Friday, August 15, 2008

Manny Villar leads 17 outstanding entrepreneurs

by Domini M. Torrevillas
"From the Stands,"
Philippine Star

This article was originally published in the Philippine Star on August 7, 2008 (Manila time). Ms. Torrevillas has given Barangay OFW her kind permission to re-publish this article. She is a columnist of the Philippine Star, a leading broadsheet in the Philippines. You may reach Ms. Torrevillas at

Sen. Manny Villar gave the awards to the country’s 17 outstanding entrepreneurs over the weekend at what is now called Laurel Mansion on Shaw boulevard, Mandaluyong City, over the weekend. The awards were a centennial gift of the Nacionalista Party dubbed Pondo sa Sipag, Puhunan sa Tiyaga.

The awardees came from different regions across the country and chosen from thousands of entries, and each of them received P100,000 and a statuette. Senator Villar, who is president of the Nacionalista Party, said, “We give due recognition to our entrepreneurs who have exemplified the Filipino spirit of excellence and resilience in their respected fields even amid trying times.”

The party and the Sipag at Tiyaga Foundation joined hands to realize the party’s vision of propelling entrepreneurs through the Pondo sa Sipag initiative. It was at the party’s 100th year celebration held at the Philippine International Convention Center in November last year that the nationwide search for the most promising and innovative entrepreneurs was launched.

The winners, coming from different regions of the country, are: Sarah Dabucon and Margarita Allado from Region 1; Albino Francisco, Calma Arcala, Albert Dulnuan, Elizabeth Africano and Solomon Maylem from Region 2; Pacifico dela Cruz from Region 3 and Antonia Villanueva from Region 4; Marianne Olano from Region 5; Roland Madera from Region 6; Lucresia Saga from Region 7; Elizabeth Rafal from Region 12; Ernesto and Alicia Paglinawan from the CARAGA Region, and Marie Saclag and Regina Mado from CAR.

Now, why am I saying that the senator headed the 17 outstanding entrepreneurs? The reason is that he embodies the traits of sipag (industry) and tiyaga (patience), among others. At the awards dinner, he proudly recounted his journey from a seafoods vendor in Tondo to office employee to distributor of gravel and sand to builder of possibly the country’s biggest number of low-cost and middle-cost housing projects, and although he did not say it, to become one of the most wealthy of the country’s legislators. He said that what he has become has been due to industry, patience, humility and innovativeness.

At the awards dinner, the winners were given cash awards of P100,000 each, to encourage them by providing them with additional capital. As Senate President Villar told the audience that packed the historic Laurel mansion, “We expect their (the awardees) feats in this nationwide search will serve to inspire our countrymen to follow their lead and take the path of entrepreneurship to spur the economy.”

Due to space constraints, I’m writing very brief sketches on how the entrepreneurs started their businesses. They share similar experiences of facing difficulties and making their businesses grow — from very little capital.

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A native of Binamar, Banna, Ilocos Norte, Sarah Dabucon’s husband abandoned her and their three children. In 2002, with a seed capital of P5,000, she started a home-based enterprise producing rice coffee and soya coffee. Her business, SCUFYND (an acronym of the three names of her sons), is now a success, netting P308,688 last year.

With an initial capital of P10,000, Margarita Allado, once a domestic helper in Hong Kong, put up a small sari-sari store in Currimao, Ilocos Norte. Her business, which she and her husband run, has expanded to include a fish cage business, cattle-fattening, swine production, and rice and vegetable farming.

From Region 2 comes the winner, Albino Francisco, of Maura, Aparri, Cagayan. His small refrigeration and airconditioning shop, is used by TESDA students for their training. His 25 years in the business may not have much financial reward, but it has helped him and his wife raise their family.

No. 4 awardee Calma O. Arcala, a graduate of agriculture from Benguet State University in Mt. Province, and her husband started their mushroom culture business with an initial capital of P85,000. Cali’s Mushroom Farm in Solano, Nueva Vizcaya, netted them P190,000 in 2007.

Albert Dulnuan, an Ifugao by birth, is a retired teacher, a former principal of a public high school, and a former municipal councilor. He started the A.B. Dulnuan Rattan Seedling Nursery and Plantation, which raises rattan seedlings at an average of 100,000 seedlings each year. Clients include farmers and provincial governments, and Albert’s farm is being used as a venue for practicum on rattan propagation by agriculture students.

At age 56, Elizabeth Franco Africano, a school teacher, and her two sisters opened Franco’s Café in Cauayan City. The café introduced the first Italian, Mexican and Mediterranean cuisine in the city, and meals without rice consisting of pasta, pizza, salads and deli-sandwiches as well as local delicacies. The café’s success gave way to social responsibility by its employing city health volunteer workers as part-time sales ladies in its outlet at the Pasalubong Center, and segregating and recycling waste materials in its good environment program.

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Dr. Solomon Maylem of Malvar, Santiago City, a veterinary doctor by training, runs an edible mushroom business which earns him P10,000 a day. In his farm he also raises super sweet corn, giant tomatoes, sorghum and lettuce and high variety fruits and vegetables. He has adopted the slogan, FAITH, meaning Food Always in the Home.

From Region 3 is winner Pacifico dela Cruz, 54, a native of Plaridel, Bulacan, who started his itikan (wild-duck poultry) with only 185 ducklings. At present he has more than 3,000 ducks in his farm. His itlog na maalat is very popular for its outstanding taste.

(This article has a second part. As of post time, however, it is not yet available. Ed.)

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