, JULY 14, 2007 (STAR) By Antonieta Lopez – Inspired by the warm reception she received at the Go Negosyo Caravan at the University of St. La Salle here, President Arroyo broke her one-speech-per-day rule and addressed an audience of more than 5,000 entrepreneurs and students from Negros Occidental.

The President interrupted host and entrepreneurship advocate Paolo Bediones and spoke in fluent Ilonggo, a gesture that earned applause from the audience.

She congratulated the awardees whom she described as “icons and role models” of entrepreneurship and encouraged the youth to be entrepreneurs, saying that this sector will be the “next generation of successful entrepreneurs.”

Jose Concepcion III, presidential consultant for entrepreneurship, said the President aims to transform three million Filipinos into entrepreneurs before her term ends in 2010.

What the country needs is a mindset change and politics should be set aside to make way for an economic revolution, Concepcion stressed.

He added that the positive performance of the Philippine Stock Exchange and the foreign exchange market is no longer a dream but a reality. “We have to participate and not remain as watchers,” he added.

La Salle Brother Rolando Dizon, chairman of the Bacolod City Economic and Business Council, also stressed the need to inspire the youth who should begin to “think and act as bold entrepreneurs.”

Bacolod is the second leg of the Go Negosyo Caravan after a successful launch in Cebu City. A project of the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship, the caravan seeks to bring entrepreneurial forums and exhibitions to key cities outside Metro Manila.

Concepcion said that the conference is focused on giving the people of Bacolod hope despite the economic woes the country is currently experiencing and to provide Filipinos the opportunity to develop a positive mindset.

The caravan was highlighted by the awarding of Bacolod’s most inspiring entrepreneurs by Mrs. Arroyo, who was assisted by Secretary Cerge Remonde, Dizon, and Concepcion.

The awardees are Gov. Joseph Marañon for his tourism development efforts in Mambukal Resort, Roberto Montelibano for GH Foods Inc., Joaquin Torre for Riverside Medical Center, Dianna Lynn Agustin and Maria Corazon Bitong for Bayo, Jose Maria Cajili for Chicken House, Cecille del Castillo for Dungganon Bank and Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation, James Chua of Foodman, Josephine Locsin of Tumandok Crafts Industries, Benjamin Lopue Jr. of the Lopue’s Group of Companies and Olivia Yanson of the Yanson Group of Companies.

Awards were also given to the Most Inspiring Bacolod Business Support Organizations, namely, the Association of Negros Producers, Bacolod IT Focus Team, Negros Kabisig Livelihood Foundation Inc. and the University of St. La Salle Business Resource Center.

The Go Negosyo Caravan was also participated in by advocates Dr. Vicki Belo, Vivienne Tan, Jay Aldeguer, Myla Villanueva, Gaita Fores and Camarines Sur Gov. LRay Villafuerte, who shared their insights during the forum.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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