May 27, 2006 (STAR) "I always ask myself, if I do this, will I be happy? Otherwise, it won’t be worth it."

A simple advice from an extraordinary individual. Driven by such a basic and practical belief, it is exactly this kind of sensible attitude that leads to numerous global accolades, recognition from peers and the respect and adoration of his countrymen.

Tony Tan Caktiong has definitely gone a long way. From his humble beginnings running a mom-and-pop business back in the early days to being bestowed the prestigious World Entrepreneur of the Year award in Monte Carlo, Monaco in 2004. But more than anything, it is what Tony Tan Caktiong represents that is inspiring. Heading a corporate giant Jollibee Foods Corp., Tan Caktiong is a living testimony that Filipinos, with hard work and perseverance, can achieve greatness and succeed in whatever endeavor they pursue.

Since winning the World Entrepreneur of the Year award, more and more groups have started to recognize Tan Caktiong’s excellence and as a result, he was invited to speak at the recently concluded BussinessWeek’s 9th Annual CEO Forum. The forum held in Beijing, China last Nov. 15 invited CEOs from all over the world to participate in a panel discussion entitled "Transcending Boundaries: Shaping Corporate Culture, Leveraging Diversity."

Other notable awards include Agora Award for Outstanding Marketing Achievement, AIM Triple A Alumni Award, Golden Scroll, Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) Award for Entrepreneurship, Star of Asia Award from BusinessWeek International, Lifetime Achievement Award from the Hong Kong-based Asian Chain Restaurant Operators and Suppliers Series, Forbes "Best Under a Billion" award for his efforts with Jollibee, and 2002’s Management Man of the Year Award by the Management Association of the Philippines for being the epitome of Philippine managerial excellence. Being interviewed by TIME Magazine, CNBC Asia and CNN has certainly helped strengthen the already impressive reputation of Tony Tan Caktiong. So what is his secret to success? EOY Philippines’ program coordinator Rodolfo O. Reyes believes that "Jollibee has adjusted to the taste of the Filipinos and constantly met their demands. Also impressive is how Jollibee has outdone international names." And this is why Tan Caktiong was chosen among 18 of the Philippines’ finest entrepreneurs whose success has inspired others and whose vision has created "new hopes" and "new possibilities" for their respective industries and for the country as a whole.

Ernst & Young chairman James S. Turley of the Entrepreneur Of the Year program says that "these awards are about celebrating global entrepreneurship and the desire to continually innovate and expand. Tony’s story is a truly inspirational one, on both these counts."

But for Tony Tan Caktiong, there is no complex formula. He explains, "The bee hops around, very busy, producing honey. This represents life’s sweet things. Because even if you’re busy, you have to be very happy. You have to be jolly. Because if you’re not happy, being busy is not worth it."

In a competitive global arena where various cultures, structures tastes and beliefs have to be considered, what remains universal are ideals of honest work ethics, the desire to keep getting better and truly enjoying what you do. If just for these traits, then Tony Tan Caktiong of Jollibee is indeed a global personality that all Filipinos should be proud of and aspire to be for his the ability to inspire and enrich the lives of the people around him.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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