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Good things come in pairs |

Young Star

Good things come in pairs

- Armi Millare -

MANILA, Philippines - What’s the view like from the top?” was something I forgot to ask mountaineer Job Faminialagao, CEO of the brooding company SDG — more popularly known as Sandugo — which sprouted almost out of a Cinderella story, except it involves a man and the handmade rubber sandals he made himself: sandals that don’t slip when you come down to face the midnight pumpkin.

Sandugo, with sales of 20,000 units per year, 26 boutiques, more than 153 kiosks and 81 concession spaces nationwide, doesn’t always register with those new to the product. But if you think about these sandals made of rubber, used for hiking and not just dilly-dallying your way up the hill for a view to show your Facebook friends, you’ll probably change the way you feel about hiking gear.

How do you prove they’re fit for climbing? Logically, you test them, which Sandugo did, coming up with the most durable sandals you’ll ever own in this lifetime. Mountaineers and even pedestrians swear by them — swear on their life, even. What struck me besides the product was the story behind its rather humble origin, making the trip to Panglao Island Nature Resort even more worth writing about.

Last night on Panglao Island: Zsa Faminialagao celebrates her birthday with fellow mountaineers.

Job’s love of climbing first took him there. His only engine was passion, that and dreaming big. He started by making his own personal sandals, then sold some to fellow mountaineers. From one pair a week, it became a pair a day and then two pairs a day. The dramatic growth took Job to the peak from a small boarding house, where he would pay his friends P30 for each pair they had finished making, to small stores that eventually brought him to outdoor shop owner Anna Liza Espinoza Faminialagao (or “Zsa”) whom he practically chased to Tarlac to “pursue business matters” with when she stopped ordering Sandugo from him.

The two have since become an outstanding team. On my first night on the island, I chanced upon Zsa and casually asked how she and her husband met. She went straight to the mechanics of any partnership, saying what was most important was they trusted each other in whatever they set out to do and, most importantly, were supportive when each idea hatched. Plus, both are mountain climbers, having scaled up to 24,000 feet above sea level — on Mt. Everest, no less — apart from being renegade entrepreneurs. This was more than enough to bind them beyond marriage vows.

She was the life partner who helped him go from one store to another, wrote letters of intent to market the brand in Royal Sports House, sporting the very same sandals that have expanded their horizons. In any case, I’m sure the view from the top is breathtaking, just as any climber would say. And to quote the Tammi Terrell/Marvin Gaye song, there really ain’t no mountain high enough — if you want something enough.

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