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There is one aspect of the Filipino that I am not a fan of the penchant of some of us for self-flagellation. We sometimes put ourselves down and express shame instead of pride in our people, in our country. Phrases like “only in the Philippines,” “ang Pilipino talaga…” usually take a particular negative trait we observe in one or two people and magnify it to apply to the entire country. I remember when we would watch Filipino action films where cops would arrive after the hero of the movie had defeated the criminals and someone would always comment, “ang mga pulis talaga sa Pilipinas natin laging huli.


I understand where that criticism at our law enforcement comes from because some of us do have experiences with incompetent and rogue cops. But so do other nations. Have you seen how the United States is struggling with police brutality? I am not suggesting that we should sugarcoat the problem, I am saying that we should not nitpick on everything we think is wrong and use that to justify flogging an entire nation. Yes, we have problems but we are good people and we have a beautiful and great country.


This same sentiment has also informed our attitude towards services. Some of us have been used to mediocre products and services instead of demanding first-rate service. “Okay na ‘to,” or, “Pwede na ‘yan” as some people would put it. This is something that I have never accepted. When I started as an entrepreneur my goal has always been to provide world-class products and services to our customers, to the Filipino people. And as consumers, we should demand for first-class service instead of settling for something that is substandard and just say, “pwede na ‘yan.


For instance, when we decided to put up the Vista cinemas at the Evia Lifestyle Center in Daanghari, I said I wanted us to offer the very best to our customers so we came up with the first-ever IMAX theater with Laser in Southeast Asia. And more recently, I gotta test drive the first-ever “smart carts” in the Philippines. I do not belong to the generation in which technology is a part of life. I am more old-school. But I had a blast using a smart cart in one of our AllDay Supermarkets.


They are easy to use and allow customer autonomy, in-store. When you walk into one of our supermarkets where these carts are currently available, you simply get the smart cart and start shopping. When you see something you need or like just grab it, scan the items’ barcode in the smart cart, and you will immediately see the price and other important details on the cart’s user interface. What I really found convenient was that I was able to see a running total of my expenses which is generated in real-time. This is especially useful for customers shopping within a certain budget. And then when you are ready to check out, the smart cart will automatically generate a QR code which can be scanned when you go to the self-checkout counters. Easy-peasy.


These are not just for a novel and convenient shopping experience but also, as my dear daughter Camille said, these smart carts “helps raise the bar for the local supermarket landscape, driving home our point that Filipino consumers now expect more in terms of experiential shopping, and we are of course happy to deliver.”


We should always be proud of what we have accomplished and demand only the best from products and services. We cannot be dismissive and say, “okay na yan, ganyan talaga e.” Rather we should expect something better, something world-class. And I have seen the Filipinos improve in this regard. Perhaps because of the boom in travel over the past decades before the pandemic and the introduction of new products and services from abroad, Filipinos are now more discriminating and discerning. Good for us. Good for the Filipino consumers.



Manila Bulletin/Views/MannyVillar