Thursday, November 29, 2007


We spend millions making officers and gentlemen out of cowards and what do we get?
Cowards, that’s what.
Once again, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV ran away from his destiny to make himself a martyr to kick up the societal change necessary to make this country great again.
Too bad, neither an expensive Philippine Military Academy (PMA) education nor a seat in the Senate could give man courage. Trillanes stared death in the face and once again he retreated with his tail between his ass.
What we have is exactly a repetition of the short-lived 2003 Oakwood Apartments mutiny where instead of coming out with guns blazing, Trillanes and his fellow officers fired off their months. As in today’s action, they used the media not only to ventilate their gripe, but also to use the members of the press as their human shield.
As in the past, they counted on the media presence to stop a military and police action but when they saw government forces moving to crush them this time, they raised the white flag. And Trillanes was quick to say that they did it to protect the media from the ensuing firefight at the posh Manila Peninsula Hotel. What a crap!
And what did Juan Tanga get for it? Nothing. Like in Oakwood, all we had was poor publicity abroad which witnessed the cowardice of our military officers. All of us harvested losses in foreign investments and in disrupted economic activities at the country’s premier financial district.
Instead of gaining immortality, Trillanes only earned the ire of people now affected by curfews imposed by the government.
If there was any good coming out of the Trillanes EDSA Farce, it was the realization on his part that the people never really voted for him in the last election and his electoral victory was really a result of the protest vote against President Arroyo.
Trillanes counted on his electoral magic to get people to his side, but what he forgot was the fact that people have already stopped trusting him, having seen how he led his men to the gallows in Oakwood.
In Oakwood, Trillanes showed he was not an officer; in Manila Peninsula, he showed he was not a senator either.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


As I write this, it has been about three hours already since a group of soldiers led by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and Brigadier General Danilo Lim has walked out from their court hearing in Makati and proceeded towards Manila Peninsula Hotel where they apparently hoped to stage an EDSA IV.
Question: Will you Juan Tanga join them?
As of now, I do not see a great force of humanity trooping to Makati in the same frenzied manner thousands of Pinoys did in EDSA 1, 2 and 3.
Neither was there a surge of people to Oakwood Apartments when Trillanes again led his men to a short lived mutiny in 2003.
Back then, I had already lost faith in this guy when he chickened out and surrendered instead of fighting it out as his predecessors during past bloody coups under Senator Gringo Honasan have done before him.
Being from bloody Mindanao, we always believed in the Chavacano saying that if you've already got drenched in the rain, then you'd better take a bath. In short, one should finish what one had started. So Trillanes should have died with his boots on in 2003.
Instead, he dished his guns for his blabber mouth and ended up a politician.
With his supposed overwhelming electoral support getting to his head, he is now once again tempting and testing people's loyalty to support him in his unfinished quest in 2003 that achieved nothing but to get his low-ranking men imprisoned and separated from their families.
But will people come, as I write this, only a few did.
Why? People have already gone tired of all the EDSA peaceful revolutions in the past. Although I myself took part in EDSA 1 and 2, those bloodless coups always fell short of giving us the benefits which we have risked for in adding our warm bodies to the peaceful political movements.
We have all been short changed twice! In the end, we've realized that we have been used as pawns in a political musical chair that saw the replacement of old corrupt politicians with the new breed of far lethal and avaricious politicians. We only took part in the political orgy that saw political vultures replacing alligators.
Thus, the decision to go to Makati and take part in the EDSA ad nauseam is entirely up to you friends, but as for me, I'd rather pour out my time and energy in my own businesses and work hard to ensure my employees get their bonuses and 13th-month pays this Christmas.
As for Trillanes, the biggest Christmas gift he could offer his electorates is to finish his unfinished business in 2003 and shed blood for this country this time. Only then will I take part in a new bloodless coup to topple a corrupt and morally bankrupt Arroyo Administration.
It's about time Trillanes places his blood to where his mouth and balls are!

Sunday, November 18, 2007


This is one thing that I have been putting off from writing, but like I promised in my blog (, I will tell the truth no matter how much it hurts and whoever it hurts.

But this truth is far painful because it involves us and our business, the Satti Grill House. For six months now, we have been bleeding from our operations at the SM-Fairview Food Court. For six months now, we have been paying the rent, electric and water bills, the salaries of our employees -- most of whom come from Mindanao -- without a centavo of profit.

Now you may say that these loses are normal for new businesses, but in our case the loses are just so insanely big that we now feel as if the task of portraying Zamboanga City, Sulu, Basilan and Tawi-Tawi as being places not just known for the Abu Sayyaf, but for their rich diversity of food has become too burdensome.

Too late we realized that good intentions alone – give employment and scholarship to our relatives from the South, project Mindanao as a place of rich food, cement Christian-Muslim ties – are not enough to make a business click.

Too late we have realized that maybe there is not much market for satti or that people from Zamboanga City, Basilan and Sulu are not that excited to share satti with their friends here.

Too late we have realized that we were wrong in thinking that fellow satti lovers would wholeheartedly throw their support behind us in helping spread the good news about satti to their friends here and thereby ensure that Satti Grill House would remain for long in the SM-Fairview outlet.

Too late we have realized that the Muslims we counted on to patronize the first Halal outlet in the SM chain of malls are not there. Our feedback form shows Muslims comprise only 10 percent of our customers. For long we have fended off suggestions to sell pork to make the business viable, but now we are having second thoughts.

To see the dream of putting the flag of a truly original food from Zamboanga City, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi in the list of the best foods in the country fading is so painful both to our emotion and our wallets.

So after five months of declining sales and ever-increasing rent and other fees imposed by Mr. Henry Sy, we have decided to close down our SM-Fairview outlet by January or February if sales do not improve. Fellow businessmen advice us to close at the end of November and we find the advice very practical, but then we are such a bunch of bleedings hearts and we cannot bear to see our employees flown and shipped from Mindanao go jobless.

To all of you who have been supporting us, thanks a lot for helping show us a glimmer of hope that satti or Halal food can survive in the SM malls.

Do enjoy satti in SM-Fairview for our remaining months in operation. We will just advice you of the opening of new Satti Grill House outlets in Manila and Makati (Just log on to for updates).

Gracias con vosotros todo!!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


We at Satti Grill House are so flattered that one of the most dynamic movers of the entrepreneur revolution in the country has cited us in his column which is fast turning out to be the bible of ordinary Filipinos who want to go into business.
Of course I am talking of Mr. Joey Concepcion of the Concepcion industries who is fast carving a name as the face of the Filipino entrepreneur. The country owes Mr. Concepcion a favor for aggresively pushing for the growth of small time businesses and for teaching us non-Chinese that we too can excell in something that we thought was traditionally reserved for our Chinese compatriots.
Yes! Ordinary Filipinos can go into business and succeed and Mr. Conception is there to say we can and cheer us on.
So, here's Mr. Conception's column published at the Philippine Star newspaper.

Ask Go Negosyo
Joey Concepcion
Thursday, October 18, 2007 The Philippine Star Business
Can I Be An Entrepreneur?
While in Hongkong over the weekend, I came across a shirt that said “If you don't try you'll never know”. Unfortunately they didn't have my size. That shirt best answered the most frequently asked question during all our caravans and speaking engagements. But for me, it is a question that they themselves should answer.
What has Go Negosyo achieved thru all these efforts? We are not a fix-it-all organization that promises you to be the next multimillionaire or that we are here to tell you that you will definitely succeed in business. We are here to give hope to those that have lost it and to inspire people thru the different stories of successful entrepreneurs by hearing it straight from them and seeing them in person. We also have their stories widely circulated thru the Go Negosyo book which has now sold close to 50t books and by the end of this year will maybe sell another 10t copies. Numerous people have come up to me and said that while they have not yet gotten into business, they have been inspired by reading the book and that they are now more conscious and have started to look what negosyo they would want to get into in the coming years.
After my talk during a recent speaking engagement at the Public Relations Society of the Philippines, I was approached by Mr. Armand Nocum who used to work for Inquirer and told me that he got inspired after reading the Go Negosyo column and the book that he quit the newspaper and decided to start a restaurant called Satti Grill House located in SM Fairview. His business is doing quite well since his restaurant offers Manileños a taste of Zamboanga and Sulu cuisine.
Another is the story is that of Estrella Castillo, an aspiring entrepreneur who wrote us early this year. I had the chance to meet her last February during the launch of Go Negosyo book at my place and that was the start of our mentorship with her. We have been following Estrella’s progress since she started her internet business and right now it is doing very well. She followed our advice and focused on offering internet services for research and surfing purposes for wider exposure of the kids rather than games. It developed a more wholesome ambience and character that has become her point of difference and that's attracting a different market. Aside from computer rentals, they also offer other services such as typing, copying, scanning, fax service, payphone and have also invested on a loading wallet. She also offers privileges exclusive to members in order to attract a steady stream of clients. Aside from Go Negosyo, PLDT SMART Executive Butch Jimenez has also been providing the needed advice and assistance to Estrella. These are just some of those people who I met by coincidence who have shared their stories and got inspired by our advocacy.
Our website is constantly being even improved and it is the only entrep website that in less than a year has rich content, from our uploaded archives of the Go Negosyo Bigtime episodes, previous Ask Go Negosyo columns, business ideas listings and entrep toolkits. We have not stopped improving the site and we will also be adding a year from now video clips of “How To Go Negosyo” by Ed Morato which are basically miniclip versions of negosyo tips. We our also in our third season of Go Negosyo Bigtime, this time featuring more business ideas as well as special coverages of our Go Negosyo caravans.
This is a feedback from someone who went thru our website:
Two days ago I found, the Philippines Entrepreneur website for the first time. This site is first class and top notch in my opinion. After reviewing it, signing up as a member, submitting my business listing, and surfing all around it for hours, I've found this site to be one of the best sites in the Philippines for empowering Filipinos to taking control of their personal, business, and financial lives through entrepreneurship and business ownership. is a site to help Filipinos become more knowledgeable about entrepreneurship, and even more important the "activity knowledge" they provide with their "get started with biz" page. Knowledge is useless without putting it into practice. Their "get started with biz" page puts knowledge into action with education training and tools such as an Entrepreneur's Toolkit, business and entrepreneur articles, financial analysis of income statements & balance sheets, marketing segmentation and pricing, business plan creation, and making investments.
They've got this "ask for help" section where you can ask questions of leaders in different industries of Philippine business. This is pure empowerment! Education training, support and mentoring are what it’s all about in reaching success in the world of business. is a site that I see the users benefiting from as a learning site, a doing site, and even more important, now being able to teach to others what they just learned at the site. Leadership is about learning, doing, and teaching it. does of this very well.
I can't say enough good things about I highly recommend you surf to their site and review it for yourself. Sign up as a member, add your business listing, work and use the site.
Go Negosyo will have its final caravan for this year in Cagayan de Oro tomorrow at the Atrium in Limketkai Center. We will award the most inspiring entrepreneurs of Northern Mindanao which include the founder of Radio Mindanao Network founder Henry and son Eric Canoy, Alonzo Chiong of Oro Asian Automotive Center, Alfonso U. Lim of Limketkai Development Corp., Mercedes Mejia of SLERS Industries, Elpidio Paras who owns PARASAT Cable TV, Dr. Reynaldo Rafisura of Salay Handmade Paper Industries, Rene Jose Stuart del Roasario Sr., the “master blender” of Suka Pinakuran, Isidra Tan of Cheding’s Peanuts, Henrik Kelly Yu of the popular food joint Bigby’s Café and Eleanor Jose of Vjandep Pastel. Many of them have earned this award thru hardwork. PMS Director General and MSME Czar Cerge Remonde will be joining me to give the awards as well as PCE Trustee and ESA Executive Chairman Vivienne Tan. As with Go Negosyo Pampanga, there will be a keynote forum with Go Negosyo advocates such as Vivienne Tan of ESA, Jay Aldeguer of Islands Souvenirs, Gaita Fores of Cibo and Eduardo Jimenez, a microfinance consultant of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. There will also be a second business how-to forum in the afternoon with Victor Tan of Bobson Jeans, Ronald Pineda of Folded and Hung and Les Reyes of Reyes Haircutters. Our How-To Go Negosyo learning sessions will be conducted by the Entrepreneurs School of Asia led by Dean Pax Lapid and Joel Santos. The forums will be hosted by Cheryl Cosim and Dominic Ochoa with Cito Beltran as moderator along with Cheryl. Again we would like to invite everyone from CDO and its nearby provinces to participate in this one of a kind entrepreneurial event.
[For feedback, you can email me at or thru sms at 09175591245. Watch the Go Negosyo Bigtime TV Show every Monday, 10:30pm in RPN9.]

Monday, November 12, 2007

My Past Life As An Investigative Journalist

It has been about a week now since I first offered my help to you my fellow satti lovers. But until now, there has been no takers. I understand, maybe you are shy, after all, I am a total stranger to all of you.

I don't blame you if at this very moment, this thought is playing on your mind: ``How can he help me when I never heard his name before?''

Don't worry, we newspaper reporters get that a lot. It is just unfortunate that we are not sikat or glamorous as our colleagues in radio and television. However, bragging aside, I can proudly declare that as far as achievements are concerned, I have had my share of fame in my past life as a journalist.

I do hope that after reading my credentials, you will already be bold enough to entrust me with your problems because I can help you solve them.

So, here's a brief history of my very thrilling and exciting life as a former journalist (This is what I give out to those out to introduce me in speaking engagements):

Armand Dean Natividad Nocum
Armand N. Nocum began his career in journalism in 1987 as a reporter and columnist of the now defunct The Morning Times, one of Zamboanga City's respected newspapers.
In 1992, he joined the Philippine Daily Inquirer as a correspondent and quickly became City Hall's ``Public Enemy No. 1.'' For his exposes on alleged graft in government, he incurred the ire of then Mayor Vitaliano Agan who declared Nocum as a person ``banned for life'' from covering City Hall.
In the same year the country won the international Little League Baseball competition by beating the US at their own sport, but was stripped of the title after the Inquirer came out with its series on the large-scale cheating that took place. Once again Nocum found himself in the eye of the storm as a result of co-writing the Inquirer series which gave incisive detail on how local officials falsified records of little boys to enable their over-aged brothers and neighbors to play baseball in international competitions.
Death threats flew fast and thick in Nocum's direction, with one local priest calling for his public hanging. National newspapers, television and radio stations joined in the Nocum-bashing frenzy.
As a result, Nocum had to go into ``exile'' in Manila where he faced a grilling by the Senate Committee on Sports under then Sen. Joey Lina. Subsequently, Nocum was vindicated when the committee upheld his findings on the Little League issue.
The Little League series of articles earned him nominations for the country's most prestigious journalism awards -- the Catholic Mass Media Award (CMMA) and the Jaime Ongpin Awards (JVO) for Investigative Journalism.
Two years into his work as a regular reporter of the Inquirer, Nocum beat the more senior Inquirer journalists in winning the Inquirer's first Luis R. Prieto Award for Investigative Journalism.
In 1996, while covering the House of Representatives, Nocum once again found himself being grilled by the Good Government, Public Works and Ethics Committees of Congress for his in-depth stories on the payola scam involving certain congressmen and the powerful Lopez family, owners of ABS-CBN, Meralco, Star Cinema and other influential firms.
Threats and a P5-million bribe failed to stop Nocum from pursuing his report on the scam which involved, among others, the present Presidential chief of staff Mike Defensor.
Hardly had the payola controversy died down when Nocum again became the subject of investigation by these same three congressional committees for his investigative reports on the pork barrel scam. The news series, which he wrote together with three other Inquirer reporters, gave Filipinos a first-ever detailed account of how congressmen steal people's money.
Embarrassed and angered by the story, most of the 250 members of Congress threatened to sue the Inquirer for libel in the amount of P1 billion pesos. They also threatened to slap Nocum and the Inquirer with ``inciting to sedition''ン, a law former strongman President Marcos used to go after ``enemies of the state''ン during Martial Law.
For months, Nocum and the Inquirer were the target of attacks in privileged speeches delivered by lawmakers in the halls of Congress, with one Muslim congressman inviting Nocum to his district so that he may bash Nocum's head against a concrete pavement to show that his pork barrel project was not sub-standard. He promised not to kill Nocum, though.
Eventually the lawmakers backed off when political groups, religious organizations, legal unions and local government officials came to the defense of the Inquirer. Elementary students also started sending their allowances to the Inquirer to help it battle lawmakers who were out to bring down the paper with a historic P1 billion libel case.
The grand slam of awards that followed the Pork Barrel series is unprecedented in local media history.
First, the late Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin conferred on Nocum and his colleagues the Catholic Mass Media Award for investigative reporting saying that the pork barrel series was ``what journalism should be''.
Then the Jaime Ongpin Award, the First Inquirer Journalism Award, and the first-ever Marshall McLuhan Prize given by the Canadian government were bestowed on Nocum and the three other Inquirer reporters involved in the series.
As a McLuhan Awardee, Nocum toured the whole of Canada serving as fellow and lecturer at the University of Toronto, the University of Regina and the University of British Columbia.
Upon his return, Nocum was again embroiled in a new libel charge, this time coming from Marcos crony Lucio Tan, owner of Philippine Airlines and tobacco and alcohol companies. Tan's libel suit of P130 million -- considered one of the biggest in Philippine journalism history -- stemmed from Nocum's in-depth report on how PAL nearly went bankrupt because Tan's dummy firms were allegedly fleecing the airline company.
In the years 2000 and 2001, Nocum was assigned to cover Malacañang where he reported on the last days in office of Ex-President Estrada and the start of President Macapagal-Arroyo's administration.
The high points of his Palace coverage was when he found himself trapped with Erap in the Palace during Edsa 2 and with President Arroyo in the violent Edsa 3.
Nocum has just returned from a successful coverage of President Arroyo's visit to Italy and Spain where she met with Pope Benedict XVI in the Vatican, the President of Italy, and King Juan Carlos I of Spain.
In Spain, Nocum stood out from among the 51-men Philippine delegation after President Arroyo introduced him to both the president of the Congreso de los Diputados and Madrid Mayor Alberto Ruiz-Gallardo as a Chavacano-speaking reporter who speaks and understands Spanish.
Today, Nocum covers the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals and the Department of Justice.
During his student days Nocum served as associate editor of the school organ of the Claret High School in this city. Later he took up philosophy at the University of Sto. Tomas where he studied to become a priest.
Leaving the seminary in 1986, he took up journalism at the Western Mindanao State University and is among its pioneering batch of students. It was at WMSU where he fell in love with journalism. He believes that studying mass communication (journalism) at WMSU under inspiring and effective teachers was a turning point and milestone in life that has brought him to where he is today.
Apart from his WMSU mentors, he considers the late Rene Fernandez, former editor of The Morning Times, as among those who greatly shaped his career.

The photo above was taken at the Palace of Juan Carlos of Spain when I accompanied President Arroyo to her trip to Madrid, Spain and Rome and Tripoli, Libya.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Public Service on the World Wide Web

You might have noticed that there have been changes in the way I defined the orientation and nature of my blog.
I have added a ground-breaking feature to my blog and that is: public service.
From here on, let be your on-line kuya. Let it be the site where you air out your cries for help, complaints and strong views on public and private matters needing attention.
It will specifically try to help you deal with corrupt and incompetent government offices that do not answer to our needs quickly and competently as it should. You can make it an electronic avenue where you can report and complain about bad services of key government or quasi-government corporations, including the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Labor, the Department of Public Works and Highways, Malacanang, the Department of Justices, the SSS, GSIS, BI and all other offices.
Let it also be an electronic site where you can also gripe about bad services of private corporations that do not deliver services you paid for, products bought, those that engage in schemes and scams and other similar mal-practices. Let this blog be your consumer complaint portal.
Likewise, let this blog be your aide or bridge to key officials and executives both in government and private sectors whose help you are soliciting. I will try to personally resolve your problems and concerns or tap broadcasters, reporters, and columnists to help us out. I will be your bridge to government and private individuals; and as well as members of the press, watchdog groups and non-government corporations.
Now you may ask why I have come to the decision of turning my blog into a public service forum, well the answer is simple – I just wanna help people who are dissatisfied with services dish out by out-of-reach government agencies and giant private corporations.
In fact, this motivation was what made me endure 20 years of pressure-filled work in journalism. I just want to empower the people considered small and negligible by the government and corporate giants. This is because like you, I too was – and still is – an insignificant speck in this universe. The only difference now is that my media work had given me direct access to key movers and shakers of society and as well as my media colleagues.
Normally, reporters like me who leave media end up writing hard-hitting columns in newspapers or go into broadcasting and television. Unfortunately, that is no longer the world I want to live in. I can no longer cope up with deadlines and pressures that make you feel you are living inside a pressure cooker. I also don't want other people censoring my views which are often controversial, frank and honest.
But then, the desire to serve remains strong.
So, I realized that the best avenue would be my blog. This way, I can write whatever I want, help whoever I want and write whenever I want to. Just the though of doing something new – a public service portal in the internet – feels me with lots of excitement and enthusiasm that had already left me in my old work in mainstream mass media.
Besides, there is no escaping public service because my exposure to customers at the Satti Grill House almost always end up with them asking me for help, saying that although I left media, the connections and influence I have remain. I get that a lot from people in Zamboanga City, Jolo, Siasi, Basilan and Tawi-Tawi who, like me, have ventured into this big city in search of greener pastures.
Thus, that brought me to the realization that although I have no newspaper column or radio or television programs to connect with those needing help, the satti blog would do just fine.
But since I am a still a one-man army, I would set some ground rules for those needing my help. For one, I will only receive complaints through this blog or the email access connected to it. Even if some of you already has my mobile phone or telephone numbers, I would still prefer you writing down your complain so that I can carefully dissect your problems. Please attach scanned documents or photos to give me a better picture of the problem you are facing.
Please refrain from calling or texting me because with no secretary to answer all your calls and texts, I may not be able to help you at all. Anyway, the feedback form you sign at the Satti Grill House show that many of you already have access to the internet.
And for those without internet connections, you may drop your letters or documents at the Satti Grill House outlets in SM Fairview or at our second branch to be opened this week in Padre Faura Corner M.H. Del Pilar Street, Manila.
For those needing my personal attention, I may announce in this blog specific time or days that I will be visiting my Satti Grill House so I can have audience with you.
So there you are, welcome to the first on-line public service program in the country. Feel free to tell your friends in the country and abroad about this kind of unique and trend-setting form of public service forum on the worldwide web!!!!
By the way, I have posted a picture of Zamboanga City's white sand beach of Bolong. I hope you like it.
Dios te bendiga (God bless you).

Saturday, November 3, 2007

NOTE on Big-Spending OFWS

Guess what? I am back in my beloved paper, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, as a contributing writer. Although I'm in business now and had recently resigned as an investigative reporter, I have accepted the invitation of my friend Gerry Lirio to write for the Global Pinoy section of the Inquirer.
I have accepted the offer because I love writing and there is no pressure in this job -- I can write whenever I want and whatever I want to write. And like my businesses, the materials I write is developmental stuff and not the destructive type of writing I have gone fed up with. In this section you will read about positive news, accomplishments, commentaries or advises on how OFWs should lead their lives and spend their hard earned resources.
And so I am sharing to you my first feature that appeared in PDI recently. I hope my advice would be of help to all of you with friends or relatives who are OFWs. Feel free to share this feature with your friends because it also shows satti's humble beginnings ...

How my wife saved her earnings from Kuwait
By Armand NocumINQUIRER.netLast updated 03:41pm (Mla time) 10/29/2007
“LET’S KEEP THIS FAMILY together even if we have to sell taho.” This was the pledge my wife Ann Sahi-Nocum and I made when we decided that she would quit working as a nurse at the Al-Jahra Hospital in Kuwait in 1997.
That was the time our eldest child Arriza was growing up with my brother’s family in Zamboanga City and becoming more isolated from us day by day, having grown attached to her adopted family.
Born in Kuwait, Arriza was just two months old when Ann brought her to the family of my brother Joey and his wife Edel.We found the arrangement convenient because it allowed Ann to work for five years abroad.
And what a five-year ordeal it was! We were a family living in three corners of the globe — I in Manila, Ann in Kuwait and Arizza in Zamboanga City. To say they were pain-filled years for us is an understatement.
But was it all worth it?
Because we opted to live a frugal life, we earned the notoriety of being the “stingiest” in a clan with lots of spendthrift OFWs.
Saving up was not easy when most of your relatives expected you to give money on every occasion and every imaginable emergency situation.
While others gave out gold necklaces, watches, shoes and hundreds of dollars, we gave cheap perfume, chocolates and a few peso bills.
While other OFW families lived in rented condos and apartments, I stayed in a rat-infested rented room originally built as a dirty kitchen. While other OFWs were buying cars, I was reporting for work in my beat-up 175 cc DT Yamaha motorcycle.
It was a joke in the family that in her five years abroad, Ann only bought me a watch, a ring, a necklace, perfumes and three music compact discs. One couldn’t point then to any electronic appliance in the house brought home from Kuwait.
Fortunately, those days of sacrifices paid off. Ann has invested and prospered in the used-car business, with outlets in Zamboanga City, Quezon City and Edsa near Robinsons Galleria.
We now give our relatives gainful employment in the Satti Grill House food outlet we opened in SM-Fairview Food Court not long ago. And we are set to employ more with the opening of another Satti outlet on MH Del Pilar, Manila next month.
One-day millionaires
I still feel a twinge of pain whenever I read about surveys showing that many OFWs spend their money on frivolous things and continue to live like one-day millionaires.
It’s ironic that the OFW heroes who prop up the Philippine economy do not experience true and lasting economic uplift in their lives.
OFWs should be reminded that the more they engage in wanton spending, the longer they’re keeping themselves trapped in their overseas jobs.
What use is their money if, by the time they retire from their work abroad, they’re too old and debilitated to enjoy life? If they discover upon their return that their children had grown up and were living their own lives, virtual strangers to them? This was Ann’s and my biggest fear.
I have friends who return home with a jaw-dropping array of stereos, pianos, cameras and other gadgets, but after about three months, they start selling them, having run out of money. I have another friend, a teacher, who made it a habit to buy those gadgets at half the price. So guess who’s the wise one, the local teacher or OFW?
In my book, the worse crime we Filipinos inflict on our OFW relatives is turning them into milking cows. I have noted with amusement how many family members—including the extended ones—tend to become afflicted with some sickness after a relative lands a job abroad.
It seems salary grade abroad is inversely proportional to the health index of the family members they leave far behind. Feigned sickness, it seems, is a very effective way of making an OFW fork out money. That is depressing.
Say no to solicitations
OFWs and their families should learn to say no to unnecessary solicitations. If not, they should at least be careful in screening out requests for financial help to see whether they’re real, legitimate or a sham.
They’re not helping their relatives any if by being abroad, they have turned them to hopeless sloth living on their generosity.
In our case, we really tried to explain to our relatives that they have to cut us some slack as we start life anew, promising that when we do succeed with our plans, we would give them bigger and more meaningful help.
Again, we are the few lucky ones. There are many OFWs out there who return home broke, mangled, raped or in body bags. Those who survive serious ordeals return to poverty and find their families fallen apart or have forgotten them.
Apart from saving up, they should also work hard at making good investments in land or businesses to hasten and cushion their return. On Ann’s part, she had seen so many friends retire from work with lots of money; only to return abroad a year or two later because they ran out of money or their business investments had gone wrong.
Until now, when Ann looks at Arizza all grown up, she can’t help but wonder why a mother like her left Arizza to relatives at the tender age of two months. Those exciting baby years when she first smiled, uttered her first word and started taking her first baby steps are gone forever. We were not there to witness those baby milestones – and that’s that.
But all the pains of her OFW years only embolden us to do better in our businesses so that neither of us will have to go abroad for work again.
So, for OFWs still living the vida galante, it’s time to say the party’s over, and for serious savings to begin now.
Copyright 2007 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
In case your curious, the picture above was taken at the Woodland Resort in Zamboanga City east Coast.