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In the past four years since our partnership with PLDT SME Nation started, which was conceived during a lunch arranged by Go Negosyo trustee Myla Villanueva at my home, the relationship between Go Negosyo and PLDT has blossomed. And this led to the start of the search for the country’s best entrepreneurs, not necessarily just in terms of its business size, but in terms of the individual stories of remarkable negosyantes that has inspired many out there not to give up. The search for the country’s first batch of bossings was launched at the NBC Tent back in 2010, where 17 of the biggest names in entrepreneurship were recognized for their valuable contribution to the economy and to nation-building. This campaign does not aim only to honor individuals, because the main goal is to tap Filipinos to be inspired and to believe that they, too, can make it in life.
On its third year today, the PLDT MVP Bossings is back at the NBC Tent. PLDT SME Nation managed to pull off a very elegant affair last Tuesday night that could match or even surpass the Ernst and Young Entrepreneurship Awards Night, which I continue to support and attend. As you know, PLDT has the resources to make this a very memorable night for the awardees. The tent was packed with 800 guests, who are either past, present, and even potential future bossings. Leading the guest list was MVP himself, together with the heads of his group, and of his subsidiaries. Even Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario was there, sitting beside Inquirer chair Marixi Prieto, whose daughter Tessa was the host together with Rico Hizon. They were both in awe with the elegance of the affair, as well as the quality of the choices for the 2013 bossings.
There were close to 300 entrepreneurs nominated during the search, and from there, the nominees were trimmed to 60, then to 24, and then to the top 12. It was really a tough call for this year’s board of judges, who included MVP, PLDT president Poly Nazareno, Sun Cellular CEO Doy Vea, Sun Cellular COO Charles Lim, and myself. All of the finalists have exhibited the characteristics of a true bossing, but in the end we had to choose only 12. Included in the new batch of bossings are Mariano Manas of Henlin, Emil Caruncho IV of Mr. Quickie, Myrna Yao of Richwell Trading, Willy Sy of Primer Group, Marvin Agustin of Sumo Sam, Naty Yap Cheng of Uratex, William Belo of Wilcon Builders, Bernie Liu of Golden ABC, Milagros Leelin Yee and Clarita Leelin Go of Goldilocks, Dr. Abraham Pascual of Pascual Laboratories, Johnny Hernandez of Victory Liner, and Rosalind Wee of Marine Resources Development Corporation.
From this group, Bernie Liu emerged as the Grand Bossing for 2013. It was truly a great surprise for him, his wife Alice, and their three children, who were all with him that night. I was told he had reservations at first when he was informed of his inclusion in the top 12, but he was persuaded later on. Bernie must have gotten his entrepreneurial spirit from his father Leo, a Filipino-Chinese negosyante from Cagayan de Oro who started his entrepreneurial journey right after the Japanese Occupation. With dedication and hardwork, his father was able to build Matimco, which is the premier wood processing and treatment company in the Philippines.
Bernie is a licensed architect, but his desire to be an entrepreneur never left him. At the time that he was working for his family business, his parents decided to buy a garment factory from their business partner in Manila. His innate creativity somehow lured him into the business, which began by making t-shirts as corporate giveaways. He and a group of friends became determined to turn the business around, and being young people themselves, they knew that they have the upper hand in understanding their target market. From manufacturing corporate giveaway shirts, they started designing specialized shirts for school organizations, which became a huge hit.
His efforts did not go without a couple of problems. One month before he launched Penshoppe, the 1986 People Power revolution happened. It was a threat to their newly-opened business because everything was still in transition. But he was able to sustain his initial success, and in 1991, at the period of the Mt. Pinatubo disaster, he opened his first boutique in SM City North EDSA. Bernie did not show any signs of slowing down, as he developed several brands more under Golden ABC. 26 years later, his company continues to be a big name in the country’s clothing industry. At this point, they are gearing towards international expansion, and they recently signed up young Asian and Hollywood superstars such as Mario Maurer and Zac Efron, and just recently, the UK-based boyband One Direction.
Inspite of his phenomenal success, Bernie continues to give back to society. His CSR platform GET UP helps in four different areas: education, environment, community building, and arts and culture. He makes sure that the values practiced in his company does not center upon being successful alone, but on making the most out of the experience in aiming towards success. Borrowing the words from his speech, Bernie believes that “it is the journey in entrepreneurship itself that is worth living”.
Special awards were also given to six bossings for showing excellence in their respective fields. Congratulations to Ray Gapuz of RA Gapuz Review Center (Special Award for Education), Monastery of Transfiguration of Monk’s Blend Coffee (Special Award for Social Entrepreneurship), Jowee Alviar and Raymund Punzalan of Team Manila, and Eric Cua of Kings of Tomorrow (Special Award for Youth Entrepreneurship), Vincent “Chot” Reyes of coachcom.inc (Special Award for Sports), and Maestro Ryan Cayabyab of The Music School of Ryan Cayabyab (Special Award for Arts Development).
Welcome to the growing Bossings family!
Citi Foundation, the Pearson Foundation, and the Financial Times will mount the 2012 Citi-FT Financial Education Summit, which will be held at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel on Dec. 5 and 6. Over 280 delegates from more than 30 countries are expected to attend. The delegates are representatives of different NGOs, financial institutions, government, MFIs, the academe, and the private sector. The conference, which is centered on the theme Financial Capability as a 21th Century Life Skill, shall establish the importance of financial capability as a critical skill for both developing and developed economies, as well as financial education initiatives for different sectors of society. For more information or to register, visit www.financialeducationsummit.org.