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As I was writing this column about our recent Go Negosyo activity in Aurora, I remembered that there was movie entitled Baler which was shown around four years ago. The plot revolved around a Spanish soldier and a Katipunero’s daughter who fell in love with each other despite the odds. But more than that, the movie also showed how Filipinos in Baler fought the Spaniards through continuous strategic attacks. Their passion and determination to be free from the Spanish rule must have sustained them until they won.
Go Negosyo, in partnership with DTI, started another series of the SME Negosyo Caravan. This year, we did the kick-off last July 3 in that same town of Baler. The rains did not stop the participants from coming, as there were more than 500 people who attended the caravan from the expected 300. The provincial government of Aurora, led by its governor Bellafor Angara-Castillo who was personally there, as well as Baler Mayor Arthur Angara, helped us make sure that the caravan will start as planned despite the weather.
In his message, Mayor Angara recalled the importance for the local government units to promote an environment suitable for business operations. Similarly, Gov. Angara-Castillo challenged the participants to be entrepreneurs, with the provincial government providing the support necessary for them to start their own business. During the caravan, Go Negosyo’s executive director Ramon Lopez discussed the importance of developing an enterprising mindset, creativity, and learning the key elements in entrepreneurship towards success. Assistant regional director Judith Angeles assured that DTI would stay true to their mandate of empowering and assisting entrepreneurs in their journey.
We had a “Pilipinas, Now is Our Time!” forum, which featured five successful entrepreneurs. Two of them are from Aurora, namely, Raul Lara, owner of Lara Agro and Poultry Supply, Lara’s Farm and three EcoPetrol stations; and Jun Madarang, manager of Aurora Bank. Binalot president Rommel Juan, and the husband-and-wife tandem of Bong and Donna Jiao, owners of XC Manufacturing Trading and Enterprise, also joined the forum.
A series of talks on entrepreneurship followed, starting with Angelpreneurs Paulo Tibig (president, VCargo) and Carlo Calimon (executive director, Let’s Go Foundation). We also have Victor Madlangbayan (national operations manager, Manok Mabuhay) and Rafael Canare (Executive Director, Association of Filipino Franchisers Inc.) to discuss specific topics such as business planning and franchising.
I am glad to know that the people of Baler still maintain the kind of passion that made them win over the Spaniards almost a century ago, but now they are against a different enemy—poverty. Recently, Baler has found that it has the potential to lure in tourists through its beautiful beaches, such as the Dicasalarin Beach which attracts both local and foreign surfers. The government of Baler thought that this is the perfect chance for them to find a more sustainable way of living for their constituents, and they are open to every chance of development.
Aside from the beautiful beaches of Aurora, they also have several falls, which are truly sights to behold. There is Diguisit Falls, Mother Falls, and Caunayan Falls. And then there is Ermita Hill, a perfect spot where you can see the Pacific Ocean and the towns of Baler, Sabang Beach, Cemento and Dimadimalangat Islet. There was an interesting story about that hill, where it saved the lives of seven families, including the Angaras, during a powerful tsunami that washed over the whole town of Baler in 1735.
The province is also abundant with fruits such as coconut, pineapple, and banana. It is an industry which I feel that their people can develop further. As of the moment, coconut water is in demand, with people getting more and more conscious about their health and is now starting to recognize the benefits that come with drinking coconut water. I hope they can also consider investing on these industries, which has the potential to help a lot.
With the provincial government gearing to make Aurora as one of the top eco-tourism destinations in the country, and as a progressive province where dynamic entrepreneurs and vibrant brands would come from, I know that the local government is starting to realize that now is the time to take advantage of the encouraging things that are happening. And so, I asked Gov. Angara-Castillo:
As a public servant and as the governor of one of the most promising provinces in the Philippines in the tourism industry, do you believe that now is our time? How do you intend to maximize the opportunities that you have to benefit your constituents and move Aurora forward?
“Now is the time for Aurora! As a public servant and the governor of the province of Aurora, I believe that the time has come for Aurora as it made its path towards positioning itself to be among the top tourist destinations in the country. The locals are also becoming aware of the increasing tourist arrivals in the province and they are taking part in the development of tourism as an economic booster in Aurora. They generate income and at the same time, they get the chance for inter-cultural exchange with the tourists/guests.
I believe that both human and natural resources can go hand in hand towards sustainable growth and development. In the case of Aurora, we are empowering our people to become partners in economic development while teaching them the need to protect and conserve our natural resources as their source of income and livelihood towards a sustainable tourism development and a progressive Aurora. “
Ten Fil-Am youth leaders will be visiting the country under the Filipino-American Youth Leadership Program (FAYLP), an initiative by Ambassador and Mrs. Jose Cuisia as part of their advocacy to engage the Fil-Am youth. I will be meeting them on Saturday to share my insights on how the Philippines is today and the things we can still do to help develop the country. I am hoping that the meeting will somehow inspire these young people to give back and contribute their talents to move our country further.
I would also like to congratulate a good friend and Go Negosyo advocate Felix Ang for celebrating 20 years of partnership with Mercedes-Benz. To celebrate, CATS Motors’ flagship showroom in EDSA Greenhills will be inaugurated, and Mercedes-Benz will launch the new SL Roadster. Wolfgang Huppenbauer, the president and CEO of Daimler South East Asia will be at the inauguration as guest of honor.