Page 1









Beauty becomes a profitable passion




can boost your online market presence


Cagayan de Oro turns whitewater-rafting into a profitable tourism venture

HENRIK YU, CATHY GENABE, and ANN YU score with BIGBY’S large-portioned, comfort food

©2009 Globe Telecom, Inc.



CATHY GENABE, HENRIK YU, & ANN YU Proof that hefty servings and great service spell resto-biz success



Makeup maestro Fanny Serrano finds fullfilment in the business of beauty



Learn how Red Rafts’ and 1st Rafting Adventure’s whitewater rafting businesses boost tourism-and economy-in Cagayan de Oro



Tricie Pengson-Arcenas whips up comfort food for Davaoeños



5High Tech 8Helpline 17Hot Spots 20Global ang Dating 25Franchising 101/Round Up 26EntrepreNews Leslie G. Lee Mari-An C. Santos Sunshine Selga-Funa Camille Besinga Aimee Morales Dino de Ocampo

Editor in Chief Associate Editor Managing Editor Assistant Managing Editor Copy Editor Art Director

Paula Bianca Abiog Angel Constantino Samantha Echavez Jemps Gallegos Jasmine Mendiola Bubbles Salvador Iza Santos Katrina Tan Abby Yao


Vincent Coscolluela Mitch Mauricio Jun Pinzon


Ana Isip

Makeup Artist

Jaclyn L. Chua

Editorial Consultant

Junn delas Alas Dondi Limgenco

Project Managers

Globe Advisory Team Ailene Averion, Cielo Javier-Sonza, Aldwin Co, Alain Sebastian, Michelle Perlas, Barby Coronel, Johanna Guevara-Janeo, Chiqui Reyes



his month’s issue is all about hospitality. The Masigasig team headed to the south of the Philippines to look for success stories for you. And what a goldmine we found! (Check out our features on Batang Nego, Global Ang Dating, Hotspots, and Hot Negosyo this month.) We had the pleasure of dining at Bigby’s, run by Henrik Yu, his wife Ann, and their friend Cathy Genabe. At 33, they have already branched out from their original location in Cagayan de Oro to Cebu, Bacolod, Davao, and Manila; and are relentlessly studying and researching new recipes to add more items to their ever-burgeoning menu. But the most impressive thing about team Bigby’s is that they all know how tricky it is to mix business with pleasure-yet they have managed to disprove the notion that “working with friends is headed for disaster,” as I’ve heard one acquaintance say. Henrik, during the interview, has laughingly said, “Wala kaming pride,” and I couldn’t agree more. Not only should you not cling to your pride if you’ll be dealing with business partners, but you should also do the same if you want your business to succeed. The thing with being in the hospitality business—or any business for that matter—is that you are of service to your client, and that means humbling yourself and throwing your pride out the window. Your customer is King (as countless entrepreneurs have disclosed), and while they may not always be right, one should be flexible and resourceful enough to ensure that your customer is pleased with your service. Once, I was having dinner at a restaurant when I had a sudden craving for a dish I wasn’t sure they served. I went ahead and asked anyway. Our server was a pleasant waif of a girl who cheerfully informed me that she would ask the chef, and never lost her smile, as the fickle-minded I first decided to have the dish with this certain type of sauce, then with this particular topping, then without the topping at all. That kind of service has made the restaurant one of my favorites to this day. On the flip side, I’ve experienced dining at a restaurant that boasts of good food (and it really does), but had really bad service (no apologies for delayed seating, annoyed looks when following up your order). It completely turned me off. Surprisingly, my experience wasn’t just a one-time thing—others have also complained, and my friends and I have stopped patronizing the restaurant since then. Bottom line: Even if your product is the best out there, it won’t matter if you don’t have the service to match it. Just like gossip, news of your service will spread like wildfire—so make sure you get raves rather than rants.

Leslie G. Lee Editor-in-Chief

ma•si•ga•sig – determined, persistent or motivated, with a strong sense of direction in terms of goals to be achieved.

Call the Globe Business Hotline at 730-1288 for inquiries on Globe products and services, or visit any Globe Business Center or Globelines Payments and Services Center. ●

For inquiries, comments or suggestions on Masigasig magazine, e-mail or visit

A special publication made by Summit Media for Globe Telecom. For special publication inquiries, please call 451-8888.




M of TT O th ER N e TH


Hello Masigasig! My name is Cherry Guillena. I’m from Dipolog City. I am an avid fan of your magazine. I always go to the Globe Business Center here to get a copy. It helped me a lot in gaining knowledge on how to run my small pizzeria business. I am also passionate with tourism...I am a freelance tour guide here in the province of Zanorte for the past 12 years and I am thinking of building a new business on travel and tours. The problem is I don’t know where and how to start, and I believe you can give me an idea on how to do this. From us here in Zanorte, Daghang Salamat!

Hi Masigasig, I was so fortunate that upon attending the DTI seminar series for SMEs at SM Megamall last July 9, I came across a very inspiring entrepreneurial magazine, appropriately named Masigasig (June issue). On my way to my place in Las Piñas, while on a bus, I enthusiastically finished reading it.

Hope you can feature e-business basics and how Globe can be a partner in this kind of business. Best Regards, ROWENA L. REYES

Truly yours, CHERRY Q. GUILLENA 0927.9007429

Kudos to the Globe Network for coming up with this timely magazine, with concise yet very appealing stories of success of biz persons—especially Mr. Jovel Cipriano of Pinoydelikasi featured in Global Ang Dating.

Dear Rowena, We are very happy to hear that Masigasig has inspired you to set up your own business. Running an e-business is different from running an actual business, because with e-biz, you will have to rely on technology. This is where Globe comes in. Aside from the Mobility Bundle which provides you with a laptop and Wi-Fi connection, there is also the PC Bundle that gives you unlimited broadband connection, a landline, and PC (desktop or laptop) with a licensed operating system to help you start your business.

Dear Cherry, Perhaps you should seek the help of the Department of Tourism and inform them about your plans to boost tourism in Zanorte, Dipolog via your travel and tours business. You may also want to inquire on how to join DOT’s WOW Philippines exhibits. That way, once your business is up and running, it will be officially recognized and accredited by the DOT—giving you an edge over others. Best of luck to you!

Having truly been moved and inspired by his business start-up story, I recently checked out his website. At the time of writing, I am now crafting a business idea, and will be off to DTI anytime to have my business name registered. I had since been contacting Globe Business Center about Mobility Bundle which would primarily be my Best Reliable Biz Buddy in venturing into business. Best time ever to eventually switch from my current network provider.

You might want to check out other Globe products that may help your business through the website, the Globe hotline 730-1288, or Globe Business Centers. Since you plan to start an e-business, here are a few things you should consider: ● Efficient standard operating procedure (from the first step of responding to inquiries to the last step of delivering your goods and products in good condition to your customer) to provide good and prompt customer service ● Constant monitoring of your website to ensure that it is always updated ● Make sure that your website is user-friendly and easy to navigate; otherwise, your market will get turned off Good luck! Regards, LESLIE Editor-in-Chief


Hello Masigasig! Let me start by saying that I love your magazine because it is informative, useful, and most importantly—easy to read. It is a big help to aspiring entrepreneurs like me who don’t know how to go about starting their own business. Thanks to Masigasig, I’m slowly gaining more confidence in how I do things. If I were to put up my own business, I would like to make and sell accessories and jewelry through online selling. I believe this is a good business to get into because more and more people are now shopping online looking for one-of-a-kind-pieces. So I hope you can help me out by sharing tips and ideas on how to start my own online accessories and jewelries business and where I could find direct suppliers of good quality yet affordable materials in making accessories and jewelries. I am inviting those suppliers of this product to please contact me as soon as possible. Thanks Masigasig! SHEENA DEPAUDHON 0916.6968189

Dear Sheena, You might want to browse previous issues of Masigasig, as we’ve featured quite a lot of entrepreneurs who have gone online to market their goods (especially jewelry and accessories), like the young Cebu designers in our June issue . You can check our previous issues online at Happy reading!

Be the next letter sender of the month! Include your full name, name of business, contact number and e-mail address. The chosen letter for the month will win premium Globe items! The winner will be notified via e-mail and will receive a call from Masigasig.



On Call with ONECall

With just one number to dial, your customers get connected to any of your employees’ mobile phones. B Y


’m sorry, the party you are calling is not in the office right now. May I take a message?” This commonly used statement will no longer be part of your receptionist’s spiel. How? With Globe’s ONECall, customers can easily contact your employees via their mobile phones—even when they call your Globe landline.



calls to the mobile phones of their employees. This ensures that your customers’ needs are met immediately and without hassle on their part. Common Problem 2 INSTALLATION AND MAINTENANCE OF TRADITIONAL PHONE SYSTEMS ARE TOO COSTLY. Traditional phone systems require upfront investment or fees to cover


Think of ONECall as a virtual trunkline with mobile numbers as extensions or local numbers. Each employee has a single mobile phone that is connected to an easy-to-use web-based switchboard. Below is the typical flow of calls using ONECall: 1. A third party calls a ONECall Globe landline number assigned to your company. 2 . Caller is greeted by an Interactive Voice Response (IVR), a voice response system, which you can customize. 3. Caller chooses a specific number. (e.g. 1 for Sales, 2 for Customer Service, 0 for operator) 4. Call is immediately transferred to the mobile phone of the intended recipient.


ONECall solves the following common problems encountered by businesses: Common Problem 1 EMPLOYEE IS ALWAYS OUT! With ONECall, companies could dramatically boost customer service by routing incoming

Common Problem 4 BUSINESS OPERATIONS REQUIRE A PHYSICAL OFFICE. Businesses can now run in a virtual office setup! Even when you or your employees are on the go, you can still function as a group because each member is connected through ONECall.


To avail of ONECall, you will need: ● One (1) Globe Postpaid mobile number that will act as the receptionist or Primary number ● Existing/additional Globe mobile numbers that would act as the extensions. (You may also enroll Globe Prepaid numbers as extensions.) For more information, go to ●


hardware, cabling, and installation. ONECall does not charge you or your company any of these fees simply because it requires no hardware and software! Maintenance fees likewise do not exist. Common Problem 3 CUSTOMERS HAVE TO REMEMBER MANY NUMBERS TO REACH YOUR EMPLOYEES—OR DIAL SEVERAL TIMES TO GET CONNECTED. With ONECall, they only need to remember one main number. Their calls go straight to the mobile phone of the party they need to reach; no need to try again.

“In line with Globe Business’ mission to innovate and come up with solutions that fit the needs of businesses, we are excited to introduce ONEcall—the office mobility solution that enables people to collectively stay connected at anytime with just one landline number. With ONECall, the company’s whole staff can stay accessible to clients—with just one number to remember. Now, client needs can be attended to immediately, which makes client servicing more efficient.”


Head-Corporate & SME Segments, Globe Business



a SALON, & an

INDUSTRY ICON FANNY SERRANO tells all about his beginnings as a hairstylist, his eponymous makeup line and more BY ABBY YAO PHOTOS BY MITCH MAURICIO SITTING EDITOR CAMILLE BESINGA

“I want housewives, students, new makeup artists to start with the right quality.”

and Cosmo Beauty Awards. How did your makeup line come about? FS: I encountered makeup that was imported, expensive, with a hard-to-pronounce name. Pero pag ginamit ko, palpak. Wish ko, pagdating ng panahon, sana magkaroon ng produkto—di ko sinabing akin—na ganito ang quality. Through the years, I encountered several offers to put up a Fanny Serrano cosmetics line. “O, Fanny, ilalagay na lang pangalan mo.” Merong pina-e-endorse. Pangalan pa lang, di ko na feel, quality lalo. Masisira ang pangalan ko dito. The check was on the table. Seven figures. Ang daling masilaw, pero di ko talaga matanggap. So when they [refers to Cosmetics Revelation’s Edmon Ngo, seated nearby] came, malamig na ako sa kanila. [Edmon said], “Fanny, wag ka sanang ma-offend. We would like the price of your cosmetic line to be affordable by everyone, kasi sa SM namin ilalagay. [But] you decide on everything: quality control, packaging, font.” in the market for 30 years but even in my father’s time, there have been lies spreading that we are a sister company of another local brand. When Fanny became part of the [Cosmetics Revelation] family, doon nasira ’yung lies. We blend together because of our shared vision. Fanny’s vision is not for him to get more famous. It’s for him to leave a legacy. He wanted to contribute to the industry, to help upgrade skills.


Fanny Serrano: My very first love is


Q: Your products have won in the Preview

Edmon Ngo: My product [Fashion 21] has been

Q: How did you get started in hair and designing. My only yabang factor is that I know how to draw. I wanted to take up Fine Arts at UST, but we really could not afford it. I took up secretarial at University of the East for half a semester. Na-bored ako. After that, I worked at a salon in Paco as an apprentice, shampoo boy, errand boy. I was 17, earning only 300 pesos a month. I noticed that the senior stylists were being given big tips. I watched them. I would assist a hairdresser para nakikita ko siya in close-up. And then after work, I would do the hairstyle and cut the hair of my cousins, the neighbors’ maids. One day, all the senior stylists and makeup artists went out of town. Naiwan ako sa salon. Sarado ang salon, but this girl knocked. She needed hair and makeup [done]. I recommended myself. The next time, ako na ang hinanap niya. I was able to work in different salons.

from Alex Muhlach, the father of Niño Muhlach. Nabawi in less than one year. I moved to Greenhills in the early 90s because they needed the space for their Supermelt [ensaymada] business. Ako daw ang cause ng traffic sa Connecticut [Street]. Madali akong kausap, so I moved here [Sct. Rallos in Quezon City] in 2000.

CONTACT DETAILS Ms. Beth Tagalicud Secretary to Mr. Fanny Serrano Fanny Serrano Classic Touch/Secret Cafe 69 Scout Rallos St., Tomas Morato, Quezon City 0927.9873184

FS: I want housewives, students, new makeup artists to start with the right quality. Dun muna sila mag-practice. Umiiyak na ang chemist namin sa katakot-takot na thumbs-down na ginagawa ko. Katakot-takot na test ang ginagawa ko. Ayokong mapahiya. And this is a Pinoy price. I get asked, “Di ba ko ma-a-allergic diyan?” I answer, “’Yung iba ho, ipapa-try muna sa inyo ang mga produkto bago sa mga celebrities. Ako po, ita-try ko muna kina Sharon Cuneta, Lorna Tolentino, Charlene Gonzales, Zsazsa Padilla, KC [Concepcion] bago ko ibinenta sa inyo.” I get text messages from salons as far as Tuguegarao and Mindanao. Ang sarap daw gamitin. I would see my customers at a party. I ask “Saan ka nagpa-makeup?” “Fanny, ano ka ba, ako lang ang nag-makeup niyan. Makeup mo ’yan.”



t 62, makeup artist-to-the-stars FANNY SERRANO is still making his and other people’s dreams come true. His cosmetics range FS (short for Fanny Serrano by F21 Cosmetics), now on its sixth year on the market, has a loyal following among makeup lovers who compare his products to expensive imported brands. Just last year, he added the aptly named Secret Café to his salon in Quezon City. Though Fanny prefers to keep his businesses low-key, the word is out because he never compromises on quality. Read on for a lively conversation with the beauty guru.

Fanny Serrano’s salon has a Secret.

Q: When did you start your own salon? FS: 1980 at El Niño Apartelle, with 80,000

CELEBRITY RAKETS miscommunication. Madalas akong mag Facebook. Nung nasa U.S. kami ni Sharon Cuneta for a one-month concert tour, naka-roaming ako. ’Yung mga wedding and debut inquiries, doon ko nakuha sa Amerika. Malaking tulong. Ang mga raket ko sa wedding, nakukuha ko sa website—

Q: If you weren’t in this business, what would

you do? FS: I would be selling plants, landscaping, doing interiors. I’ve done Sharon Cuneta’s rest house in Laguna, a lot of my friends’ houses, hanggang sa America, hanggang sa Dubai. They like my taste. Hindi mahirap tirhan.

Q: What’s next for Fanny Serrano? FS: Natasha [direct selling] came to us and

The FS cosmetics line boasts of world-class quality makeup such as blusher, lipstick, and lip gloss; the Fanny Serrano salon moved its headquarters to Quezon City in 2000.

Q: And you don’t mind that they don’t come

to the salon anymore? FS: Well, may nawala, but it confirms the quality of the makeup. Biglang may kumatok sa amin sa Dubai. For the Filipino community daw. Pinagkaguluhan ng mga Araba. Pati sa Japan, Hong Kong, LA. Kahit maliliit lang ang mga distributors namin, hindi sila napapahiya sa mga bumibili. May business partner ako sa States. Online ang order-an. Karamihan, mga nurses na rumaraket.

EN: Robinsons is asking us to open more counters. They want us to be in the provinces. Last year, we launched all the new lines. Sales increased 30 to 40 percent since last year. More products need to be developed. We source from Taiwan and Japan. A famous Taiwanese makeup artist with his own beauty school saw Fanny’s palette sample in our supplier’s cabinet and asked who did it. “My Filipino client.” “This is a perfect combination!”

FS: We must be on the right track. Pero hindi kami ganun kaingay. Hayaan mong ma-discover. Q: But definitely your status as a celebrity

and industry icon has helped the business. FS: Oh yes. Ang di ko lang gusto, ang image ko na di maabot, unreachable, nakakatakot lapitan. Naging judgemental ang mga tao. Nagtataka sila kung bakit mura. Ang labanan ngayon, value for money. Is the lipstick worth my 200?

Q: It’s already your second term as president of the Philippine International Cosmetologists Association. What else do you want to achieve?

FS: Ang isa pang gustong-gusto kong gawin ngayon, ’yung food talaga. One time, may nagpaayos na mother kasama ’yung husband. The husband left. Na-traffic siya sa Tomas Morato. After a few minutes (mimes phone conversation), “Nasaan ka na? Male-late na!” May pagtatalong nangyari. As I witnessed that, I thought, what if dito mag-istambay ’yung asawa? Garahe ito dati, so pinaayos ko, pinaWi-Fi ko. We started May 2008. Nagkakataon naman, biglang may dumarating. The café is not profit-oriented. Pero kahit papaano, kahit man lamang sa electricity, it helps. The whole family can be here. At home na at home sila dito. Some customers have meetings here, so I have a long table. May nagpe-presscon, one-on-one interview with Ruffa, Jolina, Juday... (Points to the chips served with the clubhouse sandwich) That’s a camote. Siyempre, sariling atin. My specialty here is squash okoy.

they love our products. “Is it possible na main-house ang Fanny Serrano cosmetics?” We studied it and decided to do it. Natasha has allFilipino products, so maraming nabibigyan ng trabaho. Imagine, just my name, nakakatulong. Hindi ako nag-aambisyon na yumaman pa. Ang dream ko, paano ba ako makakabawi sa iba. Next in line is the beauty school, Fanny Serrano International Academy, to share what I know. As a Christian, matakaw ako para sa pangarap ng iba. Grabeng blessings na binibigay ng Diyos sa akin. Tutulong pa ako para makaahon tayong lahat. Magsuportahan tayo para mabawasbawasan ang paghihirap. ●

Fanny’s Five Secrets to Success

Honesty, perseverance, good relationship with others, knowledge about your talent and product, willingness to fight for your goal

Edmon’s Must-trys at Secret Café

Squash okoy, garlic shrimp pasta, halo-halo, Secret Rice Balls (rice stuffed with toppings in tomato base) ■

Q: What are you proudest of in all your years

in the business? FS: Being a makeup artist. Dito ako nakatulong sa ibang tao, nakapagpatapos ng mga adopted ko. Fulfillment is in going back to my first love, [fashion] designing. Interior decorating naman ang relaxation sa akin. Pag may nag-i-inquire sa ’kin for acting, I’ll do it if it’s a very good story that won’t waste the televiewers’ time. I want to be Jose Rizal. Ang daming career [options].

Q: Are you comfortable with technology? FS: I have a laptop. I don’t want to be computer illiterate. But I still write by hand. I don’t use text abbreviation kasi baka magka-



Online Networking Z How social networking sites (SNS) can benefit your business

enithOptimedia (www.zenithoptimedia. com), one of the world’s biggest media services companies, reports that the economy’s global ad expenditure has dropped 6.9 percent this year. People stay home more, log in more TV and Internet time. They consume less, move spending habits from first-rate to practical, a reason for increased Internet growth in search for better deals. Free Wi-Fi, once just a marketing tool for restaurants, is now necessary to entice and keep customers. Increased mobile usage indicates 24/7 user connection, turning to social networking sites (SNS) Facebook, Twitter, and Multiply for quick breaks.

In a 2009 Social Media Success Summit study, 88 percent of marketers reveal the use of social media for business marketing, while 72 percent of those have been using it for just a few months. According to comScore (www. ), a research company that provides marketing data and services, SNS users grew to 580 million in June 2008, a 25 percent increase from the year before.


Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg, co-founders of Future Now, Inc., a business consulting and training firm, explain social media as web-based platforms for interaction and relationships, not content and ads. Bizu Patisserie Sales & Marketing Manager, Audrey Tanco, quotes her online marketing

The uniqueness of each SNS





SocialMedia CEO Seth Goldstein. “To be effective, figure out how to become part of the conversations...within the social network.”

More and more SMEs are maximizing SNS to reach their market.


consultant, “With social media marketing, you get a social network aligned with what you market, conversations with clients who care about what you promote, and metrics that help you understand your clients.” It’s not about size. exclusively caters to Europe’s AB market, while another SNS ( targets ages 40 and above. “It’s more about branding,” affirms founder Erik Wachtmeister, addressing the concern on low click-through rates for promoting via SNS. “We sell ads based on impressions. Members want to get together in real life, that’s why you have many events going on; therefore we have a very unique opportunity as opposed to just... banner advertising.” “People interact on SNS, rather than just reading content...on sites. If you’re just throwing up display ads, you’re missing the point,” says

Age: 5 years No. of users worldwide: 200 million Average user: Mostly under 35, about 41% college age Claim to fame: # 1 SNS; profits $10-50 million yearly from ads. Began as a Harvard-only network. From June 2008 to January 2009, the number of users aged 35-54 quadrupled, users aged 55 tripled (iStrategylabs). Business advantage: “You can create applications like quizzes or ‘gifts’ that easily spread among users, which is great for brand awareness,” says Icamina.


“Hotels and restaurants should consider social media (through SNS) as a marketing tool because first of all, it’s free,” says Summit Digital Editorial Manager Chrissy Icamina. “When you use social media to market a brand, it’s more personal than shoving an ad to a potential consumer’s face. And when it’s personal, it becomes a ‘word of mouth’ form of marketing, which is effective, as people always trust their friends’ opinions when it comes to new products. In fact, in a Nielsen Global Trust Survey, 78 percent of people trust consumer recommendations.” “We can’t afford not to be online—that’s where our target market is,” adds Bistro Group of Restaurants (Italianni’s, TGIFriday’s, Fish & Co., Flapjacks) Marketing Director Lisa Ronquillo. The Bistro Group recently partnered with yehey. com and to host a free foodtasting event for bloggers to review online. “Each network has their own nuances, but functionality that enables sharing with friends is specific to social networks,” Goldstein adds. “Marketers are just starting to figure this out by understanding how to create messaging that invokes viral sharing.” “We have acknowledged that social networking is a new marketing tool to promote businesses,”


Age: 7 years No. of users worldwide: 90 million Average user: Popular in Southeast Asia. No longer popular in USA and Europe Claim to fame: The SNS pioneer Business advantage: Great for increasing contact base.


Age: 5 years No. of users worldwide: Over 28 million Average user: Males aged 41and above; with average annual income of $110,000

HELP LINE says Tanco. “Aside from being cost-effective, it is a venue for interaction with clients. Bizu wants to grow its audience in social networks through meaningful, engaging two-way conversations. We have mini-blogger events for customers to write about, which creates more awareness for our products. In Facebook, about 2 million users are Filipinos. The networking is fast, too; we build a database in a limited amount of time. With Multiply, we can create our own page and update clients with our latest events.” Chi Tirona of Chi’s Brick Oven Kitchen says, “SNS allow customers to give us instant feedback and promote client relations. It enables us to announce promos to our target market faster—with minimal to no advertising pesos involved. We use Multiply for reviews, and find out who’s been viewing our site. We also use Facebook .” As for Twitter, most messages are searchable. Businesses can track and answer client comments and complaints immediately. Quick Twitter responses can change client opinions on a business—converting critics into promoters.


For SMEs, SNS are helpful because they’re easyto-use and affordable. Icamina maintains that it’s easier to go viral with SNS. “What makes [SNS] different from just putting up your own website is that SNS involves a personal account. Your brand becomes a ‘friend’ of that potential consumer, and all your updates appear in that person’s news feed, which can be seen by other friends,” she says. Here’s what you need to know before you connect: Register your company’s name. Even if you won’t use it often, to safeguard your name or brand from misuse. Be familiar with your targeted SNS. Knowing who uses which SNS allows you to promote to

your target audience. Says Icamina, “These sites cater to specific target markets. For Multiply, a lot of members own small businesses, which is used to promote their products. While Twitter is not yet popular in the Philippines, it is more effective when used with Multiply or Facebook, as you can include links in your ‘tweets’ to sites with more information on business. Updates on your company’s Facebook profile also appear in your friends’ news feeds. Of the three, Facebook has the highest average time spent on the site per person at 3 hours and 10 minutes. The Nielsen report Global Faces and Networked Places mentions that the global rise of social networks in 2008 has been driven by Facebook.”

“SNS are a venue for interaction with clients. The generation today is attuned to social networks.” “Our media company, OMD, provides information based on media behavior, demographics, and lifestyle,” shares Ronquillo. “For instance, Friendster has a young market; Facebook is smaller [locally] and more targeted to upper-class.” She recommends asking each SNS about its user profiles. Profiles change quickly, and SNS vary in limitations, confidentiality, and cost—so be updated. Tanco says, “SNS are a venue for interaction with clients. The generation today is attuned to social networks. This allows us to be attuned to the market as well.” Pursue the right users. After deciding which SNS fits your business, connect to your target market through your network and knowledge of them.

Claim to fame: # 3 SNS; largest site geared to business. Buoyed by weak economy and high unemployment as jobseekers turn to it for its job connections. Business advantage: Great for networking and letting people know about your professional strengths.


Age: 3 years No. of users worldwide: 25 million Average user: Popular among celebrities or opinion leaders Claim to fame: Popular tool for microblogging. Messages limited to 140 characters. Subscribe to follow other people’ss tweets, or be followed. Business advantage: Its limited message characters allows you to develop a “personality” for your brand and allows you to have a following (i.e., fan base).

Facebook’s Social Ads are posted correlating to user activity. For example, an “engaged” relationship status prompts ads from caterers, hotels, etc. to appear on the user’s home page. Don’t be pressured to put up banner ads if you’re comfortable with word-of-mouth advertising. “We believe profile pages are more credible than paid advertising,” explains Tirona. Stay relaxed and casual. Tailor-fit your tweets to show personality. Send text coupons to reward active contributors, or offer gift cards to promote your establishment. Maintain a consistent presence. Keeping a profile page is a balance of push- and pullmarketing. Post regular content to sustain interest in your business. You may not offer new promos or new menu items, but you can publish useful tips related to your offerings. This develops customer loyalty, and not “hard sell” your products. Interaction with the outspoken SNS public can enhance your reputation as approachable and responsive.


Not everyone is on the SNS bandwagon. Some conventional outfits forbid the use of other websites, except its own, to promote services. And some, such as Camp John Hay, “stick to traditional marketing techniques. Our style is as very conservative as Camp John Hay,” says Nilo Agustin, Sales and Marketing Director of Camp John Hay Hotels. “Customer service, as we know it, is virtually non-existent with SNS,” says Sam Baumel of MobileBehavior, an advertising and marketing agency of Omnicom, to consolidate behavioral targeting expertise with mobile marketing. “Most popular SNS are free, so you get what you pay for. Consumers and companies must balance functionality with reliability.” ●


Age: 5 years No. of users worldwide: 12 million Average user: Mostly Asians; Not popular in USA and Europe Claim to fame: Secure, family-friendly media sharing (blog, photos, and tronger user security and unlimited photo sharing with people videos). Stronger you know. Owning a 5 percent stake is the ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation, the Philippines’ largest media company, which may spell out more relevant promotion for its Filipino users. As of June 2008, most Filipino Multiply users are female, ages 18-25, and average about 160 Multiply page views monthly. Business advantage: Easy to maintain and customize to show and sell your products. ■


HOT NEGOSYO Red Rafts’ guides doublecheck rafts, life vests, and other safety equipment before taking guests on an exhilarating ride-with a few still-water interludes, perfect for photo ops.



Entrepreneurs turn adrenalin rush to cash by making a business out of CDO’s raging river B Y K ATRINA TAN • PHOTOS BY JUN PINZON • 1 S T R AFTING ADVENTURE PHOTO COURTESY OF RU P E RT D O M I N G O


hitewater rafting is an adventure activity that utilizes inflatable rafts and paddles to navigate rivers. It started gaining popularity in the mid-1970s and today has become a popular adventure activity. Rafting is quickly gaining popularity in the Philippines, too, particularly in Cagayan de Oro. Whitewater rafting outfitters, Red Rafts and 1st Rafting Adventure, reveal how they turned passion into profit.


Red Rafts began with a group of 14 individuals, aged between 31 to 43 years old. “We all come from different backgrounds,” says REX TAPUNGOT, Red Rafts’ Operations Manager, a former Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Region 10 employee. Rex recalls, “Our common ground was our love for the great outdoors. So in 10 • AUGUST 2009 • GLOBE MASIGASIG

1982, we formed the Northern Mindanao Mountaineering Society (NORMMS) Ecological Foundation Inc., with the goal of exploring eco-tourism in Cagayan de Oro.” At first, they embraced all kinds of outdoor activities such as camping, caving, mountaineering, river trekking, etc. And after 13

years, in 1995, they finally focused on whitewater rafting at the Cagayan de Oro River. “Having a feasibility study was the key to convince my partners about the venture. [With] the help of my former DTI colleagues, and Ellen Kionisala of the Board of Investments (BOI) in CDO,” reveals Rex. “We saw the potential of the river for sport, and as a major tourist destination. Plus, it [would] provide earnings, enjoyment, and employment. We were actually the first rafting company in the area.” This initial company dissolved in 2006 due to internal, financial and relationship problems. Only then was Red Rafts founded. Coincidentally, 1st Rafting Adventure started in 1995, too, as a hobby of sports enthusiasts RUPERT DOMINGO, ROLLY JOHN BARRETTO and REYNALD DOMINGO. “We were having fun whitewater rafting and started inviting our friends. But since people kept inquiring [about it], we decided to turn it into a business,” says Rupert, 1st Rafting Adventure’s president.


Red Rafts’ owners invested 1.6 million— roughly 115,000 per person—to import brand


Guests enjoy the rapids closely assisted by trained river guides

Rex Tapungot says Red Rafts cares for the beautiful Cagayan de Oro River, which is their source of livelihood and whose communities they have also enlivened.

new equipment. This included eight stateof-the-art Zebec rafts, helmets, personal flotation devices, paddles, and other safety gear. All of which undergo regular checkups to ensure complete safety. Case in point, the rafts did not come with footlocks, and as observed, most passengers were thrown overboard during the course of the run. When Rex discovered that footlocks could be installed for added safety, he ordered and installed them immediately, and this resulted in a decline of the occurrence. The rest of the capital was spent on a jeepney, depot, workspace, and 10 office and field employees. Certification is mandatory for river guides, so each undergoes a rigorous two-month training program, where they navigate the river at least 100 times. Each is also required to attend the Safety Awareness for Everyone (S.A.F.E.) workshop conducted by the Emergency Research Center Inc. The Philippine National Red Cross also trains them on basic life support, first aid, and water safety. “We are affiliated with the Safety Organization of the Philippines Inc. (SOPI) and the Oro Association of Rafters (OAR),” Rex declares. “So we’re updated on modern safety measures.” In contrast, 1st Rafting Adventure started small. Their 300,000 capital was used to purchase four second-hand rafts. “We didn’t hire employees—it was ‘barkadahan’ system at first,” Rupert recalls. In 1997, they officially opened. “We had three to ten passengers a day and four river guides. We make sure each [guide] undergoes a five-month training and two months of river-guiding exams.”

priced from 1,200 to 2,000 per passenger until 2006. 1st Rafting Adventure has changed rates in their early years. “We started at 50 per passenger. This increased to 300, then 500 to 1,200,” shares Rupert. “Competition was stiff at the start,” shares Rex. “After a month of operations, two more companies opened, and after a year, there were already six outfitters. Prices went down because we [outfitters] treated each other as competitors. We saw a need to associate ourselves, which led to the birth of the Oro Association of Rafters (OAR).” OAR, together with the City Council of Cagayan de Oro and DTI helped endorse Ordinance No. 11087-2008, which standardized rafting rates and operations. Today, a Basic course costs 700 per passenger, while an Advanced course is 1,000—which includes jeepney transfers to and from the city center to the rafting area, guides, and required gear.


1st Rafting Adventure’s Rupert Domingo and Reynold Domingo started their business with a “barkadahan” system.

CONTACT DETAILS Red Rafts Cagayan de Oro River Tours Corporation Corrales Avenue 9000, Cagayan de Oro City Mobile: 0917.8556983,

1st Rafting Adventure Tiano-Hayes Street Cagayan de Oro City 0915.4430588, 0917.7073583

“Red Red Rafts Rafts’ target [market] is the young and the young at heart that are interested in adventure—both locals and foreigners,” reveals Rex. “We also accommodate groups who want to add something different to their conventions and corporate team-building.” It initially offered basic and advanced courses,

“Rafting peaked in 2002 when President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, her family, together with former Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Richard Gordon, joined one of our trips,” shares Rex. “Before she [Pres. Arroyo] came, we received about 20 to 40 passengers during lean months—January, February, and June to September—and 100 to 150 on peak months—March to May, and October to December. Afterwards, those numbers doubled.” Now, Red Rafts attracts an average of 20 to 40 passengers a week, depending on the season. To set themselves apart, their focus is to provide guests with the most enjoyable whitewater rafting experience possible. This consists of providing the best equipment, guides, and facilities. They only hire river guides who are passionate about the outdoors. “Skills can be learned in time, but real outdoorsmen have care and love for the environment instilled in their hearts. Anyone who wants to enter the rafting business must learn the industry well because it deals with lives. We have all our passengers sign a medical questionnaire form and waiver.” Red Rafts requires guides to undergo the Tourist Handling Training, conducted by the Cagayan de Oro Historical Commission, City Tourism Office of Cagayan de Oro, and the DOT. “We receive frequent feedback about our superb service, and that our guides are good and friendly,” Rex shares. “These guides really make a difference.” AUGUST 2009 • GLOBE MASIGASIG • 11

HOT NEGOSYO Rafting & Adventure Sports In The Long Run “Outdoor tourism is doing well, surfing is very popular. Other developing activities include bird watching, caving, and scuba diving. There are even ways to enrich [the experience] while on the way to these adventure destinations. Things such as stopping by a sugar cane factory or rice paddy farm are fun and unique activities for tourists.

“We saw the potential of the river for sport and as a major tourist destination.” Customer demand led both companies to offer other services, like caving, canyoneering, and river trekking packages. Red Rafts offers value-added services such as documenting adventures in vivid detail done by professional photographers and videographers. It also offers complete lunch packages—three viands, rice, fresh fruits, and beverages.


“Sales are usually made through the Internet or referrals from friends, partner companies and former guests. Blogs and print media have been very effective in marketing whitewater rafting,” says Rex. “Telecommunications has helped our business grow,” shares Rex. “Bookings come in any time of the day; and drivers and guides are contacted via cell phone. Telecommunications helps us communicate with clients, manage staff, and respond to emergency situations immediately. It helps us with operations and provide excellent customer service.” In just four years of operation, Red Rafts doubled its number of rafts from 8 to 16, which handle 112 passengers per run; and its staff has tripled to 33 employees. It recouped its investment in only two years. Add to that Red Rafts’ “The Most Travel Agent-Friendly Whitewater Rafting Outfitter in the City” award. Today, 1st Rafting Adventure has 16 brandnew rafts, receives 30 to 50 passenger bookings a day, and now employs 20 river guides. Rupert explains, “We use technology to monitor every trip, send booking updates, keep in touch with passengers, and facilitate marketing.” Rupert admits that it takes time to establish a name. So patience is necessary to start this type of business. His advice to potential business owners is to value customers’ comments and suggestions— positive or negative—for them to improve. 12 • AUGUST 2009 • GLOBE MASIGASIG

They also maintain connections with hotels and resorts in the area.


Whitewater rafting has indeed grown quickly in Cagayan de Oro, specifically because it was chosen as the city’s primary OTOP (One Town, One Product), a priority program that identifies and develops a specific product or service with a competitive advantage. From one outfitter in 1995, Cagayan de Oro now boasts of six outfitters! Noticeable developments include a considerable increase in tourist arrivals, hotel expansion, and service businesses in the area. The downside of these developments pose major threats to the rafting industry, as its close proximity might pollute the river. “We’ve worked [hard] to prevent this [with the help of] NGOs (non-government organizations) that share our sentiments,” says Rex. “We will also continue to promote a clean and green Cagayan de Oro River through tree planting activities, and by working hand-inhand with the community. On the business side, we will continue to explore more naturerelated activities to offer the public.” ●

Use fast internet connection to your business’ advantage with the

There is so much opportunity, but it’s equally important to raise awareness and create a culture of tourism by involving local communities—barangays, local tourism councils, etc. and looking at the long-term development.” - BOBBY JOSEPH Former President of Skal: International Association of Travel and Tourism Professionals (Davao), Former President and Board Member of Davao Association of Tour Operators, Manager of Kahsan Travel and Tours

“There has been a growing interest in adventure and outdoor sports in Davao and other areas in Mindanao in the past several years. For example, wild water rafting has become so popular in CDO—amongst domestic and international tourists—that a number of operators have since added water rafting to their services. Adventure and outdoor sports will always find their way into the mainstream tourism industry in Mindanao because of its rich natural resources and vast land area. Mindanao has the country’s highest peak, Mount Apo, and has excellent diving and surfing sites that are well-known worldwide.” - SUSAN PALAD Former President of Skal: International Association of Travel and Tourism Professionals (Davao), Former President and Board Member of Davao Association of Tour Operators, Manager of Kahsan Travel and Tours ■

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Along the River’s course, guests can appreciate the rich flora and fauna on either side-as it flows between Bukidnon and Cagayan de Oro.

Making it


BIG B IG Servings and service spell success for BIGBY’S restaurant chain B Y A B B Y YA O • P H OTO S B Y J U N P I N Z O N

(From left to right): Ann Yu, Henrik Yu, and Cathy Genabe— from food lovers to business partners.


t 33, HENRIK YU, his wife ANN, and their long-time friend CATHY GENABE are already seasoned restaurateurs. They are the driving forces behind BIGBY’S, the Cagayan de Oro-based chain known for its international comfort food served in large portions. The friends-turned-business-partners share a passion for food and travel, and the belief that in business, people should always be first.


Henrik and Ann were classmates since Grade 1 in Cagayan de Oro. They met Cathy in high school and became close friends. “We hung out in the same crowd,” says Cathy. “Ever since high school, Ann and I would bake on weekends together with our friends.” They sold cakes to Ann’s parents and friends. Perhaps their similar tastes came from their upbringing. “Our families

are very much into food,” says Henrik. “We would spend hours on the dining table talking afterwards. So it wasn’t really a surprise that we wanted to go into the food business.” Though Cathy took up dentistry to comply with her father’s wishes, she also attended the Center for Culinary Arts with Ann. In 1998, just after the Asian Crisis, Henry told Ann that “I found a perfect place for a restaurant in Cagayan de Oro.” It was an old warehouse in the middle of the nightlife area in CDO. That gave Ann enough reason to leave Manila and be with her childhood sweetheart. What was initially a pool of six investor friends whittled down to three. “People were not opening restaurants then,” said Henrik. “But we believed in our concept and that we can make it work.” The idea for big servings came from their own dining experiences. AUGUST 2009 • GLOBE MASIGASIG • 13

COVER FEATURE Bigby’s is packed every dinnertime. Its interiors contain memorabilia from the partners’ trips abroad.

“When we would eat in a restaurant, we would have to order two or three [meals] just to satisfy our cravings.” Hefty portions meant value for money. Although size mattered most in the naming of the restaurant, they also wanted it to sound friendly and approachable so they came up with the name Bigby’s. Loaning 225,000 each from their parents, the trio hired an architect and started building their first restaurant in June 1998.


The three friends drafted a training manual on the standards of service, based on their experiences as diners. They also had daily taste tests for one month. The restaurant’s travel concept was clear because of their fondness for different cultures and food. But there were still a few hitches. “Our opening was postponed a few times because we didn’t know how our restaurant would really look,” Henrik remembers. They brought in various souvenirs and memorabilia from trips abroad—knives, masks, even Ann’s and Henrik’s jackets as Rotary exchange students, etc.—and laid them out in one room. The task of decorating was harder than expected. “We didn’t know about [how to] plan the space, and if the color combination was good,” Henrik says. “Construction had to stop—we had to hire an interior designer. It took a while to get everything in order.” Henrik advises: “Have an interior 14 • AUGUST 2009 • GLOBE MASIGASIG

designer from the start, to know how you want your store to look and feel.” Bigby’s finally opened on December 8, 1998. Henrik recalls: “We had radio [commercials], a motorcade, an opening party...CDO’s quite small, so we made sure everyone would at least try it—and they did! And they’ve been coming back for the past 10 years!” It took less than a year to recoup their investment. Bigby’s quickly became a hotspot among guests of all ages—little kids to senior citizens. In 2000, Ayala Center Cebu scoured CDO for potential tenants, and Bigby’s was one of them. This posed as an opportunity for them to prove themselves to big business honchos. While contemplating among themselves they thought that it would be now or never. Henrik reveals: “If we’re not going there [Ayala Center Cebu], we’ll be in Cagayan forever!” The three agreed to open there. Bigby’s was an instant hit in Cebu. Its clients were impressed. ” Akala nila franchised or international brand!” shares Henrik. But the home base was neglected, in a way. It was surrounded by a night market with limited parking. “Our customers were turned off by the traffic,” says Henrik. After stagnant sales for a year, Bigby’s moved to Limketkai Mall. It proved to be the right decision. Sales tripled since they transferred.


In 2004, the partners’ friends referred Bigby’s to potential franchisees from Bacolod and Davao. The reality of franchising made Henrik, Ann and Cathy realize that they were nearing success—and most importantly, their dream. But with more branches, came more pressure. “Quality was not a problem, because sauces and marinades were shipped from CDO,” affirms Henrik. However, with more branches, maintaining of good service was a challenge at first. “When we opened, our customers were happy with the service because [even if the staff wasn’t trained yet,] we greeted and asked them if everything was ok. Now everyone [in the staff] does it,” says Henrik. More effort was required in everything, from changing the menu to promoting the restaurant. With one branch, changes were implemented in as fast as a day or two. Now, adapting to a brand new system—menu changes, costing differences within branches, employee training, etc.—takes as long as two months to settle into. In the opening, the restaurant was always full. Clients came in droves and became too rowdy at times that several employees resigned within the first few days. But Henrik says that they tried to convince their staff all it took was just a little getting used to. The other resignees, on the other hand, left for jobs abroad as local salaries were impossible to compete with the ones offered abroad. “Keeping the [staff’s] morale was a big challenge,” Henrik reveals. While dealing with suppliers was another. “We didn’t want [to have just] one supplier lang.’Pag pumalpak siya, [we’ll be in big trouble].” Henrik shares that every business is a cycle. He strongly advises against drastic changes as it ends up hurting the brand’s image in the end. “Every resto goes through self-doubt,” he shares. “But don’t change [too much] that they won’t recognize you.” continued on p16 CONTACT DETAILS: BIGBY’S Limketkai Center CDO, SM City CDO, SM City Cebu, Ayala Center Cebu, Gaisano City Mall Bacolod, SM City Bacolod, Metro Lifestyle Center Davao, SM City Davao, SM Megamall Atrium For franchising inquiries, contact: Bigby’s Quality Food Corporation 10 Velez-Fernandez St., Cagayan de Oro City Bigby’s Quality Food Corporation 3rd Level Megamall Atrium Ortigas Center Mandaluyong City, Metro Manila




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COVER FEATURE Henrik adds that he had always wanted to maintain the “neighborhood feel” of Bigby’s— down-to-earth and friendly—a formula that has worked all these years. He also adds that logistics and supply chain management are other challenges that come with expansion. “Most of the fish [were] caught in Bacolod, then brought to Manila or Cebu—so ang mahal ng seafood,” he says. Shipping the sauces and marinades from CDO can also be tricky because not all ships cover all inter-city routes, such as CDO-Davao. Another minor concern is the culture differences between regions. Henrik shares that the use of “po” is not practiced much in Visayas and Mindanao, while those from Luzon easily misinterpret them as bastos. “For them [Luzon people], it was shocking at first na walang ‘po,’” explains Henrik. “In Bacolod, malumanay sila [magsalita]. [While] Visayans talk in a mas matigas [way].” Most restaurants that have tried to imitate Bigby’s have already closed down. “[That’s because] they don’t know what’s on the other side,” Henrik shares. “What you see is just 30 percent [of all the work]. The [other] 70 percent is [done] inside the kitchen and the office.” Henrik shares that restaurant experience helps a lot before putting up one.


Bigby’s has been the six-time champion at KUMBIRA, the country’s longest-running annual culinary competition. It has also received honors such as “Most Outstanding Business Enterprise” from the CDO Chamber of Commerce and Industry in 2005, and was cited as one of the “Inspiring Entrepreneurs of Northern Mindanao” by Go Negosyo in 2007. In 2008, Bigby’s was offered a chance to conquer Manila. SM Megamall’s Atrium area opened in October 2008, and they were invited to lease. “What gave us courage [to pursue] was that most of our customers are from Manila,” says Henrik. But Metro Manila is a different clientele altogether. “In the province, everybody can go to your place,” explains Henrik. “In Manila, it depends on the area.” SM Megamall caters mostly to the Ortigas office crowd on weekdays. Cathy shares that Bigby’s grilled items are the most orders. Pork dishes are popular in Cebu, while chicken is preferred in the CDO, and Manila branches. Their Titanic Treat—30 scoops of ice cream and sweet add-ons—has become legendary. But their all-time bestseller has always been the Rack-a-bye Baby, Bigby’s own version of baby back ribs. On the average, one customer spends 300 per visit. During the low months of June and July, more promotional efforts are done outside the restaurant, such discounts for catering and party deliveries. Business picks up on August and fully peaks in December. During fiestas and summer, 16 • AUGUST 2009 • GLOBE MASIGASIG

Families, barkadas, and lovers can share hearty meals with these dishes (left to right): daunting Titanic Treat, weightwatchers’ best friend Pesco Al Fresco, sweet tooth’s pleasure Banana Fanna, and meat-lovers’ delight Belly Buster.

Bigby’s enjoy high sales, too, because more people go to the mall. Henrik constantly thinks of promos for special occasions. He is proudest of the restaurant’s Mother’s Day promo, when they gave out potted herbs such as basil, thyme, and mint. He encourages the staff to contribute while brainstorming for promotions because they know the customers better. In Cebu, for example, they noticed that there were many tourists, so meals were offered in tour groups. At the end of the day, Henrik shares that sales is not everything for their business. “[Last] Christmas, we provided blank spaces for diners to paint their Christmas wishes and greetings, or on anything,like on our windows,” says Henrik. “In return, we ask them for donations or gifts to our chosen charity in each city. In CDO, it has been the Balay Canosa Foundation, an orphanage in the city. We go around schools and encourage the kids to help out. After the year ends, we bring all the gifts and donations and match the amount. It’s something we do to teach young kids about being involved in the community.”


These days, Ann is in charge of overall operations while Cathy handles finances, oversees the commissary, and helps produce sauces and pastries. Henrik takes on the marketing side of Bigby’s, which includes promotions, tie-ups, and customer service training. The trio refuses to be complacent. “Competition keeps us on our toes,” says Cathy. “Our number one advantage is that we are foodies,” adds Henrik. Cathy studied baking science and technology at the American Institute of Baking last year to learn the latest in the field. The group recently went to Italy to study gelato making. At the rate they’re going, their vision to be a world-class franchised restaurant appears reachable. “It’s part of our nature to explore more,” says Henrik. “We’re not limiting ourselves [to the Philippines]. As long as you have the right people and the right partners, anything is possible.” As business partners for over a decade, they know each other well: Ann is quiet but commanding, Cathy is bubbly but strict, and

Henrik is the informal one. “Our imperfections make us perfect as a team,” says Cathy. Although they see each other at the office every day and have weekly management meetings, technology is vital to their operations. Their Point of Sale system is online for instant monitoring. They connect to the branches and follow up suppliers using mobile phones and e-mail. Their Flash-based website is updated every two weeks to support their use of radio, print ads, and inserts in the province. Looking back at the last 11 years, Henrik describes his measure of success is: “[The business] is really about people. It’s not in the number of branches. I like to see my people happy. That’s the best thing.” Stepping into a lively kitchen and feeling that he wants to work there is his idea of doing something great. Observing the current business climate, Henrik remains optimistic: “The crisis hasn’t set in but makikita mo ’yung restraint. But good things are yet to come.” With nine branches—two each in CDO, Cebu, Bacolod, and Davao, and one in Manila—and around a hundred employees, Bigby’s is the self-fulfilling prophecy that started small but dreamed big. ●

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HOT SPOTS TOP L-R: Various lettuce varieties thrive under Dr. Balakiall year round in Impasug-ong. More and more rice farmers profit from going organic, thanks to its Valencia City’s cool climate. BOTTOM L-R: The fruits, vegetables, and herbs that thrive in Manupali Farms is positive proof that a little planning goes a long way. Nature’s Organic Fresh Pineapples are harvested and cleaned to meet export quality standards.





t’s easy to fall in love with Bukidnon, a landlocked province located in Northern Mindanao. The cool weather, lush greenery and breathtaking landscapes bring to mind Baguio. While it is idyllic and peaceful, Bukidnon is a progressive region with access to urban amenities that offer an abundance of opportunities for its residents. The local government largely supports the entrepreneurs participating in forest manufacturing, forestbased and export-oriented industries. In fact, the Bukidnon Investment and Incentive Code of 1994 was created to “pursue an environmentally acceptable, sustainable and equitable growth by encouraging investments both domestic and foreign in primary agriculture, forestry, manufacturing, services, non-metallic mineral mining, trade and tourism related activities, and export of processed and semi-processed products.”





Bukidnon is well-known for its pineapples. But more and more entreps are exploring other business opportunities its diverse natural resources could yield.

Business potential abounds in Bukidnon, most which produce and promote the region’s OTOP (One Town, One Product): high-value vegetables. Bukidnon’s climate is temperate and is rarely hit by typhoons, making it ideal for planting and harvesting vegetables. Accessible to seaports and airports in Cagayan de Oro and Davao, Bukidnon remains a favorite destination of the Visayas and Mindanao folk who want to take a bite of its home-grown products.


The capital, the City of Malaybalay, is regarded as the “City in the Forest”—622 meters above sea level. Countless entrepreneurs have flourished in Malaybalay. Golda Mae Lim established Cake Boom and Party Favors back in 2003. Cake Boom’s famous “invention”, piñasitas— flattened dough filled with pineapple jam—was awarded as 2008 “Best Delicacy of the City of

Malaybalay.” What started as a small pastry business, housed in an estante by the main road, has now expanded to a 5x3 meter-space in front of the Lim residence. It was originally meant as a takeout counter, but due to clamor from customers, it has been converted to a dine-in space. The secret? Lim makes sure she only uses high-quality pineapples, which are painstakingly processed for two days to become pineapple jam for the piñasitas filling. So much is the success of Cake Boom that plans to build a stall inside the soon-to-open Gaisano Mall are underway. However, this homebased business needs more capital investment to be able to expand farther than the province and adjacent areas. Another noteworthy business in Malaybalay is the Benedictine-run Monastery Farms, famous for its Monks’ Blend Coffee, where each coffee cherry is harvested by hand (and only when they are ripe) by 30 lay workers to ensure quality. In AUGUST 2009 • GLOBE MASIGASIG • 17



The adjacent Valencia City is Bukidnon’s highest populated city, accounting for almost 14 percent of the province’s total. It is known as the “City of Golden Harvest.” Because of its entrepreneurial promise, Valencia City was awarded “Most Supportive LGU” by the Department of Trade And Industry (DTI). Valencia City’s quality mountain soil and cool climate all-year-round make it ideal for agricultural businesses. It’s no wonder that, since 2005, Valencia City’s OTOP has been organic rice. According to Marven C. Selecios, Executive Assistant to the City Mayor, the entrepreneurs and residents push for organic rice, “because it’s healthier, sustainable, and a lot cheaper in the long run.” Unlike commercial rice farming, which involves the use of synthetic fertilizers and 18 • AUGUST 2009 • GLOBE MASIGASIG

2 1


1.Nature’s Organic Fresh Pineapples undergo intensive quality control. 2.Piñasitas are individually wrapped and packed. 3.High-value vegetables and cutflowers thrive in the high elevation of Mt. Kitanglad in Impasug-ong.

pesticides, organic rice farming employs more natural means of growing crops. In Valencia for example, they use vermiculture and biological pest control. This ensures soil productivity, and is therefore more sustainable. The local government is exerting efforts—through promotion, input subsidy, and supervision of post-harvest facilities—to make Valencia City the “Organic Rice Capital of the Philippines,” supplying rice up to Cotabato, Cagayan De Oro, and Davao. So far, there are already three barangays that practice organic rice farming: Kahapunan, Sinayawan, and Tongantongan. Unfortunately, according to both DTI and Mayor’s offices, the supply of organic rice is not even enough to meet the demand of the domestic market. That is why the local government keeps intensifying its promotion for farmers to engage in organic farming. One of the organic rice businesses in Valencia is Engallado Food Products, founded by Nick and Fatima Engallado in 2007. They harvest organic rice, and manufacture organic rice and ricebased products, like barquirice and pulvorice— innovating by replacing organic-rice flour for flour in the traditional pasalubong recipes. Trained in Xavier University for sustainable agriculture, the Engallados farm on two hectares of land that yield an average of 80 sacks per hectare. A few sacks of red and white rice are purchased by families in Valencia, but most of their business is focused on the rice-based products, as Fatima puts it, “these are less costly and so, can be purchased by more customers.” Another organic farm in Valencia City is Manupali Natural Farm, owned by Angel and Chelo Javellana, which yielded organically grown strawberries in 2003. They made these into jam that was sold in pasalubong centers around Bukidnon.

However, in 2007, the Javellanas found that the nutrients in the soil had been depleted. Thus, to ensure that their quality did not suffer, they have temporarily ceased growing the strawberries, and the land is undergoing rehabilitation, but it should yield plump, juicy berries once again next year. Presently, all around, they grow vegetables like squash, upo, and patola, and other herbs using molasses-based fertilizers—proving that sustainable agriculture through pesticide-free farming can be done.


Impasug-ong is a second class municipality of Bukidnon, a mountainous area where the famous landmark Kitanglad National Park and the dormant volcano, Mt. Kitanglad, are located. Facilities for tourism and hospitality may be established here and will surely profit from the naturally undulating terrain that draws local and foreign tourists. Why is Impasug-ong’s OTOP the model OTOP of the province? According to DTI-Bukidnon, “Some time in 2001, the Provincial Offices of the DTI focused on a priority product/sector, which they believed would impact the most in the area in terms of jobs it will generate and/or the incremental income a worker will bring home to his/her family. Interventions in the area of product development, entrepreneurial and skills upgrading thru training, marketing assistance, technology improvement and credit facilitation were realized through the convergence of services among DTI bureaus and other government agencies as well as the Local Government Unit (LGU). Bukidnon has been the principal source of commercial highland vegetables and corn grains in the region of Northern Mindanao. Impasug-ong is a key producer within the province of these products.


1982, Benedictine monks came to establish their monastery here. They planted rice, corn, and coffee. When Belgian coffee expert Emil Bayens visited them by chance in 1991, he volunteered to teach them how to roast their coffee, and the coffee was then baptized as Monks’ Blend. A year after, monk Dom Martin Gomez was tasked by his abbott to go to Manila and offer Monks’ Blend as corporate giveaways for Christmas. If he sold just 500, then that would suffice. But he ended up selling 8,000 pieces! Now, producing 4,000 kilos of coffee beans a month, Monks’ Blend has a distributor in Metro Manila. They also supply supermarkets and coffee shops in Bukidnon, Cagayan De Oro and Davao. Monks’ Blend Coffee is so rich in taste that renowned ice cream maker Selecta uses it to give floavor to its coffee crumble variant. And recently, Monks’ Blend Coffee passed Japan and USA’s requirements for export. Such increasing demand has compelled the Monastery to expand its original four hectares devoted to robusta coffee. In 2007, they planted three more hectares with coffee trees, which will yield more coffee by next year. Nature’s Organic Fresh Pineapples, Inc. (NOFPI) exports superior fresh pineapples. Founded in 2007, NOFPI spans three plantations across Bukidnon: Malaybalay with 33 hectares, Maramag with 100 hectares, and Quezon with 400 hectares—with 60 hectares already used for organic pineapples. NOFPI produces a new variety of pineapple: square-shaped, with a regal crown of spiny blue-green leaves, consistently very tender and has a sweet flavor from the base to the tip. Unlike other pineapple industries in Bukidnon, Nature’s Organic Fresh Pineapples, Inc. employs the concept of organic farming and fair-trade, adhering to the principle of sustainable development. This year, the company is expecting to acquire the Organic and Fairtrade Certification. Currently, it exports to South Korea, with five vans per week—1,400 boxes per van, a box contains 11.5kg to 12.5 kg of pineapples.





OTOP: high-value vegetables: lettuces, tomatoes, bell peppers, broccoli, carrots

RAW MATERIALS: rice, corn, sugarcane, 5


pineapples, bananas, vegetables, rubber, abaca, abaca fiber, palm oil, cutflower, poultry


TOP INDUSTRIES: agriculture, farming, tourism

EMERGING INDUSTRIES: processed fruits, organically-grown produce, organic fertilizer, handicrafts 7-8.Fatima Engallado shows off her organic rice and rice-based products.

4-5.The Monastery of the Transfiguration provides spiritual, physical, and visual high. 6.The Benedictine Monks in City of Malaybalay produce Monks’ Blend coffee, as well as piniatos and peanut butter.


This makes it an ideal trading center given the core volume of supply it can generate. Vegetable consolidation efforts of the Northern Mindanao Vegetable Producers Association (Normin Veggies) for the various institutional buyers in Cebu, Iloilo, and Manila have been initiated, currently drawing supply from Impasug-ong and its neighboring municipalities.” One of its providential businesses is Bukidnon Highland Farms that produce a variety of highquality vegetables like lettuces, tomatoes, hydroponic bell peppers—all pesticide-free. Entrepreneur Dr. Edwin Balaki made use of contoured farming and green shelter to ensure consistency of supply even during the rainy season. His loyal patrons are upscale restaurants and hotels in Cebu, Davao, and Cagayan de Oro. The Bukidnon Investment and Incentive Code of 1994 accedes the Tax Incentives Under the Local Government Code of 1991 (RA 7160), such as: exemption of Business Taxes; exemption from taxes, fees, and charges on Philippine products actually exported except collection of fifty percent of rates prescribed for manufacturers, wholesalers, dealers, retailers; and exemption from Real Property Taxes of machineries and equipment used for pollution control and environment protection. In addition, it provides businesses with exemption from certain provincial taxes within five years from date of approval of registration, including Transfer Tax on sale, donation, barter of real property in the province owned by Bukidnon Registered Business Enterprise (BRBE); tax on business of printing and publication; Franchise Tax; Amusement Tax; and veterinary service fees and charges. In addition, the Malaybalay City Investment Code of 2008 allows for Real Property Tax exemption

on sale, donation, barter of real property in the city owned by a Malaybalay City Registered Business Enterprise, and tax exemption from the following taxes within three years from date of approval of registration: Real Property Tax, Business Tax, and Amusement Tax. There’s no question that Bukidnon is a rich and profitable region. Other than fruit and vegetables, It is also ideal for investments like sugarcane processing, oil palm production, integrated livestock, tourism development, rubber production, rubber shoes manufacturing, and more! There is no dearth of investment opportunities here. Support from the local DTI and LGUs are very strong, including fiscal and non-fiscal incentives for investors. Malaybalay even established a City Investment Promotion Office mandated by the Investment Code of 2008. More doors are being opened. More opportunities are being unraveled. Indeed, it’s a new day for Bukidnon—now no longer solely known as just the “land of piñas.” ●

Visit the Monastery of the Transfiguration— the chapel was designed by renowned architect Leandro Locsin. Buy products like Monks' Blend Coffee, Piniatos, and Peanut Butter at the Gift Shoppe. Trek the breathtaking Mt. Kitanglad range.

WHERE TO STAY: Pine Hills Hotel offers amenities including a swimming pool, and is located conveniently along the main highway. (Fortich St., City of Malaybalay)

HOW TO GET AROUND: Bukidnon’s cities and municipalities are vast. It’s best to rent a van to go around, especially if you’re visiting farms that stretch for hectare upon hectare.


Del Monte Philippines has a 20,000-hectare pineapple plantation* in Camp Philips, Bukidnon—very near Cagayan de Oro.

Well-known entrepreneur, Peter Unabia, of Ang Lechon Manok ni Sr. Pedro hails from the City of Malaybalay.


CONTACT DETAILS DTI – Bukidnon Provincial Office ERMEDIO J. ABANG Provincial Director Manuel Bldg, San Isidro St., City of Malaybalay 0926.4569367 City of Malaybalay MAYOR FLORENCIO T. FLORES JR. City Planning and Development Office

Valencia City MAYOR LEANDRO CATARATA c/o Marven C. Selecios Executive Assistant to the City Mayor 0917.7180305 Cake Boom RICHARD & GOLDA MAE E. LIM 0906.3357848 Monks’ Blend DOM MARTIN H. GOMEZ, OSB Transfiguration Monastery 0917.5105585

Nature’s Organic Fresh Pineapples, Inc. (NOFPI) Engallado Food Products NICK & FATIMA ENGALLADO 0906.1809215 Bukidnon Highland Farms DR. EDWIN BALAKI




CONTACT DETAILS Montegelo Farms Sayre Highway, San Miguel, Monolo Fortich, Bukidnon Contact person: Robelyn Badelic 0917.7213810


ONTEGELO FARMS’ lush flora was supposed to be for the Obreros’ many get-togethers. However, the seven-hectare paradise in San Miguel, Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon gave ANGELO RAY OBRERO the idea of building a theme park. The intention was to showcase the collection of lavish greenery from various tropical regions in the world, developed by FAUSTINO OBRERO, Angelo’s father and Monetegelo Farm President and COO. Soon, the Obreros had a prolific, lucrative business up and running. “My mom is a registered nurse, and my dad is a plant pathologist. I have three sisters, but none of them wanted to be in business. But since my [business] idea had potential, everyone got involved,” says 26year-old general manager Angelo, a Business Management graduate of Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan. He was named one of 2002’s Ten Inspirational Student Entrepreneurs by The Entrepreneur School of Asia for developing ornamental pineapples. 20 • AUGUST 2009 • GLOBE MASIGASIG

PARADISE Originally intended as a family retreat, Montegelo farms is at the forefront of eco-tourism in this part of Bukidnon BY IZA SANTOS • PHOTOS BY JUN PINZON


One of Faustino’s rare finds is the Kenya Tree, often referred to as the “African Talisay.” The farm also houses exotic White Poinsettias from Costa Rica, and Kerai Payong or “Umbrella Tree” from Indonesia. The Obrero family first entertained guests in 1995, and soon the farm became a resort. Construction started in 2003, and by July 7, 2004, Montegelo Farms opened and was baptized Montegelo Farms—after former US President Thomas Jefferson’s estate, Monticello, and after Angelo’s name.

“The place has very clean water, that, according to lab results, is just one stage short of becoming mineral water.” “The construction didn’t require much capital,” Angelo shares. “My dad already had a 20-year plant collection. I just added buildings, crew, and ran the business.” “I consider myself a lucky businessman. I have an ‘angel’ investor, who is involved in running the business. In fact, my dad does the landscaping.” Angelo’s mother is the VP for finance, while his sisters work as consultants.


Putting the business together was no walk in the park. There was a time when their architect

ceased coming for visits—delaying a lot of work. “Construction workers were not motivated to work. Then my mom stepped up and directed the workers. Eventually, the buildings were completed by 2004.” In June 25, 2006, Montegelo Farms officially opened. “The place has very clean water, that, according to lab results, is just one stage short of becoming mineral water.” Montegelo also boasts of great flora, good food, a well-trained crew, and cozy rooms. “These set us apart from competitors, and contribute to the increase of returning customers. Some call the place ‘paradise.’” Media mileage affirmed the farm’s status. When Montegelo was featured on the local ABS-CBN show’s MAG TV , its popularity rose. Customer turnout nearly quadrupled this summer,” Angelo explains. Even if he didn’t go into mainstream advertising, he advertises through social connections. “We visit schools and offices—and rely on the power word-of-mouth.” Angelo’s gauge for the farm’s success is its substantial increase of bookings per year. “Low season usually starts in June, but this year, we’re still almost fully-booked!” he enthuses, adding that bookings have tripled this year compared to the last. At the moment, Montegelo welcomes about 70 guests a day, but bookings have since increased to 300 a day. With only six waiters and two cooks, they have a lot on their plate. Along with the expansion, Angelo plans to hire more hands. This significant rise in bookings has also paved the way for new launchings: team building sites and an American Bar-B-Que restaurant.

GLOBAL ANG DATING These are expected to offset low seasons. In early 2010, Montegelo will open another building to accommodate 150 persons.


Marketing, for the Obreros, is a walk on a balance beam. “We want to package Montegelo as a resort with high-quality services and amenities, but affordable enough for the normal ‘Jose’,” Angelo explains. Located about 900 meters above sea level, surrounded by verdant pastures and undulating ranges, this makes sense. Despite Montegelo’s AB target market, its affordability can reach the broader C market. Prices range from 50 to 2,500—with services ranging from swimming pool use fee to cottage rental and even accommodations with free breakfast—so Montegelo remains a practical choice for local and foreign tourists. The farm hosts foreign tourists—Japanese, Australians, Americans, Taiwanese, to name a few—which comprise 20 percent of all bookings. He admits, however, that cheaper dormitories nearby, plus families that rent out their homes for rock-bottom prices, hurt Montegelo’s guest share. To cope, Angelo improves their services and facilities. “Our website is still under construction. We expect a boost in the foreign market when it is done,” he adds. “It will make the farm available in the world wide web, which is a big advertising medium. There, we will post pictures, have online reservation, have a virtual tour of the place, and post other information—what people can do, additional facilities, promos. Aside from that, our relatives who live abroad market to their friends through word of mouth. That’s basically our marketing to foreign clients.” “Most foreign customers are friends and guests of relatives,” Angelo says. Aside from foreigners, Angelo markets to medical groups who do medical missions in the area, through flyers, posters, and billboards. In hindsight, Angelo attests that Filipino customers demand more pampering compared to foreign tourists. “Foreign guests want to be left alone.” To make sure foreign guests enjoy their privacy, Angelo trains his staff to be sensitive without prying. “I noticed that Australians love the rain—because they don’t get much of it Down Under. They even prefer walking [under the rain] without umbrellas!” Angelo makes sure guests can enjoy the tropical climate through its rooms with large windows and verandas. He adds: “We adjust the menu to their preferences. Kung hindi kaya ng cook namin, we bring them to the city—to restaurants they prefer.” Basically, their clientele consists of campers, retreatants, businessmen, and family vacationers.


Bloggers provide huge publicity. “We receive rave reviews in blogs posted by customers. This takes care of the World Wide Web, and it does a pretty good job,” Angelo beams. Among them, Lorie Joy ( loriejoy/post/29977.aspx) who says: “It was the best accommodation I had since I started my adventure. The crew was friendly and very helpful.” Cherry ( ride-with-amboy.html) had this to say: “We went to Obrero’s place also known as Montegelo Farm. It’s a nice place too. There you could find varieties of ‘Anthurium’ plants, a pool and falls. There’s a videoke bar in there too. It was just a one day tour but I had so much fun already. Couldn’t wait for another adventure similar to this.” Globe services have been vital for the Obreros. “Globe has been our business partner. Without cellular technology, our area is practically incommunicado. [There was a time when we did not have] landline or Internet connection. It came to a point when I wanted to give Globe a parcel of land to construct a 3G-capable cell site.” Angelo admits that being cut off from the urban world means he misses out on about 20 percent of his bookings. To compensate, Angelo made the resort Wi-Fi ready. “We now have Globe Tattoo kits available for rent.”


The global financial crisis calls for frugality and entrepreneurial wisdom. Although Montegelo has yet to feel the crunch, its proactive defensive tactics involve marketing efforts and excellent service maintenance. “I learned from a great mentor to always do a plan “SMARTER” (Systematic, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-bounded, Exciting and Result-driven).” The SMARTER plan offers cheaper packages to bulk customers and discounts during offpeak seasons. Strong employee relationships also help keep the business strong. “The biggest challenge was to increase customers during offpeak seasons. I credit my staff for maintaining great service through the years, which made clients return. You must treat employees well, for they are the greatest asset.” Rate increase is also inevitable, especially with the times. “I’m proud to say that loyal customers understand when prices increase. When our suppliers’ prices increase, we get discounts,” he relates. Upcoming projects include a website, more dormitories, and private rooms. On top of that Montegelo Farms plans to build a five-star resort. “It will have premium amenities and prices, targeted to honeymooners and retirees,” Angelo divulges. With a family as passionate as the Obreros, and wonderful place like Montegelo, this paradise is not far from making a mark on the tourism-destination map. ●

The seven-hectare farm is dotted with event venues, a favorite for celebrating weddings and other special occasions. Its climate and soil are conducive for growing anthuriums, which Montegelo farms supplies to different buyers, while a swimming pool beckons by the river surrounded by lush flora and fauna. Dormitory facilities are affordable and a favorite of foreign guests as well as local bakasyonistas.

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Young restaurant owners TRICIE and VINCE ARCENAS: For Salutti, the food does the talking. “My steaks don’t have sauces, aside from the marinade. The flavor should speak for itself.”

CONTACT DETAILS Salutti Door 3 Paseo de Habana Compound, J. Rizal St., Davao City 0917.5307840



a Salute to


Davao-based restaurateur TRICIE ARCENAS’ strategy for success: excellent service and good food BY ANGEL CO N S TA N T I N O • P H OTO S B Y J U N P I N ZO N


believe you can do business at any age as long as you’re willing to face the challenges, says 34-year-old MARIE BEATRICE PENGSON-ARCENAS. “Tricie,” for short, owns and manages Italian restaurant SALUTTI in Davao City, along with husband VINCE. The restaurant’s name came from the Italian “salud” and its motto, “Cheers to good food and good company!”

Knowing the importance of research and development, Tricie devoted much time and effort on Salutti’s menu preparation. “I tried all the cafés and bistros [in Davao], compared prices, food points, taste, service, and spoke to locals,” she recalls. “For the ingredients, I went to different suppliers and tasted them personally.” To start up, Tricie used money from a previous business. “I did everything to save on costs. Capital was small—below 500,000.” The restaurant opened in late 2007 and recouped investment in six months.

After two months, business picked up. “Luckily, I never had to dip into [my own] savings or not pay employees. Our sales coped with our expenses,” she shares. As Tricie’s family remains top priority, she opens on late afternoons and is closed on Sundays. Despite shorter hours, profits are maintained by keeping overhead costs at a minimum. “Our rent is reasonable, plus our electricity in Davao charges relatively low. My al fresco area seats more than the enclosed area, so those keep overhead low. I only have five employees, too, ” she explains.



She chose a location that is popular among Davaoeños. “Paseo de Habana is an ancestral home that has been converted into a commercial area with restaurants [serving French, Spanish, German, and now, Italian cuisine]. The location is great because it’s downtown—right at the heart of the city.” Tricie chose a modest space for her endeavor: a 30-square-meter kitchen and dining area, and 15-square-meter al fresco dining area. “I wanted it to be a hole-in-thewall with modern, minimalist decor. I didn’t do marketing gimmicks, I just wanted the food to speak for itself, ” she explains. On its first day, business was slow, Tricie shares. But she knew it would take time to penetrate the Davao market. “I invited the friends we made here and let the word spread. I was lucky that [food] bloggers and journalists really liked [Salutti’s] food and publicly wrote about it.”


Salutti began after Tricie, then 30, got married and moved out of Manila in 2006. “Though my husband is from Manila as well, his businesses are in Davao,” she recalls. “When we got married, we both didn’t want to live in Manila anymore. We felt that booming cities outside the metro had cleaner air, and offered a better quality of living suitable for raising a family.” The new wife first played homemaker, but she couldn’t just sit at home. Having managed a candle-export business in Negros, she thought of businesses she could put up in her new home. “Moving to a new city makes you miss certain things, including certain types of food. I wanted to offer Davao a café with good food, big servings, and affordable prices.” In 2007, Tricie called her brother, Chef Rob Pengson of Global Academy and Chef to Go fame, to create a menu for Salutti. “We created fusion dishes but mostly Italian-themed.”

Prices on the menu range from 60 to 300. “Our customers are mostly yuppies and the older crowd. We get all sorts [of people], from foreigners to locals, and people from Manila, as well.” Tricie keeps her marketing strategy simple: to maintain excellent service. “Servers greet customers by name, if possible,” she smiles. “I always tell them to smile and be pleasant. They set the tone of the dining experience.” She takes pride in serving only the freshest ingredients. “If my customers want spice, I offer olive oil with chili flakes—not Tabasco. My steaks don’t have sauces, aside from the marinade. The flavor should speak for itself,” she beams. Tricie’s brother Rob and his wife Sunshine (who is also a chef) were more than willing to help Tricie with employee training. “They came to train the chefs, while my husband and I trained the staff ourselves. I did food tasting for friends and mock service, she recalls.” AUGUST 2009 • GLOBE MASIGASIG • 23


Salutti’s lip-smacking specialties are (from left to right) Gambas; Asian Beef Panini and side salad with balsamic dressing; Salpicao; and Creamy Alfredo with Shitake Mushrooms and Roasted Garlic. Tricie and Vince take pride in keeping customers happy.

Tricie leads her staff by example. “I’m hands-on. I love to serve and cook, so when the restaurant is full, I’m either in the kitchen or serving customers. I even love washing dishes!” The young restaurateur believes that customer service is essential in the hospitality industry. “For example, if your server doesn’t greet you or serves you frowning, you won’t enjoy your meal even if the food is good.” Staff morale is also a must. “We move as one unit and I tell the staff to take pride in their jobs—no matter how menial,” explains Tricie. “Since I have minimal staff, problems arise when someone gets sick. Also, I [have] changed servers several times until we have found the right team. I let trainees go when they’re not happy working for us. Happy workers make a great team.”


For Tricie, telecommunications plays a vital role in her business. Customer reservations are usually done via cell phone. She uses e-mail to contact suppliers, monitor costs, and coordinate with staff. She explains, “It helps that you don’t have to run around too much. You’re instantly updated with what’s happening in the restaurant when you’re not physically present.” The Internet has also helped make Salutti famous. Today, when you search “Salutti” on the Net, you’ll find food blogs with photos and comments, and reviews on everything about the restaurant—food, ambience, and service. Blogie Robillo’s blog,, is all praises for Salutti. He wrote, “The name might suggest Italian cuisine, but Salutti in fact serves fusion food—traditional Italian fare recreated into modern, adventurous and delectable dishes. It’s... a very cozy, well-appointed and refreshing addition to Davao’s restaurant scene. I highly recommend the place for intimate gatherings and even for power lunches.” Another blogger, Tere (, raved: “Ms. Tricie Arcenas and her staff were very gracious and accommodating...We got a rare and great treat...I also loved their Kani 24 • AUGUST 2009 • GLOBE MASIGASIG

Tricie keeps her marketing strategy simple: to maintain excellent service. “Servers greet customers by name, if possible.” Salad with Japanese Dressing. Honestly, I am not much of a vegetable salad eater but I wanted more of it!” Blogger Cherry ( muses: “I am not really sure what Salutti means but if my taste buds were to define it, it would definitely mean DELECTABLE FOOD. And I must say, that among the Italian Restaurants here in Davao City, Salutti has the most affordable and most ‘customer-friendly’ menu.” Many other foodies have also tried Salutti, thanks to positive reviews on the Internet—proof that Salutti is on the road to great things. Such accolades have increased Salutti patrons, though Tricie can’t be sure of the numbers.


Tricie, who prefers to keep Salutti’s prices low, encounters problems when prices of commodities fluctuate. “I had to increase my prices once, and I am hoping I won’t have to do it again for a very long time,” she says. One challenge she constantly encounters is her cramped kitchen. “Since it is [technically] just a café, it becomes overcrowded, and food takes longer to churn out. I only have [a] foursquare-meter kitchen, so there is nothing I can do to have the food come out faster.” When this happens, Tricie goes into troubleshooting mode. “We just explain [about the limited space]. I once [had to give a] complimentary meal.” Expansion of the space is not yet in the works, but “maybe in the future when we expand Salutti.” Salutti thrives on Tricie’s hands-on management style, emphasis on good food, and quality service. Loyal clients return because, unlike other restaurants that resort to foodportion downsizing and service downgrades to

cut costs, Salutti’s remain reasonable. “Good food just sells,” she says. “People like to drink at our place, too. The price of food and drinks are affordable. Plus, we offer large servings.” Her husband, Vince, adds: “In the beginning, just our family and friends dined here. Now, we have loyal customers that are really drawn by the food. I think that’s a good sign, when you have regular customers that weren’t your friends [to begin with], especially when they celebrate special occasions like birthdays or anniversaries with you.” Now that she’s a first-time mother, Tricie has learned to trust the system she has put into place for the restaurant. Tricie’s first priority is her family. “We plan to expand our current space and expand the menu when my son is a bit older,” she explains. “I also want another branch in the Lanang area of Davao [to cater to call center employees].” With Tricie’s good mix of business sense, passion, and dedication—she can have it all. ●

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How to know when to turn your successful business into a franchise BY PAULA BIANCA ABI O G



ou’ve successfully established your own business and/or brand and now want to take it to the next level—turn it into a franchise. But does your business have what it takes to become one? Experts weigh in on how you can tell if your business is franchise-ready.

Is your business in demand? “Know if you are getting inquiries from customers or otherwise. Also, find out if your product or service answers the needs of your customers.”


Can your system be replicated? “Make sure that your system is not too difficult. Prepare a training kit and operations manual for your franchisees, because everything must be synchronized, and your franchisees will be guided.”

LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP. “Now is the best time for any entrepreneur to look at expanding his business through franchising,” says Armando Bartolome of GMB Franchise Developers. “If you expand on your own, that would require a bigger capital. You’ll be spreading yourself out too thin among your branches, and your attention to customers will be out of focus,” adds Bartolome.


Are you willing to trust your business to an outsider? “Remember that franchisees are not your employees; they’re your partners. You can’t just order them around.”

According to Bartolome, there are certain criteria to meet to make sure your business is franchiseready. Ask yourself the following questions:


“What’s a surefire B Y

LEARN ABOUT THE TRICKS OF THE TRADE. If you want to get into franchising but aren’t sure how to do it, learn the ropes first. “Find a franchise consultant you are comfortable with,” says Alipon. A franchise consultant acts as a “coach” to guide business owners who want to get into franchising. He looks at and evaluates the business system, then makes recommendations to prepare the business for expansion. Franchise consultants stay on for 3 months to 1 year prior to opening a business to franchisees, and sometimes still drops by to monitor the franchises. The industry rate for franchise consultants range from 350,000 to about 2 million. FIND FRANCHISEES YOU CAN TRUST. “Franchising is a long term commitment,” says Andres. You should take the time to evaluate potential franchisees. “It doesn’t matter if you have the best brand from the best franchisors. If the franchisee thinks they [have just] bought a franchise that can work on auto-pilot and be profitable on its own, that good franchise can turn into sour lemons, lemons,” says Alipon.

BE READY TO MANAGE A “NEW” BUSINESS. “Once Once you go into The franchising, you are already Association ssociation selling a business, you of Filipino become a supplier, and Franchisers many more [than] when Inc. (AFFI) you were just selling from seeks to Bartolome adds that franchisors and your store or branches,” professionalize and standardize franchisees should have an open and says Aries Alipon of Holy the local franchising industry. dynamic relationship. “A franchise Kettle Corn. Opening your For more details, log on to can’t can run on auto-pilot. Both the business to franchisees is ( franchisor and the franchisee must be Huwag just the first step. “Huwag involved and committed in business business.” ● kang magmadali kasi mas madali

MAKE SURE YOUR BUSINESS IS FRANCHISEREADY. Establish your brand and make sure your business is stable even when run by franchisees. “The best time to franchise is when your business is able to support other businesses beyond your own company stores. A good franchise is a business that must make a profit and is seen as a business that will go beyond trends and downturns,” says Ricardo Andres of Candy Corner.


kang madadapa. Take the time to develop your franchise system. [Franchising] is easy to do, but if you don’t do your homework, your efforts will still go down the drain,” Bartolome adds.


de-stressor for you?”


ALESSA LIBONGCO, Art Adventures & Alessa Libongco Designs “When I just need a little break from work, I call up my boyfriend or best friends to talk and laugh about the silliest things. But when I have the luxury of time, I escape to the beach!”

JON BANTIGUE, PJ LANOT, Pino & Restaurant Bar “I ride my bicycle to travel from Metro Manila to Bulacan, Rizal or even Laguna. No iPods, just the sights and sounds of the road, and the side streets. I take pictures and videos of those bike trips so I can reminisce about the experience anytime!”

MARTA MATUTE, Marta’s Cupcakes “A definite de-stressor is to turn off my mobile phone! Otherwise, if a trip abroad is not possible at the moment it is needed, [watching] a season of a good [TV] series will do. Trips to the gym to bring out those feel-good endorphins are instant pacifiers as well.”

Gupit Industriya, Inc./ Azta Urban Salon

“I always find comfort and peace that is far beyond explanation whenever I meditate, read the bible, and listen to Hillsong tracks in my room or in the car. Galatians 4:6!” AUGUST 2009 • GLOBE MASIGASIG • 25

often discover that it is be too late to start grooming their heirs. Thus, there should be a process of constant mentoring—a management development program undertaken by people outside of the family—to prepare a successor for his new role, preferably to keep objectivity in the process, says Mr. Cruz. On the same note, Terry Lapuz-Galura, co-founder and associate director of Ateneo de Manila’s Family Business Development Center, believes that there could only be a smooth transition a successor is secured even before the predecessor retires or goes inactive in the business, thus allowing time for the heir to develop relations with suppliers, major customers and employees of the company as its founder.





ome inheritances like passing on a family business among children is no simple handover, but a long process that could take years—even decades to accomplish. For some, succession starts from the cradle. The heir’s character and attitude are instilled as he grows values that are needed to run a business such as passion, integrity and discipline.

Fundamentally, however, Elfren Cruz, author of the award-winning book Setting Frameworks: Family Business and Strategic Management , writes that the sustainability of a family business depends on the family’s ability to set clear-cut mechanisms for managing a succession after one generation. These guiding principles should be enclosed in a written plan with a workable

timetable that the entire family—and not the founder and successors alone—need to abide by. The plan should consider several factors that might be crucial in a smooth transition process in the future. For example, a good succession plan should identify what kind of successors the company needs, and who determines final decisions. “In view of sibling rivalry, a family council, or in big companies – the board of directors – can be established to choose the qualified successor,” Mr. Cruz says, adding that to avoid competition it should also be clear in the planning stage which siblings will be involved in the business. Founders should set up a process for training the supposed heirs for their eventual takeover. Owners who pass on their family business when they are about to retire, or when he is in his late 40s or 50s

Congruent to this, first generation entrepreneurs should make it a point to pass on not just the responsibilities, but also authority, ownership and financial independence to their successors. Ms. LapuzGalura believes that as long as the founder’s financial position is attached to the company’s financial wellbeing, he will always come back to involve himself again and again in the business. “The company needs to separate its finances from the founder’s financial status,” she says, adding that the founder should be assured enough to leave this to the succeeding managers. Mr. Cruz also believes that if no successor from the family qualifies, it can professionalize by getting non-family member managers. While problems and competition in family businesses are inevitable, families need not lose hope because an excellent succession plan takes years to execute. “I strongly believe that behind every strong business is a strong family. And a strong family is not an accident of fate; you all work on it,” assures Ms. Lapuz-Galura. ●




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Masigasig Magazine August 2009 issue  

Masigasig Magazine August 2009 issue

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