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BEYOND SIGHT: Nation Builders and Real Friends

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By Monsi A. Serrano

There are many unsung heroes who are quietly building our beloved country, the Philippines, even if they are not in government or running for public office. That’s what makes their service to the country truly worth commending.

First, I will talk about the dynamic couple, Richard Mills and the Self-Made, Rebecca Bustamante-Mills, who are Canadians and have been doing everything to tell to the whole world that the Philippines is the best destination for investments. They started out using their own resources and eventually have been joined by companies that have seen the value of their efforts and now support their noble mission.

For the past 9 years, the couple’s indefatigable service to the country has inspired a lot of people, and they also paved way to synergize, strive for excellence, recognize leaders and continually challenge everyone to shun away from mediocrity.

The ASIA CEO Awards, ASIA CEO Forum and ASIA CEO events founded by the Mills couple have been advocating for inclusive growth, taking their events and recognizing the leaders from all over the country. Leaders in the business sectors and in the government gather and share their journey from hardship to success, from values to vision and a lot more. Now, on the celebration of the 10th Year of ASIA CEO, they opened up the opportunity for young leaders to be recognized and awarded. Thank you to the effort and generosity of Ernst and Young.

There are 14 coveted and prestigious awards to be given by ASIA CEO in their 10th Year Anniversary and here are those categories and their respective generous sponsors.


InLife SHERO of the Year

Teletech Diversity Company of the Year

Ernst & Young Global Services Young Leader of the Year

World Vision CSR Company of the Year

Kalibrr Top Employer of the Year

Sprout Solutions Service Excellence Company of the Year

JLL Expatriate Executive of the Year

LBC Business Solutions SME Company of the Year

Healthway Wellness Company of the Year

Regus Entrepreneur of the Year

Smart Enterprise Global Filipino Executive of the Year

SPi Global Technology Company of the Year

United Neon Most Innovative Company of the Year

Executive Leadership Team of the Year

There is NO COST to nominate and the deadline for nominations is on August 15, 2019.


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Another “silent worker in the vineyard” is a good friend of mine and fellow ex-seminarian, Antonio “Tony” Peralta, chairman of the European Chamber of Commerce Philippines Southern Mindanao Business Council.

While the surname Peralta rings a bell to the Northern region of the Philippines, Tony opted to stay in Davao and reach out to Mindanao provinces and help them improve their community through various programs implemented by ECCP-SMBC in partnership with the European Union under the tutelage of the amiable and hardworking Ambassador Franz Jessen.

Tony intimated to me his vision for the entire Mindanao and the strategy that he and his TEAM in ECCP-SMBC have been doing in the Southern part of the Philippines. They adopt an all-inclusive strategy and make sure everyone is given the opportunity to learn and grow with them and through their programs. They target large farmers cooperatives, Muslim owned businesses, tribal-owned businesses, and they have been very effective. What makes all these plans and noble mission a reality is the unwavering and unconditional support of the EU.

I can only smile in silence that Tony still carries with him the values we all learned in the formation house, that is, to reach out to other people and become a bridge of positive change to others regardless of religion, age, gender and region.

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Last but not least is British Chamber of Commerce Philippines Executive Chairman Chris Nelson. I met this soft-spoken man who takes pride of having a Filipino wife, a Bicolana, way back in his stint as President of Philip Morris Philippines.

He is a jovial and optimistic man who never ceases to see the bright side of the Philippines and Filipinos based on his almost 20 years of living in the country.

Whenever Chris and I meet in the BGC, we are both excited as Chris is always ready to share the development of his meetings and trips in the United Kingdom to encourage companies there to invest in the Philippines.

Chris has also been actively working with other foreign chambers of commerce in the Philippines and tirelessly organizing exciting and educational events on business, trends, and other useful programs for the members of BCCP and also for non-members.

His ever-reliable and amiable team in BCCP has imbibed their boss’s work ethic. Chris always thinks of what he can accomplish and contribute to the country in various industries, either by collaboration or the chamber’s effort. A strong belief in the importance of family support and working with the team, Chris’s ardent love for the country and for Filipinos would surely inspire everyone who hears this humble man.

Real Friends

Our country has waged war with the Spaniards, Americans, and Japanese. But when the war ended and dust settled, these enemies we had became our good friends.

In the joint economic briefing for the 2nd quarter (2019),under the auspices of the six (6) European Chambers of Commerce in the Philippines (in alphabetical order) British Chamber of Commerce, Dutch Chamber of Commerce, French Chamber of Commerce, German Chamber of Commerce, Italian Chamber of Commerce,  and Spanish Chamber of Commerce, Keynote Speaker BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno presented the top countries that invested in the Philippines. At Number 1 is Japan, followed by the United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Germany, and then Singapore. EU’s foreign direct investment comes from the five EU-member states: The Netherlands, UK, Germany, Denmark, and France.

While both the US and China posture as the best of the Philippines’ friends, neither have put their money where their mouth is yet.

Real friends do not just talk but walk the talk. They will always be ready to help silently without blowing their trumpets. Real friends don’t threaten and don’t abandon their distressed friends in the midst of an open sea.

Vietnamese are typically silent. They play their cards close to their heart. But the gesture they did to help our 22 fishermen from being drowned after their boat was apparently rammed by a Chinese militia boat disguised as a fishing boat.

The Philippines and the Filipinos ought to thank our friends from the European Union. To me they are real friends, they never ask for anything, and they never showed any condescending attitude towards us.

Needless to say, EU has been silently building and reinforcing their bridge with the Filipino nation in its various programs. The EU has brought various arts and culture programs, symposia, business fora, and funding programs for education, technology and innovation, livelihood, and many more to our shores. These pose an opportunity we should all welcome and be grateful for.

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