
The 4th general membership meeting of the Philippine Travel Agencies Association was held last month in Sofitel. It was attended by around 300 members who are composed of travel agencies, tour operators, airlines, hotels, resorts, and travel-related companies. I did not have second thoughts about coming to the event and accepting their invitation as their guest speaker, because I personally believe that tourism is the Philippines’ next big thing. And we will need negosyantes engaged in the travel industry to be inspired and to feel that their contribution will greatly impact our country.
Now is the best time for everyone, especially in the tourism sector, to work harder. The Philippines is starting to be known as a great place to invest in, aside from being famous in boxing and in entertainment. In fact, our tourism slogan “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” became a hit, and it really worked in improving the image of our country as one of the best tourist destinations in the world. Local and foreign tourists are rediscovering our natural wonders, and our entrepreneurs are taking advantage of it. I have mentioned some of them in my previous columns, such as Jay Aldeguer and his Islands Group and Justin Uy’s Imperial Hotel. And let me add the hundreds of micro, small, and medium entrepreneurs who decided to start their own businesses in the tourism industry.
The competition between businesses may be greater than ever, and this can clearly be seen as our travel agencies are competing with technology that allows a tourist to book a trip with just a few clicks of a button. But these challenges should be looked at as opportunities for innovation. Tourism is basically a service industry—despite the convenience of online bookings, travel-related businesses had to show that nothing beats the experience of being taken cared of by a travel adviser.
Our country has always been known to be abundant with natural wonders. While we can, we must be able to capitalize on this asset. The government has been doing what it can to invite everybody to appreciate our country’s beauty, and the investors are starting to take notice. NOW IS OUR TIME to act and to ensure that these efforts will not go to waste.