I think we will leave this world in better hands. I was so amazed that we have new people in government who are young and innovative, outspoken and smart. I heard three of them in succession speak at a plenary session at OCEAN14—Open Collaboration with East Asia New Champions.
One is Commissioner Eliza “Eli” Antonino, just in her early thirties, speaking about Social Security Commissions’ improvements in technology. This was an answer to Mastercard’s representative who said that the Philippines is underdeveloped because 70 percent of its people are “unbanked” and not connected to the formal financial system.
The use of technology for payments, payroll and other transactions is shared by acting Chief of Staff Peter Paul Galvez, spokesperson of the Deptartment of National Defense. And the third is Claire of the Department of Budget and Management who spoke about how government transactions and releases will now all be done electronically, in the spirit of transparency and efficiency. It’s like knowing how much cash you have in the bank at any one time, thus preventing agencies from not declaring excess cash and other inefficient practices.
I was also seated next to Atty. Lesley Cordero, undersecretary in the office of the presidential assistant for rehabilitation and recovery (PARR). We discussed rehab efforts in Cebu, Leyte , Samar and Eastern Samar. She is also young and I was almost star struck knowing I am in the midst of young game changers.
Am I getting old or are these government technocrats just getting younger? Claire, I heard, is all of 25 years of age. But the hope of this country is really in the youth and in youth who can make a big difference. These civil servants are on the right track.
In the private sector I met two interesting gentlemen. One is Gerard Khonghun, a salt farmer and supplier who shared with me that our country imports 80 percent of our salt requirements. What?! This sounds like our situation in coffee. And indeed, he wishes to replicate the Philippine Coffee Board’s initiatives to make us self-reliant not just in coffee, but in salt as well. Gerard is from Bolinao, Pangasinan (Pang-asin-nan, now you know where the name comes from) and we pledged to talk about saving salt farms in the country. A visionary, indeed.
The other innovator I met is Samuel “Chips” Guevara who is in the business of using used cooking oil as fuel for diesel cars and delivery vehicles, most specially. Chips is glad to share that a popular hotel chain already uses their used oil to power their vehicles! But, alas, no one wants to talk about his business. Why is that? Because there is another market for used oil. Even if it is full of harmful chemicals (acrylamide for one which is cancer-causing), used oil gets into the hands of unscrupulous traders who resell them and these dangerous products get into our food system. I think his business is one we should promote specifically for health reasons. How do we know where our cooking oil is coming from? How do we know our vendors use first quality unused oil? Hmmm . . .
Another young man I happened to share the hotel car with is Earl Valencia, President of Idea Space Foundation, a venture capital firm looking for social enterprises under the First Pacific Group. Earl was a panelist in the group I caught in the morning—with Jay Aldeguer of the Islands Group and a few other young speakers on the topic Inclusive Entrepreneurship.
Earl and I spoke about their hospitals and how much healthy food they are serving to (obviously) patients—people who need the best nutrition. I hope he pursues our conversation of piloting a food supply hub in one of their hospitals—for their nutritionists to promote healthy non-GMO food like organic rice, organic vegetables and even the staples like sugar and coffee.
There was no one not deserving attention in this forum. Each person had a goal, had a mission to make it a thinking weekend—for new ideas to solve the problems of the country and of the world. To face challenges head on, using new technology and using a new mindset.
Congratulations to the organizers of OCEAN14. I know that we have just started unearthing the treasures in the youth of the country and of the world.