THE VIEW FROM RIZAL
By DR. JUN YNARES
“It has been two and half months since the economy has ground to a halt; do you think the entrepreneur sector is ready to move on?”
I got a text message from an online business publication last week. That was the question they asked me. The publication wanted to find out how small businesses are doing in the face of the economic slowdown triggered by the community quarantine systems the government adopted in response to the pandemic. Rizal province and Antipolo have a fairly large entrepreneur community and their readers felt that our view on the subject would be helpful.
“Our entrepreneurs have done more than just move on, they are moving forward,” I answered.
For a moment, I thought I would be accused of doing a play of words. After all, one may not immediately note the world of difference between the words “on” and “forward” that follows “move”.
I have learned to make that distinction after facing some major setback in life. Our readers would recall that my wife Andeng and I had to deal with the tragedy of a still-born daughter. My entire family had to face the crippling fear fueled by a sinister plot to have my father and me assassinated by several hired gunmen.
Experiences like that would us deeply and leave scars in our emotions that occasionally bleed. Parents never really fully recover from the loss of a child. Targets of assassination plots never fully recover from the seething anger that comes with knowing that the masterminds are still on the loose.
Yet, we know that we can never be stuck in that spot where we were seriously wounded.
We know we have to move out of that spot. The next decision is, shall we just move on or shall we move forward?
Let’s clarify the difference.
“Moving on,” as defined by various dictionaries, means “to leave a place and go somewhere else”. One dictionary particularly links the act of “moving on” to a “painful experience.”
“Moving forward,” on the other hand, means “to advance in position or progress.”
Between these two, I prefer to “move forward”. “Forward” requires having a direction and a goal. It requires that one must have a clear idea and a plan before embarking on a journey towards a destination.
That’s what the entrepreneurial sector is doing now: not just moving on; its moving forward.
Micro and Small businesses are an important part of the backbone of any economy. Entrepreneurs are the embodiment of creativity and persistence. They operate on small capital. The relatively small size of their capital is compensated by the huge size of their faith in their product or service, in their capabilities and in their dreams.
Before Rizal province became home to many medium and big enterprises, it was a haven for small businesses. Among these durable small enterprises are the producers and sellers of Antipolo’s famous delicacies, the makers of Taytay’s dresses and apparels, the fisherfolk and vendors of Rizal’s lakeshore towns, and many other others.
Micro and Small enterprises were among the first to feel the adverse effects of the quarantine system.
Severe restrictions on mobility prevented them from accessing raw materials and from reaching their customers and clients. Some of them have shared with me that the initial blows made them feel that the lockdown spelled the end of the small enterprise which they have nurtured and which have provided for their families over the years.
Most of them have chosen to move forward.
They were among the first to embrace the New Normal and to adapt to the sudden change in the way commerce is done. If there is one thing that is so alive today despite the lockdown, it is the vibrant micro and small business sector. The crisis proved they are more than just creative and persistent – they are also quick to migrate their business and to innovate.
One great example was the story of the Rizaleño Jojo Paraiso who we mentioned in this column a few Sundays ago. We said that prior to the lockdown, Jojo’s videography and photography business was one of the busiest in the corporate and special events sector. His services were so much in demand that he had looked forward to a fully-booked schedule for 2020.
Then, the lockdown came. Trainings and workshops were canceled, weddings and celebrations were postponed, special events were shelved. Jojo Paraiso’s once-thriving business suddenly ground to a halt. So did his revenue and the regular income that his family had learned to rely on.
Jojo had originally planned to wait it out until the lockdown is lifted and things returned to normal. He later on found out that the “return to normal” was not coming soon.
He had a choice to languish in the difficulty of his livelihood situation or to move forward. He chose to do the latter. He migrated to the cooked food and condiment business, initially taking orders from neighbors though social media. Jojo, then, leveled up his food order enterprise with a food cart.
The latest we heard we heard about him is that his micro business has been so successful that his friends are now encouraging him to consider franchising it. He is into his second food cart. Meanwhile, Jojo and his family have expanded their delivery business to include grocery and other food items ordered online by the community of loyal customers they have recently developed.
This is “moving forward”. This is the typical Rizaleño spirit evident in the ingenuity of micro and small businesses. This is the hallmark of the Filipino entrepreneur. This “move forward” spirit is the guarantee that we will continue to aspire for higher goals even under the New Normal.
*For feedback, please email it to [email protected] or send it to #4 Horse Shoe Drive, Beverly Hills Subdivision, Bgy. Beverly Hills, Antipolo City, Rizal.