BEYOND SIGHT: THEPHILBIZNEWS Embassy Night celebrates diplomatic unity and media impact

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By Monsi A. Serrano

Editor’s Note: Here is the full speech and also the ceremonial toast speech delivered by the author in THEPHILBIZNEWS Embassy Night, held yesterday, April 4, 2024, at Hotel Okura Manila

Your Excellencies,

Ambassador Peter Kell of New Zealand 
Ambassador Luc Verón of the European Union
Ambassador Ilan Fluss and Madame Gila of Israel
Ambassador Agus Widjojo of Indonesia
Ambassador Tull Traisorat of the Royal Kingdom of Thailand
Ambassador Marielle Geraedts the Kingdom of Netherlands
Ambassador Dr. Johann Brieger and Madame Roshiwita of Austria  
Ambassador Niyazi Evren Akyol and Madame Indri of Türkiye
Ambassador Dato’ Abdul Malik Melvin Castelino of Malaysia
Ambassador Constance See Sin Yuan of Singapore
Ambassador Dr. Nicolas Brühl of Switzerland
Ambassador Karel Hejč of Czech Republic
Ambassador Lai Thai Binh of Vietnam
Ambassador Wallace Minn-Gan Chow of Taiwan
Honorable Jesus “Gary” Domingo, Department of Foreign Affairs, Undersecretary for Civilian Security and Consular Affairs (OUCSCA). 

Representatives from Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Peru, Poland, Qatar, Romania, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.

To the executives of Hotel Okura Manila led by Mr. Jan Marshall, General Manager, Ms. Addie Capindig, Director of Sales and Marketing, Mr. Danner Barobasa Director of the Food and Beverage, Mr. Aaron Paguia of the Communications Team, to the captains of the industries in the Philippines, media colleagues, dear friends, ladies and gentlemen — good evening. 

Welcome to the Third Embassy Night of The Philippine Business and News, a night to unwind with friends and allies in today’s exciting world of diplomacy. This is probably the biggest diplomatic and business sector gathering you’ve graced in the Philippines that is neither presidential nor official.

And we at THEPHILBIZNEWS are truly humbled, honored and elated by your presence. Attending our Embassy Night is a testament to how much you trust us and we will continue to aspire to be deserving of this trust, honor and responsibility.

More than a decade and a half ago, in 2008, three coffee buddies held a weekly media forum called The Philippine Business and News Forum. Those three friends are myself, Monsi Alfonso Serrano – who, for being an educator, entrepreneur, business analyst and consultant, have often been invited to talk about the Philippine economy and political landscape in public affairs programs on TV and radio; Nate C. Barretto, my best man in my wedding, then desk editor of the Manila Bulletin and news producer at GMA Network and now with BusinessWorld; and Emil Carrion, then news anchor and host of National Broadcasting Network TV4.

That was the de facto birth of THEPHILBIZNEWS. The Facebook Page I created initially had 100 followers. Our news portal, with the kilometric domain name of The Philippine Business and News Forum dot com, came some time later.

This year, as we turn 16 years old, we have over 72 thousand followers and an official name no less patriotic and slightly shorter, The Philippine Business and News.

THEPHILBIZNEWS sheds light on local and international business and socio-economic issues that impact the everyday lives of Filipinos. Leveraging on the various digital platforms, we reach a broad online audience with our unique brand of journalism and our advocacy for good business.

Our team takes pride in delivering stories that educate people towards progress. Our motto, “Business is Our Forte,” mirrors the variety of our content portfolio —from international diplomacy, food, travel, culture; to wellness, environment, mining, technology; motoring to energy, education, entrepreneurship, and philosophies about money.

Our mission is to be the Filipino’s preferred source of factual information wherever they are in the world; the compass for entrepreneurs and industry decision-makers; the promoter of investments and new quality brands in the Philippine market — all for the betterment of our society.

Over the years, THEPHILBIZNEWS has grown a formidable following among overseas Filipinos. We have also established ourselves as a dependable business media partner of foreign embassies and foreign chambers in the Philippines.

But as we all know, it is the process of becoming — not of beginning — that is most challenging. Put-downs and rejections have been part of the obstacles. But these same put-downs and rejections have also set our direction. The 16-year rollercoaster ride of THEPHILBIZNEWS has been instructive — certainly not impractical, not idiotic, and indeed not a waste of the prime of my life, as some have called it.

Because while I may have lost a six-digit income as a Corporate man and consultant for a few local and foreign firms, I have gained life-long lessons on grit and grace. I have also won quite significant battles.

Recently, the court dismissed with finality the cyber-libel case filed against me by a former high-ranking government official over the so-called Dolomite Beach. In the face of harassments and threats, I have learned who my friends are. At the height of the case, some ambassadors — from Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, and The Netherlands — reached out and offered help. 

Special mention goes out to Ambassador Marielle and Atty. Jaymie Reyes of The Netherlands, who are here right now. Just a few days after a meeting at the Dutch Embassy with my best friend, Roy Mabasa, someone from The Netherlands reached out to me and offered financial and legal help. Even though I did not take them up on their offer, I am forever grateful — for the morale boost that it gave me.

I would also like to thank His Majesty’s Ambassador Laure Beaufils from the British Embassy for her relentless support and effort to the media through various fora. The British Embassy is the only embassy in the Philippines that holds Media Reception for journalists, advocates and government officials to celebrate World Press Freedom Day in the country and at the same time for other stakeholders to understand the vital role of the journalists and media companies to find the truth, know the truth and deliver the truth to the public.

By the way, my best friend Roy Mabasa is the brother of slain radio commentator, Percy Lapid. Many of you here have also extended the weight of your office and influence to assist in seeking the truth in that case. Roy, who is also here, is truly grateful on behalf of their family. 

Philippine journalism and democracy rejoice over your support.

Let me also thank my lead counsel Attorney and Professor Danny Balucos, who is here right now all the way from Davao. Together with Attorney Luke Espiritu, Attorney Balucos helped me secure the win in this cyber-libel case.

I am fortunate that we share the same values and beliefs in fiercely defending our rights as journalists against the harassment of sometimes overbearing or even despotic government officials who, for all their faults, cannot take criticism.

This is the challenge for us in media, since we are built to not just watch and be silent. Today, we share with you this stage to speak out with the aim of churning out the truth and fostering understanding.

Our team’s investment into this endeavor pays off not in financial gain but in beatific fulfillment and meaning — which Saint Thomas Aquinas referred to as the unitive way.

Moving forward, let me share with you the business education events we at THEPHILBIZNEWS have in the pipeline for 2024.

Perk-Up Your Business 

Tech It or Leave It

Flight Night

MOVE Philippines: Synch or Sink

Entrepreneurs Night

Money Matters 

Think Green, Not Greed

To Biz or Not to Biz

For those interested to collaborate with us, my colleague Marinel Peroy, who is our Diplomatic and Lifestyle Writer and concurrently Lead for Events and Media Partnership, will always be happy to work with you.

Apart from this, we are also happy to announce that we now have the subsection “THEPHILBIZNEWS, The Diplomats and The Captains of the Industries in the Philippines,” which we have registered under the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines, upon the advice of my good friend Atty. Rowel Barba, Director General of IPOPHL.

In this subsection, we will feature diplomats in the Philippines, business leaders from both local and international firms, and investor-enablers from different foreign chambers in the country.

Once again, our heartfelt gratitude to Your Excellencies, the diplomats and the captains of the industries in the Philippines, distinguished guests, esteemed media colleagues, and friends — for joining us tonight and celebrating another opportunity for collaboration. 

To Hotel Okura Manila, we thank you so much for this wonderful partnership. It’s a Tadaima (I am home) for all your guests here.

Thank you so much everyone for making this a lovely evening to remember.

Mabuhay!

Ceremonial Toast Speech:

To our beloved Ambassadors and Diplomats in the Philippines, may the Philippines feel like home; and may the opportunities for cooperation between our nation and yours bear fruit;

To the Foreign Chambers, may you find ease in doing business in the Philippines;

to our local business leaders and entrepreneurs may you remain steadfast towards success as the backbone of our growing economy;

to our esteemed guests, may we all be gracious and accepting of the uniqueness of each of our cultures and peoples here present;

and to our wonderful host, Hotel Okura Manila and its splendid Executive and Management Team… may this hall be blessed a thousand-fold. Hontōni kansha shite imasu, arigatōgozaimasu!

Cheers! Mabuhay! And GOD bless us all!



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