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Biz owners urged: Invest in learning Chinese language

Senior Wharton fellow Dr. Brian To has a practical advice for business owners: Invest in learning Mandarin Chinese.

On the heels of preparing for the third Strategic Leadership and Management Program (SLAMP 3) in Cebu on September 28, To said businesses in the Philippines are poised to partner with more Chinese investors and welcome Chinese tourists because they have the advantage of being raised as multi-linguals.

“The Chinese are coming and you’re about to get a massive wake-up call that the second language in the world in a matter of years will not be Tagalog. It is (Mandarin) Chinese,” he said.

To was born and raised in the UK and holds Master’s Degrees in Management, Business, Public Policy and Change and Doctorates in Business Administration and Chinese Business and Management from institutions such as Harvard, HEC Paris, Oxford, Stanford, Wharton, John F. Kennedy, INSEAD and Middlesex University.

“Learn Chinese and the Chinese will go with you. Invest in the language,” said To.

“Nobody else in Southeast Asia had the strength of cooperation like you do. Nowhere else has the competence in English. You have younger, smarter and more linguistic population,” he added.

China market

With a population of 1.4 billion and a growing interest for travel and tourism, China has become the fastest growing foreign market in the Central Visayas region (Region 7).

Region 7 — composed of Bohol, Cebu, Negros Oriental and Siquijor provinces — welcomed 429,306 Chinese guests in 2017 or a 75.28 percent growth rate from 2016’s 244,925 arrivals.

Economic benefits

In a statement, outgoing Consul General Shi Yong of the Chinese Consulate General in Cebu said he is “delighted with the continuing increase in the number of Chinese citizens visiting the Visayas region.”

“The significant economic benefits to both the host country and tourists’ home country this would bring cannot be downplayed,” he said.

The Consul emphasized the improved relations between China and the Philippines and the entry of more direct flight to and from China, which played an important role in the increased in tourist arrivals from China.

“We believe that with the development of Chinese-Philippines relationship and the over-round bilateral cooperation, there will be more Chinese tourists enjoying the beauty of the Philippines,” he said.

He also emphasized that tourism in the Philippines is “still very much open to new opportunities and potentials.”


While the Philippines is making waves in the tourism sector and captured the call center market, To said Filipinos have the potential to diversify, strengthen their talents and expand expertise in other fields.

To, who implemented two sessions of SLAMP, said business leaders and employees need to learn the skills on competitive strategy formulation, development and execution in the context of global hypercompetition since it is not only the Philippines that is working on enticing the Chinese market.

“We are doing this because everyone deserves to be equipped with the knowledge and skills which are relevant in strategy implementation and execution.


This is the same program that is taught in some of the world’s business schools delivered at a fraction of the cost,” said To.

To is adviser and coach to Fortune 500 corporations, governments, military and family-owned enterprises in Asia, Europe and North America.

Joining To in the discussion is Rear Admiral Jose Renan Suarez who will also talk about principal components of strategy execution process.

To said the program, which would happen on September 28 at the Cebu Parklane International Hotel, would examine successful and failed attempts to execute strategy initiatives through the eyes of real case studies.

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