At the Innovation Pavilion during the Pistahan Festival on 10 August 2019, TR Celynne Layug spoke about the startup and entrepreneurship ecosystem in the Philippines and other developments in the country.

The Pistahan Parade and Festival held from 10-11 August 2019, is the largest celebration of Filipino-Americans in the West Coast, attracting over 80,000 crowds over the two-day weekend. An Innovation Pavilion is one of the main feature of the Festival where Filams in the tech community come together to network and learn about developments in the startup community in the Philippines as well as connect with their Filipino community in the Bay Area. Chris Peralta, founder of Manila Valley, spearheaded the program in the Pavilion.

On 10 August, TR Celynne Layug spoke about the thriving entrepreneurship and startup ecosystem in the Philippines and its growth potential in light of the approval of the Innovative Startup Bill. The Philippine government is constantly working to improve the ease of doing business in the country. The implementation of the “Build, Build, Build” Program has resulted in infrastructure boom meant to transform the Philippine economy by bringing investments, providing more jobs and raising incomes, creating efficiencies and improving productivity, as well as boosting the country’s resilience against the impact of climate change. A video presentation followed TR Celynne’s talk to showcase developments in the country.♦

Date of Release: 3 September 2019

(L-R) Consul Vanessa Bago-Llona; DTI-SF Director Soleil Tropicales; DTI TR Celynne Layug; Ms. Tessa Nepomuceno, Calli; Ms. Gina Nebrida-Ty, Agsam Fashion Fern; Consul General Henry S. Bensurto, Jr., Ms. Sienna Tagle, Ken Samudio; Ms. Christine Virtucio, Virtucio; Maco Custodio, Marco Custodio; Ms. Jhasy Osias CITEM; Mrs. Mariz Bensurto; Consul Jed Llona; and Mr. Mark Samudio, Ken Samudio.

Fresh from their successful participation at Project Women’s Las Vegas held on 12-14 August 2019, the Philippine Center welcomes six Filipino fashion brands to showcase Filipino ingenuity and purpose-oriented brands using colorful and diverse materials. Project Women is one of the 12 shows included in the Men’s Apparel Guild in California (MAGIC) Trade Fair, which is considered to be the most comprehensive fashion marketplace in the US.

The Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco (PCGSF) and the Philippine Trade and Investment Center-Silicon Valley (PTIC-SV) hosted the FashionPhilippines’ First Artisan Village Pop UP Exhibit on 16 August 2019 at the Kalayaan Hall. The six fashion brands are: Agsam Fashion Fern –creates intricate fashion accessories from wild fern plant agsam; Marco Custodio (Lalapatos) and Virtucio – makes something new out of discarded foil packs and plastics - to finely crafted footwear, handbags, and fashion accessories; Calli – produces bags carved masterfully by local carvers and artisans from wood, paired with other accents such as hand-woven rattan; Ken Samudio – makes accessories showing artisans’ capacity for executing intricate design using a variety of materials such as cotton threads, natural fibers and upcycled beads from glass and plastic; and Vesti - works with indigenous tribes from Mindanao, taking inspirations from their weaving heritage and combines their weaves with modern silhouettes to make one-of-a-kind bags that can be used in any occasion.

By showcasing world class Filipino products and telling their stories through the Artisans Village Pop Up platform, the PCGSF and PTICSV are proud to spark interest in our best emerging fashion brands, connect them to our Filipino-American community and private businesses, and contribute in empowering local indigenous communities and small businesses.♦

Date of Release: 4 September 2019

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."♦

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

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.♦


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