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Just recently, as our country welcomes the new set of senators, other senators conclude their terms and move on to a new chapter in their lives.
Adding now to the population of farmers in the Philippines is our former Philippine Senator and chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee Francis â€œKikoâ€ Pangilinan. After taking off from the hectic world of political affairs, Kiko is busy growing his Sweet Spring Country Farm, a nearly three-hectare farm in Alfonso, Cavite.
The spouse of Megastar Sharon Cuneta â€” Pangilinan finished his comparative literature course from University of the Philippines (UP) and his masterâ€™s degree in public administration from Harvard University.
With his whole family, Sen. Kiko now lives in Silang, a municipality near Alfonso. For him, it has cool air and there are three seasons in Silang â€” wet, dry and windy. This has a high terrain and the said farm is 1,300 feet above sea level.
Sweet Spring is the home for Sen. Kikoâ€™s fauna like Parawakan local breed of chickens, native pigs, rabbits, carabao named Berky, and others. Banana, mango and cacao trees are some of the flaura being seen on it. It also has organic food products like herbs. Right now, the farm serves as a farm field school for 50 local farmers which is a program in affiliation with the Department of Agriculture (DA).
Exceptionally, he exerts some hard work to uplift the morale of farmers because it is said that Filipino farmers have an annual average income of P23,000, and the average educational attainment of farmers nationwide is fourth grade. It shows that our farmers are being ignored and eaten by the system of those influential leaders. Aiming to assist farmers, Sen. Kiko and his Agriculture committee added P1 billion to last yearâ€™s budget for crop insurance.
Despite the fact that our farmers here are the most abused â€” living in an oppressive colonial past where farmers are treated as poor people since the Spanish times, Sen. Kiko is positive and hopeful about our farmers. He abides by the principle that the three main engines of Philippine economic growth identified by our President are: infrastructure, agriculture and tourism.
According to him, some foreign governments heavily subsidize their farmers, because farming affects other sector and those countries understand that food security is their top priority.
For now, the area planted is 6,000 square meters of the almost three-hectare farm.
Currently, Sweet Spring Country Farm has a service agreement with Ernest Escalerâ€™s Gourmet Farms when it comes to being the supplier of organic products.
I am glad that he strengthens his advocacy in agriculture by serving as a living example.
We will never forget him and his Sagip Saka program that have been the excellent partners of Go Negosyo in spreading entrepreneurial values and knowhow to farmers and in helping publish our latest book about the inspiring stories of our Filipino agri-entrepreneurs. Sagip Saka achieves a sustainable modern agriculture and food security by preserving the Ifugao rice terraces, improvement of onion production in Nueva Ecija and others.
Our country needs more Senator-farmer Kiko, a leader who genuinely gives his service for the benefit of those who are really underprivileged Filipinos like our farmers.
We wish him good luck in his journey as an agri-entrepreneur!
Let me recognize as well our newest partner in our eight-year crusade in building an entrepreneurial nation with empowered and prosperous Filipinos. We formalized the other day our partnership with DHL Express Philippines, which is headed by their country manager Yati Abdullah, together with DHL marketing manager Hope Atienza, sales director Andy Lim, and sales manager Eric Queppet.
During the signing, we got the chance to know more about DHL Expressâ€™ vision to help SMEâ€™s in improving their logistics efficiencies and effectively cut operating cost. Similar to Go Negosyo, DHL has been enabling the SMEs to level-up in their competencies to compete in the market. We learned that they have been trying to teach entrepreneurs in the past two years on how they can improve their distribution capabilities and even learn how to service better the export markets. We understand that DHL is the industry leader that can service the international market.
During the meeting, DHLâ€™s country manager Yati relayed some inspiring entrepreneur stories that caught my attention. One was a story on how DHL helped SME entrepreneur Marie Lou Eviota Aizon expand her businesses here and abroad. Starting her business aspiration in her own living room five years ago, Marie used kukui nuts to produce fashion accessories, selling her masterpieces to the local market and then expanding her scope to the United States. With DHL as her logistics partner, Marie Lou focused on her product development and operations. From the production line down to delivery, she ensures uncompromising quality.
From small beginnings, the Isabella Trani Fashion Jewelry Co is now an established firm, having a fully operational factory which is now catering to huge clients such as NFL teams, NBA teams, Democrats as well as Republican.
Her example was truly inspiring. Business operations today have now become more efficient and wide spread through the aid of technology. I believe DHL has helped a lot of SMEs to expand their operations all over the world. This proves that many aspiring entrepreneurs can follow the same example as Marie Lou did.
We will have our next sessions of Magandang Business Advice (MBA) on marketing & innopreneurship with our marketing guru and Go Negosyo advocate Josiah Go in Pampanga on August 9 and Lipa on August 30.
In partnership with DTI, we are also conducting the SME Roving Academy session on entrepreneurship on August 14 at Poblacion, Calamba City, Laguna.