, MAY 1, 2007 (STAR) BULL MARKET, BULL SHEET By Wilson Lee Flores - How can we better improve the brand name "Philippines" to encourage the influx of more foreign investors and tourists to our archipelago vis-à-vis our regional rivals Malaysia, Thailand or Vietnam?

The brand names "Singapore" and "Hong Kong" connote business efficiency, sublime foods and global cosmopolitan lifestyles in an overseas Chinese cultural milieu. "Thailand" is associated with vibrant tourism. "France" enchants us with exquisite cuisine, wines, fashion, leisure and art. "Italy" evokes historical Roman grandeur, luxury cars, high fashion, art and delightful foods. "Switzerland" is almost undisputed for its high-quality watches, the most delectable chocolates and the most trustworthy banks.

Shang Hao Jia & Jen Jen As Philippine Superbrands

During Holy Week and the days afterward, while studying at Peking University in Beijing, then touring Shanghai, Tianjin and other cities in the coastal provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang, I would usually explain where I was from by telling people that the famous Shanghai-based snack food brand "Shang Hao Jia" in Mandarin, "Siong Ho Chia" in Hokkien or "Oishi" in Japanese is owned by Philippine-born tycoon, Ambassador Carlos Chan of Liwayway Marketing. Oishi has become a truly global brand we can be proud of.

Whenever I want to overcome the peace-and-order apprehensions of top tycoons or government leaders as I invite them to be investors and tourists in the Philippines, I tell them that thanks to Ambassador Chan’s urging, realty billionaire Shi Rong Mao of Shimao Group has already visited the Philippines three times this year — from Boracay and Palawan to an obscure but beautiful beach in Samar.

I also tell China’s elite that unknown to most people, reliable sources informed me that the late legendary leader Deng Xiaoping’s Chongqing-based realty businesswoman daughter spent the Chinese Lunar New Year holidays in the Philippines this year, with her family in Panglao beach, Bohol. This April, the mayors of top Chinese cities Guilin and Wuhu also came to the Philippines quietly as tourists.

Another example I cite to convince China’s super-rich business elite and also the Communist Mandarins of politics that the Philippines is a good place is by mentioning the Bench Body brand of Ben Chan. On my last Shanghai visit in January, he had 38 branches all over China. By April, he will have 50 outlets nationwide with a famed Taiwanese pop star as celebrity endorser.

Top 10 Global Superbrands

The world’s most prestigious global brands, from luxury fashion, watches, liquor, banks and hotels to dazzling cars are rushing to open their biggest showrooms here in Shanghai, this reawakening "Paris and New York of the Orient," which is predicted to surpass Singapore, Hong Kong and Rotterdam next year as the world’s biggest port city, and which is creating a whole new multi-billion-dollar urban center just to host the World Expo 2010.

The big news in Shanghai’s local newspapers was the Financial Times report that their homegrown China Mobile has surpassed household names Marlboro and Wal-Mart in the global ranking of top brands. It is now the world’s biggest wireless operator with 316 million subscribers — bigger than the entire US population. Chinese celebrities like Shanghai’s basketball star Yao Ming also endorse this brand.

Here are the top global brands and their market value in billions of US dollars:

1. Google  $66.43 billion  USA
2. GE (General Electric) $61.88 billion USA
3. Microsoft Corporation $ 54.95 billion USA
4. Coca-Cola $44.13 billion USA
5. China Mobile $41.21 billion China
6. Marlboro $39.17 billion USA
7. Wal-Mart $36.88 billion USA
8. Citi $33.71 billion USA
9. IBM $33.57 billion USA
10. Toyota $33.43 billion Japan

This ranking was compiled by market researcher Millward Brown and published by Europe’s Financial Times based on each brand’s earnings, its contribution to their company’s business success and the brand’s future prospects. The rankings were based on publicly available financial data along with primary research, including interviews with a million consumers worldwide, Millward Brown said.

Every time I’m overseas, whether in Asia or the West, I realize it’s amazing how so many foreigners are clueless that the Abu Sayyaf hoodlums are so far away — out in the boondocks of southern Mindanao — and that the past scourge of kidnap-for-ransom crimes seems to have lessened in recent years. We should crush terrorists and criminals with the iron fist of uncompromising law enforcement!

We should also do away with extra-constitutional coups or People Power revolts. We need to uphold government contracts with foreign investor groups, a major cause of concern for the international community.

Instead of wasting our rich natural and human resources in excessively corrupt politics and other selfish, self-destructive inanities, I propose that we have a national consensus and long-range planning on how we wish to project the brand "Philippines." Good brands translate to infinite megabucks business, which benefits us all.

Instead of our many abominable politicos causing more people to vote with their feet by going overseas for jobs at the rate of 3,000 per day, why not create a better future and more hope here? Why don’t we promote the Philippines brand as world-class tourism better than that of Thailand and Vietnam; call centers and business process outsourcing host better than our rival English-speaking India; as well as a fashion, leisure, medical care, arts, shopping, information technology and entertainment center of Asean?

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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