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Friday, December 18, 2015

INSPIRE | 10 Filipino entrepreneur success stories (Part 2 of 2)

About a month ago, I shared with you five (5) entrepreneurs whose "babies" have become a huge success, thanks to their hard work and perseverance. They were the ones who strove hard to become the best drivers of their teams and their businesses. Today, I am continuing from where I left. This post details part two of the article 10 Filipino entrepeneur success stories known online.

6. April Margaret Cuenca - FlipTrip

Photo Courtesy: April Cuenca

"It’s more fun in the Philippines!" 

This campaign is absolutely evident in the life of this young tourist and entrepreneur who has been to at least 51 of the 81 provinces of the Philippines. Along with this achievement at the age of 24, she's the youngest woman to ever complete all within this year 2015. Just how did she manage to be the CEO of Fliptrip, a successful travel agency, at a young age?

All this girl wanted when she was 12 was to change the world. Yes, it's a huge thing for a kid to be dreaming and fulfilling it easily. She had an open discussion with her sisters, while they were watching the former Senator Dick Gordon speak about the power of tourism. She wondered about how she could help the tragic victims of the typhoon. Being moved by his speech, this kindled her choice to utilize the power of tourism for the evolution of the country.

Driven as the passionate April that she is, she became the top football player in the whole Philippine high school division, even playing for the UP Football Team but unfortunately, she gained numerous knee ligament injuries when she was almost close to graduating in senior year. As a result, her scholarship which was the only source of her tuition fee was taken away leading to her personally dropping school. Despite her financial debacle, she was eager to understand tourism better.

Not letting her experience down her, she worked as a tour guide and as a logistics manager for a travel show. She loved what she did and traveled for an entire year, while having fun discovering the the uniqueness of every place she visits. Because of this job, she was able to visit more than 51 provinces because of this.

“The hardest part is when the excitement dies down. This is why passion is the difference between those who try and those who succeed.” At first, it was exciting for her to travel places, but as it became a normal routine, the normal excitement you feel when you receive the same gift over and over dies down, but her passion in traveling and changing the world through tourism did influence her innovation in FlipTrip.


7. Natividad Yabut-Cheng - Uratex

Photo Courtesy: BizNewsAsia (January 2014 Issue)

Natividad Cheng used to sleep at the hard cold floor covered with only one thin banig (mat) together with four families living in a small house. They actually looked like sardines sleeping clumped up together. Forced to work in a factory, she met her faithful husband Robert. With only more or less P4,000, and out of exhaustion from their low-paying jobs, they started their own business of bedding supplies called Polyfoam Chemical Corp.

Enforcing thriftiness and simplicity, they were able to save P200,000, enough to purchase a German-made machinery for their business. With this, the business continued to expand through the years. However, luck at this moment wasn't on their side. A huge fire hit the company warehouse and brought damages amounting to about P2 million of materials and equipment, which at that time was big a loss for a company. 

“Parang bumagsak ang langit sa amin pero malakas naman ang fighting spirit namin na kailangan namin bumangon,” (It's like the sky fell down on us but our fighting spirit was strong that we need to get up.) Cheng said, in an interview in ABS-CBNs My Puhunan TV show.

To restore all the lost earnings, they took a loan and worked harder to rise and get back on their feet again. While still recovering from their loss, another unfortunate event happened. Cheng's husband passed away. This brought doubts as to who would succeed the management of the company, now that he's gone. Being the tough woman she is, she continued the business with the vision of her husband and the foundation's existence in focus.

If you were in that case, you would've given up especially if your strength and partner for life suddenly leaves, but Ma'am Natividad continued to persevere and stayed strong just like when he was still there. She rode the waves of life and faced the challenges with her head held high. Now, her products have now been a great inspiration to Filipinos around the world.


8. Josh Mahinay - BAG943

Photo Courtesy: Josh Mahinay

Most successful individuals were pushed to their limits by poverty, among other factors. Some fail, while others continue to aim for the stars. Josh Mahinay is just one of these amazing and inspirational beings who managed to rid himself of his poverty.

Growing up in a remote barangay in the province of Zamboanga and being the youngest out of his nine siblings, he was witness to the difficulty of being born poor.

His parent's livelihood was mining which caused them to move from one place to another and live with families who weren't related to them. Just to go to school, he walked distances of 10 kilometers per day along the hard-curved mountains. His slippers was getting torn often and all of his school supplies would fall out, forcing him to use the classical red and white plastic bag. He sometimes felt embarrassed and awkward because his classmates would often look at him with laughter or with pitiful eyes. 

Receiving his very first usable bag from a distant relative in fourth grade made him really happy even if it was just passed on to him. Still, it made him realize that someone actually cared for him. As a result, he felt inspired and did better in school to get out of poverty as a way of thanks for all the blessings he received from God no matter how small it were.

"Because someone believed in me, I started believing in myself. Having a school bag like my classmates gave me the confidence to dream the kind of dreams that they have, or maybe bigger." said Josh Mahinay in Republika ng Filinvestor.

Years have passed and now, he's worked for five years in United States. While on a vacation in Mindanao, he met a kid walking to school and carrying a plastic bag along the rice paddy dike. His emotional instincts sparked when he reminisced his life as the kid looked at him. He remembered the way he walked long ragged roads just to get to school. He remembered how he awkwardly held the plastic bag with his school supplies just to utilize what he only had. Everything started playing like a video of his life was flashed before his eyes.

That single emotional moment made him decide to go back home in 2012 to start a business for helping children with their education. This led him create the BAG943 which sells bags with the tagline of "Buy One Give One" thru the Bag of Dreams Project. The premise is that, a bag will be donated to an unfortunate child for every bag that is purchased. With this, the children will have hope because they would feel they are not left behind.


Josh Mahinay with the Yellow Boat Foundation.
 Photo Courtesy: The Philippine Star



9. Rebecca Bustamante

Photo Courtesy: Chalre.com

She made it! Everyone can dream! And this is a story of a dreamer.

Mired in poverty and the seventh out of eleven, Rebecca Bustamante Bustamante had to work as a maid in exchange for food and tuition fee. Leaving Dasol, Pangasinan, she decided to work in a factory in Bataan where her aunt promised to send her to high school because her mother was diagnosed with cancer. Her determination to rise from poverty boosted despite being discriminated whenever they couldn’t afford her mother’s hospital bills and other fees that were needed to be paid. Unfortunately, her mother passed away. It was too late.

Having turned 19, she left for Singapore as a domestic helper. She had an exhausting work as a nanny, sleeping always late and only had a one day-off each month. Working and grabbing the opportunity to study without telling her employer, a Singaporean professor volunteered to support her. She studied accounting.

“I was so determined to improve myself to be able to help my brothers and sisters because I promise my mom to give the education and the life my brothers and sisters deserved,” she said from an interview in Inquirer. Despite having a tightly packed schedule, her focus to earn money and let her siblings in the Philippines finish school never faded.

Having migrated to Canada after having earned throughout her college years in Singapore, she worked as a nanny while continuing her degree Accountancy at an another prestigious university. Despite being criticized by her friends because of the way she lived her life, she continued to fulfill her promise to her mother when she was alive that she would support her family.

Time went by until she reached 27, when she thought about marriage. At that time, all of her siblings have already finished college. She was nervous because she had no experience. She even read dating and relationship books. One fateful day arrived. A friend set her up to a businessman named Richard Mills. After spending a few weeks of dating and despite lying about her background, Richard wanted to introduce her to his family. He was serious with her.

“I said, 'Oh my gosh, I have to tell him the truth! That's when I said who I am, my background and why I did not give him my real story. And he said, ‘I'm still really interested to meet you’...so that's when the relationship blossomed,” Rebecca Bustamante confessed.

Eventually, she introduced Mills to her family and she got married at 31. Now, they're raising two sons named Alex and Chris. After settling in the Philippines and doing numerous shift of business, she and her husband founded their own company named Chalré in 2005. Chalré has now successful investments around the world.

Bustamante, Mills and their children Alex and Chris. 
Photo Courtesy: Richard Mills


10. Sandy Javier

Photo Courtesy: ABS-CBN News

All of us make mistakes at some point in time which could destroy us completely. Sandy Javier has experienced had one of them. Despite his failure, he managed to reshape his new found path and walk the road even though it seemed late.

Sandy Javier was the smartest out of all his siblings and was even a scholar until he drifted to the wrong path in college. He prioritized other unnecessary things like having girlfriends during his stay in Ateneo de Manila University up to the moment he graduated. When he turned 30, his siblings were already creating a mark and defining their own lives, while he turned out to be the low achievers despite being the brightest in the family.

Having no achievement reached, he went away and tried to find himself. He traveled to Japan with a $500 allowance. All of his money got lost because he checked in an expensive hotel. This made him realize how hard money has to be earned.

He accepted odd jobs and became the country's first Japayuki (foreign "entertainer" in Japan). There was one time when he sang for a Yakuza (crime syndicates originating in Japan) and was slapped after. Having felt violated, he wanted to fight back but he found out that that was how Yakuza's show hat they're pleased. They slap you and shove money in your pocket if they're entertained. He earned 20,000 yen and soon after, he became used to it just to earn money.

After his stay in Japan, he went to Germany as a TNT (Filipino slang Tago ng Tago pointing to "illegal immigrants"). An American sheltered him out of pity. When he went back to the Philippines, an unfortunate event took place.

"When I came back, my father was dying. I did not recognize my father; he was so thin. It was then that I promised him: Kapag umasenso ako (If I get better), I will name my business after you and your name will be known all over the world." he stated.

His dad gave him a warm smile despite his shortcomings. That meant a lot to him. He knew his father loved him with all he had in spite of his mistakes. Inspired by his father, he went to Manila to continue searching for himself. He stumbled upon a lechon manok place in Pampanga and didn't like the way it was cooked. With this, an idea to start a similar kind of business poped in.

Just like what other businessmen feel, his first business was a failure. He only sold two out of 12 chickens which forced him and his family to eat different chicken dishes out of it until it got consumed. Trying again, he moved to a better place near an outlet that was selling lots of chickens per day with people lining up at their doors. He believed that the impatient starving customers would go to him instead. However, it still didn't click. Some customers didn't want his chicken.

Lots of failures followed. Honest customers said that the way the chicken was prepared wasn't good, so he came up with a new recipe. It still didn't sell. Customers just passed by his stall like it was invisible. He then advertised by putting up a fancy lit sign to attract customers. He explained, "Eh, kung lumampas rin, hindi ko na hahabulin 'yon. Bulag sigurado 'yon." (If he just passed by, I wouldn’t chase him. He’s probably blind.).

Despite all the failures he experienced, he kept working harder and harder until Andok's became so famous, it had to branch out.

A chicken out of all Andok’s recipe. 
Photo Courtesy: Andok’s website.

These are the stories of Filipino success in the world of busines.

Most of these entrepreneurs had the qualities of hard work, determination, patience, and most importantly, grit. Being born in an unfair world where poverty is sometimes a work of chance, there are a lot of people who have made something out of nothingness just to achieve what their hearts desire. Don't let failure and your current situation deter you from reaching your target destination.

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