Lessons from Dad, John Gokongwei Jr. – Lance Gokongwei/Yvette Fernandez

My father, John Gokongwei Jr., started out as an entrepreneur at age 13, after his father died.  He sold friend peanuts cooked in garlic, and dreamt of one day having enough money to bring his brothers and sisters back to The Philippines.  They had been sent to China after his father passed away. 

When Dad was 15, he got on his bicycle every day to head to the marketplace to sell thread, soap, candles, and other things he felt people needed.  He woke up earlier than anybody else and worked longer than anybody else.  He dreamt of being the biggest salesman in the market place. 

After saving up money from buying and selling these wares, Dad dreamt bigger, and bought passage on a small boat called a batel to head to Manila.  He dreamt of becoming one of the biggest traders in Manila.

Today at age 90, Dad is still an entrepreneur, and heads one pf the largest and most diversified Filipino conglomerates.  He still dreams of being an even bigger player in the global marketplace.

This book is a collection of the things I’ve learned from him throughout the years – lessons on  life, love, family, work, and the courage and determination it takes to fulfil your dreams.

Reading the recent news of the passing of John Gokongwei Jr.  It reminded me that I still needed to review this gem of a book.  Written by his son Lance, Lessons from Dad is an eye opener when it comes to big business, and how it can be done right.

The family first came to my attention when Crissy, (formerly an employee of Gokongwei owned Cebu Pacific) bought me the book in order to help me immerse myself in Filipino culture, and it was a pleasure to discover a genuinely inspirational business story, where people are as important as the bottom line.

John Gokongwei Jr’s journey was one of guts and determination, an inspirational tale, and one of a man who remained grounded and was always looking to give back to society. A huge believer in education and pushing oneself to the limit, he spent plenty of money funding schools and scholarships, believing that education was the only way to make the Philippines more successful. Continue reading “Lessons from Dad, John Gokongwei Jr. – Lance Gokongwei/Yvette Fernandez”

Back in Blighty!

I started a blog post back in January that had the first line, ‘Before it gets forgotten in the tumultuousness of the  new year…’. Having singularly failed to get around to chronicling our travels in England over Christmas, I can belatedly litter a few of those photos over this post.

Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire

Deleting most of my notes from the previous drafts, it is nonetheless a pleasant feeling to finish a post about England, and as it turns out – almost like it was planned –  we are now back over in the isle seemingly known as Brexit.  Ignoring the news though, it is good to be back on home ground, although I’m gutted that the football wasn’t on terrestrial(is this still a term?) television.

Nice view looking back from the entrance of the awesomely named cave, The Devil’s Arse.

Suffering the usual fourteen and a half hour flight – spent watching Creed films this time -the highlight by a cracking English breakfast just before we landed at 8:10pm.  It was good to finally touch down, especially when we were gifted fast track passes for passport control, because Crissy has friends everywhere. Continue reading “Back in Blighty!”

Plans and Planes

Hurley, the latest puppy to add to the menagerie.

It’s been a while since I last posted, but in the brief time taken off, lots has happened.

first off, work has been taking up most of my time.  I am now working for a second book publisher, Shadow Alley Press.  The opportunity came out of the blue, but grabbing it with both hands, it promises lots of tight deadlines and a good stream of work, which is handy as I am not averse to grabbing a coffee at 10pm to power through to the early hours, if needs be.

We are also heading back to England for a time, at the end of May, so getting a visa for Crissy was a necessary distraction.  This was by far the most frustrating waste of time and money.

VFS Global are notorious for their terrible service.  The barriers we faced were, a website that logged us out automatically (and constantly) meaning we couldn’t book an appointment with them.  This was sorted after countless attempts on their poor excuse for a website.  When the visa arrived it was the wrong one, there was no phone number for the UK, it turns out that it doesn’t have a number (but numbers for Malta, Netherlands, etc are available).  Only bots ‘answered’ our messages on their website and social media.  Randomly turning up at their offices they acknowledged their mistake, nevertheless we had to buy an envelope for them to send the passport back to the British embassy for correction.  Then we find out their policy is to not deliver the visa to our door despite the mistake being theirs. Continue reading “Plans and Planes”

(F)easter

Good Friday promised a leisurely start, especially as the citizens of this country run on ‘Filipino time’ which generally consists of being late at ever opportunity so if you want people to show up at your desired time, its accepted that you tell everyone to arrive at least an hour earlier.  The opposite happened, of course. The rush was then on when word came through that we were going now, Right Now.  You can’t plan anything in advance, I find it best to go with the flow.

Liliw, Laguna. I have no idea about the umbrellas.

The whole weekend was glorious sunshine, especially after a cooling thunderstorm had  hit us the day before.  Off we went to Quezon province. Around about forty of us piled into cars and a lorry, and as usual the lovely countryside sprawled out for my viewing pleasure.

Rolling into our resort, the air con going 24/7 in the rooms was the best thing since the bread before sliced bread.  The first order of business was to go on a short pilgrimage up the Kamay ni Hesus.  Not being a Catholic, I still chose to wander up its 300 steps for the experience.  Thankfully it wasn’t too busy, last time my Filipino fam came the queue was three hours long. Continue reading “(F)easter”

Doing the Universe of Good

A few months ago I watched with amusement at the resulting celebrations rising from the announcement that the Philippines had yet again won Miss Universe.  Putting my book down for a few moments – a struggle such as that was – I joined the party because it meant a chance of free food!

A couple of things of late have reminded me about Catriona Gray, firstly Ren’s post on Filipino films, especially Buy Bust which is set in Tondo, and secondly, the below music video, again set in Tondo, where Miss U does a lot of charity work.  It gives an insight into one of the areas so often glossed over when people talk about the Philippines.

The last question posed on finals night was, What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your life and how will you apply it to your time as Miss Universe?  Her answer:

I work a lot in the slums of Tondo, Manila and the life there is very… it’s poor and it’s very sad. And I’ve always taught myself to look for the beauty in it; to look in the beauty in the faces of the children, and to be grateful. And I would bring this aspect as a Miss Universe to see situations with a silver lining, and to assess where I could give something, where I could provide something as a spokesperson. And this I think if I could also teach people to be grateful, we could have an amazing world where negativity could not grow and foster, and children will have a smile on their faces.

A Writing Retreat

This weekend saw us go on an adventure to one of our favourite places, Bag of Beans, in Tagaytay.  Battling the usual heat, and a cold – which rendered my voice incapable of anything above a croak – it was a relief to clear away the cobwebs and stretch the legs.

The view is always going to be the major pull, inspiring as it is, and has the added bonus of effortlessly making my photography skills seem like talent, despite being a bit ropey in reality. Relaxing here is always the perfect pay off after yet another crazy week.

Despite the beautiful and distracting vista, there was also plenty of reading and writing successfully done, accompanied by a pleasant, cool breeze. An iced mocha at my elbow further stimulated the brain cells into action.

Breakfast was an absolutely treat as well. Sweet and savoury combined to complete my satisfaction, and a creative day was off to a great start.