• From street vendor to OFW to entrepreneur


    I experienced selling sampaguita when I was a preschooler. I go with my grandparents every time they sell outside school gates and at a public market in Laguna.  I pick flower buds with my cousins very early in the morning, climbed huge Ilang-ilang trees to find the most fragrant flowers. We sew the flowers in a string and bring them to the streets.

    When I was in grade school, I sell homemade donuts and Filipino delicacies on the streets of San Jose, Occidental Mindoro. My mom bakes the cakes, we sell on the road. Sometimes we use a tri-bike (you know, the bike with a sidecar), but most of the time, we walk and shout, "Eeeehhhh donut, pisooooo!"

    On weekdays, aside from my school bag, I carry 2 huge plastic bags with mamon and brownies to be delivered in our school canteen at Divine Word College.

    My parents taught me the value of “marangal na trabaho” and I honor them for that.

    There are also times when I would collect used glass bottles and newspapers and sell them to the junk shops for mere coins.

    During elections, I get paid to distribute voter's guide flyers.

    I love the thought of getting something in return for the effort I was "hired" to do.

    Back in high school in Las Pinas, after classes, I help in our little sari-sari store. We also had an "ice candy" and "ice for sale" ad in the gate. It took me ages to learn how to properly tie an ice bag.

    In college, I posted a "karatula" in front of our house for personalized music CDs. CD-burning was a hit then - I was a suki of CDR King. I travel by bus from Pacita to Ayala just to buy bulks of CDs. I had a long list of songs where my customers select up to 16 mp3s. For 80 pesos, they'll get the songs with a personalized CD cover which I also designed. I know, I know... sorry na!

    We also sell street foods in the garage - fishballs, kwek-kwek, kikiam. That has also become my way to connect to people in the community. I didn't only sell, I also gained friends and, uhhmm, met my crush while she's buying squid balls -she kept coming back, apparently because we had the best fishball sauce pala, akala ko...


    There was also a time I got paid some good bucks for helping in cleaning the neighbor’s backyard and garage. That includes heavyweight lifting.
    Before graduating from university, I started a web hosting business. I buy high-scale web hosting server packages and resell some spaces. My first customer was the Computer Science department of my university.

    I did a lot of websites in Manila as a freelancer. I was a racketeer.

    My young mind then has always been wanting to create a business - even before setting foot here in Dubai.

    Here in UAE, I still do gigs. Some brands pay for sponsored posts. I write scripts for radio commercials. I write paid articles for other websites, and so on.

    Actually, in my first year here, with my dad, uncle and friends, we formed a web design company only for me to volt out after 6 months because I wasn't really prepared to take the risks of being an entrepreneur.

    Several times in my youth I failed... but forward I go.

    I am still young. I keep discovering... from people's stories, books, small groups, and seminars.

    Why do I want to become an entrepreneur? Aside from not wanting to remain an expat employee forever (and being my own boss), creating a business that brings joy and adds value to people is what I've always wanted to do.

    Today, that goal is not just empowered by passion. It is the passion and purpose that fuels me to strive to get that elusive opportunity to become one.

    Thank God for putting me in this path and for building me up this way.
    If I could share one piece of advice especially to my fellow Filipinos abroad - do not be scared at the thought of starting. If you think you have the calling to do something other than your work right now, listen to it - recognize the voice. We can't be complacent working for other's dreams only. Some of us plan to put up a business when we return to the Philippines. But, when are we going home? Why not start here? And why not now?

    If you have been told that you cannot do it, it's about time to listen to people who believe that you CAN do it. Ehem! I'm listening.

    --


    Top photo credits to hiveminer.
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