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If there is one thing we can contribute in this life, it is to inspire people to do more and do better. It is a privilege to be able to inspire not just the aspiring entrepreneurs that Go Negosyo has, but also the youth who will be the next generation-movers and change makers of this country.
Last week, I was invited by good friends Gigi Montinola and Gianna Montinola of Far Eastern University (FEU) to be their commencement speaker for the Institute of Accounts, Business and Finance. It was a privilege to be their speaker that morning despite having come from De La Salle University who lost to FEU in some basketball games. But kidding aside, I first congratulated all the parents who were there and also the parents abroad who did a great job in raising the children and providing for their needs. These parents did the right thing in choosing a good school that will mentor their children and guide them to their future.
Like what I have shared countless of times, mentorship is important. I shared the many times that I was inspired by my parents’ love and mentorship. I even shared a personal anecdote from my college years when I had to drop a subject, but through perseverance I was able to still march and appear in the yearbook. Several years later, I was invited to even become one of their board directors.
I am not saying this to encourage all young kids to take the same path I took. I am saying this to encourage them to study more and maximize the education they are receiving, most especially the mentorship. Mentorship inspires the best in all of you. I was fortunate to have parents who inspired me to persevere and still do my best despite some failures in life.
I was inspired by my father’s passion and love for this country. He believed in this country’s future and its people. And he fought for what he believed in. Fighting the Marcos dictatorship was a great challenge this country faced. But through my father’s leadership, he established Namfrel and empowered people to believe in themselves and fight for the right, fight for democracy. His battle against dictatorship greatly instilled in me the right passion, values and principles that I should have in this life. This is the kind of mentorship that I received in my younger years.
But mentors can only do so much. In school, you can be mentored by the best teachers, but if you do not listen, then you will not make it. Mentorship from parents combined with mentors from good schools will definitely create the most important part of your life which is character. Character will define one’s success.
Looking at the crowd, I told them that as they step out of the venue, they will face real competition. The learning process has to continue. Why? Because there will be people who will do what it takes to get the position that you have. For corporations like RFM, many brands want to take the market positions that we have. That is why we continue to learn and develop.
But how did we start? It started with a dream to become the largest company in soft drinks and ice cream. When we still had Cosmos (PopCola), we were the biggest name in the beverage industry. After 13 years, we then sold it to Coca-Cola for close to P15 billion. Today, we have Selecta, through a joint venture with Unilever which is the market leader in ice cream with close to 80 percent market share. Aside from that, we also have our market leading pasta brands Royal and Fiesta.
With passion and grit, we were able to achieve the stability that we have today. As the Philippines continues to compete for its place in the world and as local businesses compete to gain their market share, employees and entrepreneurs will have to do the same. Continuously innovate to grow and compete in the market. Mistakes are inevitable. There will be times that you will make bad decisions. But what is important is that you will learn from these as well. Mistakes are part of the learning process.
Let me also share the example of Injap Sia. He came from a school in Iloilo and not from Manila. His business exposure was limited compared to those in Manila. His father exposed him to his supermarket in Iloilo and from there, he saw the hard work and passion of his parents. He then established his own business using the start up capital from his father. Eight years ago, we awarded him for Mang Inasal as one of the young entrepreneurs in Iloilo. When we awarded him, he had less than 40 stores. He eventually expanded to around 300 stores, and I was privileged to hand to him again another award from the Ernst & Young Small Business Entrepreneurship Award. He eventually sold Mang Inasal to Jollibee Corp. for close to P4 billion, but he did not stop being entrepreneurial. He continued to develop other ventures and now has become even bigger with his relatively new listed firm DoubleDragon Properties which develops City Malls.
If someone from the province like Injap can make it even though they did not come from a top university in Manila or abroad, it shows that the young generation have a shot at success. The only difference will be in how much passion and perseverance you have to reach it.
I can name more entrepreneurs who had the same story as Injap’s, but the common winning trait that is more valuable is their enterprising attitude. A positive enterprising attitude really leads to more opportunities.
Going back to the Marcos era, a lot of companies did well then. Of course, we had the cronies, but for many others, there were lesser competition because nobody wanted to come to this country. So many of these companies became the first movers. The environment was not so conducive, but there were still opportunities.
The incoming leadership of Duterte-Robredo presents more opportunities to more entrepreneurs as both have a common vision to help the underprivileged and micro/small entrepreneurs. We would encourage big businesses to find ways to link and include small businesses in their value chains so that we can create a sustainable growth system for all entrepreneurs. The real essence of inclusive growth must be done. And to me, the votes signaled the importance of making more people part of the growing economy.
All these started with a dream. Everybody has to dream of something. I dreamt to fight for a cause just like my father. And today, I never thought I would lead an advocacy in entrepreneurship which in a way is, similar to Namfrel, but different in approach. Go Negosyo is helping many micro, small entrepreneurs out there to succeed in life. True Philippine progress cannot be achieved if the small sectors are left behind.
And that is my dream. Through Go Negosyo, with close to 800 entrepreneurs who joined this cause, we are now training micro entrepreneurs to show an inclusive growth and ensure that many other entrepreneurs have pathways to success.
In the end, I reminded them that destiny will spell it out for them. But they cannot depend on destiny alone. It is with hard work, passion, perseverance, and destiny that will lead you to where one should be.