28 July 2016
Keynote Address at the 47th National Marketing Conference, Grand Ballroom, Marriot Hotel, Newport City
I would like to congratulate the organizers of this event for bringing together members from the ASEAN community and other guest Asian countries.
These are exciting times for all of us.
Everyday, our global village is growing smaller and smaller thanks to technology and our connected societies.
Marketing plays a crucial role in creating these international ties. Multinational corporations are part of our daily life here in the Philippines, providing a whole range of products like toiletries, clothes, and packaged food. And as we enjoy these, our products reach different shores as well.
After the Philippine’s high growth rates in the last decade, our country has become an emerging market of choice for many big brands. And as the Philippines harvests the economic vitality from a demographic sweet spot, a time when more than half of its population will be in their most productive stage, our desirability as a growing market will intensify even more.
But let me encourage you to remember those who have been left behind by progress, even as you prepare for the more exciting times ahead.
I will do that by citing to you a particular incident that struck me just a year ago when I was still Representative of Camarines Sur, on my way to visit a tribal community in Mt. Isarog, which is part of my district.
En route, I saw a group of people huddled together on the road. Apparently, they were teachers and parents building a school for their children. It was a Thursday. The school year was to start the next Monday. And all they had were eight posts.
They were waiting for the principal who was buying more materials from the town. The principal had to withdraw P10,000 from her own savings because the person who pledged the donation has not yet given the money. The P10,000 seed money bought them some pieces of coco lumber, nails, some bags of cement and nipa shingles.
I had P12,000 in my wallet and decided to give them the P10,000 to add to their little fund. But that’s not what was important. I posted about that experience on Facebook, and in less than a week I was able to raise P300,000 for the school.
For that, they were they were able to build more classrooms—each one with a small comfort room, of course made of light materials.
Now you may wonder, how do the lives of people who live so far in Camarines Sur affect you in any way? They can’t afford many of your products, watch your nice commercials, or know much of your brands.
A study conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development showed that nations that address the needs of all its citizens grow faster and thrive better, while nations with severe inequality are stunted. Unfortunately, the income gap in the Philippines has consistently remained one of the highest in Southeast Asia. That means, economic growth has been accompanied by exclusion of those without economic opportunity.
It is my deepest belief that the progression of some does not necessarily lead to progression of all. We all need to remember the Filipinos who live in places similar to that little town near Mt. Isarog.
Now more than ever, there is a need for inclusive and sustainable growth. Inclusive growth is not just critical for those in the fringes of society that we have vowed to serve, but also for YOUR brands to grow sustainably.
Businesses and capital markets have been fuelling global growth for decades, creating wealth for nations. But while market-led economic growth transformed whole chunks of the global map, its unfortunate byproduct was the exclusion of swaths of population who did not gain equality of economic opportunity.
Faced with this trenchant problem, corporations around the world are reinventing capitalism and turning to disruption and innovation in the way they do business.
While traditional businessmen want to keep wealth circulating within a small closed group, a new crop of businessmen know that as more people break the cycle of poverty, more people can afford to buy their products or services. They know that when business is done as usual, the income gap widens. That’s why they are embracing business unusual.
How? Profit is now no longer the sole driver of growth. Shared value is. This way, growth does not have to slowly trickle down to the poor.
As the private sector redefines products and pricing models to turn the swaths of population that have been left out as their new target market, shared value is created. Growth and progress happen at the same time.
We need growth for all, not just for a select few.
Progress that benefits only the elite—even if the elite is you—is no progress at all.
Now remember that little group of parents and teachers, who were trying to scrape by and build a school for their children. Imagine how the world would be if every single one of us had the selflessness and sense of community that they did.
Imagine how the futures of those children, now studying in that school, have changed drastically because of their parents’ and teachers’ choice.
Let us strive towards that. Let us strive towards inclusivity.
Thank you for listening to me today.