‘To give back and to inspire’ drives Nonki resto to success
Ehda M. Dagooc (The Freeman) - February 26, 2018 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — The success of Nonki Japanese Restaurant chain maybe attributed to its authenticity in offering Japanese cuisines, but the deeper secret of its 14-year affluence is the owner's heart to make her business as a tool to inspire and give back.

Now operating with seven branches in Cebu, Davao, and Iloilo, Nonki Foods Cebu Inc., is one of the largest Japanese restaurant chain brands owned by a Boholana, whose dream as a child was to give poor school children decent pen and paper.

Maria Ligaya "GingGing" Arong-Machida single-handedly managed the success of Nonki Japanese Restaurant in the last 14 years, although the business was established together with her late husband Akira Machida.

After Akira was diagnosed with cancer, the couple decided to invest their savings and invited some Japanese investors to join a restaurant business mainly to give GingGing and their only son Junichi a stable future, in case Akira will finally surrender in his battle.

The first Nonki Japanese Restaurant was opened in 2004 at A.S.Fortuna Street in Mandaue City.

Today, it has outlets located in JCenter Mall, JPark Resort and Spa in Mactan, SM City Cebu, in Banawa area, in Davao and Iloilo.

True enough, the business provided the family with enough resources to live, while spending for Akira's medication until he died in 2014.

Grateful Giver

While "Nonki", which means carefree in Japanese, made its name in Cebu's choices of good Japanese restaurants, some couldn't explain the stability and smoothness of its growth amid the growing competition, and fluctuating Japanese arrivals to Cebu.

The business continues to flourish and even expand in other urban cities in Visayas and Mindanao–managed only by a nursing wife to her ill husband, a mother, and a boss of over 200 people in one.

GingGing's huge heart to give secretly maybe her powerful shield to fight the struggles in business, as well as emotional setbacks taking care of a dying husband.

Aided by a Filipino chef who is behind the famous "Nonki" signature Japanese menus Edgar Bulanon, the business could have easily be threatened by more authentic and grand entries of stronger brands, but it continues to blossom even more.

A native from barangay Sentinela, Ubay Bohol, GingGing consistently give part of her salary (as restaurant's owner/manager) to her hometown's public school, to supply bulk of pencils, pens, and paper to poor children.

She is not taking a single penny from the company for this gesture, but she said she does this to keep her promise as a child "nga kong ma datu ko I will have to adopt a school."

Apart from this, GingGing is a generous employer, thus employees have stood with the company since its establishment of Nonki up to now. Chef Edgar is one of them.

GingGing is one of the few successful business people, who take pleasure in seeing their employees happier and find growth within the company.

In fact, three of her house-helpers are now supervising different Nonki Restaurant branches.

For her, success does not lie on how much the company is gaining in terms of profit, but how the company is able to lift a human-being's heart–an employee, a customer, or a poor school kid.

Her Journey

Although raised by a family with small business in their locality, such as sari-sari store, fish vending, and fishing boats, GingGing's dream to become a philanthropist shattered when her mother died when she was 16 years old.

From there, she managed to study in college at the University of the Visayas (UV) taking up Computer Science with the help of her grandmother, and doing summer jobs to keep her in school.

Her light hearted disposition and pure friendliness ushered her to different part-time job opportunities, until she was absorbed by The Freeman Newspaper as encoder after internship.

Bent on achieving her childhood promise to give-back whenever she earns, GingGing donated her first 13th month pay to her Alma Matter in Sentinela Elementary School in Ubay Bohol for the children's school requirements.

Never in her journey that she forgot to set aside every pay she gets for her first-love in giving-back.

It was through her stint at The Freeman Newspaper's The Weekend magazine called "TGIF" (Thanks God Its Friday) that she met her husband Akita.

Business and Giving

The universal law which states that "the more you give, the more you receive," works undoubtedly to GingGing's business in giving, as the establishment of Nonki Japanese Restaurant serves a greater purpose, not just to future-proof her family, but also to give inspiration to people that are part of GingGing's journey--then and now.

At the age of 30, GingGing fulfilled her promise to officially adopt her Alma Mater school in Ubay Bohol, using part of her business gains from Nonki.

"I considered the school adoption as my personal birthday gift. I made a promise early on that when I reach 30 years old, i will have to increase my passion in giving back," GingGing said shyly as she is not comfortable of sharing her personal generosity for everyone to know.

But her generosity as a businesswoman, and they way she handles her employees with respect are just few of the attributes that are worth sharing not only to inspire, but also to remind us that success can not only be attained by how good in business a person is, or how deep is his/her pocket, but success draws to people with sincere and pure hearts to help.

Aside from the school adoption and other gestures of giving-back, GingGing also is one of the big benefactors of Kusina ni Sta. Matha regular feeding program.

The Bible passage which states "It is more blessed to give than to receive," (Acts 20:35) is GingGing's blueprint, and powerful shield to flourish in her business.

Mother and Son Tandem

Going forward, Nonki Japanese Restaurant is opening its 8th branch in Panglao, Bohol in its own property. This time, Nonki's charm will be sprinkled with millennial touch, as Junichi, now 18 years old is already joining her mom in business.

The recent opening of its Iloilo branch is Nonki's first foray to introducing younger ambiance vibe an, with interior feel that is purposely designed to appeal to the younger blood.

Soon, the Panglao, Bohol branch, which will be situated in a 2,400 square meters Nonki-owned property will be opened fashioned with millennial look and feel–Junichi's first formal contribution to their family's business.

The mother-and-son tandem will continue to spread the message of generosity in business, with emphasis of providing heartfelt respect to each of their growing "Nonki family."

Indeed, the restaurant's name manifested for itself in the 14-year journey, as "carefreeness" is felt by every customer who dine in any of the restaurants, as well as bringing "Nonki" vibe to employees and people who are touched by the owner's beautiful heart to give and make people happier. (FREEMAN)

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