Lessons Learned

Wow. What an overwhelming response from so many friends who got a copy of The Philippine Star last Thursday as well as to those who browsed over the internet! I had all but praises for the first column. The first one, of course, came from my wife, who texted all her batchmates, relatives, and friends to read it. They can’t say it was bad, can they?

Seriously, the GoNegosyo.org was alive with an increase in page views. We got more than 3,500 hits with 63% unique visitors from all around the world that day. It’s a good indication that the site is really on its track to being the country’s business portal.

A lot of people tested the site to see if it was for real. Those who wondered if they would get answers from a mentor (those people who suspected that we had secretaries answering questions for us) got real business advice from our GoNegosyo mentors. Personally, I take time to answer the questions forwarded to my personal email via my Blackberry phone. Though sometimes I have to pass some inquiries to our mentors who are experts in the related field. They are very much eager to help people.

We hope to see the GoNegosyo.org website come to a more active and busy life such as ours. In time, business ideas will be uploaded. We are set to include in the website great business ideas for free in the coming days like food cart franchising and internet centers. People now can clearly see what’s in and what’s not and do something to make those concepts a reality.

A few days ago, I was invited to speak before a rotary club. My fault was to underestimate the number of attendees who are interested to know what it takes to be an entrepreneur. I’ve realized there are so many who want the business but less sure if it will work.

Hopefully my words of encouragement to people to be optimistic sinked in after my talk. Whenever I’m asked to deliver a speech, I give an extemporaneous one, as I feel it’s best if it comes from the heart. My topic had something to do with being “never too late.” It is quite true seeing my grandfather started Concepcion Industries at age 60 and he passed away at 75. He was a remarkable man who had an example that one can be an entrepreneur even at an old age.

Nonoy Colayco who is a close friend of mine started his own business at the age of 55. Sorry Nonoy if i had to mention your age. But Level Up which is known for Ragnarok placed a remarkable valuation in just a couple of years after PLDT bought in to it.  This was the same message I told the FINEX people two days after.

I guess more and more people really want to be inspired these days, regardless of age.  I always mention in my speeches the importance of mentoring our children properly. As parents and as their teachers, we can help spell the outcome of the characters of our kids—the confidence that we try to make them learn, and the right values that they will use later in life.  This applies to every home, whether you have a big one or not. What we teach them would mean the difference. I have seen it through countless successful entrepreneurs out there. 

While I share this with you, I became guilty one time of not walking my own talk.  Luckily I got the message clearly when I realized I was wrong. I’m a believer of continuous learning and I think there is always wisdom in experience.

Over the past years, my wife and I got into the sport of diving and so did our children. One day my wife told me she wanted to invest in a dive shop business. I told her it won’t work. I said it’s better to just keep diving as our fun sport.

For some time, this became an issue that brought a big fight. I consistently told her she won’t succeed and stressed that she will fail if she pushed through. Still, she started it with her dive instructors and named it Pacifica.

Now, she and her partners are doing fairly well, exactly the opposite of my prediction.  I guess my mistake was to discourage her. I thank God she didn’t listen to me. I guess we, husbands, think we know everything. We sometimes tend to forget that women are naturally born entrepreneurs.

So to the husbands out there, give your wife a chance. Don’t make the same mistake I did. Encourage them if they really do have a good idea. It may sound bad the first time but eventually, it may turn out good and it will make us realize how wrong we are.

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Dear Sec. Yap,

I am Mr. Oliver Angeles. My family ang I are currently living in England. In time wewould like to go back to Philippines since my heart really belongs there. Since I was small, I am interested about animals. When we go back to our country, do you think that livestock will still be a good investment? And what kind of livestock would be better to start with?

Dear Oliver,

Investing in dairy animals has been found to be a good option for some overseas Filipinos.  Some of them invest directly by buying their own dairy cattle, carabao or goat and starting their own farms. Some of them tap their own relatives to look after the farm. When the farm is located along a milk route, the dairy animal owner can sell the milk to the dairy plant in that dairy zone.  There are 14 dairy zones in different parts of the country. 

There is also a scheme whereby an investor could contract to purchase a dairy animal with a dairy enterprise that will buy the animal for the investor and put the animal in the care of a dairy farmer. 

A sharing arrangement is agreed upon among the dairy enterprise, the investor and the farmer who will take care of the animal.  A regular report is sent to the investor about calving and milk production of the animal owned by the investor and the investor’s share in proceeds from milk sales is deposited by the enterprise in the investor’s bank account. 

Dairy cattle, carabao and goats are raised by dairy farmers in the Philippines. The choice is usually dependent on availability of stocks in the area.  Please visit the NDA website, http://www.nda.gov.ph for additional information or send your other questions to:  [email protected]

Thank you for your interest in the Philippine livestock sector.

Arthur C. Yap
Secretary of Agriculture

( Arthur Yap is a lawyer by profession. He holds a Juris Doctor’s degree at the School of Law of the Ateneo de Manila University.)

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Hi Ms. Delby,

I just wanted to ask if there is a market for capiz shells here in the Philippines and or abroad? I have a friend who has abundant supply of capiz shells which I believe are used to make accessories or added to design furnitures. We are really hoping to make business out of these raw materials and to find markets here and abroad. I am tired of being an employee, I guess it’s time to venture into something different.


Dear Gimmy,

I am in a creative and highly competitive field of business. I know for a fact that there is a resurgence of interest in natural materials, indigenous materials, and handmade products. Capiz shells are made by nature – so my instinctive response to your question is “Yes!” there is a market for capiz shells in the Philippines and in abroad.

However, this has to be collaborated with sound market research – which is the direction towards which i shall point you. To start a business, it would be advisable to invest a lot of your time and energy towards gathering data to double check whether the idea is financially viable. May I suggest you make a business plan – just to keep more focused and add some framework to your thoughts?

Also, please check with DTI (Dept. of Trade and Industry), CITEM (Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions) . Maybe they can link you with Capiz users in the Philippines. CITEM holds a trade fair twice a year i believe – and on the last day, the trade fair is open to the public.

You might want to check with the exporters over there as to whether they require capiz, in what quantities, in what processed form, etc. It would be a start to simply ask for their business cards and then email them after the trade fair. Better still if you could get the list of exporters from Citem.

Here’s wishing you the best in your upcoming business!


( A New York-trained Fashion Designer, Delby Bragais is currently the only Internationally Certified Image Consultant in the Philippines today – aligned with the Association of Image Consultants International based in the United States.)