From April to May 2019, the American Spaces of the US Embassy in the Philippines is running Massive Open Online Courses (MMOC) on “The Iterative Innovation Process” offered by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology through EDX. The course is open to anyone who wants to understand and foster innovation in a formal and informal learning communities and organizations.

As part of the ecosystem connect initiative, the Philippine Trade and Investment Center worked with the US Embassy to support the MOOC Camp Virtual Meet-up on 25 April. Two Filipino-American entrepreneurs and innovators were invited as virtual speakers to share their respective innovation experiences. They are Aldo Carrascoso and Ojay Malonzo.

Aldo, a serial entrepreneur, is the Co-Founder and CEO of InterVenn Biosciences. InterVenn combines next generation glycomics (carbohydrates), instrumentation (LC/MS) and deep machine learning to augment cancer diagnosis, biomarker and target discovery for the development of more efficacious molecular diagnostics. Aldo also co-founded Verego (2006-2010), Junkin Media (2000-present), Coalescent Resources (2013-2015), and VEEM (2013-present).

Ojay, co-founded Figure8 Cloud Solutions, a leading Salesforce platinum consulting partner in North America, which was recently acquired by AllCloud, a global professional services organization specializing in cloud enablement – from cloud infrastructure to CRM and ERP cloud applications.

The MOOC Camp Virtual Meetup was livestreamed to all American Spaces platforms and partnerinstitutions via Facebook Live on 25 April 2019 from 9:00am (PH time). Participants, who are mostly students and young/budding entrepreneurs joined via online platform through the different fablabs located in different parts of the country. These include: Fablabs Ilocos, Fablabs Mindanao, Likha Fablab Cebu, Cebu Institute of Technology Makerspace, American Spaces in Bacolod, Cagayan de Oro, Manila (De La Salle University) and DOST-STII Makerspace. Click link to view the meetup discussion:
Each speaker talked about their experiences navigating the Silicon Valley ecosystem, how they started, what drives them to continue what they do, and the learnings and takeaways from these experiences:
On creating a team- In creating your team, it is important that you find like-minded individuals, people who share your passion, and fit the organizational culture

On funding– Questions to consider when looking for funding: (a) where is your team based?, (b) What has your team done; (c) Where is your addressable market? If you are working on a very specific problem solution for the Philippines, it is likely that SV funding may not worked out, unless the solution has wider addressable markets. Buy-in is also important so testing your product first is needed to prove there is market. For new entrepreneurs, you may also consider initially sourcing funds from your savings, families and friends.

On meet-ups and forum – Share information by organizing/participating in meetups and forum as these are valuable source of ideas, information, feedback and support among startups and new entrepreneurs.

On messaging and social media – Create messages that are clear and easily understandable as possible, particularly when pitching your products to investors, consumers or the general public they can relate to your products/services. Improve your ability to reach wider audience through the effective use of social media platforms.

On mergers and acquisitions –M&A can go both ways for a company. It really depends on where you want your company to be. M&A may be considered if (a) it can help the company retain people who are passionate about continuing the work, (b) it helps keep the market share, and (c) there is culture compatibility/synergies.

On handling failures and change – While receiving a ‘No” response for your idea or project is very disheartening, one should consider it as temporary – Not a definitive “NO” but just “NOT NOW”. When you receive a rejection, consider: (a) do not immediately react by stopping your project; (b) engage those who says “no” to you and ask why they rejected the idea/project; and (c) understand the “No”, capture and reflect on the learnings and use them to improve the idea/project or map out what is required; (d) preparation and practice is always key to any pitch or project presentation; and (e) be agile or responsive to change.

As final words to the participants, the speakers emphasized the following:

  1. Always begin with the WHY? Find your purpose and vision. Your anchor will always be your purpose.
  2. Do not start your journey thinking about getting rich. Take one step at a time. Persevere.
  3. There will always be roadblocks. Learn from experience.
  4. Remember the 3 Ps – Purpose, Passion and Problem

SF NewsFeed.US
by Jose Ricardo G. Bondoc

SAN FRANCISCO, CA -After more than five years, participants of the #FancyFoodShow at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, California are reporting the slow but steady rise of Filipino cuisine into the mainstream. According to their website, the Filipino Food Movement was founded to create broad awareness, appreciation, and enhanced investment in Filipino Culinary Arts. In just a few short years, we have gathered national attention in the press, millions of worldwide impressions on social media, and hundreds of passionate and talented individuals who believe Filipino Cuisine deserves its rightful place in the global menu.

We believe that the story of our culture, and indeed ourselves, is programmed into the DNA of each ingredient, no matter where it is grown; each dish, no matter how it has evolved; and each cook, no matter where he or she may come from. Through an inclusive & collaborative spirit, we aim to combat the challenges and negative stigmas facing our cuisine. We aim to shed light on the true value of Filipino Cuisine. We aim to build a better stage upon which to celebrate and elevate the Filipino Food experience. We aim to gather those that are working tirelessly to do the same. Together, we can influence the rising tide that will lift all vessels, with the hopes of leaving a trail of crumbs in our wake that will inspire, gather, and feed generations to come.

It is in our cuisine that we find our commonalities, rather than our differences. We identify as Filipino not only by birth but also by choice, and it is with our choice that we pledge ourselves to the promotion of our heritage through our culinary arts.

Among the many companies that attended the festival were Bethany Sales, Inc.; Century Pacific Food Inc.,; CJ Uniworld Corp.; Grand Asia Integrated Natural Coco Products Corporation; Innovative Packaging industry Corp.; Pasciolco Agri Ventures; Profood International Corporation; Islamic Da'Wah Council of the Philippines, Inc.; SL Agritech Corporation; Prime Fruits International, Inc.; Magicmelt Foods, Inc.; Auro Chocolate (Filipinas OroDe Cacao, Inc.), and San Miguel Food & Beverage, Inc.; Pearl Parmelee, Culinary Director for the Filipino Food Movement explained, "There is an understanding of the movement now. People understand and realize treat there is something special for them, whether it is something salty, sweet, savory, spicy or something different. Whether your taste in food is Spanish, Mexican, Chinese or Mexican, there is something that can appeal to you. People understand that now.

Parmelee also pointed to Chef Anthony Bourdain noting that, "He put us on the map. One thing he understood was the food and the complexity, and how each region was reflected differently in our dishes, whether in our noodles, which can be garlic, spicy, soup, or something else entirely. We're grateful to the grandfather of Filipino food..."

Gregory "Greg" H. Banzon, Century Pacific Food Inc.. noted, "If you look at the evolution of tastes, starting 50 years ago you had Chinese food, 30 years ago people started developing a taste for Japanese food, and in the past 20 years people have gotten into Korean and Thai food. Now is our moment. But this is a movement that requires all of us in the community. Companies like ours and people in the community are needed to get people to venture out with products like lumpia, pancit palabo, languish, and tocino sausages. We have taken it further.."

Pointing to their sale of lechon, Banzon also noted Bourdain, stating, "Anthony Bourdain went to Cebu highlighting lichen, which is roast pig. We are offering it in bite-sized offerings and through supermarkets and chains such as Costco. But as Hillary Clinton pointed out, this is a movement that takes a village. It will take the entire Filipino community to introduce our food, to get people to come out of their comfort zones, and to introduce Filipino food into the mainstream..."

Robert Raymond "Randy" S. Cruz, Century Pacific Food, Inc., said, "People are always looking for something new. We recently met with representatives in the form of chefs from Germany, who told us they have had sausages all their lives, but have never had anything before like langunisa or tocino. It is all about the evolution of flavors and Filipino cuisine is becoming more popular with consumers. During breakfast this morning we had people lining up to taste langunisa, tocino, and pork bellies. This is because Filipino food is unique and different and really good! The sausage remains of our most popular items. The seafood, with the lime/Chile contains calamansi, a Filipino lime, which gives it a unique taste and feel..."

Michael Joseph C. Bayani, Century Pacific North America Enterprise, Inc., said,"We have been heavily invested in events like this, which we feel are a way of showing younger generations brand legacy of Filipino foods. We do this in order to make sure the best quality products at the best affordable prices are provided to the Filipino-American community. This is the second or third generation of the Filipino community that we are introducing these tastes for. We want to familiarize people with products from the Philippines and how to but them while living in the United States..."

Sheryl C. De Leon, Century Pacific North America Enterprise, Inc., said, "For the Filipino community this is an important moment, since Filipino-American food is very popular now, and now we are targeting the mainstream market... With the second or third generation of Filipino community members shopping in Costco, WalMarts, Shaws, and Safeways, we are pushing to be visible and available to experience...."

Daisy Uy, ProFood International Corp., summed up the situation by saying, "For the past 5 years, Filipino cuisine has become more and more noticed around the world. For the past 4 decades, and we are now in 52 countries. People have become more advanced and more aware of the different, and we are excited."♦

31 January 2019, SAN FRANCISCO - The Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco presented the three-day Spark Philippines Trade and Travel Fest (Spark Philippines) on 16-18 January to showcase the best of Philippine cuisine and travel. The event was a joint project of the Consulate with the Philippine Trade and Investment Center and the Philippine Department of Tourism office in San Francisco under the Spark* Connect* Empower Movement.

Spark Philippines happened on the heels of the Winter Fancy Food Show (WFFS) in San Francisco and featured Philippine exhibitors/ exporters that participated in the biggest specialty food and beverage show in the West Coast. Among those which exhibited in Spark Philippines are as follows: Auro Chocolate, Bethany Sales Inc., Century Pacific Food Inc., CJ Uniworld Corp., Grand Asia Integrated Natural Coco Products Corp., Innovative Packaging Industry Corp., Pasciolco Agri Venture, Profood International Corp., Prime Fruits International Inc., San Miguel Food and Beverage, Inc., Magicmelt Foods, Inc., SL Agritech Corp., Islamic Da’Wah Council of the Philippines, Inc. Saladmaster, Xroads Philippine Seasalts, Kusinero Alliance, and Mama Sita.

Spark Philippines Day 1: Spotlight on Trade in Food
On 16 January, Spark Philippines’ first day was focused on trade in food. Consul General Henry S. Bensurto, Jr. welcomed Philippine exhibitors in the WFFS, guests and the general public to the event, which featured exhibit booths and Philippine products showcased in the WFFS. Exhibitors, such as Leni Dicarlo, exporter of Asin Tibuok or artisanal Philippine sea salt, and Auro Chocolate company owners were able to feature their products in Spark Philippines.

Mr. Clayton Stanger, head of the regional Office of Foreign Missions, and deputy head Mr. Matthew Davis, graced the opening of Spark Philippines. In his remarks, Mr. Stanger emphasized his appreciation for the Consulate’s leadership in promoting trade and tourism, through Spark Philippines Trade and Travel Fest. He highlighted interesting finds in the Fest, such as the artisanal Asin Tibuok and Auro Chocolates.

National Economic and Development Authority Secretary Ernesto Pernia also graced the event during his short travel to San Francisco.

Consul General Bensurto underscored the Consulate’s support for Philippine exporters, Filipino American chefs in the Bay Area, and the tourism sector.

Spark Philippines’ Day 1 featured live cooking demonstrations by talented Filipino American chefs, Yana Gilbuena (, who has featured kamayan-style pop-up meals in all of US’ 50 states, and Chef Danica Aviles of Pinoy Heritage ( ). The chefs are known for their pop-up meals that feature Filipino gastronomic traditions using the latest culinary techniques and fresh locally sourced ingredients. Chef Yana prepared salmon kinilaw and mushroom sisig while Chef Danica prepared crunchy champorado.

Spark Philippines’ Day 2: Focus on Philippine Tourism

Day 2 of Spark Philippines on 17 January featured a lunch reception for the Consular Corps and Consulate guests at the Kalayaan Hall of the Philippine Center. The reception featured Infanta Lambanog cocktails and Filipino fusion dishes (such as chips with laing dip, adobo sliders, crispy spinach, vegetarian lumpia, calamansi tarts, kapeng barako mousse, etc.) made by Filipino-American chefs/caterers. Entertainment was provided by the 25-year-old rondalla group Tradicion in cooperation with the University of the Philippines Alumni Association Berkeley chapter. The Consulate also took the opportunity to promote the Ambassadors Tour or VIP Tour in July 2019.

In his remarks, the Consul General underscored the Consulate’s Spark* Connect * Empower movement to spark pride and love of the Philippines and Filipino heritage, connect Filipino Americans with the larger Filipino diaspora, Filipinos back home and their host communities abroad, and empower them to harness their heritage and history and develop their full potentials. He expressed hope that Filipinos are in turn, empowered to give back to their host communities and their country of birth and uplift lives in the process. He highlighted the objective of Spark Philippines, which is to showcase Philippine gastronomy and travel.

Among the attendees were counterparts in the Consular Corps, Mr. David Canepa of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, and members of the League of San Francisco Consular Corps.
In the evening of Day 2, a dinner-meeting hosted by Pacific Air Leisure afforded the PDOT and travel consolidators an opportunity to update travel agents and select Filcom members on the latest trends in the airline industry and Philippine tourism and travel.

Spark Philippines’ Day 3: Pop-up Philippines!

Day 3 of Spark Philippines on 18 January featured grab-and-go lunch vendor Manila Bowl ( ), which offered popular Filipino dishes to Consulate’s clients, such as chicken sisig, adobo, kare-kare (vegetarian), chicharon, etc.

The pop-up dinner on even date featured a kamayan dinner by Chef Yana Gilbuena. Some 70 guests, including Filipino Americans and foreigners shared a sumptuous Filipino menu, inspired by the chef’s Ilonggo roots. They ate with their bare hands on a long table of banana leaves. Consul General Bensurto opened the dinner with short remarks reaffirming the Consulate’s support for Filipino culinary talents.♦


Consul General to San Francisco Henry S. Bensurto, Jr. (left) delivers a presentation showcases the Philippines as an investment destination at the Annual Meeting of the 20-20 Investment Association on 30 April 2019 at the Four Seasons Hotel in San Francisco. Photo also shows Consul General of Thailand to Los Angeles, Mungkorn Pratoomkaew (center), and Director of the Thailand Board of Investments Los Angeles Office Sudakorn Devakula Na Ayudha (right). (San Francisco PCG photo)

SAN FRANCISCO — Consul General to San Francisco Henry S. Bensurto, Jr. delivered a presentation showcasing the Philippines as an investment destination at the Annual Meeting of the 20-20 Investment Association on April 30, 2019 at the Four Seasons Hotel in San Francisco.

Consul General Bensurto shared that the Philippines presents a unique investment opportunity not just through its domestic market of 106 million, it also serves as a gateway to the ASEAN region and the expanded free trade region of the ASEAN+6 (Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea, New Zealand. In view of its geographical location in the Western Pacific, the Philippines is only two to four hours away from the major cities of the region.

He also said that with its solid macroeconomic fundamentals, the Philippines remains as a bright spot in Asia. The country’s economy has registered growth over the past 20 consecutive years, with above average growth particularly since 2012.

As an investment destination, the Philippines has a large potential for growth. Net foreign direct investments have been significantly rising over the past decade. In 2018, the Philippines received 9.8 billion dollars of foreign direct investments (FDI), which were invested primarily in manufacturing, financial and insurance activities, real estate, electricity, gas, steam, and arts, entertainment, and recreational activities. The world’s global investment rating agencies: Moody’s Standard & Poor’s, Fitch and Tokyo-based Japan Credit Rating Agency, have classified the Philippines as ‘investment-grade’ with a ‘Stable’ economic outlook,” Consul General Bersurto highlighted.

Infrastructure remains a priority sector with government spending targeted to increase from 5.3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2017 to 7.4 percent of GDP by 2022. A total of 75 infrastructure projects under the “Build, Build, Build” program of the government are in the pipeline. Infrastructure spending is expected to increase to US$ 160 billion to fund these projects.

Finally, Consul General Bensurto shared that the Philippines is positioning itself as an avenue for growth for start-ups. There is already a nascent yet fast growing start-up ecosystem, as evidenced by the growing number of start-ups emerging from the country. In the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley, Filipinos can be found working in Google, Facebook, Salesforce, Apple, Netflix, among others in a wide range of fields, including computer programming, engineering, marketing, customer service, and human resources.

The 20-20 Investment Association is a non-profit association headquartered in Tacoma, Washington, of top-level international firms focused on evaluating investment opportunities in emerging markets. Its members represent companies that are worth nearly US$10 trillion in assets.

Since 1992, the 20-20 Investment Association has been undertaking annual trips to selected countries that the group has evaluated to be possible investment opportunities. For 2019, the 20-20 Investment Association has selected the Philippines and Thailand as destinations for their annual trip. This is the first time that its members shall undertake a visit to the Philippines.

In preparation for the trip, the 20-20 Investment Association hosted a panel discussion that featured Consul General Bensurto and the Consul General of Thailand to Los Angeles Mungkorn Pratoomkaew, to provide an overview of the economic and investment climates in the two countries.

Members of the 20-20 Investment Association are tentatively scheduled to undertake their annual investment trip to the Philippines in November 2019.♦


by May Nina Celynne Layug
Trade Commissioner, Philippine Trade and Investment Center San Francisco | 14 November 2018

Silicon Valley has been a beacon that continue to inspire startup ecosystems and entrepreneurs. One of its unique characteristic is its innovative and collaborative culture that transcends the nature and size of a company. This is the main theme of ENGAGE 2018 Silicon Valley Immersion Program organized by Startup Village and Techshake.

Part of the ENGAGE program is the fireside chat on “Fostering Innovative and Collaborative Culture in Companies and Organizations”organized by the Philippine Trade and Investment Center – Silicon Valley in partnership with the Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco, SPARK447, and the Science and Technology Advisory Council (STAC-SV). About 60 representatives from the Filipino-American startup community, technology professionals, community leaders attended the event.

The seventeen (17) – member Engage delegation with representatives from multinational companies and startups benefited from the insights shared by Mark Goldenson, Founder of Breakthrough, the Bazaar, and Woosh; Mr. Andrew Lee, Co-Founder of Stanford’s StartXMed and Managing Director of StartX-QB3 Labs; and Michael Ynion, SVP of HSBC bank USA Global Relationship/Corporate Banking.

How does a startup and a corporation adopt corporate innovation? what about management’s role on innovation and culture? How do you strike a balance between creativity and control? These were some of the topics explored by the panelists, sharing various perspectives from that of a multinational company and that of a startup. While there are differences on approach given that startups could exercise more flexibility and a larger company would have to conform with established guidelines and rules, TALENT has been identified as an indispensable tenet for a company culture that thrives on innovation. From a management standpoint, talent will not thrive without establishing rapport and establishing trust. From a systems standpoint, discipline needs to be enforced.

We also have something to learn from the “network effect” – a phenomenon that characterizes the success of Silicon Valley as an ecosystem. Silicon Valley is an ecosystem that early on has identified and focused on its unique advantage, which attracted like-minded groups to share knowledge and encourage each other.

The goal is not to mimic Silicon Valley, but to stay true to our unique advantages and opportunities in new industries. It is therefore, very timely that DTI participated in the Startup Genome Project using data-driven analytics to identify our startup ecosystem’s core strengths – FINTECH, Enterprise Solutions, and AI. AgTech is also a key sector that could benefit from the network effect model.

PTIC-SV and the Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco aims to contribute to this endeavor. Through the Philippine Startup Meetup series and SPARK447, we aim to connect and build networks among those in the industry in San Francisco and the Philippines, and in the process, identify opportunities that can mutually benefit the US and the Philippines.

As highlighted by Consul General Henry Bensurto “Today is an opportune time to make ourselves known and recognized in the industry. Silicon Valley is now looking East, with more and more Asians and Asian-Americans becoming titans and industry leaders of business and innovation. With the movie Crazy Rich Asians highlighting to mainstream society just how far Asians have come, Let’s also show the world that Filipinos can be leaders and innovators, capable of being in the forefront of the world startup-industry”

The event is the 4th in a series of “StartUp MeetUp” events. To date, the platform has provided a venue for QBO, Philippine Startup World Cup finalists, “Made a Difference” Travel for social tourism and entrepreneurship, and Startup Village, and Techshake, to engage the Filipino Americans and other partners in the Silicon Valley startup ecosystem. We invite other Philippine ecosystem players to reach out to PTIC-SV as we work towards the Philippines’ “network effect”.♦


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