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Manny B. Villar

423 posts
Manny Villar has distinguished himself both in politics and business. He was one of the two Filipino politicians in history, who had been elected both as Speaker of the House of Representatives and President of the Senate. In business, he was the first indigenous Filipino dubbed as the first "Brown Taipan", who made it to Forbes’ list of dollar billionaires. From a small gravel-and-sand retailer, he built Vista Land & Lifescapes to become one of the country’s top integrated property developers. He built more than 300,000 houses in more than three decades, a record that remains unchallenged to this day.

The return of mega crowds

Huge throngs of people gathered around three separate mega events this January. The huge crowds can only mean one thing—more and more Filipinos are gaining confidence to go out of their homes, and do not mind spending money for these events.

Ponderables and imponderables

Business planners by this time already have their own basic assumptions on how the Philippine economy would perform this year. They have their own macro-economic targets, guided by the set of goals forecast by government planners.

Economic blueprint

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. started his first three months in office with one of the most impressive economic performances in any administration. Our gross domestic product expanded 7.6 percent year-on-year in the third quarter of 2022, which is the President’s first three months in Malacañang.

High interest rates and robust growth: A delicate balance

Rising interest rates tend to be a precursor of an economic slowdown. A tool to curb surging inflation, higher interest rates in the long run may lead to stable prices, albeit at a cost of sacrificing growth in general. Economic managers, thus, must find the delicate balance between preserving the growth momentum and tempering rising inflation.

Masks down: Learning from our neighbors

The road to normalcy is now just around the corner. We will definitely celebrate a merrier Christmas in December, with Covid-19 variants and sub-variants proving to be less virulent than their ancestors. And with the further easing of mask mandates, we can foresee much-increased economic activities in the coming months.

Protecting our purchasing power

I understand where the government’s economic managers are coming from when they underscored the need to “defend the peso.” The Philippine currency has already shed about 15 percent of its value against the US dollar since the start of the year.

Growth amid a global recession

Growth in the Philippines and this part of the world and the feared recession in the West are a clear case of juxtaposition. The pessimists will echo the dire warnings of market analysts that the world economy is about to enter a period of recession, while the optimists will look at the glass as half full.

End of pandemic nearing

We’ve received a bit of good news last week from the World Health Organization. WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the press that the world is in a better position to end the Covid-19 pandemic. In his own words, we are not there yet “but the end is in sight.”

Rising business confidence

Investor confidence in the Philippines is unmistakably rising. Several factors support this—chief of which is the solid macro-economic fundamentals in place. Another major factor is the business-friendly policies of the Marcos government.

World-class infrastructure

All advanced economies have attained progress on the back of world-class infrastructure. We can look at the examples of Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore that built impressive airports, seaports, roads, bridges, railways and subways leading to cities full of skyscrapers.

Economic game plan

Every Filipino will certainly be awaiting what President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. will say on July 25 when he delivers his first State of the Nation Address (SONA). The entire nation and the rest of the world will watch and hear that speech in which President Marcos, among other things, will unveil his six-year economic program.

Covid-19 is still in our midst

The slight uptick in daily Covid-19 cases last week is a reminder that the pandemic is still much around despite the small victories we achieved in the economic and health fronts. President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. himself has acknowledged after winning the May 9 elections that the pandemic remains a problem that his administration must deal with.

Lofty economic goals

The overwhelming mandate received by president-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in the just-concluded elections has gifted him the right to steer the Philippines to nobler heights.

New economic team: A smooth transition

The incoming economic team of President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is a wise choice—the composition quickly allayed the concerns of some in the business sector that the new administration may deviate from the policies of the outgoing administration.

An auspicious beginning

The robust 8.3 percent economic growth in the first quarter of 2022 is giving presumptive President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. a solid head start. He is not inheriting a weak economy. Rather, he is receiving a strong one—in fact the fastest-growing economy in East Asia—from outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte.

Economic accomplishments

BY the time this column sees print, we will already know the early results of the May 9 elections and the front-runners in the presidential, vice presidential and senatorial races based on the automated tabulation of votes.

Adapting to new economic conditions

IF there is one lesson to learn from the pandemic, it is the willingness and resolve to adapt to the changes in the business environment. Businesses, both large and small, often meet market challenges. But adjusting to new economic conditions and shifting customer preferences will ensure business survival and growth.

With new vigor

Many Filipinos have probably gone back from a long vacation by now. We all deserve the long break during the Lenten Season after another pandemic year that has taxed our strength and patience.

A recovery in full swing

Almost all the economic figures we’ve seen in the past few weeks point to a strong Philippine recovery this year. The numbers are a telltale sign that the gross domestic product (GDP) performed creditably well in the January-to-March period, and would do much better in the succeeding months if we fully reopen the economy.

Schools are an integral part of the economy

There is no reason why we should continue banning face-to-face classes when daily Covid-19 cases in the Philippines have sunk to the low numbers. Resuming in-person classes even under Alert Level 1 will have a clear trickle-down effect on the economy because about 40 percent of the Philippine population is of school age.

Green investments

IN the not-so-distant future, motor vehicles running on Edsa and other thoroughfares will be fueled by biomass, hydro dams, geothermal energy, and wind and solar power. Electric-powered vehicles and public transportation, and renewable energy sources are the new normal and the wave of the future.

PHL is more than ready for the new normal

Metro Manila and other regions in the Philippines have transitioned to Alert Level 1 in the past two weeks with flying colors. The further reopening of the economy proved to be uneventful, as daily Covid-19 cases continued to decline despite the more relaxed business environment that allowed more people to go to work.

A self-reliant economy in the face of war

The Ukraine-Russia war is spiking the prices of oil and certain commodities, such as wheat and corn, in the world market because of the disruption in the supply chain. The geopolitical conflict fundamentally augments the discourse that a nation must be well prepared and achieve a higher degree of self-reliance on food and other commodities to temper the economic fallout.

Time to invest in the new normal

The new normal is the best opportune time to invest. Entrepreneurs, small and big businessmen and the government itself should take this opportunity to spend as Metro Manila and other parts of the country prepare for the new normal under Alert Level 1.

The Philippines is doing well against Covid-19

The coronavirus may stay with us forever in its mildest form but judging from the government’s response in January and this month, I can safely say the Philippines managed to overcome the worst that the pandemic can inflict on the population. The government did not panic, kept the economy mostly open and re-calibrated its response to the Omicron threat.

With prudence, PHL is ready for Covid-19 exit

AN exit strategy from the restraints brought about by Covid-19 is certainly a welcome development. European nations are leading in the withdrawal of defenses against the pandemic after the Omicron variant has proven to be a milder strain of the virus. The Philippines can follow in the footsteps of Europe, with prudence as the guiding principle of the exit plan.

A new mindset to combat the virus menace

Several nations across the globe are adjusting and recalibrating their response to the predominantly Omicron strain of the Covid-19 in order to further reopen the world economy. Our experience in the past few months, in the meantime, has taught us how to manage the risks of the pandemic. And we have seen how the economy reacts positively if we loosen mobility restrictions.

We should prepare for the return of Level 2

Covid-19 cases seem to have plateaued late last week after surging rapidly in the first two weeks of January. The statistical downtrend and the big number of daily recoveries we are seeing are clear signs that we may be over the hump in this latest pandemic wave.

A temporary setback

This is no time to panic. Rather, this is the time to look back at our economic gains in the fourth quarter and preserve these as we slog through this latest pandemic wave.

Hope springs eternal despite natural disasters

WE should be modestly celebrating the New Year because of the successes we achieved both on the health and economic fronts. We have tamed Covid-19 through an aggressive vaccination rollout program, leading to declining daily cases. We reopened the economy and restored thousands of jobs through less mobility restrictions.

Positive health and economic data point to a strong rebound

The phrase “when it rains, it pours” has taken a positive meaning in current developments in the Philippines. Our Covid-19 data are improving significantly while recent economic figures suggest the business reopening in the Philippines is a success. All these numbers point to a healthier nation and a robust economy in the coming months.

Response to Omicron

AS we started making a significant dent on active Covid-19 cases in the country, here comes the news that a mutated coronavirus variant called Omicron may lead to new surges in global infection. Many countries, including the Philippines, quickly moved to tighten border control and even imposed ban on foreign travelers as a preemptive response, which is understandable.

Economic growth and political stability

Businessmen and entrepreneurs like me look forward to the presidential elections in 2022 because they will bring a new set of leaders who will guide our nation to further progress. The incoming chief executive will bring with him or her a set of political, economic and social agenda that aims to address the nation’s problems.

Economic booster

The improved vaccination rollout has certainly revived business activities in the Philippines and translated into the slower transmission of the Covid-19 in recent weeks. If this momentum is sustained toward the three-day national vaccination drive from November 29 to December 1, and the Department of Health starts providing booster shots to health workers and seniors, we are in for a more festive celebration of the Christmas season.

2022 will be an auspicious year

The string of economic and health data last week will bode well for the incoming year. The surprisingly strong gross domestic product (GDP) figures in the third quarter and falling daily
Covid-19 cases are the right mix for a strong economic recovery.

My cautiously optimistic outlook

Recent health and economic indicators make me cautiously optimistic about our recovery. I say cautious because the pandemic still lingers in many countries including the Philippines, yet optimistic because the lifting of some economic restrictions will allow more Filipinos to earn a living.

Easier job for the next president

The next president of the Philippines will have a much easier time than what President Rodrigo Duterte is going through right now. By the time the 17th president of the Republic assumes office sometime in July 2022, the pandemic would most likely be contained and most of the country’s population would have received two doses of Covid-19 vaccine plus booster shots, if approved by regulators.

Dynamic Covid rules

The increasing vaccination rate and falling daily Covid-19 cases in the Philippines are clearly the best argument for a substantial reopening of the economy. The world will not totally eradicate the virus but our recent experience in the Philippines, especially with regard to the government’s decision to impose selective instead of widespread lockdowns, has shown that we can live with the virus while reopening the economy at the same time.

Rewarding the vaccinated

Everybody agrees that vaccination is the solution to the pandemic and the key to reopening further the economy. With more vaccinated people, the nation should reopen safely and start generating jobs with reduced risks.

Innovation is key to new normal

The shift to the Alert Level Systems for Covid-19 Response from the Enhanced Community Quarantine went on smoothly in the third week of September, without any significant surge in new infections, contrary to the prediction of several health experts.

Fine-tuning the lockdown measures

Covid-19 is an evolving pandemic that demands a periodic calibration of responses. The current quarantine rules should not be set in stone because they can be fine-tuned to address a specific concern and effectively bring down the country’s infection rate.

Limited or ‘granular’ lockdowns are better

Authorities are finally espousing a shift to “granular” or isolated lockdowns from region- or province-wide quarantines. The switch from a more crippling enhanced community quarantine is the more logical approach—the virus spread can be better contained in hotspot areas where there are clustering of cases than virtually shutting down an entire region or city.

GDP figures show partial lockdowns work

WE partially locked down the economy in April this year, and yet business and economic activities flourished. We also managed to contain the virus spread for the most part of the second quarter by balancing the effort with economic
reopening.

Champions and accomplishments despite the pandemic

I would like to congratulate newly promoted Air Force Staff Sergeant Hidilyn Diaz for giving the Philippines our first gold medal in the Olympics for nearly a century. Her determination and strength to lift 97 kilograms in snatch and a record 127 kg in clean and jerk inspired a grateful nation, as we try to rise above the challenges brought about by the health crisis.

Health and economic indicators are intertwined

Solid health and economic indicators have recently emerged to show that our country is bouncing back after a long battle with the pandemic. The lesser number of daily active Covid-19 cases, the increasing percentage of Filipinos who have received vaccines against the viral disease and the rising number of jobs in the Philippines are all welcome news.

LGU vaccine tactics working, but local execs can do more

IT is nice to see local government units competing against each other in the vaccination drive with positive results. Close to 9 million Filipinos so far have received at least one vaccine dose as of last week. But LGUs can do more and should sustain their aggressiveness to bring the Philippines nearer to its herd immunity objective.

Innovation amid the pandemic

Necessity, as the old proverb says, is the mother of invention. This is true during this health crisis, which has taught us to become more creative and innovative to survive. Our workers learned to work from home and businesses adapted to the new normal. We are finding ways to evolve.

Confidence boosters

The pledge of G-7 leaders to provide at least 1 billion vaccine doses to 92 poor and lower-middle-income countries and last week’s emerging positive domestic trade figures are a big confidence booster.

Let LGUs compete to speed up vaccination

IT is not a bad idea if we allow local government units (LGUs) to compete against each other in the vaccination race. The main objective here is to inoculate as many Filipinos as we can toward the ultimate goal of attaining herd immunity.

An economy on the mend

There is no surprise in the 4.2-percent contraction in the economy during the first quarter of 2021. The lockdown measures in the first three months stifled economic activities, in stark contrast with most of the first quarter of 2020, when there were no restrictions yet until mid-March.

Health-care investments, decongestion key to recovery

WE saw a decline in new Covid-19 cases in the last couple of weeks, as the reproduction rate fell below 1.0 again. This is good news for the country and the economy, thanks to the preventive efforts of the government. We need to sustain this gain by strengthening our health-related measures, while safely reopening the economy so that workers can return to their jobs.

We must restore the lost jobs quickly

April is the cruelest month, to borrow the words of poet T.S. Eliot. It is, indeed, the cruelest month for the nation’s struggling workers this year. Hundreds of thousands easily lost their jobs as a result of the harsh rules of the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) in the capital region and the nearby provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal and Laguna.

Time to build more hospitals

The rising Covid-19 infections have overwhelmed our hospitals and exposed the vulnerability of our health-care system. But it is not too late to regain control of the situation.

Protect yourself to help the economy

This Holy Week gives us respite and a time to reflect on ourselves. In this time of pandemic, the few days of rest should invigorate us in our daily fight against Covid-19 and provide us the clarity on how to best perform our job and do our share in helping the economy.

No need to panic

The rising cases of Covid-19 in the country are certainly a cause for alarm for everybody, including the business sector. But there is no reason to panic over the latest surge—we’ve been through this before.