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Go Negosyo launched in the past weeks “Pilipinas: Now is Our Time,” our new campaign where we rallied all Go Negosyo bossings and entrepreneurs towards a common objective of helping the government build on the momentum we are having now, which is attaining an economic status that will lead to an investment-grade rating for the Philippines. To reach this will surely be a dream-come-true moment for us. It’s like winning gold in the Olympics, but this time in economics. But to achieve this, we need to sustain the confidence of the business sector to remain bullish and continue to expand their business in the Philippines. We will also need the public sector to continue with the reforms it started, with greater transparency and good governance in running the affairs of the country and for the economic team of the government to continue implementing its fiscal discipline.
Let me start with the MVP himself, Manny V. Pangilinan, who has reflected a life of integrity and hard work as his formula for success. When I initially pitched to him the idea about the campaign, MVP immediately agreed to support us. As an entrepreneur himself, I believe that he has seen that now is the Philippines’ biggest chance to be known as one of the emerging economies in Asia, and probably in the world. At this point, we all know about his humble beginnings as a grandson of a public high school teacher and the son of a former messenger in PNB, who later both became successful as the Secretary for Education and the president of Traders Royal Bank, respectively. As for him, from being a high school boy whose daily allowance was 25 centavos, he won a rare scholarship provided by Procter & Gamble and attained an MBA degree at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. But what most of us don’t realize is that when he started in the 1980s, he chose to build his business here in our country, despite the fact that we were in the middle of grave political turmoil during that period.
With the help of Anthony Salim, who is one of his clients, MVP started First Pacific Holdings, a company focused on regional banking and trading. From six employees in a 50-square-meter office in Hong Kong in 1981, MVP was able to successfully expand, having companies with sales that are over US$5 billion with over 60,000 employees across the region. But he realized that he could actually focus and invest in the Philippines. And so, he made his biggest bet by selling Hagermeyer, a Dutch trading giant where First Pacific holds a significant share. He then used part of the proceeds in purchasing the 214-hectare Fort Bonifacio, which is basically an underdeveloped military reserve. MVP was planning to convert it into an urban residential and commercial zone. His purchase was both a hit and a miss, as he was later affected by the downturn in the country’s real estate market because of political problems at that time.
He then acquired the majority of the control in PLDT, a telecommunications giant that used to monopolize the market. For a while, he was challenged by its owners and the Gokongwei group to sell the company, but he stood his ground and held on to PLDT. And just like what he did with the many companies acquired by First Pacific Holdings, he was able to turn PLDT’s situation around, and the rest is history. MVP soon became a respected figure in the world of business.
After his phenomenal success with PLDT, MVP has since begun to put a premium on improving local companies, particularly those that belong in industries such as electricity, infrastructure, and mining. With the revenue generated from PLDT, he was able to acquire other local companies such as the Associated Broadcasting Company (TV5), Smart Communications, SPi Global, Meralco, Stradcom International Holdings, Inc., Red Mobile, Cignal Digital TV, Pilipino Telephone Corporation (PILTEL), First Pacific Tollways Corporation, Philex Mining Corporation, and Digital Telecommunications Philippines.
In his own words: “I am deeply committed to doing whatever it takes to see our country break out and regain its respect as an economic powerhouse in Asia, because this will translate to improving the life of every Filipino by providing him more affordable power, more and better roads, more reliable communication, more responsive hospitals, adequate and clean water, responsible mining and wholesome entertainment — in short, giving all Filipinos the quality of life they deserve.”
MVP is joined by more than 50 entrepreneurs who have their own inspiring stories to tell, such as Annabella Wisniewski (Raintree Group), Bernie Liu (Golden ABC), Cecilio Pedro (Lamoiyan Corporation), Chris Chilip (Tyremart, Inc), Corazon Dayro-Ong (CDO Foodsphere, Inc.), Cynthia Villar (Villar Foundation), Dennis Valdes (Philweb), Dioseldo Sy (Ever Bilena), Dr. Rolando Hortaleza (Splash Corporation), Esther Vibal (Vibal Publishing House, Inc.), Felix Ang (CATS Motors), Francis Juan (Chic-Boy), Genevieve Ledesma-Tan (Southville Intenational School), Henry Lim Bon Liong (SL Agritech), Injap Sia (Mang Inasal), Jay Aldeguer, (Islands Group) Joe Magsaysay (Potato Corner), Joey Qua (Collezione), Johnlu Koa (The French Baker, Inc.), Joseph Gandiongco (Julie’s Bakeshop), Justin Uy (Profood International Corporation), Les Reyes (Reyes Haircutters), Louie Gutierrez (Silverworks), LRay Villafuerte, Maritel Nievera (Cabalen Corporation), Martin Lorenzo (Pancake House), Michael Escaler (PASUDECO), Myla Villanueva (MDI Group Holdings), Myrna Yao (Richwell Trading), Olive Aw (Destileria Limtuaco), Paolo Tibig (VCargo), Prudencio Garcia (Mekeni Foods Corporation), Ray Gapuz (RA Gapuz Review Center), Raymund Garcia, Rey Lapid (R. Lapid’s Chicharon), Rikki Dee (Foodlink, Inc.), Robert Trota (Max’s Restaurant), Rommel Juan (Binalot), Ronald Pineda (Folded & Hung), Rosalind Wee (Marine Resources Development Corporation), Rubby Sy (Flawless), Siu Ping Par (PR Gaz), Socorro Ramos (National Book Store), Tennyson Chen (Bounty Fresh), Tommanny Tan (Fern, Inc.), Ton Concepcion (Condura), Vicki Belo (Belo Medical Group), and Willy Tee Ten (Autohub Group). Every one of us always believed that if we truly loved our country, we would all work together and move in one direction and help others succeed, as we have.
Pilipinas, now is our time!