Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Kickstarter Crowdfunding for Filipinos

Craft Kombucha of Mount Pleasant, Washington, DC successfully reached over 100% of its Kickstarter fundraising goal. Thanks to about 300 backers, the company achieved it in less than a month.

Successfully raising money solves a major problem of most start-up businesses. While Craft Kombucha used Kickstarter’s reward system method to raise capital, its project actually attracted both equity and debt financing as well. In fact, the equity investment and the credit line, which are now made available to the firm, are higher than the funds raised through Kickstarter. So congratulations are indeed in order.

But this is just the start – hence, called “start-up”. Now Craft Kombucha has to fulfill the expectations of the backers, the investors, and the creditors. It has to utilize the available resources efficiently and effectively to maximize revenues by capturing and expanding the market. It has to guarantee quality and sufficient quantity of production to satisfy the projected demand. It has to monitor and control its costs to achieve higher profitability.

I appealed to readers, friends, and family especially Filipinos to support the Kickstarter fundraising campaign of Craft Kombucha. The appeal was really to generate a new network of backers on record. The amount of donation did not matter. Giving $1, $5, or $10 was as good as donating $1000. In fact, the reward for any donation was as attractive.
Analyzing the data involving the backers of Craft Kombucha, a substantial portion of the amounts raised was through Kickstarter. Most came from friends, family, and kombucha and dog lovers. Of course, the non-Kickstarter backers are first-time backers.

Kickstarter is an online crowdfunding platform which means the sources of funds could be anywhere around the globe. The objective of attracting a large number of backers is not really impossible. Assuming that 1 million Filipinos become backers on record. Each donating $1 for an innovative project or an invention by a Filipino would generate $1 million in a very short period of time; $5 generating $5 million; and so on.

Since the 1 million Filipinos are now backers on record, and if the project creator/inventor is also one, other non-Filipino backers would also be inclined to back the project especially if the project or invention is quite attractive and useful. What is important is its exposure to Kickstarter backers worldwide.

During my appeal, I intentionally tagged certain Filipino American leaders and entrepreneurs asking them to become backers on record by just donating any amount. This way, as a previous backer (amount is confidential), it would not be hard to appeal to the Kickstarter database for support of your project or invention.

Thousands of amazing projects have been launched and successfully funded under the Kickstarter platform. Many are in areas where Filipinos actually excel like: Art, Comics, Crafts, Design, Fashion, Film & Video, Technology, Photography, and Food like Craft Kombucha and Bad Saint Restaurant in DC which just obtained full funding through Kickstarter.

The Philippines is now the call center capital of the world. This is because properly trained and recruited Filipinos are very proficient in English and can quickly adapt different English accents (American, British, Australian).

If India could make English movies, why couldn’t Filipinos make English movies and TV shows. A film and video English spoken project with a Filipino director and Filipino actors could be one project that Filipinos worldwide could back.

Filipino Artists and Fashion Designers, Comics and Crafts projects could be funded via Kickstarter.  Reports show that Kickstarter received more than $1.5 billion in pledges from 7.8 million backers to fund creative projects. Filipinos should take advantage of these opportunities.

If Kickstarter is not your kind of crowdfunding, there are of course other methods. In fact, experts predict a $15 billion crowdfunding this year (2015). With the passage of the JOBS (Jumpstart Our Business Startups) Act and the addition of equity crowdfunding to the scene, it is projected to become a $300 billion marketplace over the coming years.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Talks, Thoughts, and Tiffs at the Barbershop

On the 2016 Philippine Presidential Elections

I reiterated my prediction that the next president will be the one endorsed by PNoy.  “Who would PNoy endorse?” the barbers asked.

If Mar Roxas wants and declares to run, PNoy will choose him. His basis is both subjective and objective.

Subjectively, PNoy knows Mar as a long time friend and party mate. Mar gave up his presidential ambitions to give way to PNoy in the 2010 presidential elections. Rebuilding the Liberal Party that his grandfather former President Manuel Roxas founded and later on led by his father Senator Gerry Roxas as party president, he invested time, money, and efforts to prepare it for good governance. Working together, PNoy and Mar won governmental control and both aggressively pursued the “Tuwid na Daan” or straight path to righteousness – giving the Filipino people a glimmer of hope to lick poverty, promote peace and attain prosperity.

Objectively, PNoy’s basis is even sounder than what political pundits would consider. Running for President entails effective and efficient Organization, Resources, and Propaganda/Public Relations (Image and Issues) campaign.


The Liberal Party – the party in power will support Mar Roxas. Its network and strength will be reinforced by most of the other parties that are part of their coalition. The party has built up to the Barangay/Precinct level an organization to promote and deliver the votes for Mar. His stint as DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government) Secretary provided him the opportunity to meet, interact, and access all local government officials as well as potential ones in meeting the challenges they face for, of, and by the governed. As government resources benefiting the constituencies are legally delivered through the local government units, relationships were formed and cemented to strengthen party machinery.

The built-in machineries established while he was Secretary of Trade and Industry as well as Secretary of Transportation and Communications cannot be discounted. The campaign machines that were mobilized to elect him a Congressman and later on a Senator with the highest number of votes in history will definitely be reactivated.


Financial and manpower resources are very important in presidential campaigns. They help build, maintain, and strengthen your Organization and feed your Propaganda or Public Relations campaign more efficiently and effectively.

Mar Roxas has the personal and family (Araneta, etc.) resources. He also has the party resources raised and accumulated over the years. If endorsed by PNoy, resources allotted legally to certain agencies will be released to subtly support Mar’s candidacy. Business money will favor his campaign. Professionals and overseas Filipinos will contribute to his campaign.

Propaganda (Image and Issues)

The issues will favor Mar Roxas. The continuity of PNoy’s Anti-Corruption or the Tuwid na Daan is a must. The Filipino people cannot afford to go back to the vicious cycle of electing bad officials to follow good ones. The election of Mar Roxas who is untainted and supported by PNoy who envisioned good governance with him will break that cycle. The continuity and stability of PNoy’s GPS (Grand Prosecution of the Sleazy) is guaranteed with Mar succeeding him as President.

Under the PNoy-Mar regime the Philippines became known as:
1.             The world’s 2nd fastest growing economy in 2015 (Bloomberg);
2.             The next Asian “Miracle” (World Bank);
3.             Posting trade surplus in 2015 (First time in 2 decades);
4.             Only nation upgraded of economic forecast (IMF Chief);
5.             The country with the most favorable growth rate in Southeast Asia in the next 5 years (OECD); and
6.             The nation with the economy to grow double in next decade (Think Tank).

Mar Roxas is very qualified. PNoy knows him to be honest, honorable and competent. He was a Congressman and Senator and therefore, knows how Congress works. He was Secretary of Transportation and Communications and therefore, familiar with the challenges facing the transfer of goods, people and data as well as the role of multimedia, electronic communications, TV, radio, and wireless communications. He was at the helm of the Department of Trade and Industry when the Philippines was positioning and preparing itself for a Global Economy, E-Commerce, and the broadening of Financial Markets.

His private sector experience as an Investment Banker and as a graduate of the Wharton School of Business should also help in these trying times.

Mar’s achievements as a close associate of PNoy in government, especially as DOTC and DILG Secretary are still unknown. We know of his involvement in projects at the disaster areas, the infrastructure development in many localities, in the peace and order processes in remote areas and many others. These will most likely be revealed and enumerated as soon as PNoy endorses him to be his successor.

Presidential Surveys

Polls, while relied upon to measure the popularity, preference and/or approval of candidates, are not the final determinant in elections. In the first survey of SWS (March 3, 2009) involving Binay and Roxas after they declared to be eyeing the Presidency for the 2010 elections, 1% preferred Binay while 20% preferred Roxas.  In the June 2009 survey Binay obtained 4% while Roxas got 20%. Senator Villar led the pact with 33%. On September 1, 2009, Roxas withdrew in favor of Noynoy while Binay withdrew in favor Erap Estrada. In the September 2009 survey, Villar got 37% while Noynoy obtained 60%. Erap trailed with 18%. Eventually Noynoy won but with Erap placing 2nd and Villar third.

Vice Presidential Surveys

In the 2010 Vice Presidential derby, SWS conducted a survey on December 5-10, 2009. Binay obtained only 10.2% while Roxas got 43.3%. Another polling was done on December 27-28, 2009 with Binay getting 14% while Roxas got 47%. In fact, the January 2010 survey resulted in Roxas getting 49% while Binay only got 16%. Almost all pundits that I know were quite confident that Binay would not catch up. Some involved in the campaign told me that Roxas was so confident he decided to focus on the election of Noynoy instead.

The April 16-19, 2010 SWS survey narrowed the gap – Roxas 39%; Binay 25%. With only about a month to go, 14% difference was still big to cover, right? No, the momentum which was on the side of the NOYBI (Noynoy-Binay) proponents led by some of Noynoy’s relatives could not be stopped.

Binay was espoused as a Cory Aquino boy, Cory’s choice and, therefore, could be trusted to be Noynoy’s VP. With no time and no deliberate campaign to expose him, and Roxas acting overconfident at the time, Binay became the Vice President.

I do not think this will happen again. Mar Roxas, the Liberal Party, PNoy if he endorses Mar, their supporters and the Filipino people should not and will not allow it!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Mohagher Iqbal: What’s In a Name?

The Senate Committee on Local Government just resumed its public hearings on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law.

I was expecting to hear a discussion on some of the provisions of the proposed law especially on constitutional questions. But probably because of press or media interests, I noticed that some Senators were more concerned with Mohagher Iqbal’s use of aliases. They questioned his use of an alias in negotiating and signing the agreement on behalf of the MILF with the Philippine Government panel instead of his real name.

Senator Bongbong Marcos thinks it raises questions of good faith on the part of MILF. He wanted to know if the Philippine Government has been negotiating with a ghost or a true person.  Senator Vicente Sotto even walked out saying, “we should not be talking to an unknown personality.”

What? Igbal is the recognized representative and Chief Negotiator of the rebel group, MILF. He has been involved in peace talks between the MILF and the Philippine government since 1997. Brokered by the Malaysian government and supported by an International Contact Group (ICG) composed of states and international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, Japan, The Asian Foundation, the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, Muhammadiyah, and Conciliation Resources, a peace agreement was finally signed on January 24, 2014 by Philippine government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel Ferrer and MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Igbal.

In this digital age, Iqbal’s fingerprints, digital images, signatures, and obviously, his DNA could be found all over the place including the Senate chamber and premises.  He has a distinct personality and he's definitely not a ghost but a real person recognized by Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, MILF chair Hadji Murad Ibrahim and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak,

There are several reasons why some people use aliases, pseudonyms, pen names or nom de guerre.

Iqbal said he uses an alias to protect himself, his family, and the Bangsamoro struggle – in short, for security reasons.

The ABU AMMAR name is very well known in the Arab World, in Egypt, and in Jerusalem. He is the same man who negotiated and signed the Oslo Accords for the Palestinian National Authority with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Israeli Foreign Minister Simon Perez. Together with Rabin and Perez, he received a Nobel Peace Prize. His other name was YASER ARAFAT.

WILLY BRANDT was the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany from 1969 to 1974. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1971 for his efforts to achieve reconciliation between West Germany and the countries of the Soviet bloc. His real name was HERBERT ERNST KARL FRAHM.

JOSEPH STALIN ruled the Soviet Union for more than two decades, instituting a reign of terror while modernizing Russia and helping to defeat Nazism. His real name was LOSEB VISSARIONOVICH DZHUGASHVILI.

Remember CHE GUEVARA, hero of the Bolivian, Cuban, and other Latin American revolutionaries? Well, his real name was ERNEST RAFAEL GUEVARA DE LA SERNA.

How about HO CHI MINH of Vietnam and KIM IL SUNG of North Korea? Their real names are NGUYEN SINH CUNG and KIM SONG JU, respectively.

Let us check our own history. He proclaimed the First Philippine Republic and was its first President. He was known as ROSALIA MAGDALO but his real name was EMILIO AGUINALDO. The pseudonyms of our national hero were DIMASALANG and LAONG-LAAN but his real name was JOSE RIZAL. Those of APOLINARIO MABINI, EMILIO JACINTO, MARCELO DEL PILAR, and ANDRES BONIFACIO were: PARALITICO, PINKIAN, PLARIDEL, and MAY PAG-ASA respectively.

Others use aliases to hide actual ownership of bank accounts. Remember JOSE VELARDE who is supposed to be the alias either of JAIME DICHAVES or JOSEPH ESTRADA; and JOSE PIDAL – the alias of IGNATIO ARROYO – brother of the former First Gentleman Mike Arroyo?

Don’t forget Senators JINGGOY ESTRADA whose real name is JOSE PIMENTEL EJERCITO, JR. and RAMON REVILLA, JR whose real name is JOSE MARIE MORTEL BAUTISTA.

JORGE MARIO BERGOGLIO who recently visited the Philippines now heads the Roman Catholic Church and is more known to the world as POPE FRANCIS. The famous living saint MOTHER THERESA was really named AGNES GONXHAXHIU.

In the Philippine movies, SUSAN ROCES is really JESUSA PURIFICACION SONORA while FPJ or FERNANDO POE, JR. was really RONALD ALLAN KELLEY POE. In Hollywood, the real name of CLINT EASTWOOD is MARTY MCFLY.

In the ‘70s, my wife (Tina Manglapus), daughter Tanya and I escaped from the Marcos dictatorship. Disguised as Muslim barter traders we traveled to Tawau, Sabah, Malaysia via Zamboanga, Sulu, Tawi-tawi, and Sitangkay.  I used the name ABDUL JULKANAIN in entering Sabah with no passport and no visa. Assisted by the Home Minister’s Office, the Malaysians knew me as Benjamin Maynigo but with no traveling documents. Since a passport and visa were required to travel to Kuala Lumpur, I was again disguised with a different name as a Special Assistant to the Prime Minister. To them I was always Benjamin Maynigo.

Eventually residing in the United States as a political refugee, I have traveled to several foreign countries without using a Philippine or US passport until 1986 when the People Power Revolution deposed Marcos. I am now a dual citizen using both passports.

While in the United States I founded the Asian Pacific American Chamber of Commerce (APACC) which President Ronald Reagan described as the fastest growing ethnic business organization in the country. We published a magazine called, “The Asian Entrepreneur”. I was named the President and Publisher carrying the pseudonym “GO NI MAI” – Maynigo in reverse.

There are several laws that regulate the use of aliases, nom de guerre, pen names or pseudonyms. As long as one follows the regulations and not for some criminal act, misrepresentation of facts or other illegal uses, having a pseudonym is generally fine.
Mohagher Iqbal is admittedly a nom de guerre. But he is a real person designated officially by MILF, a rebel group. He is recognized and identifiable by both the Philippine and the Malaysian governments.

My barber says it is fine with him. Take It From My Barber!