'Apprentice Asia' winner open to joining politics
MANILA – Jonathan Yabut, the first winner of the business reality show “The Apprentice Asia,” said he is open to the idea of becoming a public official in the future.
In an interview on the ABS-CBN program “Tapatan ni Tunying” aired on Thursday, Yabut shared that he has always dreamed of becoming the President of the Philippines when he was in elementary school.
“I even told this to some people, na Grade 1 pa lang ako, I wanted to become President of the Philippines. Nanggaling ako sa hirap, alam ko kung ano ‘yung issue lagi na dapat ayusin,” he told “Tapatan ni Tunying” host Anthony Taberna.
He went on to note what he believes is the biggest problem in Manila today.
“At ang problema lang talaga sa Maynila ay EDSA. ‘Yun lang. Tanggalin mo lang ‘yung buong trapiko sa EDSA na ‘yan, ayusin mo ‘yung MRT, ayusin mo ‘yung traffic. For me, Manila is going to be a fun city in Southeast Asia,” he said.
But at 27 and with the first “Apprentice Asia” title under his belt, Yabut is no longer eyeing the Presidency in the next two decades.
What he wants to do as a public official, if given the chance, is to promote the country’s tourism industry.
“My vision and my goal sa Pilipinas is ang industriya ng turismo lumago pa,” he said, adding, “Naniniwala ako na ‘pag mas malago ang turismo, it will trickle down to jobs.”
“I think right now siguro bata pa,” Yabut replied when asked if he is considering the thought of joining politics in his 20s. “But my heart is really there. I think for now, I still love the corporate world at kailangan ko pang itaguyod ang sarili ko.”
“But you know, 20 years from now, if someone offers to me the job [as tourism secretary] I will always consider it and say I want to give back to my country because I’ve always been proud to be a Filipino,” he added.
'You don't need all the wealth in the world'
Yabut currently works as the chief of staff of AirAsia’s Tony Fernandes as part of his prize in the first season of “The Apprentice Asia.”
Asked if he is already wealthy because of his salary from Fernandes, he said: “Hindi pa. Honestly, marami pa rin akong utang sa credit card ngayon na kailangan ko pang bayaran.”
“And when people would say, ‘wow, ang laki na ng salary mo,’ for me bonus na ‘yun. As long as I’m able to live and share my blessings to my family and the rest of my friends, okay na ‘yun.
“I wanted to prove na you don’t need all the wealth in the world. As long as you have the heart, as long as you have the inspiration to back you up, kaya siya,” he said.
Yabut has talked freely about his humble beginnings in a number of interviews, and during the first season of “The Apprentice Asia.”
The University of the Philippines graduate shared that he is proud to have gone through preparatory school to college through scholarships.
As soon as he finished college, Yabut helped pitch in for his family. Before joining “The Apprentice Asia,” he worked as a senior product manager of a pharmaceutical company in the Philippines.