Tuesday, July 28, 2015


Greatly esteemed to be part of a very select group of Overseas Chinese leaders worldwide invited by the Government of the People's Republic of China (中華人民共和國) to participate in a week-long, all-expense paid "Overseas Chinese Community Leadership Workshop" (廣西華僑華人社團負責人研習班) in the fascinating province of Guangxi, China (廣西壯族自治區). Together with Chairman Peter Mangasing, yours truly represented the Association of Young Filipino-Chinese Entrepreneurs (Anvil Business Club), an organization now regarded with such high prominence by the Chinese Government, as a result of its phenomenal advancement and relevance to the Overseas Chinese community-at-large over the recent years.
The workshop and cultural tour spanned six days, three cities and one county: Nanning (南寧), Liuzhou (柳州), Sanjiang (三江), and Guilin (桂林). Thirty-three Overseas Chinese participants – coming from four corners of the globe and representing a wide array of professions – took part in this very limited opportunity to coalesce, explore, and collectively engage in a series of activities with the aim of promoting global amity, enhancing leadership skills, and developing a greater appreciation of our ethnic roots, while experiencing the legendary appeal of Guangxi.
In Nanning's Yong Jiang Hotel (南寧市邕江賓館), a series of engaging lectures were conducted by world-renowned professors from the famed Guangxi Institute for Nationalities (廣西民族大學) during the first two days of our workshop. After being personally welcomed by Guangxi's Deputy Director for Investment Promotion Agency, the Honorable Zheng Juan (鄭捐) and Guangxi Chamber of Commerce President, Ms. Linda Wang (王琳達), the delegation attended a succession of discourses on:
1. "Introduction and Analysis of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement and What it Means to Guangxi" (中國-東盟自貿區升級版與廣西實施更加開放戰略的思考) by Professor Gao (高歌教授). The Chinese Government deems Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) as a new platform to further opening up to the outside and speeding up domestic reforms, an effective approach to integrate into global economy and strengthen economic cooperation with other economies, as well as particularly an important supplement to the multilateral trading system.
2. "The New Engine and, New Business Opportunities in Boosting Economic Development in Guangxi" (新引擎,新商機, 助力廣西經濟發展(楊真祝易聚大學籌備委員會主任) by Director Yang Zhen Zhu Yi (杨真祝 易) of the Guangxi Polytechnic University (聚大学筹备委员会主任). Guangxi is located in the coastal border; thus, it is an important gateway to the Silk Road, not only referring to the 21st century maritime economic zone, but to the Overseas Chinese. Guangxi and ASEAN countries already have land and seas adjacent to each other, not to mention having unique advantages in the use of new technologies, which manifest an important historical and palpable significance.
3. "One Belt, One Road: Vision and Opportunities" (一带一路的愿景和机遇) by Dr. Hu Chao (胡超博士). The "One Belt, One Road" concept is a 21st century "Maritime Silk Road" theory that envisions reviving the ancient network of trade and cultural transmission routes that were central to cultural interaction through regions of the Asian continent connecting the West and East, particularly in key districts of China, Asia as well as North Africa and Europe. It discusses how this theory could prove to be beneficial to Guangxi Province's economic initiatives.
4. "Chinese Diplomatic Strategy and Cross-Strait Relations" (中國外交戰略與兩岸關係) by Dr. Chen Bingxian (陳丙先博士). This session extensively discussed China-Taiwan relations since 1949, and explored ways and means to seek proper settlement of the Taiwan issue, in the light of ever-changing domestic and international conditions.
Apart from these four official sessions, a special seminar on "Chinese Health and Prevention of Common Diseases" (中醫養生與常見疾病的防治) was conducted in the evening by nationally-renowned traditional Chinese specialist Dr. Pang Sheng Hang (龐 聲 航). In a two-hour presentation, Dr. Pang discussed the Chinese approach to health concept and enumerated the Chinese health concept; gave tips in boiling and dosage; shared ways to prevent and treat hypertension; and dispensed advice for the prevention and treatment of diabetes.
In-between these seminars, a leadership team building workshop for the delegates was conducted and supervised by the members of the People's Liberation Army stationed in Nanning. The last evening in Nanning was a trip to the Genting Tower (云顶观光), a 276-meter tourist spot where visitors can enjoy a 360-degree view Nanning City spanning 400 square meters.
The third and fourth days were devoted to on-site educational tours in the City of Liuzhou (柳州市). The delegation first visited the Luizhou Urban Planning Exhibition Center (柳州城市規劃展覽館), which displays Liuzhou City's urban planning and development. The focus of the exhibit is an impressive large scale model of the entirety of urban Liuzhou, showing existing buildings and approved future buildings. Other exhibits relate to Liuzhou's history and planned development, including smaller scaled models focusing on particular areas of interest.
Another fascinating area was the Liuzhou Fantastic Stone Museum (柳州奇石館). As the City of Liuzhou considers itself to be the stone capital of China, the museum located – in the heart of the city – indeed symbolizes it being a major center for stone culture. Constructed in 1994, the 12,500 square foot ultra-modern museum houses a collection of more than ten thousand uniquely-shaped stones, making it one of the largest stone museums in China.
The group also visited two the biggest industrial centers in Liuzhou: the 2-square kilometer central SGMW automobile plant and the Guangxi Liugong Machinery (柳工簡介). SGMW is currently recognized as the most influential, self-developed auto brand in China by the national auto industry. Established in 2002, the company is a three-way joint venture from two China-based companies, SAIC Motor Corporation Ltd. (上海汽車集團股份有限公司) and Liuzhou Wuling Motors Co., Ltd. (柳州五菱汽車公司), with General Motors China (通用汽車公司) as its foreign partner. Under this joint partnership, they produced the Wuling (五菱汽車) and Baojun (寶駿汽車) brands of passenger vehicles, which enjoys the top selling brands in the domestic car sales in China.
Liugong, on the other hand, was founded in 1958 and ranks as the 20th largest construction equipment manufacturer in the world, capturing nearly 12.4% of the global market share in wheel loaders and nearly 18.4% share domestically.
Our trip to Liuzhou, however, was not entirely business-related; after our plant visits, we headed to the famed Dragon Pool Park (大龍潭湖) – a three-kilometer ride from the downtown – for lunch and to experience Liuzhou ethnic minority's culture and local customs via a cultural show while enjoying their local Zhuang cuisine. Within the center of the park likes Mirror Lake (鏡湖) covering 0.2 square kilometers, which houses a number of scenic spots, such as the Eight Dragons Spurting Snow (八龍噴雪壩), Long Mountain (龍山), Bei Qiu Relics (貝丘遺址), Dai Village (傣寨), and Sleeping Tiger Mountain (臥虎山).
Day Five consisted of a rainy, five-hour bus ride to the Sanjiang Dong Autonomous County (三江侗族自治縣) to visit the rustic Chengyang Eight Village (程陽八寨景區), where the historic Chengyang Yong Ji Bridge (程陽永濟橋) is located. The century-old wooden pontoon, built in 1912, spans the entire 64.4 meter-wide River Lin. Reputed to be one of the world's most famous bridges, it's amazing that the bridge was built without a single nail riveting and used straight-set cabling, arranged in a crisscross pattern, and is still able to withstand nature's forces over a hundred years.
That evening, the entire delegation was treated to a spectacular cultural show entitled, "Love Story of Dongs" (坐妹三江), the first large-scale folk-custom live symphonic play that cost 70 million yuan (USD11.3 million), which features a love story among the Dong people, Sanjiang's biggest ethnic minority. Performed by multi-choral traditional culture with modern perfection and led with the aid of the most advanced technology, the play was able to perfectly express the Dong's customs.
On Day Six, the final but climactic leg of the week-long tour was to Guilin (桂林), considered to be the pearl of China's thriving tourist industry on account of the natural beauty and historic treasures. The stunning landscape in which the city is situated has a kind of magic that is all its own. The strangely shaped hills or "karsts," with the verdant vegetation ranging from bamboos to conifers together with crystal clear waters and wonderful caves make the city such an appealing destination. It is also an important cultural city with a history of more than 2,000 years. The city has been the political, economic and cultural center of Guangxi since the Northern Song Dynasty (宋王朝) from 960-1127 A.D. The organizers must have saved the best for last, as Guilin truly encapsulates the very essence of Eastern beauty: mystically faint hills and misty rivers almost forgotten but salvaged by the lonesome villager on his bamboo raft. For decades, children's textbooks proclaimed 'Guìlín's landscape is the best under heaven' (桂林山水甲天下), and rightfully so. Today Guìlín's natural endowments still amaze, yet, thanks to imperfect urban planning, there is a pervasive feeling that the city is past its prime.
The final evening in China was marked with a world-renowned theater presentation called 'Impression of Liu Sanjie' (“印象劉三姐”) – an outdoor night show beside the Li River (漓江) in Yangshuo County (陽朔縣) which is 60km from Guilin. Different from other shows in an enclosed space, the show is staged in the actual Li River which stretches 2 km (1.25 miles). The mist, moonlight, together with 12 Karsts peaks and their inverted reflections in the river all creates a spectacular natural backdrop. The large-scale lighting, special smoke-effects and the state-of-the-art sound system, orchestrated in harmony with the natural landscape, presents a visual feast to the audiences. The show lasted approximately 70 minutes and consists of 7 episodes: the Prelude, Red Impression, Green Impression, Golden Impression, Blue Impression, Silvery Impression and the Epilogue. Each episode displays different images and scenery with the ever-changing natural background and lighting. As of last count, there were 600 actors and actresses involved, most of them fishermen from the villages along the river. Zhang Yimou (張藝謀), the chief director of the performance, who is also the chief director of the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics in 2008, creatively combines the classical Liu Sanjie’s folk songs and ethnic group culture together and presents a large-scale realistic performance in harmony with landscape.
As we bade each other goodbye from our six-day sojourn in this beautiful mountainous terrain on the far south of China, we not only take with us many wonderful memories and extraordinary learning from our stay, but also leave a comforting thought that we have forged new friendships from fellow Overseas Chinese brothers and sisters in different parts of the world.

Saturday, July 11, 2015


Strength. Fortitude, Altitude. These were the three words foremost on the minds of the participants as more than a hundred members of the Association of Young Filipino-Chinese Entrepreneurs (Anvil Business Club) converged at Celebrity Sports Plaza for the much-anticipated "Anvil Sportsfest Finals" – the Club's first-ever, inter-organization athletic intramural involving no less than seven different sporting events in a single day.
With four distinct teams – Team Dragon Fireworks, Team West Avenue Residences (WAR), Team Hobe/Far East, and Team Crown Pipes – actively competing in basketball, bowling, table tennis, badminton, billiards and the Tug-of-War (with special events such as the 3-point basketball shoot-out), the Finals signaled an exciting conclusion to the Club's two-month-long playoffs that culminated in one major sporting event that brought out the best in each participant.
Team Dragon fireworks ran away with the overall championship – having placed exceptionally well in almost all events with a total score of 880 points. Team Hobe/Far East salvaged the second spot when they defeated Team West Avenue Residences (WAR) in a "make-or-break" event: the Tug-of-War. Team Hobe/Far East led by a wafer-thin margin, 5 points going into the final event, finishing with 540 points, while Team WAR settled for third place with 515 points. Team Crown Pipes ended up in the rear with 450 points.
The basketball finals saw Team Crown Pipes bringing home the championship as they outclassed the burnt-out Team Dragon Fireworks, with star scorer Hans Perez leading pack with 25 points and 9 rebounds; MVP Denzil Li chalked up 20 points and grabbed 18 rebounds; while Marvin Yee added 20 points and 7 rebounds to the final tally. Second placer Team Dragon Fireworks was led by Kenneth Dee with 19 points and 6 rebounds while Nikko Lim chipped in 7 points and 15 rebounds..
Also in the basketball competitions, Team West ave residences salvage 3rd place when the beat Team Hobe/Far East 78-58. Team West ave residences was led by scoring champion Wilbert Uy with 26 pts, Alex Tan added 19pts, Richard Lui added 12 pts and Eckhart Ang pulled down 14 rebounds. Team Hobe/Far East was led by Earl Chua with 30 points and 21 rebounds.
In the Tables Tennis competition, the Ladies' Singles event was dominated by Team WAR's Melany Gale Sy, while Team Dragon Firework's Elaine Hao Chin captured the second spot and Team Hobe/Far East's Aileen Siy took the third. On the other hand, the Men's Singles championship went to Team Hobe/Far East's Hanz Chan; as the second place finish went to Team Dragon Firework's Kenneth Dee; while Team WAR's Carl Yao settled for third.
One of the most participated events was the Bowling Championships, as Team Dragon Fireworks topped this round, leaving Team Hobe/Far East and Team WAR to cap second and third places, respectively. The Men's Singles champion went to Team Dragon Firework's Jim Howard See; while Team Crown Pipe's Jim Chiu bagged second, and Team Hobe/Far East's Brian Lim settled for third place. The Ladies Singles champion was won by Team Crown Pipe's Larraine Chuacokiong, as Team Hobe/Fear East's Therese Pua bagged second place, while Team Dragon Firework's Jeanne Kao was awarded third.
In the more subdued, yet equally riveting cue sports event, the Billiards Singles Championship went to Team Hobe/Far East's Ace Olano, while second place went to Team Dragon Fireworks' Ong Jov, as the third place finish went to Team WAR's Yohann Matthew Sy. The Billiards Doubles Championship saw Team WAR's unbeatable tandem Alex Kua and Rudy Ngo bag first place; while second place honors went to Team Dragon Fireworks' Noel Yu and Mike Tan; as third place billing was awarded to Team Hobe/Far East's Kendrick Yu and Richmond Ngan.
Over-all Badminton Team Champion went to Team Dragon Fireworks, as the Men's Doubles Championship went to the unbeatable tandem of Joven Ong and Nelson Yuvilla. Second place honors went to Team Hobe/Far Easts' Erwin Ngo and Patrick Cua, while Third place ranking went to Kendrick Yu and AJ Lim. In the Ladies Doubles match-up, the overall champion went to the tandem of Team Dragon Firework's Ian Cheng and Valerie Hernandez, as Second Place finish went to Jennifer James Tan and Elaine Hao Chin, while Third Place honors was bagged by Team Hobe/Far East's Seleena Kaw and Wilynda Chua. The Mixed Doubles Championship inevitably went to Team WAR's unbeatable duo, Erika Rellera and Danny Hernandez; while the Second Place honors went to Ian Madera and Therese Pua; while the Third Place finish was awarded to Team Dragon Fireworks' Bettina Reyes and Kevin Ong Tai.
One of the most-awaited events was the Basketball 3-Point Shoot Out, where participants attempt to make as many three-point field goals as possible from five positions behind the three-point arc in one minute. The Shooting Stars' Championship in this event went to Team Crown Pipes' Marvin Yee, while Team Dragon Fireworks' Noel Yu garnered Second Place, and Team WAR's Teddy Tee bagged Third Place.
Other Special Awards went to the following:
1. Basketball's "Best Defensive Player" – Christopher Yae
2. Basketball's "Mythical Five:"
a) Denzil Li
b) Alex Tan
c) Wilbert Uy
d) Jayson Sze
e) Nikko Lim.
3. And finally, Basketball's "Most Valuable Player" – Denzil Li.
More than just the trophies, medals and honors, this landmark sports program has achieved even greater objectives: First, it promoted camaraderie and rapport among the members and officers of the Club; as it is, this undertaking is already poised to build a strong bond and cohesion among its now over 250-strong membership. Second, it has taught members the value of teamwork; in which, in real work environments, the ability to work well with other people with efficiency and efficacy is one of the most valuable attributes a member should have. And finally, it has heightened the value of sportsmanship among participants. The ability to accept bitter defeat is a sign of maturity and the ability to bounce back strong, triumphing over one's adversary will enable the members to experience resiliency and innovation to their respective enterprises.
Kudos to the Sports Committee, led by Sports and Outdoor Activities Director Christopher Go, Sportsfest Chairman and Commissioner Chester So, and members Zel Chua and Richmond Co for their extraordinary work in making the Club's first Sportsfest a milestone undertaking that will be remembered for years to come!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


It was an illuminating three-hour session with one of today's most-admired business leaders of his generation, as none other than Edgar "Injap" Sia II, the 38-year-old "whiz kid" – whose barbecue chain has overtaken multinational chain McDonald's in the second top spot in just a span of 7 years since he began Mang Inasal in 2003 – generously shared his "secrets" of his entrepreneurial success to a jam-packed audience of almost 300 hundred members and guests during the Anvil Business Club (Association of Young Filipino-Chinese Entrepreneurs)'s 7th Business Exchange Forum.
Amiable and self-effacing (sometimes to a fault), this low-key founder of one of the most successful home-grown fast-food chains in the country, deliberately hopped on a plane to Manila from another CityMall opening in Cebu, stayed for hours to unselfishly narrate his story, and flew back to Iloilo the following day. His inspiring account, oftentimes couched in humorous anecdotes but littered with invaluable business lessons for all, is the stuff that business legends are made of.
"Back then, I rarely come to Manila," he began, "I am not familiar with the places here; I had no close friends and relatives here. In fact, the first time I entered Makati Shangril-la and all the other five-star hotels here in Makati was only about mid-2000s... So about ten years ago, I was really a pure 'probinsiyano' guy, awed and intimidated by the fast pace and sophistication of Metro Manila. With that provincial background, I thought I can never succeed in a nationwide business."
He revealed that his "tipping point" happened through a specific experience in 2002 which changed his mindset: winning a brand new car in a nationwide text (SMS) competition. At that time, a multinational company announced their "Text Challenge" contest promo where whoever will have the most number of text entries shall win a brand new Honda Civic. After much contemplation, he decided to join... and join to win.
First, he had to deeply understand the scenarios and carefully strategize properly, as well as to come up with a good execution plan. He surmised that his biggest competitors were those from Metro Manila and correctly assumed that people will simply do their texting during daytime or their free time. He decided to do the texting during the day and commissioned a former college classmate who was unemployed at that time, to do the texting at night till the wee hours of the morning everyday... for three weeks. Apart from the Php200 daily salary he gives his friend, he promised to buy him a mobile phone when he wins the car. And to make sure his friend has enough energy to do the texting at night, he passes by the gas station store to buy some snacks and energy drink every evening and calls him up every 3 in the morning to make sure he was awake all night.
This made him realize three things:
1. For as long as one deeply understands the dynamics of what one is going to go into, even a simply young 'probinsiyano' can win a national competition (he computed how many text messages he can send in a day and night);
2. A well, thought-of strategy, passionate execution and advance anticipation of what will most likely happen, are keys to success (hiring and motivating his classmate and giving him an energy drink every night is advance anticipation; while the daily cylce of orchestrating the day-and-night texting for three weeks is passionate execution);
3. The importance of consistent auditing will ensure that one is on the right track (calling his friend every morning at 3:00 a.m. to listen to his voice is auditing).
These three elements made him win, not only the car (which he eventually sold unused), but more importantly, convinced him that he can apply the same formula to compete in a nationwide business landscape. Less than a year later, he opened his first Mang Inasal branch in an Iloilo City mall parking space.
To be sure, Injap's success story was peppered with a lot of challenges, especially when competing and penetrating the highly-competitive fast-food market with much larger multinationals, coupled by the fact that he had absolutely no experience in this industry. It wasn't easy. Suppliers were turning him down because he was young and has no track record. He then tirelessly went around his community in Iloilo and sealed supplier "deals," some of them forged in wet markets, others through cooperatives.
"Back then, for many years," he narrated, "I had to give up long vacations, I had to personally be at the store from opening until closing, and when I get home at around 11 in the evening, I had to stop myself from sleeping yet because I still had to personally mix the marinade every night until 2 o'clock in the morning, everyday."
But Injap was made of sterner stuff. "Since my vision was very clear from Day One, and since I knew that if I apply the same formula with the text competition; couple it with sheer hard work, consistent discipline and passionate execution, I knew that we will be able to make it," he confidently surmised.
Today, after almost 8 years and over 300 owned and franchised stores after, homegrown food giant Jollibee Corp scooped 70% of Mang Inasal. This deal essentially valued Mang Inasal – a barbecue chain that serves unlimited rice wrapped in banana leaves sourced from communities in nearby Guimaras Island, and uses bamboo sticks provided by various cooperatives in the province – at a whopping US$68 million (roughly P2.9 billion).
This catapulted the architecture college dropout to the elite list of Forbes magazine's 40 wealthiest in the Philippines in 2011.
Not contented with his success, he decided to proceed to another chapter of his business journey with Double Dragon Properties – focusing on commercial and office property developments; and Hotel of Asia, Inc. – concentrating on tourism and hospitality sector. With business partners Tony Tan Caktiong of Jollibee and Henry Sy Sr. of SM Group, Injap is poised to become one of the top five property developers in the Philippines within five years.
With his steely determination (and his texting competition experience), Injap is confident that he will get there.
And, judging by an extended Question-and-Answer session (first time a speaker was asked to stay for a full Q&A hour), the awe-struck faces of the audience who hung on to his every word, the long queue of people – many even from the more established, tight-lipped business tycoons of the much older Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry – who lined up (some for over another hour) just to have a photo opportunity with him, gave him their business cards, and engaged in small chats with him, the Anvil membership absolutely believes he will.