Dr. Emiliano Hudtohan

Educator, Business Writer, Industry Expert and Entrepreneur

Freshmen and entrepreneurs of Agno

Last trimester, I taught business organization to two sections of freshman at the Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business of DLSU. The course was an introduction to the management process of planning, leading, organizing and controlling. And for research, I assigned them to explore “the world of business in the face of an entrepreneur.” This is my financial version of William Blake’s metaphysical dictum “to see the world in a grain of sand.” Based on their interviews, the next three articles in this column will feature three entrepreneurs of Agno Street, Malate: 1) Fernando Funes who was interviewed by the Team Derick Flores and Team Iñigo De La Torre; 2) Noel Urbina, by Team Karina Albert and Team Gerard Khoo and 3) Emma Banico by Team Ellen Ong.

Freshmen then and nowI was a freshman 50 years ago at De La Salle College, Manila where I pursued a double-degree (liberal arts and education) program. The program, similar to Lia-Com (liberal art and commerce), was an innovation of Br. Gabriel Connon, FSC and Dean Waldo Perfecto to form ‘professional Christian gentlemen.’ Today, DLSU continues to offer double-degree programs, which combine liberal arts with other behavioral and technical courses.

Last year, I found myself teaching 40 young men and women. At once, I recognized we were worlds apart—some came to class in jeans, in shorts, in T-shirts, in rubber shoes and in flip flops [slippers]. In my time, De La Salle was an all-boys institution and entering the North Gate meant being dressed in shirt and tie. Leading by example was Ariston Estrada, our logic and philosophy professor, whose professional dress code was coat and tie all the time, rain or shine.

As I did PowerPoint presentations in class, most of my students hardly took down notes. But once in a while some would say, ‘Excuse me, Sir.’ They asked me to step aside and with a digital notepad or cellphone snapped a picture of my lecture. Others were looking at their laptops, and I was not too sure if they were taking notes or Googling the veracity of what I was saying or simply browsing over their Facebook account. And there were those passive observers, not even listeners, during the whole period of one hour and a half. However, before leaving the classroom, with USB on hand, they would request me for a softcopy of my lecture.

In my time, lectures were captured manually using a paper notebook and a fountain pen [Parker, Schaeffer and Easterbrook were very reliable instruments] and no one dared to interrupt a professor while he pontificates on a subject. No one dared to ask a professor for his notes, much more his lesson plan. For research, we went to the library. Today, students use the Internet in the classroom, in the library, along the corridor, and from a cellphone to do their homework.

The cut-and-paste reports and term papers with incoherent English grammar bespeak of the power of technology and the decline of scholarly rigor among some students. As always, I keep repeating the mantra of ‘academic integrity and respect for intellectual property.’ I ask them to cite sources and follow the American Psychological Association style of referencing [no longer Campbell format or Turabian footnotes during my college years].

But the bright side of learning today is that a freshman who takes as much as 21 units is gung ho with out-of-the classroom research work. And this is how I got them to interview and learn from the ‘street entrepreneurs’ of Agno.

DLSU at Agno

Agno is Fidel A. Reyes St. The narrow street of Agno begins from Quirino Avenue and northward, parallel to Taft Avenue. It goes all the way to the corner of Castro St. This stretch is a DLSU strip. There is the DLSU-College of St. Benilde preparatory school near Quirino Avenue; De La Salle Retreat House at the corner of Estrella St., and the Razon Sports Complex. At the corner of Balinguit St. is the Br. Andrew Gonzalez FSC Hall and De La Salle Engineering Building is near Castro Street. Agno’s deadend leads to De La Salle Gokongwei Building and the back entrance to De La Salle University’s main campus.

The target markets of the street entrepreneurs along Agno are the residents themselves and the students of De La Salle University. There is a flourishing business of pay parking at ‘The Sand’ in Banico compound and still another managed by the barangay boys along Agno St. itself. There are a number of food stalls and two entrepreneurs will be featured in this column. And the only one tricycle transport service will also be highlighted in this column.

Entrepreneurial resilience

There are government structures that encourage and support entrepreneurs: 1) The Magna Carta for Small Enterprises, Republic Act (RA 6977), which was recently amended as Magna Carta for Micro, Small, 2) The Medium Enterprises (RA 8501), Republic Act No. 9178 known as Barangay Micro Business Enterprises Act of 2002, which encouraged the formation and growth of barangay micro business enterprises, and 3) The Small Enterprises Technology Upgrading Program of the Science Department for increased productivity and reduced production.

Apparently, the Agno entrepreneurs did not avail of government services to start their business. In some cases, they rely on ‘Bombay financing’ to keep their daily operation going. The three entrepreneurs who were interviewed by DLSU freshmen researchers were all self-funded.

Next month, I will tell the success story of Fernando Funes who, from one pedicab, eventually acquired a fleet of 40 that plies along Quirino Avenue, Adriatico St., Vito Cruz St. and Taft Avenu

(Published in the Manila Standard Today newspaper on 2012/january/30.)

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