The Best Time Save Money is When It’s Most Difficult To

How to Overcome the Difficulty of Saving Money

I remember walking to our house carrying one kilo and half of rice, 2 cans of sardines and a few packs of noodles with a wide smile that could almost reach my ears. The smile came from the feeling that I was able to finally buy food for me and my mom. Just like every Filipino wanting to help their family, there’s this feeling of priceless joy whenever you bring something to the table – literally.

I was paid a little over 20 pesos per hour then and made barely 3000 per month. Yet, I was so happy and hopeful. Too hopeful that I even decided to open to a savings account in a local bank. Every time I get my salary, I look forward to putting a portion of my meager salary to the bank. It was very difficult to make both ends meet as I needed to pay my tuition (it helped that I was a half scholar), buy our necessities and still manage to save money.

Looking back, I’m thankful for that decision to try and save money.  I’ve learned to overcome the hurdles and most importantly, I’ve learned the principles of saving money – especially when it was most difficult to.
1.       Find a bank that allows you to open a savings account with low opening balance

Most banks require such a high opening balance that’s why most people are often discouraged to save at all. 

1. Find a bank that’s near your workplace so you won’t be tempted to go to the mall first and splurge your hard earned money there. 

The goal is to have a budget plan and ensure that a portion of your money goes to your savings account.

I started by opening an account (with now defunct LBC Bank) and I would save at least Php200 every salary. Remember I was only earning Php3000 then so Php200 was already quite a challenge for me though it may seem too small for some. The key is to not be discouraged with how little money you start with, as long as you keep doing it.

2.  Focus on your needs, eliminate the wants
I was lucky to have an Ilocano mom who was (still is) thrifty and taught me the value of hard work and the need to save money. At that stage of my life, I knew I couldn’t afford to have expensive wants, so I focused on our needs instead. Simple things like buying vegetables for lunch instead of meat (not only because it’s cheaper but definitely healthier) helped me develop a discipline in myself to actually stick to the budget no matter how tempting it is to buy something else. It’s those little things we sacrifice for the sake of our long term plans that will eventually pay off.

3. Have more goals and fewer likes
Focus on the things that you wish to achieve rather than the things you wish to have. Stay away from activities or even friends who don’t help you achieve your goal to save money. Yes, stay away from parties and all sort of unnecessary expenditures. I don’t suggest you be a loner, but trust me, there’s plenty of time for celebration once you’re to have enough savings already.

Don’t be afraid to start small, develop a habit of prioritizing your goals over fleeting pleasure and keep that discipline in yourself. Once you’re able to save, think of ways on how you can make that money grow whether it be opening a new business, investing or keep saving till you’re sure you’ve learned enough about where you’ll spend your money.

The best time to save your money is when you think it’s most difficult to because you’ll try and find ways to actually achieve your goal and develop discipline you couldn’t establish in any other ways.

The History of England’s Spring Bank Holiday – Origins and Meaning

Origins of Bank Holidays

Bank holidays have been recognized as official days off in England since 1871. The name of this holiday stems from the fact that in the past, banks were shut down during these holidays and no trade could take place.

An act was passed in 1871. It listed four official bank holidays in England, Wales and Ireland. Scotland got five bank holidays. In England, the bank holidays were to take place as follows: 

- The Monday of Easter
- A day off between May 11 and June 14, called Whit Monday
- The first Monday of the month of August
- December 26th or Boxing Day

In 1903, a bank holiday was added to the four already designated days for Ireland. St. Patrick’s Day was added to the bank holidays, as well. 

In 1971, Whit Monday was replaced by a fixed bank holiday. The last Monday of May officially became the spring bank holiday. Additionally, the day off on the first Monday of August was moved to the last Monday of the month.

A bank holiday may also refer to an emergency bank closure due to unusual circumstances. Such a holiday took place in 1968 during the sterling crisis. Prime Minister Harold Wilson suggested a bank holiday to close the London gold market and decrease losses.

Today, there is a law allowing for the dates of the bank holidays to change. New bank holidays can be declared to mark special occasions, as well. After the election of the Coalition Government in 2010, there was a suggested move of the spring bank holiday to the month of October. Pre-consultations were launched in 2011 to investigate the possibilities of alternative holidays and the supposed benefits of such a decision.

Apart from bank holidays in England, there are such days off in other countries like the US, Hong Kong and India. The rules are similar and the banks are closed for operations during those holidays.

Do Shops and Banks Work on Bank Holidays?
Till present day, banks remain closed on the spring bank holiday and the other official holidays. The situation, however, has changes since the past, as many shops and businesses decide to open and service customers during the bank holidays.

Employers are not required by law to give their workers a day off on the bank holidays. Still, many companies declare these official holidays and refrain from performing business operations. Emergency services like healthcare, firefighting and police aid will be provided during the bank holidays.

People who want to do anything connected to their savings accounts, bank transfers, bank investigations or loan provision would have to wait until the next day. Many forensic accountants like forths forensic accountants and many other forensic accountants however, will work during the official bank holidays and provide people with assistance about bank fraud and other money-related issues. 

The Contemporary Spring Bank Holiday: 
Spring bank holiday is one of the most eagerly awaited vacation days today. The entire weekend is used by families to travel and spend quality time together. The nice weather during the spring is one of the main reasons for the popularity of this day off.

There are interesting traditions related to spring bank holiday that people respect till present day. In Staffordshire’s Endon, people dress their well, hold a celebration and crown a Well Dressing Queen. A special competition takes place on Cooper’s Hill in Brockworth. People race down the hill and chase a round cheese. The first racer to cross the finish line wins an eight-pound piece of Double Gloucester cheese.

According to local decisions, stores and businesses may be either open or closed during the spring bank holiday. If you plan to do shopping on the last Monday of May, you should figure out whether the stores of interest are going to be open.

Bank holidays have remained quite popular till present day. The fact that a day off is given on Monday provides people with an opportunity to schedule a long weekend trip or to simply enjoy the company of friends and relatives. Though banks are still officially shut down, many businesses are working and providing services on the bank holidays. The tradition is still alive, though slightly modernized.

Beware of SCAM Jobs - Dynamite Solutions LTD

Beware of SCAM Jobs Online

Don't you just hate it when you're searching for job online and come across a total time waster such as scammers? You may view more scams here

Today I got this email from Richard Wood (I highly doubt if that's even his real name) with Dynamite Solutions LTD. 


Here is additional information about the vacancy with Dynamite Solutions LTD.

Our main goal, within the company, is to match our clients needs with the best freelancers available, world wide.

Job title is Payment Processing Agent.

Job requirements:
- 18 years of age or older;
- Internet access;
- working telephone number;
- bank account (current/savings) or a Verified Premier or Business PayPal account. New accounts are also welcomed!
- availability of 2-3 hours per day.

Refer to the links below for additional information:

- No investment of money on your part;
- Long-term or Short-term employment is available;
- Base pay along with commission is guaranteed;
- Training is provided during the probationary period.
- This is NOT a sales position;

SIGN ON BONUS! Please follow the link:

Our company registration number is:

For further information or to request an application, please reply to this e-mail.

Thank you for your time and interest with our company.

Best Regards,

Richard Wood
Phone: 0141 356 1846
Fax: 087 2352 7716

Their website is quite shady and confirmed from this thread that such website is indeed a scam. 

Philippines Included in the World's Best Countries in Business English

The Philippines was named the world’s best country in business English proficiency, even beating the United States, according to a recent study by GlobalEnglish Corporation (Source)

GlobalEnglish has released early this month the results of its annual Business English Index (BEI), the only index that measures business English proficiency in the workplace.

For 2012, results showed that from 76 represented countries worldwide, only the Philippines attained a score above 7.0, "a BEI level within range of a high proficiency that indicates an ability to take an active role in business discussions and perform relatively complex tasks."

“This is particularly interesting because the Philippines, a country with one-tenth of the population of India, recently overtook India as a hub for call centers. Over 400,000 Filipinos are now employed in call centers, roughly 50,000 more than in India,” the study said.

The Philippines, which scored 7.11 and the lone country in the intermediate level, were joined by Norway (6.54), Estonia (6.45), Serbia (6.38) and Slovenia (6.19) in the top five.

GlobalEnglish noted that a country’s business English capability is an indicator of its economic growth and business success.

“It is not surprising that both the Philippines and Norway—the only two countries in the top five in both 2011 and 2012—are improving their economies, based on the latest GDP data from the World Bank,” it added.

Meanwhile, struggling economic powers (Japan, Italy and Mexico) and fast-growth emerging markets (Brazil, Columbia and Chile) scored below a 4.0 in business English proficiency, placing them at a disadvantage when competing in a global marketplace, the study said.

It also pointed out that shifts in global talent have put even English-speaking countries at risk.

“Surprisingly the BEI score for global workers in the U.S. declined from 6.9 to 5.09 since the original 2011 BEI benchmark, which is attributed to a majority of test takers being foreign-born engineers and scientists,” the report said.

Rest of the world ranked beginner and basic level

Based on a scale of 1-10, the average 2012 BEI score across 108,000 test takers around the world is 4.15 which is lower than last year’s 4.46.

Nearly four out of 10 (38.2 percent) global workers from 76 countries were ranked as business English beginners, meaning that, on average, they can’t understand or communicate basic information during virtual or in-person meetings, read or write professional emails in English or deal with complexity and rapid change in a global business environment, the study said.

Meanwhile, the majority of global workers (60.5 percent) from the represented countries scored between a 4.0 and 7.0, below an intermediate level, indicating an inability to take an active role in business discussions or perform relatively complex tasks such as presentation development and customer or partner negotiations, it added.

GlobalEnglish stressed that the 2012 BEI which showed a lack of business English proficiency is threatening the productivity of companies, industries and country-specific economies this year.

“Poor Business English skills are bad for global businesses and this year’s Business English Index suggests that many companies will be hard-pressed to achieve their desired performance goals during 2012,” said Tom Kahl, GlobalEnglish President.

“Addressing English skills gaps and ensuring that employees can immediately perform at the necessary proficiency level should be viewed as a strategic imperative for multinational businesses, as Enterprise Fluency, the ability to seamlessly communicate and collaborate within global organizations, can deliver significant financial upside,” Kahl added.

Headquartered in Brisbane, California, GlobalEnglish works with multinational companies – including Cisco, Procter and Gamble, HSBC, Phzer – to support performance in business English across the workforce around the world.

Here's the list of the 10 best and worst countries in the world for business English proficiency based on GlobalEnglish's 2012 BEI:

10 Best Countries:

10 Worst Countries:
Cote d'Ivoire
El Salvador
Saudi Arabia

How to Cancel Your PPLIC Insurance

Sample Cancellation Letter and Steps to Cancel Insurance with PPLIC

You've probably previously read about my article about the Philippine Prudential Life Insurance Company and their misleading marketing strategies and you want to cancel your insurance policy. However, before you cancel, you may want to read what the company has to say

Resources On How to Cancel Your PPLIC Insurance

Click here for the complete resources for cancelling your insurance policy.
Click here  and here for the step by step process on how to cancel. 
Click here for the sample cancellation letter
Click here for the letter which the PPLIC employee sent me apologizing. 

Hope those resources can help you cancel your insurance policy with PPLIC once you've decided. 

Philippines Investment Rating Upgraded by Fitch

Good news Philippines! The following article is essentially going to be a re-post of Bloomberg's article but hey, congratulations Philippines! Another reason why investors should invest in the Philippines is the upgrade on our investment rating!

The rating on the nation’s long-term foreign currency- denominated debt was raised one level to BBB- from BB+, Fitch said in a statement today. The outlook on the rating is stable.

“The Philippines’ sovereign external balance sheet is considered strong relative to A range peers, let alone BB and BBB category medians,” Fitch said, citing the net external creditor position.

An exit from so-called junk status bolsters Aquino’s drive to transform the nation into one of the region’s fastest-growing economies 15 years after the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98. The upgrade may also boost capital inflows and complicate the job of the central bank as it tries to rein in an appreciating peso and curb asset bubbles.

“Funds are already pouring into the Philippines and an investment grade is a further endorsement,” Eugene Leow, a Singapore-based economist at DBS Group Holdings Ltd., said before the report. “It allows a wider pool of investors to buy Philippine assets and there might be a slight bump up in inflows. The central bank has been sounding off on inflows and they could implement measures to deter speculative inflows.”

The Philippine Stock Exchange Index (PCOMP) surged to a record in March and the peso is trading near a five-year high.

Personal Finance for Every Juan in Singapore

Personal Finance Seminar for Filipinos in Singapore

Personal finance, financial freedom, financial literacy, financial education and advocacy. These are just some of the things that are very close to my heart as I've always been advocating the importance of learning how to manage one's finances, save money and be able to have stable source of income aside from your day job. 

Personal Finance for Every Juan: An Event You Shouldn't Miss for Anything! 

I usually share a list of must-attend seminars through my blog, Saving is Sexy, as I like to keep track of personal finance events, webinars and other related activities that will help empower more Filipinos financially. I ensure that these events do not promote scammy activities and share only those who truly provide value to my fellow Filipinos, especially the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who wish to understand the basics of investing money and where to place their hard-earned money.  

However, my personal finance blog (focused on the first step which is saving money, is currently down). You may, however, click on its Facebook page for daily tidbits and tips (usually jokes!) on how to save money. 

I'm thrilled to share with you another event where some of my favourite personal finance advocates and personal finance bloggers are coming together to impart their wisdom and expertise in an event called Personal Finance for Every Juan. It's a really good event that I hope that my OFW friends in Singapore will blessed with financial wisdom through it.

The event will help more Filipinos learn how we can champion financial literacy and how we can push the advocacy of financial literacy to every Filipino. My all-time favourite personal finance expert and financial literacy advocate, Randell Tiongson, will once again visit Singapore to share us the importance of Insurance, why we should invest in Mutual Funds, and more about Personal Finance. You might remember how ecstatic I was when he first visited Singapore (read my post here and here) and do check out the photo during his seminar on Achieving Financial Security here).

Mr. Randell Tiongson, Personal Finance Literary Advocate and Expert 

Below is the line up of the speakers for the Personal Finance for Every Juan in Singapore

Randell Tiongson, Director of Registered Financial Planner (RFP) Philippines
Jess Uy, Licensed Independent Financial Advisor and a Filipino expat who's currently working here in Singapore as a wealth planner, will discuss about "diversification" and will show you more about the outlook in the global market.

Kenneth Musngi, Major Homes Properties

For details on how to attend the said event, do visit their event page

Also, some of my favourite personal finance bloggers will be attending and facilitating the said event such as Richard Macalintal, Rex Holgado of Alkansya ni Juan, Floi Wycoco of TGFI Singapore (The Global Filipino Investors) Group, whom I've met during one of the cashflow game sessions in Singapore, so it would be great to meet these financially-forward-thinking professionals who will definitely help and strive to guide fellow Filipinos in learning how to invest your hard-earned money. 

The Global Filipino Investors in Singapore during a Cashflow 101 Game Session

What: Personal Finance for Every JUAN
When: April 27, 2013
Time: 8:30 am - 12:30 pm / 1:30pm - 5:30pm


Randell Tiongson
Jess Uy
Kenneth Musngi

For details about the price of the seminar and how to register, visit their Facebook event page

5 Ways College Students Living off Campus Can Save Money

How to Save Money While Living Off Campus


Planning ahead is the first and foremost key to saving money effectively. Start saving before you have even left your former abode! If you can’t afford an end of lease cleaner take the time to clean yourself. Fix up any cracks in the walls or stains on the carpet yourself so you get your tenancy bond back and use it for your new off-campus accommodation.

Calculate how much rent, electricity, water, transport and food might cost every week. Factor in entertainment and leisure costs (be realistic!) and make sure you account for any unexpected medical expenses. Take a look at your exam schedules and factor in a lower income for that period, as you may not be able to work as much if you’re studying. Living in shared accommodation with other people is a surefire way to cut rental costs so start thinking about who might be a compatible roommate. 

2. Invest immediately in appliances that will cut costs
You’re not going to cook or clean yourself if you don’t have the facilities to do so. While they may be an expense at the time, good quality cookware and a decent vacuum cleaner will last you years. Buying stock cooking products(rice, pasta, olive oil) and core cleaning products (dishwashing liquid, bleach, kitchen spray) in bulk will save you bucket loads in the long run. Likewise, if you live close to campus invest in a bicycle to save on transport costs. Plus you won’t waste money on a gym membership!

3.Teach yourself to be thrifty

Instead of paying someone else to do things; learn how to do it yourself. A huge (and avoidable) expense for college students is eating out or ordering in. Learning to cook is one of the quickest ways to free up your budget. There are plenty of recipes available online and if you’re missing your Mum’s famous chicken pie then call her for the recipeand make it yourself! Avoid handyman costs by learning how to fix and repair things around your home yourself. If you can’t do it; someone on YouTube can.

4. Become an opportunist
Actively seek out opportunities to save on both education and leisure expenses. Check whether you are eligible for any scholarships, grants or governmental assistance. Enter competitions to win concert tickets, look up what night your local cinema has discount tickets, keep an eye out for free festivals and of course; always have pre-drinks at home!

5. Don’t stop saving!
When you have finished your degree and you are coming to the end of your lease don’t stop saving money then.Save money on a removalist by asking some muscly friends to help you relocate! Just because you have spent four years analyzing the fine nuances of English literature doesn’t necessarily mean you will be offered a job the moment you graduate. Keep all these tools in your thrifty tool-kit and use them in your post-graduate journey!

Image Credit via Accurate Leads

Leisure & Resorts World Corporation Inrease in Capital Stock to P5.0 Billion

Leisure & Resorts World Corporation (LRWC) would like to announce that its Board of Directors had  approved a number of items in the Special Board meeting last January 22, 2013 that shall be included in the agenda during the Special Stockholders Meeting scheduled for 22 March 2013:

1. An increase in the authorized capital stock of LRWC to P5.0 billion.  This will be divided into 2.5 billion of common stock (par P1.00 per share) and 2.5 billion of preferred shares (par P1.00 per share).  Currently, the Company has an authorized capital stock of Php 1.6 billion.   
2. A stock dividend equivalent of 200 million shares.
3. Listing of the preferred shares and warrants on the Philippine Stock Exchange. 
4. Private placement of Php 1.75 billion through a perpetual preferred share issuance.  
The perpetual preferred shares will have a coupon rate of 8.5% per annum, paid semi-annually.  The 
Preferred shares are cumulative, non-voting and non-participating.     

As an added bonus, LRWC will also issue warrants.   Twenty (20) preferred shares will entitle each investor to one warrant.  Each warrant, if exercised at a price of P15.00 or the average weighted trading price for the three months prior (whichever is lower) will be converted to one common share. This option will be exercisable starting on the 5th year. 

Pending approval, the preferred shares as well as the warrants will be listed on the Philippine Stock Exchange. 

The preferred share offering will be used to finance the following:

1.      Belle Grande Integrated Resort and Casino project.   LRWC’s wholly-owned subsidiary, AB Leisure Global Inc (AB Global) signed a Memorandum of Agreement with Belle Resources and Premium Leisure Amusement Inc in July 2012.

2.      Midas Hotel and Casino project.   In November 2012, LRWC bought 51% of the outstanding shares of Hotel Enterprises Philippines, Inc. (HEPI).   HEPI owns the property and building assets where Midas Hotel is located.  The Company is looking to expand the facilities of the hotel.

3.      Techzone project.   LRWC’s subsidiary, First Cagayan Leisure and Resorts Corporation (First Cagayan) is negotiating with a developer for the construction of a world-class BPO building in Makati.  Theproject, called Techzone, will house the licensees and locators of First Cagayan.

4.      Acquisition and roll-out of additional bingo sites.  The company is focused on rolling out more sites with the electronic variants of its bingo games.  In its existing bingo sites, more electronic bingo games (EBG) and Rapid Bingo machines are being deployed.   The Company’s Bingo Boutique outlets, which contain only electronic games, are also being set up and deployed.  Currently, there are 23 Bingo Boutique sites.  The Company plans to add between 30 – 40 new sites this year. 
For more details, contact:
Mr. Freddie B. Reyes
Investor Relations Head

John Gokongwei Formula to Success

Below is a copy of the speech that Mr. John L. Gokongwei, Jr. delivered at the 20th Ad Congress last November 21, 2007.

"Before I begin, I want to say please bear with me, an 81-year-old man who just flew in from San Francisco 36 hours ago and is still suffering from jet lag. However, I hope I will be able to say what you want to hear…

Ladies and gentlemen, good evening. Thank you very much for having me here tonight to open the Ad Congress. I know how important this event is for our marketing and advertising colleagues. My people get very excited and go into a panic, every other year, at this time.

I would like to talk about my life, entrepreneurship, and globalization. I would like to talk about how we can become a great nation.

You may wonder how one is connected to the other, but I promise that, as there is truth in advertising, the connection will come.

Let me begin with a story I have told many times. My own.

I was born to a rich Chinese-Filipino family. I spent my childhood in Cebu where my father owned a chain of movie houses, including the first air-conditioned one outside Manila. I was the eldest of six children and lived in a big house in Cebu’s Forbes Park.

A chauffeur drove me to school everyday as I went to San Carlos University, then and still one of the country’s top schools. I topped my classes and had many friends. I would bring them to watch movies for free at my father’s movie houses.

When I was 13, my father died suddenly of complications due to typhoid. Everything I enjoyed vanished instantly. My father’s empire was built on credit. When he died, we lost everything—our big house, our cars, our business—to the banks.

I felt angry at the world for taking away my father, and for taking away all that I enjoyed before. When the free movies disappeared, I also lost half my friends. On the day I had to walk two miles to school for the very first time, I cried to my mother, a widow at 32.

But she said: “You should feel lucky. Some people have no shoes to walk to school. What can you do? Your father died with 10 centavos in his pocket.”

So, what can I do? I worked.

My mother sent my siblings to China where living standards were lower. She and I stayed in Cebu to work, and we sent them money regularly. My mother sold her jewelry. When that ran out, we sold roasted peanuts in the backyard of our much-smaller home. When that wasn’t enough, I opened a small stall in a palengke.

I chose one among several palengkes a few miles outside the city because there were fewer goods available for the people there. I woke up at five o’clock every morning for the long bicycle ride to the palengke with my basket of goods.

There, I set up a table about three feet by two feet in size. I laid out my goods—soap, candles, and thread—and kept selling until everything was bought. Why these goods? Because these were hard times and this was a poor village, so people wanted and needed the basics—soap to keep them clean, candles to light the night, and thread to sew their clothes.

I was surrounded by other vendors, all of them much older. Many of them could be my grandparents. And they knew the ways of the palengke far more than a boy of 15, especially one who had never worked before.

But being young had its advantages. I did not tire as easily, and I moved more quickly.

I was also more aggressive. After each day, I would make about 20 pesos in profit! There was enough to feed my siblings and still enough to pour back into the business. The pesos I made in the palengke were the pesos that went into building the business I have today.

After this experience, I told myself, “If I can compete with people so much older than me, if I can support my whole family at 15, I can do anything!”

Looking back, I wonder, what would have happened if my father had not left my family with nothing? Would I have become the man I am? Who knows?

The important thing to know is that life will always deal us a few bad cards. But we have to play those cards the best we can. And WE can play to win!

This was one lesson I picked up when I was a teenager. It has been my guiding principle ever since. And I have had 66 years to practice self-determination. When I wanted something, the best person to depend on was myself.

And so I continued to work.

In 1943, I expanded and began trading goods between Cebu and Manila. From Cebu, I would transport tires on a small boat called a batel. After traveling for five days to Lucena, I would load them into a truck for the six- hour trip to Manila. I would end up sitting on top of my goods so they would not be stolen!

In Manila, I would then purchase other goods from the earnings I made from the tires, to sell in Cebu. Then, when WWII ended, I saw the opportunity for trading goods in post-war Philippines.

I was 20 years old. With my brother Henry, I put up Amasia Trading which imported onions, flour, used clothing, old newspapers and magazines, and fruits from the United States.

In 1948, my mother and I got my siblings back from China. I also converted a two-story building in Cebu to serve as our home, office, and warehouse all at the same time. The whole family began helping out with the business.

In 1957, at age 31, I spotted an opportunity in corn-starch manufacturing. But I was going to compete with Ludo and Luym, the richest group in Cebu and the biggest cornstarch manufacturers. I borrowed money to finance the project.

The first bank I approached made me wait for two hours, only to refuse my loan. The second one, China Bank, approved a P500,000-peso clean loan for me.

Years later, the banker who extended that loan, Dr. Albino Sycip said that he saw something special in me. Today, I still wonder what that was, but I still thank Dr. Sycip to this day.

Upon launching our first product, Panda corn starch, a price war ensued. After the smoke cleared, Universal Corn Products was still left standing. It is the foundation upon which JG Summit Holdings now stands.

Interestingly, the price war also forced the closure of a third cornstarch company, and one of their chemists was Lucio Tan, who always kids me that I caused him to lose his job. I always reply that if it were not for me, he will not be one of the richest men in the Philippines today.

When my business grew, and it was time for me to bring in more people–my family, the professionals, the consultants, more employees–I knew that I had to be there to teach them what I knew.

When dad died at age 34, he did not leave a succession plan. From that, I learned that one must teach people to take over a business at any time.

The values of hard work that I learned from my father, I taught to my children. They started doing jobs here and there even when they were still in high school. Six years ago, I announced my retirement and handed the reins to my youngest brother James and only son Lance.

But my children tease me because I still go to the office every day and make myself useful. I just hired my first Executive Assistant and moved into a bigger and nicer office.

Building a business to the size of JG Summit was not easy. Many challenges were thrown my way. I could have walked away from them, keeping the business small, but safe. Instead, I chose to fight.

But this did not mean I won each time.

By 1976, at age 50, we had built significant businesses in food products anchored by a branded coffee called Blend 45, and agro-industrial products under the Robina Farms brand.

That year, I faced one of my biggest challenges, and lost. And my loss was highly publicized, too. But I still believe that this was one of my defining moments.

In that decade, not many business opportunities were available due to the political and economic environment. Many Filipinos were already sending their money out of the country.

As a Filipino, I felt that our money must be invested here. I decided to purchase shares in San Miguel, then one of the Philippines’ biggest corporations.

By 1976, I had acquired enough shares to sit on its board.

The media called me an upstart. “Who is Gokongwei and why is he doing all those terrible things to San Miguel?” ran one headline of the day. In another article, I was described as a pygmy going up against the powers-that- be.

The San Miguel board of directors itself even paid for an ad in all the country’s top newspapers telling the public why I should not be on the board.

On the day of reckoning, shareholders quickly filled up the auditorium to witness the battle. My brother James and I had prepared for many hours for this debate. We were nervous and excited at the same time.

In the end, I did not get the board seat because of the Supreme Court Ruling. But I was able to prove to others–and to myself–that I was willing to put up a fight. I succeeded because I overcame my fear, and tried. I believe this battle helped define who I am today.

In a twist to this story, I was invited to sit on the board of Anscor and San Miguel Hong Kong 5 years later. Lose some, win some.

Since then, I’ve become known as a serious player in the business world, but the challenges haven’t stopped coming.

Let me tell you about the three most recent challenges. In all three, conventional wisdom bet against us. See, we set up businesses against market Goliaths in very high-capital industries: airline, telecoms, and beverage.

Challenge No. 1: In 1996, we decided to start an airline.

At the time, the dominant airline in the country was PAL, and if you wanted to travel cheaply, you did not fly. You went by sea or by land.

However, my son Lance and I had a vision for Cebu Pacific: We wanted every Filipino to fly.

Inspired by the low-cost carrier models in the United States, we believed that an airline based on the no-frills concept would work here. No hot meals. No newspaper. Mono-class seating. Operating with a single aircraft type. Faster turn around time.

It all worked, thus enabling Cebu Pacific to pass on savings to the consumer.

How did we do this? By sticking to our philosophy of “low cost, great value.”

And we stick to that philosophy to this day. Cebu Pacific offers incentives. Customers can avail themselves of a tiered pricing scheme, with promotional seats for as low a P1. The earlier you book, the cheaper your ticket.

Cebu Pacific also made it convenient for passengers by making online booking available. This year, 1.25 million flights will be booked through our website. This reduced our distribution costs dramatically. Low cost. Great value.

When we started 11 years ago, Cebu Pacific flew only 360,000 passengers, with 24 daily flights to 3 destinations. This year, we expect to fly more than five million passengers, with over 120 daily flights to 20 local destinations and 12 Asian cities.

Today, we are the largest in terms of domestic flights, routes and destinations. We also have the youngest fleet in the region after acquiring new Airbus 319s and 320s. In January, new ATR planes will arrive.

These are smaller planes that can land on smaller air strips like those in Palawan and Caticlan. Now you don’t have to take a two-hour ride by mini-bus to get to the beach.

Largely because of Cebu Pacific, the average Filipino can now afford to fly. In 2005, 1 out of 12 Filipinos flew within a year. In 2012, by continuing to offer low fares, we hope to reduce that ratio to 1 out of 6. We want to see more and more Filipinos see their country and the world!

Challenge No. 2: In 2003, we established Digitel Mobile Philippines, Inc. and developed a brand for the mobile phone business called Sun Cellular.

Prior to the launch of the brand, we were actually involved in a transaction to purchase PLDT shares of the majority shareholder.

The question in everyone’s mind was how we could measure up to the two telecom giants. They were entrenched and we were late by eight years! PLDT held the landline monopoly for quite a while, and was first in the mobile phone industry.

Globe was a younger company, but it launched digital mobile technology here.

But being a late player had its advantages. We could now build our platform from a broader perspective. We worked with more advanced technologies and intelligent systems not available ten years ago. We chose our suppliers based on the most cost-efficient hardware and software.

Being a Johnny-come- lately allowed us to create and launch more innovative products, more quickly.

All these provided us with the opportunity to give the consumers a choice that would rock their world.

The concept was simple. We would offer Filipinos to call and text as much as they want for a fixed monthly fee. For P250 a month, they could get in touch with anyone within the Sun network at any time. This means great savings of as much as 2/3 of their regular phone bill! Suddenly, we gained traction.

Within one year of its introduction, Sun hit one million customers.

Once again, the paradigm shifts – this time in the telecom industry. Sun’s 24/7 Call and Text unlimited changed the landscape of mobile-phone usage.

Today, we have over 4 million subscribers and 2000 cell sites around the archipelago. In a country where 97% of the market is pre-paid, we believe we have hit on the right strategy.

Sun Cellular is a Johnny-come- lately, but it’s doing all right. It is a third player, but a significant one, in an industry where Cassandras believed a third player would perish.

And as we have done in the realm of air travel, so have we done in the telecom world: We
have changed the marketplace. In the end, it is all about making life better for the consumer by giving them choices.

Challenge No. 3: In 2004, we launched C2, the green tea drink that would change the face of the local beverage industry — then, a playground of cola companies.

Iced tea was just a sugary brown drink served bottomless in restaurants. For many years, hardly was there any significant product innovation in the beverage business.

Admittedly, we had little experience in this area. Universal Robina Corporation is the leader in snack foods but our only background in beverage was instant coffee. Moreover, we would be entering the playground of huge multinationals.

We decided to play anyway.

It all began when I was in China in 2003 and noticed the immense popularity of bottled iced tea. I thought that this product would have huge potential here. We knew that the Philippines was not a traditional tea-drinking country since more familiar to consumers were colas in returnable glass bottles.

But precisely, this made the market ready for a different kind of beverage. One that refreshes yet gives the health benefits of green tea.

We positioned it as a “spa” in a bottle. A drink that cools and cleans…thus, C2 was born.

C2 immediately caught on with consumers. When we launched C2 in 2004, we sold 100,000 bottles in the first month. Three years later, Filipinos drink around 30 million bottles of C2 per month. Indeed, C2 is in a good place.

With Cebu Pacific, Sun Cellular, and C2, the JG Summit team took control of its destiny. And we did so in industries where old giants had set the rules of the game. It’s not that we did not fear the giants. We knew we could have been crushed at the word go.

So we just made sure we came prepared with great products and great strategies. We ended up changing the rules of the game instead.

There goes the principle of self-determination, again. I tell you, it works for individuals as it does for companies. And as I firmly believe, it works for nations.

I have always wondered, like many of us, why we Filipinos have not lived up to our potential.

We have proven we can. Manny Pacquiao and Efren Bata Reyes in sports. Lea Salonga and the UP Madrigal Singers in performing arts. Monique Lhuillier and Rafe Totenco in fashion.

And these are just the names made famous by the media. There are many more who may not be celebrities but who have gained respect on the world stage.

But to be a truly great nation, we must also excel as entrepreneurs before the world. We must create Filipino brands for the global market place.

If we want to be philosophical, we can say that, with a world-class brand, we create pride for our nation. If we want to be practical, we can say that, with brands that succeed in the world, we create more jobs for our people, right here.

Then, we are able to take part in what’s really important—giving our people a big opportunity to raise their standards of living, giving them a real chance to improve their lives.

We can do it. Our neighbors have done it. So can we.

In the last 54 years, Korea worked hard to rebuild itself after a world war and a civil war destroyed it. From an agricultural economy in 1945, it shifted to light industry, consumer products, and heavy industry in the ’80s.

At the turn of the 21st century, the Korean government focused on making Korea the world’s leading IT nation. It did this by grabbing market share in key sectors like semiconductors, robotics, and biotechnology.

Today, one remarkable Korean brand has made it to the list of Top 100 Global Brands: Samsung.

Less then a decade ago, Samsung meant nothing to consumers. By focusing on quality, design, and innovation, Samsung improved its products and its image. Today, it has surpassed the Japanese brand Sony.

Now another Korean brand, LG Collins, is following in the footsteps of Samsung. It has also broken into the Top 100 Global Brands list.

What about China? Who would have thought that only 30 years after opening itself up to a market economy, China would become the world’s fourth largest economy?

Goods made in China are still thought of as cheap. Yet many brands around the world outsource their manufacturing to this country. China’s own brands—like Lenovo, Haier, Chery QQ, and Huawei—are fast gaining ground as well. I have no doubt they will be the next big electronics, technology and car brands in the world.

Lee Kwan Yu’s book “From Third World to First” captures Singapore’s aspiration to join the First World. According to the book, Singapore was a trading post that the British developed as a nodal point in its maritime empire.

The racial riots there made its officials determined to build a “multiracial society that would give equality to all citizens, regardless of race, language or religion.”

When Singapore was asked to leave the Malaysian Federation of States in 1965, Lee Kwan Yew developed strategies that he executed with single-mindedness despite their being unpopular. He and his cabinet started to build a nation by establishing the basics: building infrastructure, establishing an army, weeding out corruption, providing mass housing, building a financial center.

Forty short years after, Singapore has been transformed into the richest South East Asian country today, with a per capita income of US$32,000.

These days, Singapore is transforming itself once more. This time it wants to be the creative hub in Asia, maybe even the world. More and more, it is attracting the best minds from all over the world in filmmaking, biotechnology, media, and finance.

Meantime, Singaporeans have also created world-class brands: Banyan Tree in the hospitality industry, Singapore Airlines in the Airline industry and Singapore Telecoms in the telco industry.

I often wonder: Why can’t the Philippines, or a Filipino, do this?

Fifty years after independence, we have yet to create a truly global brand. We cannot say the Philippines is too small because it has 86 million people.

Switzerland, with 9 million people, created Nestle. Sweden, also with 9 million people, created Ericsson. Finland, even smaller with five million people, created Nokia.

All three are major global brands, among others.

Yes, our country is well-known for its labor, as we continue to export people around the world. And after India, we are grabbing a bigger chunk of the pie in the call-center and Business Process Outsourcing industries.

But by and large, the Philippines has no big industrial base, and Filipinos do not create world-class products.

We should not be afraid to try—even if we are laughed at.

Japan, laughed at for its cars, produced Toyota. Korea, for its electronics, produced Samsung. Meanwhile, the Philippines’ biggest companies 50 years ago—majority of which are multinational corporations such as Coca-Cola, Procter and Gamble, and Unilever Philippines, for example—are still the biggest companies today.

There are very few big, local challengers. But already, hats off to Filipino entrepreneurs making strides to globalize their brands.

Goldilocks has had much success in the Unites States and Canada, where half of its customers are non-Filipinos. Coffee-chain Figaro may be a small player in the coffee world today, but it is making the leap to the big time.

Two Filipinas, Bea Valdez and Tina Ocampo, are now selling their Philippine-made jewelry and bags all over the world. Their labels are now at Barney’s and Bergdorf’s in the U.S. and in many other high-end shops in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.

When we started our own foray outside the Philippines 30 years ago, it wasn’t a walk in the park. We set up a small factory in Hong Kong to manufacture Jack and Jill potato chips there.

Today, we are all over Asia. We have the number-one-potato- chips brand in Malaysia and Singapore. We are the leading biscuit manufacturer in Thailand, and a significant player in the candy market in Indonesia.

Our Aces cereal brand is a market leader in many parts of China. C2 is now doing very well in Vietnam, selling over 3 million bottles a month there, after only 6 months in the market. Soon, we will launch C2 in other South East Asian markets.

I am 81 today. But I do not forget the little boy that I was in the palengke in Cebu. I still believe in family. I still want to make good. I still don’t mind going up against those older and better than me. I still believe hard work will not fail me. And I still believe in people willing to think the same way.

Through the years, the market place has expanded: between cities, between countries, between continents. I want to urge you all here to think bigger.

Why serve 86 million when you can sell to four billion Asians? And that’s just to start you off. Because there is still the world beyond Asia.

When you go back to your offices, think of ways to sell and market your products and services to the world. Create world-class brands. You can if you really tried. I did.

As a boy, I sold peanuts from my backyard. Today, I sell snacks to the world.

I want to see other Filipinos do the same.

Thank you and good evening once again."

Why Invest in Real Estate In the Philippines - Top Cities to Invest In

Why and Which Cities to Invest in the Philippines

You should invest in the Philippines. Here's why. Whether it be in the stock market or real estate, the global market is bullish about investing in the Philippines. Reuters thinks you should. So as Bloomberg and Businessweek. The list goes on. 

Real Estate Property Business in the Philippines: Poised to Rise

Enrique Soriano, Ateneo program director for real estate and senior adviser for Wong+Bernstein Business Advisory, said: “Five years after the financial crisis triggered by a housing bubble, the global economy is convalescing. The Philippine economy is poised to move up. Real estate markets in all segments will grow. Some developers will fail and others will do better because they have a strategy and they have found exactly the right position.” (Source)

Okay, so you're sold with the idea of investing in the Philippines. Now you're wondering where exactly in the Philippines are the best and perhaps the most livable cities to invest in. When investing, it's important that you put the following factors into serious consideration:

5 Factors to Consider When Investing in Real Estate in the Philippines

1. Accessibility

Whether you're investing in the place for your retirement or simply for business, it's important that the place you will be investing in is easily accessible. You wouldn't want to be stuck in an island that doesn't have proper transportation system.

2. Technology (Especially Electricity)

While most cities in the Philippines have access to electricity (especially Manila), there are smaller cities which have issues with their electricity system. Be sure to check whether the place you're planning to invest in has a good and affordable one.

3. Safety

No matter how paradisiacal a place may be and it's not safe, by all means, stay away from it! It's not worth it.

4. Business-friendly

No one wants to invest in a place where you couldn't make money in the long run. Check whether there's a potential to start up a business in the area or to sold the property for a higher price. You may want to check out the World Bank: Doing Business Index that measures which cities in the Philippines ranks well as the best cities to easily start a business in. General Santos is currently on top of the list (as of  writing, 2013).

5. Livable 

When a place is livable, it's profitable. Check out this list of the top 20 liveable cities in the Philippines.

Top Best Cities to Invest in the Philippines

Now for the top cities that you must invest in. Once done considering those factors mentioned above, it's time to decide where exactly in the Philippines should you invest in? The Business Processing Association Philippines, shared the "Next Wave Cities™”, a joint project undertaken with the Commission on Information & Communications Technology and the Department of Trade & Industry. 

It is an annual report on the best locations for information technology and business process outsourcing (IT-BPO) in the Philippines. While most investors automatically set to Metro Manila and Cebu for their investments, the list highlights some other cities which are worth considering when you're planning to invest in less-crowded cities in the Philippines. 

Iloilo as the Most cost-efficient city to invest in and 3rd among the "Next Wave Cities" in the Philippines.

1. Metro Laguna: Best place for IT-BPO operations outside Metro Manila and Metro Cebu
2. Metro Cavite: Emerging urban center outside Metro Manila
3. Iloilo City: Most cost-efficient city
4. Davao City: More than a million people
5. Bacolod City: Best business environment
6. Metro Pampanga: Best infrastructure
7. Bulacan East and West: Manila’s northern neighbors—untapped centers between bustling hubs
8. Cagayan de Oro City: Most cost-competitive city
9. Lipa City: Proven host with potential for growth

The graph below shows which cities in the Philippines have the absorptive capacity and enough manpower or skilled employees - two important factors to consider when looking to start a business in a city. 

The Information and Communications Technology Office has released their updated Next Wave Citiest 2012 Report (Source) and below are the list of cities that made it to the top 10. 

1. Davao City,
2. Santa Rosa City,
3. Bacolod City,
4. Iloilo City,
5. Metro Cavite (Bacoor, DasmariƱas City, Imus)
6. Lipa City,
7. Cagayan de Oro City,
8. Malolos City,
9. Baguio City,
10. Dumaguete City

The lists above are just guidelines as to which cities in the Philippines the infrastructures and technologies are reasonably priced and considered to be livable cities. You still have to decide on your own depending on your specific preferences as to which among the cities in the Philippines you would want to invest or start a business in.

Should you have any questions, feel free to connect with me on Twitter, Facebook or email me at: jonharules [at] gmail [dot] com