JOINT MEMBERSHIP MEETING OF THE MAKATI BUSINESS CLUB AND
MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILIPPINES AND 3RD ANNIVERSARY OF PINOYME

February 24, 2009 at Hotel InterContinental

By W. SyCip

MR. RAMON DEL ROSARIO, CHAIR OF MAKATI BUSINESS CLUB; MR. JOEY BERMUDEZ, PRESIDENT OF MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILS.; AMB. ALBERT DEL ROSARIO; MR. SONNY VISTAN, CHAIR OF PINOYME FOUNDATION; MR. MANNY PANGILINAN, FRIENDS IN THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY AND IN THE MICROFINANCE INDUSTRY, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN.

WHILE I WAS INVITED TO SPEAK TO YOU ABOUT MICROFINANCE, I AM TAKING THE LIBERTY OF EXPANDING MY TALK TO FACE THE BROADER ISSUE OF WHY WE, AS A NATION, HAVE BEEN A FAILURE IN SIGNIFICANTLY REDUCING POVERTY. I HOPE YOU WILL NOT CONSIDER THIS AS AN ABUSE OF YOUR GRACIOUS INVITATION.

ALL OF US IN THIS ROOM ARE FROM THE MORE COMFORTABLE SECTORS OF OUR SOCIETY. YET WE ARE OFTEN RELUCTANT TO FACE THE ROOTS OF OUR PROBLEMS. THIS MAY BE DUE TO OUR UNWILLINGNESS TO ADMIT THE REASONS FOR OUR FAILURE TO MATCH THE BETTER PERFORMANCE OF OUR ASIAN NEIGHBORS.

OR IT MAY BE OUR DESIRE TO HAVE INSTANT SOLUTIONS THAT CANNOT SOLVE PROBLEMS THAT HAVE BEEN IGNORED FOR MANY, MANY YEARS.

OVER FIFTY YEARS AGO, WE WERE TOLD THAT WITH OUR ADVANTAGES OF BEING A CHRISTIAN NATION AND A DEMOCRACY, WE WILL BE, NEXT TO JAPAN, THE LEADING NATION IN EAST ASIA.

TODAY WE FIND OURSELVES IN A STEADILY DECLINING POSITION REGARDLESS OF WHAT MEASURE WE GO BY: POVERTY INDEX, PER CAPITA SPENDING ON EDUCATION, CRIME RATE, CORRUPTION RANKING, PEACE AND ORDER, RURAL HEALTH, THE LIST GOES ON. AND, OF COURSE, THE PRESENCE OF ABOUT 20,000 INDIANS IN THE 5/6 MOVEMENT IS EVIDENCE THAT OUR POOR ARE PAYING INTEREST RATES THAT WOULD MAKE IT EXTREMELY DIFFICULT FOR THEM TO GET OUT OF POVERTY.

INSPITE OF OUR LARGE POPULATION, WE HAVE EVEN FOUND OURSELVES WITH THE LAMENTABLE DISTINCTION OF BEING THE ONLY MAJOR SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATION THAT DID NOT WIN ANY MEDAL AT THE LAST OLYMPIC GAMES.

CAN WE BLAME THE RELIGION SPAIN BROUGHT TO OUR SHORES FIVE CENTURIES AGO FOR OUR LIMITATIONS? OR IS THE U.S. TO BE BLAMED FOR THE FAILURE OF OUR DEMOCRACY? SHOULDN’T OUR DECADES OF FREEDOM BE LONG ENOUGH FOR US TO CORRECT ANY INHERITED DISADVANTAGES?

WITH ALL THE TALENTED PEOPLE WE HAVE, WHY HAVE WE NOT BEEN ABLE TO PRODUCE A LEE KWAN YEW, WHO IN ONE GENERATION BROUGHT HIS PEOPLE IN SINGAPORE TO INCOME LEVELS OF THE U.S. OR GERMANY?

WE DID HAVE THE PROMISE OF A RAMON MAGSAYSAY WHO AS SECRETARY OF DEFENSE GREATLY IMPROVED PEACE AND ORDER. HIS UNFORTUNATE EARLY DEATH 50 YEARS AGO PREVENTED HIM FROM CARRYING OUT A PROGRAM TO IMPROVE THE LIVES OF THE BOTTOM GROUP OF OUR PEOPLE.

THEN WE HAD RAFAEL SALAS, A BRILLIANT GRADUATE OF THE UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES.

IN 1969, FRESH FROM MANAGING THE TRANSFORMATION OF CHRONIC SHORTAGE INTO AN ASTOUNDING PHILIPPINE RICE SUFFICIENCY BREAKTHROUGH, SALAS ACCEPTED A UNITED NATIONS OFFER TO HEAD A FLEDGLING FUND.

HE BELIEVED AT THE U.N. THERE WOULD BE A POSSIBLITY OF MAKING A CONTRIBUTION TO SOLVING WHAT HE THOUGHT WAS BECOMING ONE OF THE WORLD’S MAJOR PROBLEMS – POPULATION. HE THOUGHT THAT THE SAME STRATEGIES EMPLOYED IN THE RICE SUFFICIENCY PROGRAM, WOULD WORK IN A SOPHISTICATED INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT AS THEY DID IN TRADITION BOUND PHILIPPINE RURAL COMMUNITIES. IN FACT HE WAS PROVEN RIGHT. ALEX MARSHALL OF THE UNITED NATIONS POPULATION FUND WRITES:
“THE CONSENSUS WHICH SALAS BUILT IS MORE THAN AN ACT OF DIPLOMACY. IT IS THE SOLID EVIDENCE OF THE RECOGNITION WORLDWIDE OF THE IMPORTANCE OF POPULATION IN DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMMES. IT HAS HELPED TO CHANGE THE POLICIES OF GOVERNMENTS; IT HAS HELPED TO CHANGE THE LIVES OF MILLIONS OF PEOPLE. IT HAS SET MEN AND WOMEN FREE TO MAKE CHOICES FOR THEMSELVES, AND HELPED SECURE THE FUTURE OF CHILDREN YET UNBORN. THEY AND ALL OF US STAND IN HIS DEBT.”

BUT FILIPINOS HAVE SURMISED THAT RAFAEL LEFT THE PHILIPPINES BECAUSE HIS INTEGRITY AND COMPETENCE COULD NOT SURVIVE THE MARCOS ADMINISTRATION WHEN CORRUPTION AND MONEY POLITICS WERE INCREASING.

WHILE WE TALK ABOUT DEMOCRACY AND HUMAN RIGHTS AS THE IMPORTANT ISSUES OF THE COUNTRY, I WOULD LIKE TO SUGGEST THAT RAPID REDUCTION OF POVERTY SHOULD BE THE FIRST PRIORITY.

IN FEBRUARY OF 1987, WHEN FREEDOM IN THE PHILIPPINES HAD BEEN WON WITH WHAT THE WORLD WOULD KNOW AS “PEOPLE POWER”, SALAS WAS KEYNOTE SPEAKER AT THE DISTRICT MEETING OF ROTARY CLUBS IN MANILA. LET ME READ TO YOU PART OF WHAT HE SAID:

“BUT THIS FREEDOM CANNOT BE FULLY EXERCISED UNLESS THERE IS ORDER. GOVERNMENTS ARE INSTITUTED TO INSURE PEACE, STABILITY AND CONTINUITY; TO ENABLE THE CITIZENS TO PLAN THEIR FUTURE AND INSURE THE SURVIVAL AND GROWTH OF THEIR CHILDREN. THE RESUMPTION OF HOSTILITIES WITH THE NPA AND THE CONSTANT THREAT OF REBELLION IN MINDANAO AND A VERY HIGH INCIDENCE OF CRIME ARE POINTERS OF THE LACK OF ORDER. NO LONG-TERM INVESTMENT AND HIGH PRODUCTIVITY CAN BE ENCOURAGED WHEN BUSINESSMEN FEEL UNCERTAIN AND INSECURE.”

HOW PROPHETIC AND UNFORTUNATE THAT THINGS HAVE NOT CHANGED THE PAST 20 YEARS!

IN STUDYING THE REASONS OF POVERTY IN A NATION RICH IN HUMAN AND NATURAL RESOURCES, I HAVE COME TO THE CONCLUSION THAT THE THREE AREAS THAT WE MUST FOCUS ON TO SOLVE OUR POVERTY PROBLEM ARE:

FIRST IS BASIC EDUCATION;
SECOND IS COST OF CREDIT TO THE POOR; AND
THIRD IS RURAL HEALTH.

WE TEND TO UNFAIRLY BLAME EVERY CURRENT ADMINISTRATION FOR OUR PROBLEMS. BUT CAN’T WE SEE THAT THE STEADY DECLINE OF EDUCATIONAL STANDARDS IS THE CUMULATIVE EFFECT OF THE NEGLECT OF MANY ADMINISTRATIONS AND THE UNWILLINGNESS TO ADOPT LONG TERM SOLUTIONS TO PROBLEMS THAT CANNOT BE SOLVED BY A RIBBON CUTTING EVENT!

THE SUCCESS OR FAILURE OF ANY ORGANIZATION DEPENDS UPON ITS POLICIES AND EFFORTS ON DEVELOPING ITS HUMAN RESOURCES. FOR A NATION TO ADOPT SHORT TERM POLICIES ON EDUCATION IS NATIONAL SUICIDE! THE SOLUTION OF PEACE AND ORDER PROBLEMS DEPEND UPON RELATIVELY EQUAL EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE RICH AND POOR, FOR THE CHRISTIANS AND MOSLEMS.

AS A NATION WE SEEM TO ACCEPT THE SCANDALOUSLY HIGH NATIONAL DROPOUT RATES OF STUDENTS IN BASIC EDUCATION. THE FIGURES ARE WORSE IN MOSLEM AREAS AND IN POOR COMMUNITIES. AN ILLITERATE IS ALMOST ALWAYS POOR!

IN MANY TOWNS AND VILLAGES, SYNERGEIA, WORKING WITH MAYORS AND COMMUNITY LEADERS WHO WANT CHANGE, HAS IMPROVED LITERACY RATES. BUT MUCH, MUCH GREATER NATIONAL EFFORTS ARE NEEDED.

THE ASIAN DEVELOPMENT BANK JUST RELEASED A REPORT POINTING OUT THAT THE PHILIPPINES AND INDIA, BOTH CLAIMING TO BE DEMOCRACIES, LAG BEHIND EAST ASIAN COUNTRIES IN REDUCING POVERTY. CHINA AND VIETNAM, BOTH AUTHORITARIAN STATES, ARE THE TWO COUNTRIES THAT HAVE RAPIDLY REDUCED POVERTY. ARE THERE LESSONS TO BE LEARNED HERE?

ON EDUCATION, THE PRIVATE SECTOR IS NOW GETTING TOGETHER WITH PHILIPPINE BUSINESS FOR EDUCATION, UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF RAMON DEL ROSARIO, JR. LIKE HIS FATHER, I CONGRATULATE RAMON FOR LEADING BUSINESS IN THIS IMPORTANT AREA! THEN WE HAVE SYNERGEIA UNDER THE TIRELESS AND BRILLIANT LEADERSHIP OF NENE GUEVARA WHO HAS GREATLY IMPROVED BASIC EDUCATION IN THE COUNTRY BY WORKING WITH COMMUNITIES WHERE THE MAYORS WANT CHANGE.

WE NOW COME TO MICROFINANCE, THE SECOND MOST IMPORTANT AREA IN FIGHTING POVERTY. ALL OF US, IN SOME WAYS, HAVE SUPPLIED MICROCREDIT TO DOMESTICS IN A HOUSE, TO TENANTS IN PLANTATIONS, TO EMPLOYEES IN A SMALL ENTERPRISE, TO CLASSMATES IN A SCHOOL, ETC. SOME OF THESE ACTIVITIES ARE INTEREST FREE, OTHERS BECOME FAIRLY LARGE NGOs WITH INTEREST BEARING LOANS. BUT THE LARGE NUMBER OF 5/6 INDIANS ON MOTORCYCLES WOULD INDICATE THAT THE DEMAND OF CREDIT WITH REASONABLE INTEREST RATES IS NOT BEING MET BY WELL MEANING MEMBERS OF OUR COMMUNITIES.

IN THE PHILIPPINES MICROFINANCE ACTIVITIES HAVE GREATLY INCREASED DURING THE PAST 10 YEARS. HALF OF THE TOP TEN UNIVERSAL BANKS NOW HAVE MICROFINANCE PORTFOLIOS. ACCORDING TO GOVERNMENT REPORTS, AT THE END OF 2007, 500 MICROFINANCE INSTITUTIONS WERE ENGAGED IN MICROFINANCE THAT HAS REACHED 3 MILLION PEOPLE IN THE PHILIPPINES WITH A COMBINED PORTFOLIO OF P8 BILLION. THIS IS UP FROM P4 BILLION IN 2006.

THE KEY IN MICROFINANCE IS IN SMALL, UNSECURED LOANS (AS LOW AS P 5,000) WITH VERY FREQUENT AMORTIZATION ALSO IN SMALL AMOUNTS AND VERY SHORT TENORS, TYPICALLY SIX MONTHS. THE RISK OF THE UNSECURED LOAN IS BUILT INTO THE PRICE. MOST MICROFINANCE INSTITUTIONS (MFI) WOULD CHARGE BETWEEN 2 ½ TO 3% INTEREST PER MONTH. SOME WOULD CONSIDER THIS EXPENSIVE BUT THIS IS CHEAPER THAN THE COST OF A CREDIT CARD DEBT. IT IS ALSO MUCH LOWER THAN THE 20% PER DAY THAT IS CHARGED BY SOME 5-6 LENDERS.

THE SMALL BORROWER PAYS P50 TO P 100 WEEKLY BUT THEIR CASH FLOW IS DAILY BECAUSE MOST ARE ENGAGED IN RETAIL TRADING BUSINESSES. THUS, THEY HARDLY FEEL THE BURDEN OF THE AMORTIZATION AND BEFORE THEY KNOW IT, THEY HAVE ALREADY FULLY PAID THEIR DEBT.
BUT THE REAL SECRET IN MICROFINANCE IS THE CREDIT DISCIPLINE THAT IT INSTILLS IN THEIR CLIENTS. MFIS WOULD NORMALLY MEET THEIR CLIENTS EVERY WEEK IN WHAT THEY CALL A CENTER MEETING. A CENTER IS USUALLY 20–30 WOMEN IN A BARANGAY. CLIENTS ARE REQUIRED TO ATTEND THESE CENTER MEETINGS WHERE THEY PAY THEIR LOANS, REPORT ON THEIR BUSINESS AND BE IN SOLIDARITY WITH THEIR FELLOW BORROWERS.

THE TYPICAL COLLECTION RATE FOR GOOD MFIS IS A REMARKABLE 98% AND THE INDUSTRY STANDARD IS 95%.

I AM GOING THROUGH THE DETAILS OF DESCRIBING A MICROFINANCE OPERATION TO HELP YOU APPRECIATE THE WISDOM BEHIND THE BUSINESS MODEL. HOPEFULLY, YOU WILL ALSO REALIZE THAT A MICROFINANCE PORTFOLIO IS FAR SUPERIOR TO ANY OF THOSE SUB-PRIME MORTGAGES THAT WERE PEDDLED BY THE HEAVYWEIGHTS IN THE GLOBAL FINANCIAL CIRCLES. MORE IMPORTANTLY, THE FACT THAT THE MICROFINANCE INDUSTRY HAS MAINTAINED A HIGH COLLECTION RATE DEMONSTRATES THAT, AGAINST CONVENTIONAL WISDOM, THE POOR HAVE INTEGRITY. GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY, THEY CAN RISE ABOVE THEIR MISFORTUNE. MOST OF THEM DO NOT NEED CHARITY, THEY NEED OUR CONFIDENCE.

THE OTHER ESSENTIAL DIMENSION OF THIS PHENOMENON IS NOT JUST THE BUSINESS MODEL BUT ITS IMPACT ON THE LIVES OF THE POOR. A P5,000 LOAN IS NOTHING TO MANY OF YOU HERE. BUT TO A FAMILY OF 5 WHICH IS THE AVERAGE SIZE OF FAMILIES IN OUR POPULATION, IT MEANS A POTENTIAL DAILY INCOME OF P200–P300 A DAY THAT THE WIFE EARNS FROM VENDING VEGETABLES IN THE MARKET OR TENDING A SARI-SARI STORE. THIS IS P200–P300 IN ADDITION TO THE MINIMUM WAGE THAT IS EARNED BY THE HUSBAND OF WHICH, ON ITS OWN, WILL HARDLY ENABLE THE FAMILY TO BUY ENOUGH FOOD TO EAT. THIS COULD MEAN THREE SQUARE MEALS A DAY INSTEAD OF THE USUAL TWO.

THE SAD REALITY, HOWEVER, IS THAT ACCORDING TO MFIS, 80–90% OF THEIR CLIENTS ARE ENGAGED IN RETAIL TRADING OR SARI-SARI STORE TYPE OF BUSINESSES WITH LOW VALUE-ADDED AND LOW RETURNS ON INVESTMENT. THEY ARE BARELY SURVIVING. ONLY 10–20% ARE ABLE TO EXPAND THEIR BUSINESS AND ONLY 1–2% OF THESE ACTUALLY CROSS OVER TO SME STATUS. GIVEN THE POOR BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT FOR SME’S IN OUR COUNTRY, THIS IS HARDLY SURPRISING.

IF IT IS TRUE THAT MICROFINANCE NOW REACHES 3 MILLION PEOPLE IN OUR COUNTRY, THAT MEANS IT IS ABLE TO KEEP AT LEAST 3 MILLION FROM FALLING INTO A QUAGMIRE OF POVERTY FROM WHICH THEY COULD NO LONGER BE SAVED. THE CHALLENGE TO US IS HOW, AS A SOCIETY, WE CAN INCREASE THE NUMBER OF THOSE WHO ARE ABLE TO EXPAND THEIR MICROBUSINESSES AND BECOME INTEGRATED INTO THE MAINSTREAM ECONOMY.

WHICH BRINGS ME TO THE ROLE OF THE BUSINESS SECTOR IN ALL THESE. WE CANNOT RELY ON GOVERNMENT TO SINGLE-HANDEDLY SOLVE THE PROBLEM OF POVERTY. IT HAS FAILED TO DO SO ALL THESE YEARS. THE PRIVATE SECTOR MUST MAKE A STAND IN ADDRESSING THIS SERIOUS SOCIAL PROBLEM. WE CANNOT CONTINUE TO DENY THE EXISTENCE OF HOPELESSNESS AND DESPAIR AROUND US. NOR SHOULD WE EXPECT SOMEONE ELSE TO SOLVE OUR FAILURES. LIKE EVERYONE ELSE IN OUR SOCIETY, THE BUSINESS SECTOR IS SEVERELY AFFECTED BY POVERTY.

I CAN ENUMERATE AT LEAST THREE WAYS BY WHICH POVERTY AFFECTS US. FIRST, POVERTY SUCKS THE RESOURCES OF GOVERNMENT FOR BASIC SOCIAL SERVICES WHICH LEAVES LITTLE ELSE FOR ECONOMIC INVESTMENTS. THE ECONOMIC STIMULUS PACKAGE SHOULD PREVENT A LARGER NUMBER OF POOR PEOPLE FROM SINKING DEEPER INTO THE POVERTY TRAP. WE HOPE THAT THE MONEY WILL REALLY REACH THE INTENDED BENEFICIARIES.

SECONDLY, POVERTY BREEDS CRIMINALITY. CRIMINALITY MEANS HIGHER RATES OF BANK ROBBERIES, KIDNAPPING AND WHAT HAVE YOU. I CAN IMAGINE THAT THE NUMBER OF SMART AND GLOBE CELL SITES THAT ARE BURNED ARE DIRECTLY PROPORTIONAL TO THE INCREASE IN POVERTY STATISTICS.

LET US NOT BELITTLE THE FINANCIAL POWER OF THE POOR. THE UNDP TELLS US THAT AN INCLUSIVE FINANCIAL SYSTEM, ONE THAT ENABLES THE POOR TO ACCESS ALL THE SERVICES AVAILABLE IN THE FINANCIAL SYSTEM, WILL ENABLE THEM TO MAKE MORE EFFICIENT INVESTMENTS, PAY THEIR BILLS PROPERLY, BUY INSURANCE, RECEIVE REMITTANCES AND SAVE PART OF IT. ALTHOUGH THE AMOUNTS OF THESE TRANSACTIONS CAN BE MINISCULE, THEIR ABSOLUTE NUMBER IF IT ENTERS THE FORMAL SYSTEM COULD MAKE A SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCE IN OUR ECONOMY. IN THE PROCESS, WE CAN EXPECT A BETTER SOCIETY IN WHICH EVERYONE IS PRODUCTIVE AND IS ENGAGED IN COMMERCE.

TO MY MIND, THE REAL VALUE OF MICROFINANCE IS THAT IT GIVES HOPE. HOPE TO THE POOR WHO DO NOT HAVE ANY INCENTIVE TO BE MORE PRODUCTIVE AS LONG AS THEY SEE THAT EVERYONE AROUND THEM IS POOR. AT A TIME WHEN THE WHOLE WORLD LOOKS FOR A NEW MODEL OF DEVELOPMENT, MICROFINANCE PROVIDES A WAY TO BUILD DEVELOPMENT FROM THE BOTTOM.

I AM STILL TRYING TO LEARN MORE ABOUT RURAL HEALTH, THE THIRD MOST IMPORTANT AREA REDUCING POVERTY. THE ZUELLIG FAMILY FOUNDATION, WHICH HAS RECEIVED MAJOR FINANCING FROM THIS PROMINENT FILIPINO-SWISS FAMILY, RECENTLY ASKED ME TO JOIN THEIR BOARD.

WHILE I COMPLIMENT PRES. AQUINO AND PINOYME IN ITS EFFORTS TO HAVE THE PRIVATE SECTOR ASSIST AND SPREAD MICROFINANCE NATIONWIDE, THIS IS ONLY PART OF THE EFFORT TO REDUCE POVERTY.

BOTH MAKATI BUSINESS CLUB AND THE MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILIPPINES ARE ORGANIZATIONS FOR BIG BUSINESS IN METRO MANILA, PARTICULARLY MAKATI, WHERE THEIR MEMBERS LIVE AND WORK. DO WE KNOW WHAT ARE THE PROBLEMS OF CONCERN TO THE PEOPLE OF CAGAYAN VALLEY OR ANTIQUE OR ZAMBOANGA? THE PHILIPPINE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY AND THE FEDERATION OF FILIPINO- CHINESE CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY HAVE BRANCHES THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY. IT IS NOT SURPRISING THAT IN A DEMOCRACY THEY MAY GET MORE GOVERNMENT ATTENTION.

AS A NATION, WE TEND TO BE INWARD LOOKING WITH OUT-OF-DATE IDEAS OF FOLLOWING AND COMPARING OURSELVES WITH THE UNITED STATES, THE MOST DEVELOPED COUNTRY IN THE WORLD. SHOULD WE NOT KNOW MORE WHAT OUR NEIGHBORS AND OTHER EMERGING MARKETS LIKE CHINA, THAILAND, MALAYSIA, TAIWAN, VIETNAM AND INDONESIA ARE DOING TO REDUCE POVERTY? SHOULD WE NOT FIND OUT WHY WE, WITH A BETTER EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM 50 YEARS AGO, HAVE FALLEN BEHIND? WE SEEM TO HAVE TAKEN THE LEADERSHIP ONLY IN CORRUPTION.

WITH PROBABLY THE BEST AGRICULTURAL SCHOOL IN THE REGION, WHY ARE WE A FAILURE IN AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTIVITY? IS THE HIGH COST OF FOOD, COMPARED TO OUR NEIGHBORS, A HANDICAP IN OUR EFFORTS TO COMPETE IN THIS INCREASINGLY FLAT WORLD?

WE MUST REALIZE TIMES HAVE CHANGED MANY THINGS WE ARE USED TO. WOMEN ARE NOW DOMINATING MANY ACTIVITIES IN OUR COUNTRY. IT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE FOR THE G-8 TO SOLVE THE FINANCIAL CRISIS WHEN COUNTRIES LIKE CHINA, BRAZIL AND INDIA MAY HOLD THE KEYS TO THE SOLUTION OF MANY PROBLEMS. IN THE SAME WAY THE THINKING OF MAKATI AND MEMBERS OF THE ORGANIZATIONS REPRESENTED TODAY MAY NO LONGER BE RELEVANT IN THE CORDILLERAS, QUEZON PROVINCE, SAMAR OR MOSLEM MINDANAO.

I HAVE SEEN SO MUCH TALENTED, PATRIOTIC AND HONEST LEADERS IN MANY CORNERS OF THIS COUNTRY WHEN WE REVIEW CANDIDATES FOR RAMON MAGSAYSAY, HAYDEE YORAC, METROBANK, EISENHOWER AND MANY OTHER COMPETITIVE AWARDS. IN FACT, MANY OF OUR YOUNG PEOPLE MIGRATING ABROAD MAY NOT CONSIDER THE PHILIPPINE SITUATION AS HOPELESS WHEN THEY MEET THE “GOOD PEOPLE” IN THE COUNTRYSIDE AND NOT THE SKEPTICS IN METRO MANILA.

WHEN WE GET DISCOURAGED BECAUSE THE RICH AND POWERFUL ARE NOT PUNISHED FOR WRONG DOINGS, WE SHOULD THINK OF ALL THE LESS AFLUENT WHO ARE NOT REWARDED FOR ALL THEIR CONTRIBUTIONS TO MAKE LIFE BETTER FOR OTHERS!

JUST LAST WEEK I WAS GLAD TO SEE METROBANK AND LASALLE LEADING A MOVEMENT TO HONOR OUR THOUSANDS OF SCHOOL TEACHERS IN SEPTEMBER AND OCTOBER OF THIS YEAR.

SHOULD WEALTHY MAKATI GROUPS AND ITS CIVIC AND BUSINESS ORGANIZATIONS NOT FINANCE A ONE YEAR STUDY TO IDENTIFY THE ROOTS OF POVERTY AND THE REFORMS NEEDED, FROM A NON-POLITICAL AND NON-UPPER INCOME GROUP VIEWPOINT?

MAYBE AN INDEPENDENT STUDY GROUP, LED BY THE RESPECTED U.P. SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS, WITH HONEST POLITICIANS, TEACHERS, POLITICAL SCIENTISTS AND ECONOMISTS FROM PROVINCIAL SCHOOLS AND UNIVERSITIES, CAN STUDY WHY WE HAVE FALLEN BEHIND IN OUR EFFORTS TO REDUCE POVERTY.

WHEN PRES. AQUINO INVITED ME TO JOIN PINOYME, I DID NOT HESITATE FOR A SINGLE MOMENT. I HAVE BEEN EXPOSED TO MICROFINANCE FOR MANY YEARS AND I HAVE COME TO REALIZE HOW POTENT IT IS AS A WAY OF ALLEVIATING POVERTY. I TAKE PRIDE IN MY ACTIVE PARTICIPATION IN PINOYME BECAUSE I BELIEVE THAT IT IS DOING SOMETHING HEROIC AT A TIME WHEN DESPAIR ABOUNDS IN OUR COUNTRY.

TODAY, THE CHAIRMAN OF THE PINOYME FOUNDATION, MR. SONNY VISTAN, IS TASKED TO LAUNCH OUR SOCIAL INVESTMENT FUND CAMPAIGN. IT IS A DIFFICULT TIME TO DO FUND RAISING BUT IT IS THE BEST TIME FOR EVERY FILIPINO TO BE HEROIC AND TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE SOLUTION IN RIGHTING WHAT IS WRONG IN OUR COUNTRY.

I URGE YOU TO SUPPORT PINOYME’S SOCIAL INVESTMENT FUND CAMPAIGN.