Posted on 2007

26th Biennial Convention of Federation of Filipino and Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc.
Sofitel Hotel Philippine Plaza

Distinguished Members of the Filipino – Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry,
My Fellow Entrepreneurs,

        Thank you for your kind invitation.  It is indeed an honor and a privilege to be with you on your 26th Biennial Convention.

        Allow me to take this special opportunity to make a public acknowledgment of the unique contribution of the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry in our nationwide efforts to achieve continuing economic growth.  The Federation, through the collective dynamism of its members, is a vital spoke in the wheel of our economy.

        The analogy of the wheel captures the central message of your convention theme.  Sustaining the momentum of economic growth is truly a shared responsibility.

        One spoke, however useful and necessary, is not enough to keep the wheel moving.  Other spokes are needed to sustain its forward motion.  When the spokes are properly placed in perfect symmetry, the resulting balance and harmony gives stability to the wheel.  The movement of the wheel is a function of all the parts working together.

        To move on, we need a clear vision of where we want to go.  The hub of the wheel symbolizes the spirit that propels collective action to move forward.  The outer rim is set in motion by the energy radiating from the hub.  Every spoke is important. 

        Hence, no single sector can take exclusive credit for the growth performance of our economy.  Our farmers and fisherfolk continue to help meet the food requirements of the nation. Both manual and knowledge workers add to the national wealth with their productivity. Our thousands of overseas contract workers deserve our gratitude for all their inward dollar remittances.  Those engaged in the distribution of products from their source to end-users constitute a vital supply chain so essential to the economy.  The risk takers who set up business ventures are economic energizers with the employment opportunities they provide. 

        Congress has the central task of ensuring that the legislative framework facilities economic growth.  The executive branch of government, which closely monitors the overall performance of our economy, is equipped with the resources to make some corrective adjustments when necessary.

In short, the challenge of sustaining the growth momentum of the economy is a multisectoral task.  It is a shared responsibility.

        But the more urgent and practical question is – what does it take to sustain the momentum of economic growth?  A related issue is – why don’t we set our sight as well on the need to accelerate the pace of growth?

        Remembering our high school physics, the impetus of a physical body to move is not self-perpetuating. Any obstacle along the way can stop the momentum unless the initial effort is so strong that no hindrance can block it.

        How strong is our collective resolve to make our economic growth sustainable?  Do we deserve a pat on the back for the latest indicators of economic performance?  Is the economic performance good enough for us?

        When we seriously consider that all societies today are closely interconnected in a globalized economy, our own growth performance must be seen in comparison to those of other countries in our region.  How do we score in relation to Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia?

        In our journey towards sustained and accelerated economic growth, where do we start?

        On a macro level, we need business – friendly economic policies where the rules of the game are fair for all and where creativity and perseverance are duly rewarded.  A restrictive policy framework stifles business enterprises. 

        We must energize the main engine of economic growth.  This means we need to develop and strengthen entrepreneurs.  We should have a nationwide entrepreneurial revolution.

        For this revolution to take place, a critical mass of entrepreneurs is absolutely necessary to create a chain reaction that will lead to an unstoppable explosion of creative energies, transforming our economic landscape from a history of missed opportunities to a new chapter of vision, daring and hope.

        China and India, the world’s most populated countries, were for many years too far removed from the rhythm of real economic development.  Now they are surging ahead as examples of fast growing economies not only in Asia but in the entire world.  The secret lies in the upsurge of the entrepreneurial spirit that is evident also in Russia, and in the former Soviet satellite countries in Eastern Europe and the Baltic.

        With a passion for results and a strong determination to push the limits of what is possible, the entrepreneurs in these countries are creating new wealth, thereby defying the gravity of years of underdevelopment.

        There is, therefore, an obvious lesson worth stressing.  We need a large number of entrepreneurs in order to get closer to the threshold of prosperity and farther away from the weight of poverty.

        A culture of entrepreneurism, however, cannot be legislated.  Certain business skills needed in managing an enterprise may be learned in school.  But shaping the entrepreneurial heart requires a less structured nurturing environment where a budding entrepreneur is given one-on-one apprenticeship by either a parent or an elder brother.

        Our dream of having a critical mass of entrepreneurs in our country will take some time to become a reality.  Translating the vision into action is a multi-level and multi-phase undertaking.  This task is our shared responsibility.

        The Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry is composed of successful entrepreneurs.  With your experience, mindset and work ethic, you are in the best position to be active promoters of the entrepreneurial spirit.  Your successes are examples for others.  Your individual case histories can be an inspiration to future entrepreneurs. 

        Frankly, government with its regulatory orientation has much to learn from the way entrepreneurs get things done successfully.  I have been in legislation long enough to realize that government does nothave the answer to every problem.  When it comes to entrepreneurial development, you have much to share with government.

        Should I have my mandate renewed to serve in the Senate, I will pursue with greater vigor my legislative advocacy for a strong partnership of all stakeholders in preparing the groundwork for the much awaited entrepreneurial revolution.

        Maraming salamat po!

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