A luminary story


Filipinos are hardworking by nature. I have always believed in the Filipino’s capacity to be creative, determined, and goal-oriented. All that they needed was the opportunity for them to be successful, whether as an entrepreneur or in their chosen field. And this time, the odds are in favor of us.

Our hardwork is starting to bear fruit. Successful entrepreneurs today are not only composed of our Filipino-Chinese friends. We are beginning to see the likes of Jennilyn Antonio, whose rags-to-riches story has inspired many.  

Because of what I call as the “Entrep Revolution”, institutions from the private sector such as Meralco started to take notice. Currently, they are customizing their products and services that will help micro, small and medium entrepreneurs to level up and improve on their operations, either in increasing sales or cutting costs.

Since most businesses heavily rely on electricity, it will be a big help for our entrepreneurs if they could cut down on their electricity cost without compromising their production.

This year, Meralco also launched their own recognizing body that honors their partners and customers that share the vision of an energized Philippines. They call their awardees as luminaries--people and businesses that are shining examples of a true Filipino entrepreneur that is worth duplicating.

Let me share the story of Mr. Freeze’s Gerry Santos, whose passion and guts led him to be Meralco’s first grand luminary.

Gerry thought of opening up a business in the ice industry when he was still in college. He worked for his father, who was an ice dealer himself. However, he did not start immediately. He became a rice dealer first, and then he became a longganisa vendor. Eventually, he found himself in the buy-and-sell business.

He had his share of challenges when he finally found the courage to put up Mr. Freeze in 2005. At that time, he had limited resources, and he found out that he lacked practical knowledge in the ice industry. Of course, he had to deal with a monopolized market, as there are other companies with machineries that can make more ice than he could.

However, Gerry did not give up. After he secured a loan from a trusted institution, he consulted parties like Meralco to find out how he would maximize his production at a lesser cost. Meralco advised him to shift majority of his operations to off-peak, night time hours and to avail of Meralco’s time-of-use (TOU) scheme. This enabled him to cut significantly on electricity bills.

From the time that he started, Gerry was able to double Mr. Freeze’s production capacity in just a span of six years. To date, he currently operates eight ice plants in the greater Metro Manila area. He has created a total of 400 tons of ice daily, serving major malls and numerous restaurants. He also made significant innovations in the cold storage industry, such as building ice plants near his customers to address their needs better.

What is more important for Gerry is that he is now able to give back to his community. He has employed local tricycle drivers as ice distributors. This is in addition to the more than 100 personnel sourced by Mr. Freeze. Most of all, he is willing to share his story to inspire others to dream of having their own business someday.

Gerry is a true example of a Filipino entrepreneur who thinks not only of his welfare, but of others as well. And this is what Go Negosyo has been advocating since day one, which is to promote entrepreneurship among Filipinos, and in the process help open up opportunities for others.

I admire Gerry for his dedication and initiative to improve his negosyo by exploring options and finding partners to success. As Meralco’s grand luminary continuously striving to expand his business while helping others, does he believe that our time has come? And if so, how does he intend to help see this come to reality personally and through Mr. Freeze?

“Yes, I certainly presume that our time has finally come. It is evident by opportunities that are coming our way. In order to grow further, my company continues to attract persevering employees and aggressive dealers and retailers. Consequently, if all businesses will follow, it will lead to greater chances of achieving larger market share, employees growth, and dealers/retailers financial stability.”

In my experience as an entrepreneur, having good partners in running a negosyo is a good way to grow. Trusted partners such as Meralco help us see our potential by making things more efficient for us. At this time where we are enjoying the good political and economic climate, we are thrilled to have the private sector onboard as we move closer to progress.

* * *

The Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship – Go Negosyo, through our executive director Ramon Lopez, will once more be joining DTI undersecretary Merly Cruz as the private sector representative in the 2nd ASEAN SME Advisory Board Meeting. This year, the Philippines is the designated chair of the board. The meeting, which will be on June 7 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, aims to adopt strategic policies and programs for SME development in ASEAN countries.

It is good to know that ASEAN has been exerting joint programs that will elevate the capabilities of SMEs and promote regional cooperation and networking among them as well, which will make them globally competitive. I am hoping that the meeting will result to coming up with innovative ways of equipping our SMEs, as they compete with their counterparts from the more developed countries.

* * *

The Go Negosyo sa Barangay Level Up is currently happening at Skylight Hotel and Convention Center in Puerto Prinsesa, Palawan. This is in partnership with the Center for Future Leadership.

We are now accepting participants for Go Negosyo’s Magandang Business Advice, a how-to-start-a-business seminar and mentoring workshop on June 13 and 16 at the Asian Institute of Management. Call 637.9229 for more information.

* * *

Contact me: [email protected] Visit www.gonegosyo.net.

Like us on facebook: www.facebook.com/gonegosyoofficial.

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