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Biz Buzz: WEF opening gala

Beautiful native design being set up in preparation for WEF dinner hosted by private sector at Ayala Triangle in Makati. INQUIRER PHOTO

Beautiful native design being set up in preparation for WEF dinner hosted by private sector at Ayala Triangle in Makati. INQUIRER PHOTO

The Ayala triangle and Ayala Tower One lobby have been spruced up in time for Wednesday night’s welcome reception for World Economic Forum on East Asia delegates.

The opening gala, hosted by the Ayala group along with Vice President (and long-time Makati Mayor) Jejomar Binay, promises to showcase the best in culture, food and talent of the Philippines.ADVERTISEMENT

For the Tower One lobby, the Ayala group brought in capiz chandeliers as well as furniture made by some of the best designers of Cebu and Pampanga. To showcase the best in music, “Asia’s songbird” Lani Misalucha will serenade the delegates. The Ramon Obusan folkloric group will also be among those providing entertainment.

To showcase the best in fashion, there will be a fashion show to feature the creation of some of the country’s top designers.

The Ayalas will show them it’s more fun to host international conferences in the Philippines. Doris C. Dumlao

Memory of an elephant

As one of the pre-World Economic Forum events scheduled this week, businessmen were excited to attend the Philippine Investment Summit co-organized by the Financial Times and First Metro Investment Corp.

Businessmen were especially interested to hear what President Aquino would have to say, expecting to hear a sneak preview into what advocacies he would push during the actual WEF sessions that start Wednesday.

Well, surprise, surprise. As it turned out, the opening address was delivered by Vice President Jejomar Binay instead. It was a welcome development because the business community has become increasingly interested in Binay’s economic platform, partly because survey after survey showed him leading the pack for the 2016 presidential race.

But wait… the FT-FMIC program clearly said that President Aquino was the “invited” opening speaker. What happened?

Biz Buzz asked some people who might know what was going on, and the reply was: “The President still doesn’t attend their events.”

“What?” we asked, picking our jaws up from the floor. “Why?”

Apparently, it has something to do with a political exercise a couple of years ago where a ranking official of the land was removed from office… and this particular business group was involved.

From what we’re told, the President was not too happy with how the business group comported itself during this highly charged event. Something like that.

Wow. Talk about the President having a long memory. Daxim L. Lucas

Speaking of which…

One high profile businessman who did attend, however, was international ports magnate Enrique K. Razon Jr. who was part of a panel during the Financial Times-First Metro Investment Corp. summit.

He did share his business wisdom with the crowd, which is as precious as his time, as many journalists know.

But halfway through the panel discussion, Razon stood up abruptly and left the stage at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel ballroom.

It was a quick move, but some thought he merely needed to make a trip to the “little boy’s room.” But no, sir. Reporters who trailed Razon saw him make a beeline to the elevator. He was late for another engagement, was all he said.

Of course, few tycoons or taipans can pull off an exit as sudden as that of Razon. No need to explain himself to anyone.

This reminds us of an interview he granted to Bloomberg News who caught up with him in Davos, Switzerland, earlier this year.

Asked by the reporter about his planned activities for the highly coveted Davos fora, Razon replied: “I’m here to do business, not to save the world.” (We could imagine the reporter’s jaw drop at this point.)

Vintage Razon. Daxim L. Lucas

Apec’s face

When we first heard about TV host Kim Atienza becoming the brand ambassador of “Apec,” our first thought was: Why does this top-level Pacific Rim multilateral forum Apec (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) need to advertise?

But Apec as an acronym has taken a different twist in the local setting as the brand name of the new chain of private high schools jointly put up by Ayala Corp. and UK-based Pearson, the world’s largest education provider. In this context, Apec stands for Affordable Private Education Center.

Soon, Kuya Kim’s face will be seen on billboards as well as tarp signage in buses and tricycles endorsing Apec. “When we asked people who do you think of when you think of somebody you trust and who knows about education and knowledge, it’s his name that comes out as a role model,” Apec chair Alfredo Ayala explained. “Plus we know him well, think highly of him and he’s the right age (late 40s) with whom both nanays (mothers) and kids can relate to.”

Apec’s proposition is to offer world-class private high school education at an affordable cost (total all-in annual cost of P23,000—inclusive of use of books and computers). This is based on a curriculum that allows a high-school graduate to immediately gain professional employment.

For the incoming school year, a dozen Apec schools will open in five cities in Metro Manila—Caloocan, Manila, Marikina, Pasig and Quezon City—targeting about 1,000 enrollees. Apec will hire an initial 30 teachers. As it rolls out more facilities across the country, the goal is to reach 10,000 students within three years.  Doris C. Dumlao

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