Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Our industry is suffering because of too many holidays and too many breaks.

Why is doing business in the Philippines such a difficult thing? I’ll tell you why, it’s because of leaders trying to make sure that the ass’ of the majority of the voting public gets kissed by them through more holidays, increasing too much the daily wage in other parts of country (when it is not necessary) and by labor laws and taxes that do not give the small and medium enterprises a chance to grow first before starting to push them to the wall.

I’m tired of all these holidays. Because of the holidays, I have to pay twice the salary and twice the expense just so we can keep up with the demands of our customers abroad. They don’t have the same holidays as we do, so why should our production for them stop?

I understand that this “strategy” is in line with promoting the local tourism. But, because of that, people start making cash advances or start using their credit cards just so they can go on trips or spend the next few days lounging around, going to malls, etc. This kind of overly prolonged holidays has created a new spending habit for the people. I know, it is their God-given right, in as much as I would want to have the same kind of break, but it is promoting a culture of “laziness” and a culture wherein people are taught to spend more and are given more time for “idleness,” a culture wherein people know that because they have the voting power, they, as a group, can actually manipulate the law-makers into supporting their “capriccios.” Because of this, they would clamor yet for a higher pay. The salary I give to the people is way higher than the minimum wage and so, I am not guilty of giving them less than what they deserve. But, with all this going on, the economy is going down. Businesses are shutting down because they can no longer afford the labor cost and the demands of the people. In fact, have you noticed that before, Unilever and Proctor and Gamble products and other basic necessities were all manufactured here in the Philippines and we were the ones exporting these goods? Now, these products are manufactured in China, India and Indonesia. The very people who demand for higher pay are the very people who are losing their jobs to other countries.

Ironic, isn’t it?

Monday, April 16, 2007

Wishing I was born as a son.

We can never discount the fact that even at this day and age, the Philippine’s general perception of family and business still leans toward the values of having the “son” running the enterprise and inheriting the major family properties. I’m not ranting that this is an unfair process but I do believe that despite how much we try to change the way we look at this issue, we still go back to the basic “beliefs”.

My dad comes from a Chinese lineage. He does claim that he does not want to follow the Chinese traditions wherein the son is given more favors just because he carries the family name. But, he can’t hide the obvious fact that his words contradict his actions.

Take the case of our business. A few years ago, dad started a small business that has grown to more branches. My brother, the only son, was given one. The other branches are still running, yet the other that was being taken care of my brother, closed down. It was very obvious that, this branch that was closed-down was mishandled. Let’s just say, this was attributed to the negligence of my brother. I could not see it any other way. We lost millions then. However, my parents did their best to justify this so that they can give the main business to my brother, the holding company that is.

That being the case, since I knew I no longer had the chance to own a part of the business, I as a younger sister had no choice but to venture out of my own. I had no support from my parents, financial or moral. They even criticized my decision of setting up a business as they felt it was not lucrative enough and I could not make it. My brother even said, I won’t make it to the third month. Since I started earning and getting more clients, they started talking about my success. Of course, dad had to; I still carry their family name.

Since I knew I needed to expand my business as I was getting more work, I needed financial support to buy the equipments. Swallowing my pride, I went to my parents to borrow a few hundred thousands. Remember, I had no property or land title to my name so I could not go to the bank for a loan. They did lend me the money but not a day went by that they didn’t remind me that I owed them that much and so for the next few months, I worked hard to let my business grow to get back the money and repay them. As for my brother? They didn’t even bother asking him to repay a single centavo from the closed-down business.

My parents are proud of my accomplishments now. It took me years to get their acknowledgement. I had to have my name printed in the papers and had to have big people in the business world say good things about me first. I had to exceed expectations before they started recognizing my accomplishments. But let my brother come up with one business idea or a single report and they would ecstatically jump for joy and call everybody in the family for a “get together and special a dinner.” All this, because he is a son.

Now, don’t take it that I’m complaining. I grew up having no choice but to look at the lighter side of things, to look at the silver lining of the clouds, so to speak. I have considered this as a challenge. Maybe, if my parents did not treat me this way, I don’t think I would have pushed myself to go beyond what was expected. After all, I still would want their recognition and would want to see them happy for me. It may take a lot for my part to do this, but at least, I’m still able to do so.

My Introduction

Ang Filipina, dapat tahimik, maalaga, maasikaso, maka dios at maka pamilya. I wish I could say that I can be described as such. This is a new world, where women are given their rights to express their thoughts and be able to advance in their profession whenever they want to. But are we really all free to do so? I want to believe that such is the case. I am close to 30 and at my age, I have reached the epitome of my career, employing more than forty talented individuals and giving them a chance at reaching their goals. I am at the position where I make the decisions, I call the shots. However, at the end of the day, I get to reflect on all I have done and see if I had done it all well enough to say that I have truly succeeded.

Journey with me as I try to document my life; how I have to live two lives to be happy and how I cope with the everyday pangs of reality of a businesswoman who strives to succeed in this country.