A MOTHER’S LEGACY

Wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, entrepreneur and friend – these are all the roles that Nanay Delia Natavio Herrera plays in life.

While she is seriously committed to each of her roles, she quickly pointed out which matters to her the most.

Family first. Wrigley’s stock point and retail store owner Nanay Delia Herrera’s priorities are clear.

“Family first ako,” Nanay Delia proudly says over the noise of her seven grandchildren who are chattering and running around in her general merchandise store.

The 51 year old retail store owner is among the pioneer batch of TSPI clients who signed up for Project Bloom, the name of TSPI’s partnership with the American candy companies Wrigley’s and Mars, towards the end of 2014.

Under Project Bloom, stock points like Nanay Delia get discounts from purchasing Wrigley’s products such as Doublemint and Juicyfruit chewing gum, and Mars’ Snickers chocolate bar directly from their office in the Philippines. These products are delivered straight to her doorstep regularly.

She earns profit from selling these at retail price to her customers, some of whom are also sari-sari store owners in their neighborhood at Pulong Kendi Road in the bustling city of Taguig.

Her success as a retail store owner and Wrigley’s stock point is impressive, but her attitude in the face of all the challenges she faced to get to where she is now is even more so.

Now married to Tatay Manolo Arsenio Herrera, Nanay Delia was widowed from her first husband who was the father of her first-born child. “Panganay ko si Benedict. Anak ko siya nung 18 years old ako. Namatay na yung Tatay niya pagkapanganak ko,” she shares. She has two daughters named Kristina Cassandra and Danheca with Tatay Manolo.

When asked what or who pushed her to put up her own business, she said herself, but proceeded to share the entrepreneurial journey of her biggest influence and teacher in business: her mother.

Her mother’s daughter. Nanay Delia considers her mother as her primary teacher in business. In this photo, she arranges her stocks in her general merchandise store.

“Sapul kasi, yung magulang ko, negosyante na. Graduate ng Teacher [sic] iyon, hindi naman natuloy, napasok siya sa pabrika ng mga tela, hanggang maging supervisor siya, o general manager, parang ganun. Nung nagsara yun, yung mga makina nila, binili ng Nanay ko. Tapos nagtayo siya sa bahay namin sa Bicutan ng mga RTW, hanggang sa kaliit-liitan, magiging basahan. Nagbabagsak kami ng basahan sa mga gasolinahan. Yung Ate ko na may sasakyan ang nagdadala dun, kami naman, sa mga tindahan.”

All throughout her interview, Nanay Delia spoke highly of her mother Nanay Noemi Natavio, who not only taught her how to be an entrepreneur, but also showed her how a wife and mother should be.

Independent woman. Nanay Delia heeded her mother’s advice and teaching that she should be independent even if she is already married.

“Yung Nanay ko po, hindi nagpabaya na porke may asawa, asa na lang, kasi hindi mo naman masasabi ang buhay. Tinuruan niya kami para hindi umasa sa asawa. Dati part-time ko lang iyon, pero nung nawalan ng trabaho ang asawa ko (Tatay Manolo) nung mga 2010 yata yun, joined force na kami. Dun na nagsimula na concentrate na kami sa negosyo. Ako, mahilig talaga ako magtinda-tinda. Ate ko, nag-RTW siya sa Laguna. Lahat kami magkakapatid, natutunan namin sa Nanay ko na kahit nasa bahay ka, puwede ka maghanap-buhay.”

This powerful lesson was further emphasized by her father, who was also an entrepreneur.

“Gumagawa siya ng baril. May gun shop kasi kami noon. Ten years o eleven years na yata, na-disabled siya kasi nagkaroon ng stroke. Dun tumigil yung shop. Kasi isa lang ang lalaki sa aming magkakapatid, eh namatay na, so walang nagmana. Dapat yung kapatid kong lalaki.”

The closing of her father’s gun shop marked the beginning of Nanay Delia’s foray into being self-employed.

“Nung may gun shop pa kami, helper ako nung Tatay ko. Nung natigil na siya, tinuruan ako nung Nanay ni Manolo paano mag-banana-que. Hanggang natututunan ko na din paano gumawa ng maruya. Hanggang nadagdagan ng ulam-ulam. Yung Ate niya kasama ko, tinuruan ako magluto ng ulam-ulam, tapos meryenda sa tanghali. Kasi nagpapaaral pa ako sa mga panahon na iyon, kaya kailangan kayod talaga, dahil tatlo silang nag-aaral eh. Hindi naman puwedeng i-asa sa iba iyon.”

Nanay Delia’s dream to send her children to school was her source of strength during those times. “Sa gabi, pagkatulog, bagsak ka na, madaling araw, mamimili. Ganun ang nangyari, routine.”

The growth of her small food business was interrupted when an opportunity to work abroad presented itself to Nanay Delia. “Ilang taon na kong nagtitinda, tapos may nag-alok sa akin na mag-abroad, sa Kuwait. Mag-domestic helper. Ayaw ko man, eh tinry ko na din. Naka-seven years din ako.”

She could’ve chosen to stay longer in her stable job in Kuwait but her love for her children prompted her to come back to the Philippines so she can raise them herself.

OFW turned entrepreneur. Nanay Delia spent seven years in Kuwait as a domestic helper before coming back home so she can focus on her children.

“Hindi na ako bumalik sa Kuwait. Maliliit pa yung anak ko nung iniwanan ko sila. Hindi pa nag-aaral. Mga three o four years old, ganung edad ko sila iniwan. Ayaw ko kasi na kapag nag-aaral sila, wala ako. Kailangan kapag nag-aaral, nandiyan ka na eh. Nung bumalik ako sa Pilipinas, siguro yung panganay ko, highschool na, elementary yung pangalawa.”

When she came back, she made up for all the lost time by looking after her children above all. “Wala naman akong tinututukan kundi family ko. Hindi naman ako lakwatsera. Hindi kami talaga mahilig sa mga mall, mga sine. Mababaw lang kaligayahan namin.”

Since she found herself unemployed after arriving from Kuwait – a situation many overseas Filipino workers find themselves in after coming back home – she decided to give business another try by opening a general merchandise store, in the house of her sister-in-law where they used to live. When her sister-in-law retired from her teaching job around 2012, Nanay Delia’s family moved out of her house and purchased a lot nearby.

Nag-tra-trabaho yung Ate niya, kami lang yung parang tumatao sa bahay. Nung mag-retire na yung Ate niya, kaya naka-upa ko dito. Dati hindi kami nagbabayad ng upa dun sa Ate niya eh. Nung umalis kami dun, may asawa na mga anak ko. Eh siyempre, mahirap naman nakaasa sa anak, eh di, mag-hanapbuhay kami. Nakatulong din ng malaki yung hindi kami naka-upa ng ganun katagal nung nakatira kami dun. Six years pa lang kami dito. Narinig kong may lupa, hulugan, eh di gi-nrab ko. Basta tuloy-tuloy lang mabayaran.”

Pioneer. Nanay Delia was among the first batch of TSPI clients who signed up for Project Bloom, to become a Wrigley’s stock point in Taguig.

It wasn’t long after she opened her general merchandise store that Project Bloom was launched.

“First batch kami eh. Nag-umpisa iyan, nag-offer ang Wrigley’s and Mars. Tinawag kami ng TSPI. Kung sino siguro may puhunan. Eh di pumunta kami. Ipinakita sa amin kung paano yung negosyo.”

Nanay Delia said she is not like other entrepreneurs who take big risks in business, admitting her doubts about Project Bloom.

“Siguro may mga ganun, yung malalakas talaga yung loob. Ako, ayaw ko kasi yung sumampa agad nang malakihan. Kailangan i-try ko muna tapos kapag na-experience ko nang maganda yung negosyo, saka ako nagpapalaki ng order. Hindi kasi ako agad nangangarap, kasi slowly but surely ang iniisip ko eh. Kailangan unti-unti lang, ayaw ko nung biglaan. Nag-umpisa lang ako sa isang box: isang box ng Snickers, Doublemint, basta isang box. Hanggang sa naubos. Ako ang pinakatakot nun. Baka mamaya…., may ganun akong doubts. Pero umayos. Dire-diretso pero may ups and downs nga.”

When asked what she can say about the Project Bloom stock point business opportunity, she only had positive feedback. “Maganda. Dire-diretso hanggang, umorder na kami ten boxes, nag-aagawan pa kami, lalo na kapag October, November, December. Hindi ko akalain na dumami order ko nun. Naka-dalawampu yata ako nun. Yun yung malakas. Minsan nagagalit nga kami dahil wala nang stocks. Nauubusan. Nag-aagawan kami nung matanda, di ko lang matandaan pangalan niya, kami pa lang nun yung stock point. Yung may pintura doon, tapat ng school yun eh, binabagsakan ko yun.”

Sweets ban. These candies and sweets – including the Wrigley’s doublemint gum on the top right – have been prohibited by the DepEd in schools beginning early 2017.

But just like any other business, the opportunity also came with its own set of challenges. In Nanay Delia’s case, the biggest challenge came when one of her resellers slowed down in business at the same time that the Department of Education issued a new guideline, prohibiting the sale of sweets in schools.

Strong and fighting. Nanay Delia emphasizes the need for a strong heart and mind because business challenges sometimes come successively.

“Last year lang, yung binabagsakan ko na kaibigan ko, nagkasakit yung asawa. Na-ospital. Naoperahan yung paa nung mister niya. Nawala yung isang puwesto nila. Siyempre, kabawasan sa customer iyon kasi maraming kumuha iyon eh. Dalawang box, tatlong box, minsan nag-li-lima. Nagkataon pa na nauso yung ubo ng mga bata, binawal yung mga chocolates, yung mga sweets. Punong-puno ang mga center lagi ng mga batang may sakit. Eh di naapektuhan lalo yung benta ko. Nag-umpisa ito last year.”

Her challenges as a stock point didn’t end there, citing her customers’ financial mismanagement and sickness as reasons for the decline of orders. But in spite of these challenges, Nanay Delia maintains a positive outlook. She understands that running a business is similar to living life, where challenges unexpectedly come, and it is up to the person to hold on or give up.

“Nagkataon na naman, yung ibang tindahan ko, nawalan ng puhunan. Yung ibang tindahan, nagkasakit yung Nanay. Minsan ‘pag nagkakaroon ka ng pagsubok kasi, sunod-sunod. Kapag didibdibin mo iyon, matatalo ka. Kaya nag-lie low din ako ng kunti. Pero tuloy pa rin. Parang sa pagsubok sa buhay iyan eh. Pag pinasukan ka ng pagsubok, dire-diretso naman, hanggang kailan ka titigilan, hindi mo alam. Kailangan maging matatag ka sa mga panahon na ganun. Kasi kung hindi ka matatag, sasama ka sa kahinaan nung iba, walang mangyayari sa iyo.”

Nanay Delia shared that her journey as a Project Bloom stock point has been sustainable for the most part. “Smooth iyon, tuloy-tuloy, mula nung nagsimula ako. May time na hindi malakas, may time na malakas. Pero hindi ka naman zero.”

As a stock point, she also had the opportunity to observe her market’s preference towards the different products she sells. “Mas malakas pa rin ang Doublemint sa Juicyfruit. Masyadong matamis ang Juicyfruit. Hindi naman sila mahilig. Kahit nga bata hindi mahilig. Yung mga customer ko diyan, more on Doublemint din ang hinahanap nila.”

Her thirst for learning entrepreneurship strategies and tips continues to help her gain more customers and friends as well. “Nanay ko nagturo sa akin mag-negosyo. Pero nakikinig ako tungkol sa mga pagnenegosyo. Lagi akong interesado sa mga ganun. Maliit pa ako, grade 6, na-expose na kami sa Nanay ko. Nadagdagan lang ng meeting tungkol sa business. Pag nagsasalita na, alam ko na, kasi inaalala ko ginawa ng Nanay ko. Sa TSPI, meron sila nung special meeting. May book pa nga kami eh.”

Well-stocked store. Nanay Delia sells a wide variety of products in her general merchandise store so none of her customers will go home empty-handed.

Her other source of business advice? Her friends whom she considers her business mentors. “Research na rin tawag dun eh,” she jokingly says. “Mga kaibigan ko negosyante din,” she adds. “Yung best friend ko, may hardware store. Mas maraming pinagdaanan yun kaysa sa akin. Nagkasakit siya ng vertigo tapos hindi siya binayaran nung mga may utang sa kanya. Kaya ngayon hindi na nagpapautang iyon. Ako din hindi nagpapautang.”

“Pabili!” a little girl calls out from the front of her store, signaling a break from our deep conversation.

“Ang gusto ko talaga general merchandise,” Nanay Delia says after the little girl left with her purchase. Yun bang ‘pag pumunta sa iyo ang customer, meron ka nung hanap nila. Hindi puwedeng wala. Kasi sayang yung customer.”

Retail store with wholesale options. Instead of viewing them as competitors, Nanay Delia began offering wholesale to other retail store owners in her community.

Her wisdom and loving attitude towards people, especially her customers, is instrumental to the success of her business. “Maganda yung wala kang kagalit. Wala akong kaaway dito. Ayaw ko ng kagalit. Kasi kung may negosyo ka, kailangan wala kang kagalit. Wala kang karapatang magalit sa customer, maliban kung nagnanakaw o hindi nagbabayad, dun ka magalit.”

 

Even her perspective about her competitors is inspiring. When her next door neighbor opened a small pharmacy, her sales of over the counter medicines, diapers, baby powders and formula milk suffered, because customers bought them all from her neighbor instead who also offered the same. But she chose to take the high road by remaining friends with her neighbor. “Hindi ko pa rin inaalis yung aking produkto at hindi ko ginagawang kumpitensya yun. Turo rin sa business yun. Dati dati, nung hindi ko natutunan sa business yun, eh di galit na galit na ko nun. Pero sinabi sa akin na hindi dapat ituring na kumpitensya. Narinig ko iyan sa mga negosyante tips. Kasi minsan, makakatulong rin sa iyo yun.”

She came up with a win-win solution that proved the benefits of having competitors. “Nag-wholesale ako ng kung ano ang kailangan nila. Umo-order na sila sa akin ngayon ng wholesale. Nakatulong din.”

Financial management and honesty are her two principles in running her business. “Kailangan huwag over-gastos. Hindi naman yung tipid na tipid. Eh kung kailangan mong bilhin eh di bilhin mo. Pero kung kukunin mo sa puhunan mo, huwag na. Mababawasan puhunan mo para lang mabili gusto mo. Kung iisipin mo, sarili mo, trabahador ka din ng sarili mong negosyo. At walang mangungupit. Once na nangyari yun, iniisip mo lagi na. ‘Pag nawala na ang trust, wala nang magagawa. Wala na tayong usapan. Nanay ko din nagturo sa akin nito.”

Years of applying the lessons she learned from Nanay Noemi and working hard as an employee and entrepreneur paved the way for her to send her three children to school – a crowning achievement for any mother.

Core values. Nanay Delia lives by the values of diligence, persistence and financial management in her business - values she hopes to pass on to her grandchildren.

Benedict took up an automotive course in Manila. Now 33 years old, he is already married, a father of five children and works as a driver with a transportation network vehicle service company. 30 year old Kristina studied Office Management at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines and now works at Taguig City Hall as an assessor. She is also married and has two children. Her youngest, 19 year old Danheca, is a sophomore studying Accounting at the University of Makati.

 

Aside from this accomplishment, her financial discipline also helped her to purchase a motorcycle which Tatay Manolo used to augment their household income, as well as their own land.

Nanay Delia believes that diligence, persistence and knowledge in financial management are necessary for entrepreneurs to succeed. “Kailangan may sipag at tiyaga. At marunong mag-budget, yung sa financial. Importanteng-importante yun. Kasi kung hindi mo gagawin yun, hindi mo alam kung wala ka nang kinabukasan.”

This is also her advice to new entrepreneurs, emphasizing the need for them to be committed to their enterprise’s growth. “Dahil kapag wala ka namang tiyaga eh paano mo papalakihin ang negosyo mo? Determinasyon din mahalaga. Hindi puwede yung pag tamad ka na, ayaw mo na. Hindi pupuwede yun.”

Loving grandmother. Nanay Delia strikes a pose with her seven grandchildren and two grandchildren of her sibling.

 

Ten years from now, Nanay Delia dreams of expanding her general merchandise to a grocery store and seeing her children and grandchildren manage it someday. She wishes to live a simple life with her family by her side. “Mag-ha-hanapbuhay ka ngayon, papasok ka. Magkano pamasahe? Otso oras pa iyon. Ito kalahating araw, pahinga ka naman. Makikita mo pa sila (her children and grandchildren). Yun yung gusto ko, simpleng buhay lang.”

Unsurprisingly, her family remains her inspiration in her business. “Lahat sila. Buong pamilya ko. Apo at anak ko. Kasi sa akin, fair, parang yung ginawa sa amin ng Nanay ko. Lahat sila, mula sa maliit hanggang sa matanda, alam nila iyan.”

Nanay Delia takes pride in playing an active role in raising her grandchildren. They help out in the store by arranging her stocks and discarding the empty boxes. She teaches them how to run it as early as now by telling them stories. She also discourages her children from giving her grandchildren money, because she believes they are too young to understand the value of it.

By exemplifying the values of discipline, hard work and responsibility – the same values she learned from her mother, Nanay Noemi – Nanay Delia does her part in continuing her mother’s legacy.

Slowly but surely.

 

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