See the bagel, not the line

One reason many of us don’t achieve our goals is that we often see the obstacle more than we can focus on the prize. We easily get discouraged by the seeming difficulty of the endeavor and don’t take the first step. We come up with excuses, and ultimately, the goal gets forgotten.

Simon Sinek told a story to illustrate this point: He and a friend had just ran a foot race, after which the organizers gave free bagels to the runners as a treat. They agreed to go for the free bagel. However, a long queue had already formed. Simon Sinek CROP

Sinek’s friend had a change of mind. “The line’s too long,” the friend said. Sinek told him there’s free bagel at the end of the line. The line’s too long, his friend repeated. Free bagel, Sinek insisted. And this went on and on for a while until the issue was resolved. Sinek went to get his bagel and his friend didn’t.

His friend saw the queue as an obstacle. Sinek’s focus was on the bagel. He simply looked at the line as a series of obstacles to be overcome. Often, we exaggerate the difficulty posed by obstacles. But we discover that once we start to traverse the path, the obstacles are not that big. Our mental picture of obstacles make them look tougher than they are.

This is great advice for people who want to achieve success. Keep your eyes on your goals, not the obstacles that lay in your path. Boldness in taking the first step is all that we need to begin the journey. Nothing is achieved by just staying put where you are, and grousing about how hard it is to reach your goal.



Key to success: master your craft

Robert F. Smith was a shy chemical engineer from Denver, CO who made the shift from his profession to becoming an investment banker, and then founded what is now one of the biggest private equity firms in the United States. Early in life, Smith already embraced the concept of mastery of his craft as a key to success. This is how he managed to gain a foothold in the private equity business and managed an estimated $26 billion in capital.

Robert Smith

“There is no substitute for becoming an expert and being the best in your craft,” Smith said in a conversation with black students at Columbia Business School on March 25, 2017. For Smith, this meant always gaining more knowledge and information on his trade, especially when he started looking for new sources of capital in the Middle East in the 2000. He said this involves “building a learned capability” to gain the confidence of investors and the market.

Indeed, almost nobody achieves success in his or her profession or business without an expert or being the best he or she can be. In war, business, sports, academe, the arts, mastery has been identified as the common denominator among the outstanding men and women in their fields of endeavor.

In his book, “Mastery”, author Robert Greene studied the lives of great men and women to find out what made them tick. “I had noticed that many of these successful people, historical and contemporary, shared certain common traits. They had a way of thinking that was exceptionally fluid; they could adapt to almost any circumstance; when confronted with problems, they could look at them from novel perspectives and solve them. They could do all of this with surprising rapidity, as if they had developed an intuitive feel for their work. The icon of this would be Napoleon Bonaparte,” Greene said in an interview with Forbes Magazine.

robert greene
Robert Greene

His conclusion: “what tied all of this together was that these types had mastered their field.”

To achieve mastery, one must be willing to devote a lot of time perfecting his craft. Perhaps there is no better icon in basketball than Michael Jordan, who changed the way millions of basketball fans looked at the sport. Jordan’s work habits were legendary. He would hit the gym before the crack of dawn. And, at the end of basketball practice, he would still stay behind and shoot hundreds of free throws and other shots from different positions on the court.

Fortunately for those who want to pursue this path toward mastery, the secret about how to achieve it is no longer that much of a secret. “The secret ingredients are desire and time. We all know how much more deeply we learn when we are motivated. If a subject excites us, if it stirs our deepest curiosity, or if we have to learn because the stakes are high, we pay much more attention. What we absorb sinks in,” Greene said.

Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell, author of the book “Outliers”, hatched the “10,000-hour rule” which postulates that to achieve expertise in any field, one needs to devote a minimum of 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. On average, that entails being engaged in a craft or sport in “deliberate practice” over 10 years. There is no overnight express package for mastery; you have to devote long hours of practice before you reach that point.

An American photographer, Dan McLaughlin, tested the rule to find out if it works. In April 2010, McLaughlin quit his job as photographer to devote his time to learning how to play golf. He started by putting from one foot from the hole, and progressively moved farther from it as his skills improved. He hit his first drive 18 months after he started. After spending 5,000 hours, McLaughlin was already a handicap four player. He proved that the 10,000-hour rule did work.

Dan McLaughlin, from beginner to 4-handicapper in 5,000 hours of playing golf.


Paying it forward

Yesterday, January 7, 2018 was the 83rd birthday of our mother, Linda Pichay Mejorada. In the past, she celebrated her birthday by giving away bath towels, shirts, blouses, bath soap and chocolate bars to poor neighbors in our ancestral home in Barangay Inzo Arnaldo, Roxas City.

Mommy had always been a generous person. She loved giving stuff to family, friends and the poor. She never expected to be repaid for her generosity. But God certainly knows how to reward her for her kindness and generosity. At the age of 83, Mommy is still sprightly and strong, always eager to explore places for as long as her legs could handle the terrain. Mommy has had two surgeries on her legs and knees, one to reinforce broken thigh bones after she suffered a bad fall in the U.S. But otherwise, she still walks a lot even if she feels pain from her surgery.

Indeed, Mommy is a model for the principle of “paying it forward.” She helps people with no expectation of any returned favor. She loves to give for its own sake: helping people and making them happy.

She broke tradition yesterday. But still, her principle of “paying forward” was at the center of it. This time, she asked family and friends who came to celebrate her birthday not to give her gifts. Rather she appealed for their generosity to help a science teacher from the Capiz National High School who is scheduled to undergo a kidney transplant. And they did respond with overflowing generosity.

My sister, Jocelyn Welsh, who organized the fund-raising part of the celebration, had hoped to raise P50,000 to be given as financial assistance to Gilbert Ca-alam Galagate. The total amount chipped in by the guests and even those who were not able to join the party reached P49,500. Jocelyn pulled out another P500 from her purse to top it up at P50,000.

gilbert ca-alam galagate
Science teacher Gilbert Ca-alam Galagate poses with our mom, Linda P. Mejorada, my sister Jocelyn Welsh and myself after receiving the financial assistance of P50,000 raised during the mom’s birthday January 7, 2018

Our family didn’t know Sir Gilbert before. But the value of generosity taught by our Mommy made that an irrelevant issue. This is now about saving a life, a life made more precious because of Sir Gilbert’s passion as an educator. We are sure a successful kidney transplant will allow Sir Gilbert to continue teaching and helping produce more intelligent young boys and girls from the CNHS. By helping him, we are contributing to Sir Gilbert’s own ability to shape more young minds, which is perhaps the best contribution he can make to society.

In our lives, we should embrace this principle of “paying forward,” of giving more than taking. In his book, “Give and Take,” Wharton professor Adam Grant has shown evidence that “givers” tend to succeed better in life, in their careers and become richer than “takers”. In our younger days, we heard that “it is better to give than to receive.” It is not an empty phrase.

Jack Canfield, the best-selling author of “Chicken Soup for the Soul,” believes strongly in tithing. He advocates giving 10% of our income to our church or charity. And it’s not just money that we can give away. Time, too, in the form of service to others is a good way to practice this principle. “The best way to ensure an ongoing flow of abundance into your life is to share with others the wealth you receive,” Jack wrote in a guest column for Evan Carmichael’s website.

Tony Robbins, one of the world’ most popular motivational speakers, is actively pursuing a mission to provide 1 billion meals to poor families by 2025 as a way of giving back. His program called 100 Million Meals has already given 240 million free meals on just its third year.

Indeed, when you give and help without thinking about getting it back, God makes sure that you will be richly rewarded. In our own way, we have seen this happen to our family, especially our Mommy. At 83, she is still oozing with energy for travel and joins her children on tours around the world. She is blessed with an amazing life because of her kindness and generosity.


Bag-ong tuig, bugana sa manggad

Sa pagsulod sang Bag-ong Tuig 2018, sigurado nga tanan kamo napuno sang paglaum nga mas mangin bugana ang inyo pangabuhi, ilabi na guid sa kwarta. Indi naton malikawan nga kwarta ang talaksan sang manggad bangud man nga madamo sang kinahanglan ta sa kabuhi ang sarang ta maangkon kon may kwarta kita. Wala ini nagakahulogan nga materialistic na kita kon nagahandum sang kwarta. Ang matuod sina nga kon damo kita kwarta, mas makabulig kita sa aton pamilya kag sa aton man isigkatawo.

Importante nga matun-an naton ang positibo nga panghuna-huna sa aton adlaw-adlaw nga pagpangabuhi. Kon si Jim Rohn, isa sa mga bantug nga motivational speaker, pahambalon, yara sa pagbag-o sang aton “attitude” ukon panan-awan sa pangabuhi ang una nga tikang padulong sa pag-angkon sang manggad. Dapat kita magsalig kag magpati nga masarangan naton nga maka-angkon sang madamo nga kwarta.

Napamatud-an na sa madamo nga ehemplo nga kon ano man ang ginapatihan naton, sarang ta man mahimo ukon ma-angkon. Dako guid ang influence sang aton pamensaron sa nagakatabo sa aton kabuhi. Kon sa aton pagpati, indi ta masarangan nga himuon ang isa ka bagay, sigurado guid nga mapaslawan kita sa aton ginahandum. Sa pihak nga bahin, madamo na sang makatestigo nga ang positibo nga panghuna-huna ang lyabe o key sa kadalag-an kag manggad.

Gani sigahumon ta guid likawan sa tanan nga tini-on ang negatibo nga panghuna-huna kag bayluhan ini sang positibo nga panghuna-huna.


Bag-o ang kadalag-an, kapaslawan

Ang kahadlok nga kita mapaslawan sa kon ano man ang luyag ta himuon ang pinakadako nga sablag sa aton mismo kadalag-an. Abi sang kadam-an, dapat naton likawan ang kapaslawan, o “failure”. Bangud sini, pirmi lang kita may rason kon ngaa indi gani kita maka-umpisa sa aton buluhaton. Ginahulat naton ang “ideal condition” agud nga mapalayo kita sa kapaslawan. Ti, ang resulta? Wala gid kita sang may malab-utan. Kay sa isol nga isol kag isol, naubos ang kahigayunan, kag wala na sang may natabo.

Pero danay ka. Lantawon ta ang mga tawo nga nakilan-an na nga mga manggaranon kag madinalag-on kag matukiban naton nga madamo sila sang kapaslawan nga inagihan bag-o nila nalab-ot ang “success”. Madamo sila sang mga kasakit kag kabudlay nga inagyan bag-o nila nasungkit ang husto nga “formula” sa negosyo kag tumimbuok ang ila manggad.

Jeff Bezos

Isa na diri si Jeff Bezos, ang tawo nga nagtukod sang Amazon, kag isa sa pinaka-manggaranon nga tawo sa bug-os nga kalibutan. Makapila siya natumba sa negosyo kag madamo siya sang mga panghangkat nga gin-atubang. Diri sa Pilipinas, amo man ang inagihan ni Edgar “Injap” Sia III, ang Ilonggo nga nagpundar sang “Mang Inasal” kag subong tag-iya sang Double Dragon Properties Corp.

Yari ang isa ka article bahin sa mga “failures” nga inagihan ni Bezos nga may tigulo “Jeff Bezos: A profile in failure.” (click sa title)

Ang gahum sang pagbalibad

Ang pinaka-una nga panghangkat nga gina-atubang sang mga yara sa “sales” o “marketing” amo ang pagpamalibad sang customer. May mga pagtuon nga 90 porsyento sang mga tawo mahambal gid dayon nga “indi” kon may itanyag kita sa ila. Naka-condition ang utok sang mga tawo nga magbalibad maski pa gani nga wala nila nahibaluan kon ano ang imo ginabaligya.

Bangud sini, sigurado gid nga madamo sang “rejection” ukon pagpamalibad ang agyan sang mga sales people bag-o sila makatigayon sang pagbaligya. Ini ang rason kon ngaa wala nagadugay ang kadam-an nga naga-obra sa sales. Wala nila nahangpang ang psychology sang mga customer kag wala nila nakit-an nga may gahum gali ang rejection.

Kon luyag mo mangin maayo nga sales person, dapat nakahanda ka sa umpisa pa lang nga batonon ang rejection. Indi ini dapat kahadlokan. Be prepared for rejection, hambal ni John Paul Dejoria, isa ka bilyonaryo sa America. Indi ka madulaan sang paglaum kon bilog nga semana wala ka gid sang may mabaligya. Kabigon mo ang rejection bilang “building blocks” kag tun-an ini para sa mga leksyon kon paano nimo makumbinser ang customer.

John Paul DeJoria
John Paul Dejoria

Pero kinahanglan nga mabaskog ang imo pagpati nga maayo ang imo produkto kag makabulig ini sa imo customer, laygay ni Dejoria. Kon mabaskog ang imo “faith” sa imo produkto, mas epektibo ang imo pag-istorya sa customer kag mabatyagan niya nga maayo gid man ang imo ginabaligya.

Kag dugang pa ni de Joria nga indi magkalipat nga magyuhum sa tanan nga oras. “Infectious” ukon makalalaton ang gahum sang yuhum. Mas mamag-an dayon ang imo “aura” sa mga customer. Maski sin-o nga tawo mas mahapos kumbisihon kon nagayuhum ikaw.

Magbasa kag magtuon padulong sa kadalag-an

Sa subong nga panahon, kinahanglan na gid nga magbasa kita kag magtuon parti sa aton linya sa trabaho o negosyo kon luyag naton mag-asenso. Tama kadasig sang dalagan sang teknolohiya kag madamo nga bag-o nga information ang adlaw-adlaw nagatuhaw. Isa lang ang pina-agi agud makalagas kita kag indi mawigit: magbasa. Sa pulong nga English, read.

knowledge is power

Madugay na kita nakabati sang hurobaton nga “knowledge is power.” Kon sin-o ang maalam, siya ang may gahum. Matuod ini, ilabi na gid sa subong nga panahon kon sa diin halos tanan nga hulag naton nakabase sa “knowledge” o kaalam. “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king,” hambal pa gid sang mga katigulangan. Ang buot silingon, ang makakita kag makahibalo sang alagyan ang naga-uyat sang gahum.

Ang maayo nga balita amo nga mahapos na gid katama ang maka-angkon sang mga reading material nga kinahanglan ta mag-alam kag mag-asenso. Sa Facebook kag iban pa nga social apps, madamo ang balasahon nga malab-ot naton pina-agi lang sa pag-click, kag wala bayad. Indi na kita gani kinahanglan magbakal sang libro ukon magazine.

Sa akon bahin, indi magkulang sa isa ka oras kada adlaw ang gina usar ko sa pagbasa. Kon ikaw negosyante ukon professional makakita ka man sang mga articles sa LinkedIn nga social media. Indi ka guid pagkulangon sang balasahon kon mapisan ka lang mangita. Ang importante nga hatagan mo sang oras ang pagbasa.

Luwas pa sa pagbasa, madamo ka man sang matun-an gikan sa YouTube. I-type mo lang sa “Search” ang topico nga imo gusto tun-an kag sa pitik lang, mahaba nga listahan sang mga videos ang gilayon maguwa sa imo smart phone ukon computer screen. Kada aga, nagalantaw gid ako sang mga video parti sa negosyo kag kon paano maangkon ang personal success. Isa sa paborito ko ang mga video ni Lewis Howes. I-click lang sa iya ngalan kag dal-on ikaw sa iya YouTube channel.


Indi maghulat: Hulag ka na

Isa sa pinakadako nga rason kon ngaa madamo sa aton ang indi makatigayon nga maabot ang aton handum amo ang pangduha-duha kag pang-alang-alang. Sa masami, puno ang aton ulo sang mga ideya kon ano ang dapat naton himuon agud makabaligya sang balay kag duta ukon ano man nga produkto. Ugaling, tubtob na lang kita dira: gulpi kita nga ginadakop sang kulba. Naga-atras kita kag wala na lang ginapadayon ang kon ano man nga ginaplano naton.

May yara nga nagarason nga kulang ang capital. May yara nga nagasiling nga indi pa kompleto ang galamiton. May yara nga nagahambal nga hulaton ang maayo nga “timing” bag-o kita magsugod. Bangud sini, naga-atras nga naga-atras ang buluhaton kag bag-o naton matalupangdan, na-alimunaw na kag nalimtan. Wala pa gani nakasugod, pirdi na ang yara sa aton kaisipan.

Kon pamangkoton naton ang mga nangin madinalag-on sa kon ano man nga negosyo, sugiran kita nila nga ang ila sekreto amo ang pagdula sang ila kahadlok kag pangduha-duha kag maghimo sang una nga tikang. “Don’t wait! Take the first step.” Kon tuyo mo sakaon ang mataas nga hagdanan, indi ka makalab-ot sa ibabaw kon tulok-tulokon mo lang ang hagdanan. Dapat umpisahan mo saka sa mga halintang ukon “steps”.

Amo man ina sa negosyo. Indi mag-papirdi sa kulba. Kon ano man ang kakulangan mo, sigurado nga maabot sa imo samtang ginahikot mo ang imo negosyo. “Have faith in God and in your own ability.” Madamo na ang natabo nga bangud sang ila pang-alang-alang, may iban ya nga nagdakop sang ila ideya kag nag-umwad sa amo nga negosyo.

The story of Tatoy’s Manokan (Part 2)

The newly opened Tatoy’s Manokan in the Atria business park firms up its status as the most popular restaurant in Iloilo City. It also has a branch near the Iloilo International Airport in Cabatuan.

At the age of 86, Tiyo Tatoy is not yet thinking of full retirement. “I don’t want to stay idle,” he said. For as far back as he could remember, he was always working. He wasn’t yet into his teens when he began climbing coconut trees to gather tuba. That was before World War II. When he reached his teen-aged years, he also began going out to sea to fish. Tuba gathering and fishing became his main sources of livelihood. Then he went into farming and, with the help of his children, raised cows.

In fact, he would still be tending to his farm and cattle if it were not for his children’s insistence that he slow down. Every day, he still shows up at the restaurant to look into its operations, although management has been fully turned over to his children. But it’s this ethic for hard work that propelled Tiyo Tatoy to success in the nearly 48 years of operation.

Tiyo Tatoy credits his mother, the late Genoveva Tiburan-Espinosa, for the rock-solid principles of honesty, hard work and dedication that enabled him to turn his business into one of Iloilo City’s biggest restaurants. He fondly remembers that during family meals, his mother required all nine children to be present before they could eat. “Perhaps it’s because we had so little food on the table, and our mother wanted each one of us to get an equal share,” he narrated with a smile.

The dinner table was the stage where his mother taught her children nuggets of wisdom that became the foundation for their strong character. She did this in the form of stories. “One story that I remember vividly is about the world being round, and that what is up and down don’t stay where they are permanently,” Tiyo Tatoy said. The poor, their mother said, won’t stay poor as long as they are willing to work hard. And she added that even the rich could go dirt poor. This amazed Tiyo Tatoy because during those days, many people in the rural areas didn’t even know that the world was round. “Damo pa sadto nagapati nga tapan ang kalibutan (many still believed that the world was flat),” he said.

Another valuable lesson nanay Genoveva taught her children was never to envy those who are wealthy, or possess many material things. She taught her children gratitude and always be thankful to God, Tiyo Tatoy said. The principles of fairness and equity, honesty and integrity, were also imparted to them during those family meals.

These lessons were transferred on to the nine children of the Espinosa couple. One episode illustrates the character of the children. Nestor, the eldest child, got to earn a degree and professional license as a mechanical engineer. As their market grew, Nestor used his knowledge of mechanical engineering to design a roasting machine that enabled him to cook 10-12 chicken at the same time. Previously, the pit roasting was done manually, requiring several persons to man the “litsonan”. It was a technological innovation that made the job easier and faster while ensuring good quality.

“One day, an engineer from DPWH who was a regular customer noticed the roasting machine. He quickly pulled me aside and advised me to get Nestor to apply for a patent. The DPWH engineer told me Nestor could make a fortune if the design is patented,” Tiyo Tatoy said.

When Tiyo Tatoy relayed to his son the advise to apply for a patent, Nestor just shrugged it off. “Bay-i da ‘tay kon ilugon sang iban, maayo na agud maka-ambit man sila sang aton ginhimo (Don’t mind it if other people will copy the design, it’s good they could also share  the benefits from our invention),” Tiyo Tatoy remembers Nestor telling him.

Hence, it’s no wonder that their poverty did not pose an obstacle to growing Tatoy’s Manokan into what it is. When Tiyo Tatoy’s customer base became big enough, he decided to lease a plot of land on the beachfront and build 3 nipa huts with bamboo slat tables and benches. “The land owner asked for a monthly rental of P1.50, one lechon manok and broiled bangus,” he said. “I didn’t bargain anymore and went ahead.”

Tiya Consing (as his wife, Consejo, is fondly called) cooked the food with assistance from their children. Hector remembers cutting up spices and other ingredients in the kitchen before he reached the age of 10. It was one big family enterprise, with each child doing his or her share, including washing the dishes and waiting on tables.

Lechon manok was the main fare from day one, and continues to be that way until now. “Everything else is just secondary,” Hector, who has since assumed the management of the kitchen, said.

Hector 2
Hector Espinosa.


To ensure quality control, all food served at the Cabatuan branch (just outside the Iloilo International Airport) and the newly-opened branch in the Atria Business Park in Barangay San Rafael, Mandurriao are prepared in the original Tatoy’s kitchen in Arevalo.

From just three heads of native chicken each Sunday, Tatoy’s has grown exponentially to an average of 600 heads of native chicken every day, according to Hector. On Sundays, the figure could reach 1,000 heads of free range native chicken. Until now, Hector continues to roam all over the province to buy native chicken from farmers.

The kitchen now employs dozens of cooks and assistants. “Most are relatives,” Hector said. But the recipe for the chicken marination that is the secret of Tatoy’s tasty lechon manok remains a secret within the family. “What the kitchen staff knows is only 90% of the recipe our mother concocted more than 40 years ago,” Hector said. The remaining 10% is provided by Hector personally.

“Even by just looking at the food once cooked, I would know if it wasn’t prepared as it should,” Hector said. Every so often, he would ask friends to buy food at Tatoy’s and eat them in other places. “My friends, including media people, are my food tasters and critics,” he said. This way, the staff at the store won’t know the food will ultimately reach the taste buds of Hector and his circle of “tasters”. And when he notices anything that isn’t right with the cooking, Hector said he immediately calls up the kitchen supervisor and tells her what is lacking.


The story of Tatoy’s Manokan (Part I)

Tatoy’s Manokan is opening a new restaurant at the Atria business park in Barangay San Rafael, Mandurriao to position itself right where the center of action is taking place in Iloilo City. But not many people know that Tatoy’s Manokan began in the early 70s as a three-table operation under a nipa roof along the Arevalo district coastline, right across the landmark restaurant that is definitely the most popular eating place in Iloilo City.

“The Villa beach was still clean and pristine (back in 1970), and every Sunday, groups of people would come to the beach to swim,” Honorato “Tiyo Tatoy” Espinosa told Manggad.Blog in a one-on-one interview. “We put up a small shanty and three bamboo tables and benches on the beachfront and started selling broiled native chicken and bangus,” he added, speaking in Hiligaynon (the local dialect).

Tiyo Tatoy 2
The author with Honorato “Tiyo Tatoy” Espinosa founder of Tatoy’s Manokan in Iloilo City.

Tiyo Tatoy had no capital. His only source of livelihood then was fishing and gathering “tuba” from coconut trees that were abundant in the place. He was a “mananggete”, as tuba gatherers are known. But with the little money he earned from fishing and selling “tuba”, Tiyo Tatoy embarked on a venture that was to become Iloilo City’s icon for food.

Every Saturday, he would buy three heads of native chicken from a “talipapa” (makeshift market) in Barangay Mohon, Arevalo, situated about 1.5 kilometer from where his small business sat. In addition, he bought three pieces of bangus and other ingredients. His young sons were tasked to do the marketing, using a push-cart to carry the goods from the market.

“It was hard labor for my boys pushing that cart loaded with chicken, fish and softdrinks,” Tiyo Tatoy recalled. “When they got home from marketing, their shirts were always soaked with sweat.” But the boys never complained. The small business provided the family with additional income to help send the children to school. Tiyo Tatoy and his wife, Consejo, have nine children, four boys and five girls.

Hector, the fifth child of the Espinosa couple, added that the family also raised cows to supplement their income. “We tended cows owned by other people, with the agreement that we would get one calf in alternate order with the owners as compensation,” Hector said. “When we finally had a male and female cow, we returned the originals to the owner and raised our own cows,” he said. The children also raised pigs.

Hector 3
Hector Espinosa, 5th child of Tiyo Tatoy and Nanay Consing Espinosa.

“It was through cattle-raising and piggery that our parents managed to send our eldest sibling, Nestor, through engineering school,” Hector proudly said. When the time to pay tuition fees came, Tiyo Tatoy would sell a cow or pig to raise the money.

The business continued to draw customers. Soon, the “manokan” became a weekend operation, opening on Saturdays and Sundays. “We had bank managers, doctors, lawyers and businessmen as regular customers,” Tiyo Tatoy said. But lack of capital continued to put a limit to the business.

The big break came sometime in 1975 when Tiyo Tatoy stood as wedding sponsor, and one of his “kumares” turned out to be the wife of a Filipino-Chinese grocery store owner near the Central Market. At the reception, Tiyo Tatoy mustered the courage to ask his “kumare” if he could buy his supplies on credit from her husband’s store. “I tried to mask it as a joke, half expecting to be turned down outright,” Tiyo Tatoy said. His “kumare” spoke to her husband. The latter agreed.

Tiyo Tatoy started buying his supplies, including softdrinks and beer, to accommodate his growing customer base every Saturday. “Gina lista lang (All my purchases were just listed down),” he recounted. He then went to the store on Monday morning to pay for his purchases. Now, Tatoy’s had become a by-word among the people of Iloilo City. It was the place to eat the best-tasting lechon manok in town.

By the late 1980s, Tiyo Tatoy was literally besieged by clamor from customers to open on weekdays. But it wasn’t customer demand that triggered the decision. It was an accident that saw three daughters hit by a delivery truck not far from his “manokan” business as they walked along the side of the road. The driver of the truck lost control of his vehicle and hit the girls, then between the ages of 5 and 11, on the roadside. It then hit a concrete fence that collapsed from the impact. The girls were found unconscious underneath the truck. Miraculously, they survived.

This was in 1981.

“Perhaps my parents saw this as a sign,” Hector said. “Tatoy’s soon began doing business seven days a week.” From then on, there was no stopping Tatoy’s Manokan. Its name and reputation grew not only locally, but even on a national and international level. Visitors to Iloilo City always made it a point to savor the lechon manok before going home. Even Presidents like Joseph Estrada, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III, became regular customers during visits to Iloilo City.

(To be continued)