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NEW RP 'MIDDLE SECTOR': WHY THE YOUNG ARE INVESTING IN RP NOW

MANILA, APRIL 28, 2006 (STAR) BULL MARKET, BULL SHEET By Wilson Lee
Flores -

Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit;
sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.
Chinese proverb

Invest in the Philippines now. That’s what I’m doing in a small
way and that’s what I’m urging all local and foreign investors to
do. No, I didn’t vote for Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in the last
presidential election and I still couldn’t in conscience support
her brand of politics, but I will invest in the Philippines under
her administration and I will put my bets on her stubbornly
exhausting all means to decisively revive our moribund economy.
I believe GMA has no scruples, but she has guts, grit and brains.

I believe most of our politicians are selfish, corrupt and inept,
but my faith remains in the vast reservoir of human and natural
resources of the Philippines, which can still offset their
destructive impact on the economy. Almost 75 percent of the
population is reported to be under 20 years old, offering a vast
market for a lot of businesses and for those of us who are enterprising,
persevering, hardworking, courageous and innovative.

Who says the Philippines is a society with only a few who are
super-rich while the rest of the masses are mired in poverty,
with no real, sizable middle-class? "The Philippines has a
middle-class sector," my young entrepreneur nephew Paul Lee said.
"They are millions, but they are overseas. They represent a big market."
Among the numerous natural resources of our archipelago include our
untapped mining resources, which are estimated to be worth at least
US$1 trillion dollars. Why not invest now?

Can unpopular politics lead to fearless reforms?

God works in the most mysterious ways. I do not believe our
cynical and corrupt politics is a divine curse upon this archipelago,
but it could be a possible source of good news. I believe the paradox
of GMA being the most politically unpopular president in modern
Philippine history can exert extraordinary pressure on her to redeem
herself in history, by leaving a legacy of a more globally competitive
Philippine economy. Non-stop questions about her political legitimacy
all the way up to 2010 is actually a blessing in disguise, for it
shall hopefully humble the President to push unpopular but necessary
political, economic, social and other reforms. It is not true that
the military and police generals are the best guarantors of GMA’s
political survival, but it is a better economy that can create jobs,
more incomes, more business opportunities and more hopes.

At the April 19 launching of the Larger Than Life, Inc. post-production
firm of young entrepreneurs Dondon Yu Monteverde and partner Marcus Ng
with Kris Aquino as the guest of honor, I asked Dondon why he is
investing now when the Philippine economy is still weak and our
politics still so brazenly corrupt. Dondon told Philippine Star:
"My partner Marcus and I are investing because we love what we’re
doing and we’re determined to succeed regardless of the Philippine
economic or political situation. This new company will help modernize
the Philippine movie, TV and advertising industries in terms of
world-class technologies. Why invest now? SM Group founder Henry Sy
once told me that true entrepreneurs like him invest during the worst
crises times when others fear to do business. Sy told me
he invested in the giant SM North Edsa shopping mall after the Ninoy
Aquino assassination triggered economic and political crises. People
laughed at him, but he did well. "We have a belief in the Chinese
culture that in every crisis, there is always both danger and
opportunity. We should have the right attitude. We should look for
opportunities and invest."

No to get-rich-quick schemes and politics, Yes to hard work

Bernadette Sembrano, the beauty and brains UP graduate newscaster of
ABS-CBN 2, recently showed this columnist her first foray into the real
estate business with a townhouse project in Project 8, Quezon City,
named after her maternal grandmother Felicidad. In 2005 she used her
savings to buy a big old house that she asked me to assist her to resell,
but since it was difficult to resell this old house, this year she
decided to tear down the whole structure and to venture into a
townhouse project. This is her second business, the first being the
Bound shop for second-hand books in Scout Castor Street, Quezon City.

Why did Bernadette Sembrano invest in real estate? She thanked her
mother for helping her from being fooled two times. Once, the
newscaster invested her hard-earned savings in the Multitel investment
scheme owned by the so-called Tibayan Group of Companies which
promised high-interest earnings. After only three months,
her mother urged her to withdraw the money. A week after Bernadette
withdrew her money, the Multitel/Tibayan Group collapsed like a house
of cards, and her friend’s family lost P1 million. The moral lesson?
Don’t believe in fancy get-rich-quick schemes or unrealistic
high-interest investments.

The second time Bernadette almost lost her savings was when she
invested in some jewelry, but a well-off officemate then at
GMA 7 offered to help her resell the jewelry. After some time,
Bernadette’s mother urged her to get back the jewelry, so she
went to the officemate’s house and discovered that her jewelry
had already been pawned. Bernadette spoke to the officemate’s rich parents,
they apologized for their daughter’s dishonesty and used their own
money to recover the jewelry from the pawnshop. Eventually,
Bernadette listened to her mother’s advice to buy an old house
in Quezon City with her savings. She originally wanted to lease it out
as a boarding house or to resell it, but finally decided to create a
beautiful but affordable townhouse project now under construction.

Like many young entrepreneurs in the Philippines now, Bernadette
Sembrano has no high regard for many of our politicians and has many
unprintable comments on some of our so-called leaders, but she prefers
to look at economic opportunities. She said that her inspirations in
venturing into business are her hardworking mother and the legendary
rags-to-riches immigrant taipan Henry Sy of the SM Group.

"How did a poor immigrant teenager like Henry Sy create his business
empire?" Bernadette asks. "Immigrants and self-made men like him
started somewhere and I believe that they started with the right
attitude. They persisted with hard work, honesty and integrity.
I believe truly successful entrepreneurs like Henry Sy or
John Gokongwei, Jr. do not do their work just to earn money,
I think earning money for them is only incidental. It’s a passion.
To be a good entrepreneur, find your passion. When you have passion,
it’s not work anymore, because you’ll enjoy what you’re doing."

My advice to entrepreneurs, professionals or other ordinary citizens:
ignore the depressing thought of our inept government and selfish
politicians, ignore pessimism, ignore negative ideas and people, get on
with our lives, work hard, dream and invest in the future.

Invest in the Philippine economy now not because of a better or worse
government, but in spite of government and in spite of our mostly
rotten-to-the-core politicos!

Let’s focus on the economy, on business, on improving our
livelihoods; enough with the bad and wasteful habit of wallowing
in cynical and corrupt politics! Of course we shouldn’t be apolitical
and let evil triumph; we should fearlessly uphold truth, justice and
rule of law, but let us not be sidetracked from the business of
doing more business.

* * *
With emailed consent form the author, Mr. Wilson Lee Flores to post this article,thank you..

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