In this podcast, we explore Sunshine Lichauco de Leon’s journey. Sunshine is a very well acclaimed Filipino international journalist and filmmake.. Her main purpose is to link the Philippines to the outside world the best way she knows how. This podcast is really interesting for the entrepreneurs and business owners out there that generally have to forge their own existence and reality.
- Sunshine spent a lot of her younger years trying to figure out what she wanted to do and had tried different things. She found that so often in life, you’re not sure what to do. You have to listen to the people who are closest to you and if they all tell you the same thing, maybe you should pay attention.
- She states that if she wanted to be a journalist, Philippines would be a good place to start because there’s a lot of media. Based on her experiences living abroad, she understands what a foreign market would want, but based on her having lived in the Philippines before, she understood the Philippines greater than most foreign journalists would.
- Most people don’t know much about the Philippines. It may be due to knowledge gaps or just lack knowledge.
- Part of the important message as a journalist or even as a Filipino or as a human is just to educate people. Because she has the information, she felt like she should share it with people so that they become interested enough to go learn on their own.
- The Philippines changed over the different administrations and the different geopolitical realities of the world. In the beginning, no one cared. Now, everybody is interested.
- There has been a greater resurgence in all areas of the Philippines and the Philippines is finally starting to find its place.
- Filipino people are starting to find pride in their own country and to find the possibilities and the opportunities. There’s a tremendous talent and tremendous heart in the Philippines. It’s a matter of harnessing that and figuring out what can be done.
- Filipinos connect to the “west” or foreigners in a way that other countries don’t.
- Part of the important message as a journalist or even as a Filipino or as a human is just to educate people.
- Because of Philippines’ history, it’s easier for westerners to BPO aims at promoting indigenous business by buying into Philippines’ company and culture in order to make them grow.
- The Philippines is ripe for the picking and given the right mindset of entrepreneurs, they can find opportunities here but have to be willing to put up with cultural differences and difficulties and delays. It looks like America but it’s not America
Derek: Hi, and welcome to another episode of the Outsource Accelerator Podcast. This is episode #65 and my name is Derek Gallimore. Today, I am joined by Sunshine Lichauco de Leon. I actually, it’s a bit of a blooper. I had issues pronouncing Sunshine’s full name earlier and here’s an example of that.
Sunshine: Sunshine Lichauco de Leon would be my proper name.
Derek: Okay, I’m going to call you Sunshine.
Sunshine: Say that. Sunshine, say it.
Derek: Okay, Sunshine Lichauco de Leon.
Sunshine: Say it again.
Derek: Sunshine Lichauco de Leon, okay.
Sunshine: Now we could be friends.
Derek: Now, we’re there.
So at least now I know how to pronounce Sunshine’s name. A little bit embarrassing since I have known Sunshine for almost two years. So we, in this podcast, explore Sunshine’s journey to this point. Sunshine is a very well acclaimed journalist, international journalist and film maker. All of this is self taught so really interesting episode for the entrepreneurs and business owners out there that generally have to forge their own existence and reality.
I’m sure you’ll enjoy this podcast. If you do want any information, if you want to contact Sunshine, go to our show notes, which is at outsourceaccelerator.com/65. If you want to ask us anything at all, email at [email protected].
Derek: Welcome everyone and today, I’m super excited to be joined by Sunshine Lichauco de Leon. Hi.
Sunshine: Hi, very nice to meet you and very nice to be here. Thank you.
Derek: It is nice. It is nice. I’m really excited for you to be here because I’m a bit of fan boy of your work actually. We’ve known each other for a little while now and you are a Filipina from the Philippines obviously, but you have lot of your upbringing in the US. And you’ve also got a very diverse career of which a lot of it is self taught and self forged. So super exciting because a lot of our listenership is in business and it’s about forging their own path.
I first want to just look at your experiences of the Philippines and your knowledge of the Philippines versus your upbringing in the US and how the two compare.
Sunshine: Well, can you ask a more specific question, though, because that’s a loaded question. I can speak hours about that.
Derek: Let’s start with an easy one. What made you come back? What made you come back to the Philippines and how long were you…?
Sunshine: Okay, my name is Sunshine. I was born in the Philippines. I left when I was 2. I went to America. I was raised there. I came back in the early 90s when I was 22, 23. I went to university for two years and that was my first foray to understanding the Philippines and then I left and went back to America for 10 years. I lived in New York. I lived in London then I came back here about 10 or 11 years ago, I lost track. I now work as a journalist. I write about the Philippines for international media. I do print, reporting, radio reporting, and local producing or fixing for a national TV news reports or documentaries.
Sunshine: I guess I do a little bit of everything, but my main purpose here is to link the Philippines to the outside world the best way that I know how because I have spent a lot of my life living abroad.
Derek: You came back here and you, at that stage, started your journalism career, is that right?
Sunshine: It’s a long story. I came back. I suppose I spent a lot of my younger years trying to figure out what I wanted to do and I had tried different things. I was living in New York and I worked in PR and advertising, and special events and marketing. Writing and journalism was not anything I have ever really considered. I had a lot of friends who had told me that I should be a writer or look into journalism, but I didn’t really believe it because I had never studied and I didn’t know much about it.
At some point in my mid-30s, I was living in London. I had a job in social entrepreneurship, which ended and I was sort of trying to figure out what to do next. And I started to take some courses at London School of Journalism in how to write a news story and I, I basically started, I found that so often in your life, you’re not sure what to do. You have to listen to the people who are closest to you and if they all tell you the same thing, maybe you should pay attention. And I, in that point in my life, people were like, “You should write,” but I was sitting and telling them, “But I don’t know how to write.”
So I decided to take some courses to see if maybe they were right. I took some courses in London and I took a course at my old university, Tufts, online, and I basically started to realize that maybe I was more creative than I ever thought I was. I mean, at the beginning, I felt that I was literally this person on one side of the gulf and on the other side of the gulf was writing. I would say to my friends, “Well, maybe I’m a writer but I don’t think that I can actually work as a writer until I understand how to cross that gulf.” Because maybe I can write and when I write, I write well, but I don’t know how to make myself write because I wasn’t a writer that wrote in journals every day and all that kind of stuff.
So basically, I took this course and it helped me understand that I could do it and it made me do it, which is more important. It made me actually write stories. When I came back to the Philippines, I basically thought, “Okay, if I’m going to try to be a journalist, this would be a good place to start because there’s a lot of media, there’s a lot of – I could, based on my experiences living abroad, understand what a foreign market would want, but based on my having lived in the Philippines before, I understood the Philippines greater than most foreign journalists would and I had pretty good contacts. I knew where to get information and resources.
Derek: What are some insights in terms of, because the external view of the Philippines is quite polarized. There’s quite a lot of misleading information and potentially fear or maybe just knowledge gaps about the Philippines. What do you see as some of the biggest knowledge gaps or contrasts between how the external world sees the Philippines and actually what it is?
Sunshine: I think that most people don’t know much about the Philippines. I don’t know if it’s knowledge gaps or just lack of knowledge. I think that, I mean, in my Charles and maybe from different countries, most people are just curious. They are like, “Oh, tell me about your country.” I mean, it’s a different country now than it was a few years ago. So it’s hard for me to comment, but I can say that I feel like there’s a knowledge gap, as you said. I think that there’s a knowledge gap but not in the sense that no one cares. I think people are like, “Oh, I didn’t realize I didn’t know much about your country.”
Derek: Yeah, yeah.
Sunshine: Or I didn’t realize that I only knew stereotypes about your country.” So I think part of the important message as a journalist or even as a Filipino or as a human is just to educate people and I think there’s just, it’s part of the reason I made a film is because I felt that the people that I had seen in the Philippines and outside the Philippines didn’t know much. And I thought, “Okay, this isn’t right,” like, they should know a little bit and I want to. Because I have this information, I feel like I should share it with people so that they become interested enough to go learn on their own.
Derek: Because the Philippines is a bit of a sleeping giant, isn’t it, because it’s a big country and it’s becoming quite a successful economy. It has got 7,000 islands but it’s not really even on the radar of tourism yet, is it?
Sunshine: It depends on when you’re talking about it. I came here 10, 11 years ago. No one cared about the Philippines. Virtually, I would have to arg-, you know, I really had a difficult time with the editor to say, “You should cover this story,” because no one cared. I was lucky enough to see that that changed over the different administrations and the different geopolitical realities of the world. I saw that in the beginning, no one cared and then there was a sort of like, “Oh, tell me about the Philippines. What’s going on? What are the issues?” Then people start to get more – now, everybody is interested, but I can see it grow.
Derek: Why is that? Is that because it’s riding the wave of Southeast Asia becoming more of a fulcrum for world development?
Sunshine: It’s hard for me to say exactly. I think that there was a leftover of the last administration. I think that the last administration did serve the purpose to elevate the idea of the Philippines and its purpose geopolitically and then economically, so I think that, at least I saw because a lot of the writing I did was during the Aquino administration. Not that any administration is perfect, but I do see that the Philippines was elevated as a country, as a nation that mattered economically, politically, geopolitically. So I saw that happen. I also think, well, I mean now, it’s getting a lot of attention for different reasons, but I don’t think, if you said the Philippines 15 years ago, no one really paid attention. Now, people pay attention, you know, for whatever reason, whether it’s the current administration, the geopolitics, the economics, it is, the reality is of the world’s chess game have changed and Asia is more important, within Asia, the Philippines is more geopolitically, strategically more important.
Derek: And there’s actually a recent economic report by one of the big consulting groups saying that by 2050, the Philippines would be in the top 20 global economies. I’ll put that in the show notes.
Sunshine: I do think that, for my own, like, lay person opinion, I think that just watching the news overall in the last five, seven years, not exactly the numbers, but I think that there has been a greater resurgence in all areas of the Philippines and then the Philippines is finally starting to find its place.
Derek: The Renaissance.
Sunshine: The Renaissance, exactly and I think that the Filipino people are starting to find pride in their own country and to find the possibilities and the opportunities. And I think that’s great and I hope it continues and that is what I was very excited to report upon. I think that there’s tremendous talent and tremendous heart in this country. It’s a matter of harnessing that and figuring out what can be done with that, those opportunities. I think the Philippines, it’s like the Wild West in the old days, you know, if you want to like, if you have a good idea and you want to make it happen, the Philippines is a good place to do it.
Sunshine: I think that the Wild West era, that is a bit extreme, but I would say that Wild West have more rules, but I think that it takes a certain kind of person to come to the Philippines and see, “Oh, there are opportunities here.” There are downsides, but there are great opportunities and you have to be able to look and see what are those things that I can do in a country like the Philippines where they speak English, where the people are warm naturally, and they connect to you. I think the Filipinos connect to the “west” or foreigners in a way that other countries don’t, and I think that’s important.
Derek: Yeah, yeah. I mean, they are beautiful people, but just objectively, there’s actually a lot of cultural alignment, isn’t there? I mean, they’ve adopted – if that’s the right word – Christianity several few hundred years ago. They have, you know, high levels of English speaking and the younger generation now is being brought up on a diet of Facebook and YouTube.
Sunshine: No, I mean, they have a saying about the Philippines and it’s in my film, that they spent 300 years in the Spanish convent and 50 years in Hollywood. I mean, it is very western and I think that that makes it very easy for westerners to do business here. You still have to remember that it’s Asian and is Latin underneath that, so I think people fall into that pattern of like it’s just how I think it should – you know, like, we understand this, but you look at the layers and understand it’s not exactly the same.
But that’s still a step ahead of other countries when you don’t understand a language or the way they are, I mean, the Philippines is very much modeled after America and it is very colonial and very western in many ways, so it does make it, I mean, if you wanted to set up a business in Asia, the Philippines would be the best place to do it because there is that familiarity of culture.
Derek: And do you think there is a, becoming a commercial and economic awareness of that now that actually, there is this opportunity in the Philippines and somehow, it’s just being looked over for the last….?
Sunshine: I think so. I don’t have the numbers today to prove it by my instinct in just talking to people, I think so. I feel lots more people are coming here to look at opportunities and lots more people are thinking, “Oh, wait a minute. Let’s go in the Philippines.” I think that it is that place that’s ripe for the picking and I think that given the right mindset of entrepreneur, you can find opportunities here, but you have to obviously be willing to put up with cultural differences and difficulties and delays. It looks like America but it’s not America, you know what I mean?
Derek: And it’s a developing country and there’s a lot of Filipinos where there is hardship, but actually, it can be quite a comfortable business to do business – sorry, quite a comfortable country to do business granted like it’s well developed. There’s infrastructure.
Sunshine: I mean, I can’t say that for sure. In theory, yes. You’ve got to ask the people who have actually was setting up businesses here.
Sunshine: It is probably far more comfortable than many other countries in the world because the systems are familiar to the west and familiar to America or any western government. I can’t say that it’s easy as everybody would think, but…
Derek: Yeah, the actual nitty gritty is very bureaucratic.
Derek: Yeah, but at least there’s kind of a cultural familiarity.
Sunshine: I mean, if you’re looking for the basics of what makes you comfortable as an investor, then you might find that they speak English, they are comfortable with western ways, the products are familiar, that kind of – the way of doing business is something you can relate to, but I don’t, I would never be able to say that definitively, it’s easy or not, or easier than other countries or not.
Derek: And in one of your articles, you wrote about foreign investment in the country and what did you find out in your research in terms of foreign appetite for investment and the facilities?
Sunshine: Are you asking me to remember a story about last year?
Derek: I remember that story last year.
Sunshine: Or you can probably quote it. I think that people are looking for the pains for private equity deals, but there are cultural and, what’s the word, not strategic, cultural and then there are ways in which the business world works that make it easier and more difficult to find private equity deals. Like, there are great deals here, but you have to adjust your expectations at what you’re looking for and how quickly and how big the deals will be.
Derek: I hope you enjoyed that with Sunshine. I really learned a lot. If you want to get in touch with Sunshine or know more, go to our show notes which is at outsourceaccelerator.com/65 and if you want to ask us anything at all, email us at [email protected].