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)

Achieving mastery

Make no mistake about it: the journey toward success and prosperity isn’t a walk in the park. At least not when one is just starting on a venture and trying to find his or her niche in the market. The first part of the journey is the hardest, during which we undergo trials big and small. It is during this first phase when most people simply drop out of the race. They don’t have the patience, grit and perseverance to keep at it. What they don’t know is that most of the time, success is just over one more hump or obstacle, and the rest of the way becomes smoother.

We have to understand that to succeed, and then become rich, we have to achieve mastery at whatever it is we are doing. If we are professionals, we cannot hope to climb the career ladder unless we become good, nay masters, at what we are doing. In sports, business, professions and everything else, it is the masters who have the edge, and are most likely to succeed. If it is a product, then we have to make it shine and excel over the competition. People seldom settle for second-class when it comes to buying products.

There is really no secret to it: the path to mastery is constant practice and a lot of trial and error. Repetition is the key to mastery. This is best shown by champions in sports and the great painters, musicians and other artists. Excellence doesn’t allow for shortcuts.

Daniel Coyle, author of the book “The Talent Code”, wrote that remarkable improvement in skills happens when a person engages in “deep practice,” which he describes as “struggling in certain targeted ways… in which you are forced to slow down, make errors and correct them.”

Malcolm Gladwell, a prominent psychologist who write “Outliers”, postulated that mastery is often achieved after 10,000 hours of “deliberate practice”. Indeed, great athletes and artists reach their peaks because of the long hours of practice they put into their craft. Michael Jordan, for instance, was famous for spending an extra two hours shooting hoops and training in the gym when his team mates have already ended the practice sessions.

The more you master, the more you grow, and the more you grow, the more you master. This is how Tony Robbins, one of the most popular authors on wealth building and personal success, described what he calls a positive feedback cycle. “Repetition is the mother of skill,” Robbins has emphasized. The more skillful you are, the better are your chances of achieving success and wealth.

Quit the blame game

Just about the easiest thing to do when one fails is to look for someone, or something, to blame. And if we can’t find a person or circumstance to blame, we try to justify why we didn’t make it. Almost always, we don’t accept responsibility for things that happen to us, especially when it’s about failure.

This is the reason why most people can’t achieve success. They can’t even take responsibility for what happens to them, or their lives, in the first place. By refusing ownership of mistakes or poor judgments leading to failure, we unwittingly put ourselves in a corner where there’s no way out. We are only bound to sink deeper in failure when that happens.

The road to success is filled with risks. But when we accept responsibility for the outcome of our actions, we become more open to learning from mistakes, and we treat risks as opportunities for improving ourselves. Blaming others is a retreat without even taking a look at what happened, and understand where we made a mistake, and know how to avoid the same mistakes when we tread on the same path.

This tendency to blame others blocks off potential allies in the accomplishment of tasks, especially when it requires teamwork. Blaming a colleague will antagonize him or her; nobody will want to work with you, or want you on the team.

Justifying might make you sound good when you’re not. It’s the circumstances, and not your fault, is how you would put it. But justifying doesn’t help you at all in the accomplishment of your goals. When you try to point out reasons on why you failed, you are also closing the doors to discovering where you could have done right.

Success doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, the big winners are the ones who persevered and plodded on no matter how many times they stumbled and fell. Examine their lives and you can’t find a single individual who whined and complained and blamed each time they had to hurdle an obstacle.

Each invention that we take for granted today was a product of patient work, grit and perseverance. We might not be aspiring to make earth-shaking discoveries in technology, but we can apply this simple principle in our lives to become happier, fulfilled and successful in our ventures. Simply quit the blame game.

Extreme Ownership

If we want to succeed as leaders and business people, we have to take responsibility for everything that happens in our lives. Human nature is such that people tend to blame others for failure, or to justify or complain about circumstances. But we need to overcome this tendency if we want to grow and succeed in our careers and become wealthy and happy.

Admitting that we are wrong hurts our ego, and this stokes our fear of being regarded as incompetent or stupid. However, this fear is unfounded. In fact, those who are quick to take responsibility for their actions, as well as their organization’s, earn the admiration and respect of the people they work with. For one thing, it takes great courage to own what goes wrong.

I’d like to share this TedX talk by former SEAL and author Jocko Willink about “Extreme Ownership” to illustrate how not blaming others or finger-pointing can lift one’s own leadership and integrity and build a solid foundation for success. (Just click on the highlighted words.)

Bitcoin, gulpi nagnubo ang bili

Wala pa gani isa ka semana halin sang tumimbu-ok ang bili sang Bitcoin sa “record high” nga $17,117, gulpi lang nagbaylo ang direksyon sang iya dalagan kag nagnubo ini sa $13,152 subong gid lamang nga Domingo sang hapon.

Kon isipon naton sa Philippine Peso, kapin 220,000 pesos ang ginpanaog sang bili sang Bitcoin sa sulod gid lamang sang apat o lima ka adlaw, bagay nga sigurado makapakulba sa mga utod naton nga nagtaya sang dalagko nga kantidad sa cryptocurrency nga ini.

Yari ang report sang Coindesk bahin diri:

Writing your way toward riches

Believe it or not, you can make your dreams come true by taking a simple step: Write down your goal on paper!

Napoleon Hill, whose book “Think and Grow Rich” spurred millions of individuals on the path toward wealth, advised his readers to write down their clear and specific goals as the first step toward fulfilling their dreams.

Hill wrote down his major goal on a 3×5 inch index card and kept it in his wallet. This allowed him to read and reread it several times a day. What this does is it plants the seeds in your subconscious mind for the attainment of your dreams. By going back to it regularly several times a day, the seeds are nurtured and the subconscious collaborates with universal energy to bring you toward its attainment.if-you-have-a-goal-write-it-down-if-you-do-not-write-it-down-you-do-not-have-a-goal-you-have-a-wish-2

This makes sense, because when we build a house, or a building, or a road, or a bridge, we first put everything into a blueprint in which the over-all design, specifications for each component of the structure and other details are provided in detail. Even tailors, shoemakers and furniture makers use patterns to do their work. Ship captains and airplane pilots chart their course on a map before sailing or taking off.

Hence, it’s a wonder why so many people do not bother to put down on paper their goals to make sure we are clear about what we want to achieve. Well, this is really why most people live through life aimlessly, and never achieve much in terms of career and money. They simply drift through life.

As Jack Canfield, author of “Chicken Soup for the Soul” and “The Success Principles,” explains that by writing down our goals, we keep our subconscious mind focused on what we want by reading our list of goals not only once, but several times a day. This sets the subconscious mind to go to work and deliver the desired results, whether money or achievement of a goal.

Hill, Canfield and so many authors are convinced that our subconscious mind is wired to the universe, and by constantly giving it the desired course, it will collaborate with cosmic forces to make it happen.

In writing down what you want, you have to be specific. If it is money you want, write down the exact amount and the date you desire to have it. This is something you shouldn’t regard as one sick, joke. It has worked for me, and it has worked for millions of people who followed this advice.

But of course writing down what you desire isn’t all that it takes to make it happen. You have to work hard to bring about the conditions that will pave the way for its arrival. For instance, if you are into marketing, you have to gain mastery of your products and equip yourself with the right knowledge. You also need to reframe your mind and make it receptive to money-making.

T. Harv Eker, another multi-millionaire entrepreneur and writer of books on becoming rich, said we have to get rid of wrong notions about money. In my case, I used to think I didn’t want to be very rich. I just wanted sufficient money to meet my basic needs, most especially the education of my children. True enough, I never lacked for money to pay for the house, pay the amortization on my car, and tuition fees of my kids. If we have ask for money, there is really no limit.

Generosity is key to financial success

Tony Robbins believes that to achieve financial success, one needs to be generous. It is in giving more than one gets to receive more. Because of this, Robbins has embarked on a mission to help feed 42 million Americans who are hungry. His target this year is serving 100 million meals. By 2025, Robbins is aiming for 1 billion meals.

We have long heard the saying that “it is better to give than to receive.” This isn’t an empty quotation. It has been shown that people who are generous tend to get more in return. There is a powerful Being in this universe Who rewards the acts of kindness and generosity of people.

But more than that, being always ready to share one’s blessings creates an abundance mindset. Obviously, you won’t be able to give unless you have money to share. This plants the idea in the giver that he needs to earn more to be able to experience the joy in giving. By feeling happy, a generous person triggers positive energy not only in his being, but also in his environment.

And there are countless individuals who have shown this principle to be true. Rommel Ynion, a close friend of mine, literally “spread the sunshine” when he acquired a fortune back in the early 2000s. He helped not only his friends, but even those he hardly knew. One example was a young boy in Iloilo City who had a congenital heart problem. He needed open heart surgery to close a hole in his heart; otherwise, he was not going to live long. The problem was the boy’s parents had a hand-to-mouth existence.

A radio anchorman appealed to Rommel for help. Without even asking who the boy was, he agreed to bankroll the surgery that cost more than half a million pesos. The boy is now in the pink of health.

Rommel was harassed and oppressed by the Aquino administration because he dared to challenge the Liberal Party’s candidate in Iloilo City back in 2013. The BIR was commissioned to freeze all of Rommel’s bank accounts and charged him for allegedly evading the payment of correct taxes. It did cause Rommel to go through a period of difficulty, as he was deprived access to his bank deposits.

But less than four years after the cases were filed against Rommel, he is now back on his feet. Obviously, his propensity to give to others got him a fair return from the cosmos. Not even the full force of government was enough to crush him to powder.

There are countless illustrations of how generosity has rewarded rich people for their acts of kindness. Another is Rommel’s own brother, Eugenio Jr., who is a barangay captain in Barangay San Antonio in San Pedro City, Laguna. Kap Jun built a business empire in shipping management and logistics. When he became barangay captain, he took the unexpected move of relocating his corporate headquarters to his own barangay. What used to be a squatters area was developed into a beautiful corporate office compound that also houses his Sabak Foundation.

Kap Jun has changed public perception about their elected officials. Four years ago, he promised “zero corruption” to his constituents. At the time, it was a hazy idea for people who have grown tired of hearing empty promises from politicians. But not this time. In no time, Kap Jun demonstrated that when public officials shun corruption, more money is turned into projects, programs and services. Kap Jun gave back not only his money and time, but also helped restore public confidence in government.

The world’s richest individuals are perhaps the best known for giving away their fortune in the billions of dollars. To name a few are Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and the late Steve Jobs. And giving back is not confined to money; it can be service to the community. Many businessmen and professionals do this through civic organizations like Rotary,  Lions and Kiwanis. It can also be done by doing volunteer work for the church, schools and community organizations.

Indeed, those who do not hesitate to help do not really see their finances grow thin. In the process, the universal law of attraction is put to work, and brings back more to them to enable them to continue their acts of kindness and generosity.

Ang sekreto sang mga milyonaryo

Madamo ang gusto mangin milyonaryo, apang gamay gid lamang ang makatigayon nga malab-ot ang damgo nga ini.


Ina tungod sa hindi husto nga paglantaw naton sa manggad. Isa sa mga rason amo nga malain ang pagtamud nila sa manggad. Para sa ila, mahigko ang kwarta. “Money is the root of all evil,” siling pa gani sang iban sa English. Apang indi ina matuod. Isa man ako sang una nga may kasubong nga panghuna-huna. Ginkabig ko nga malaw-ay para sa akon bilang chief of staff sang congressman kag provincial administrator nga magka-angkon sang madamo nga kwarta. Husto-hustohan lang nga kwarta ang ginhandum ko.

Bangud sina, ang Ginuong Diyos nagbugay sa akon sang madamo nga “achievements”, pero gamay gid lamang nga kwarta. Husto-hustohan lang para sa akon kinahanglan ang ginpangayo ko, kag amo gid man ang Iya ginhatag sa akon.

Maayo lang kay nabuksan ang akon pa-ino-ino sa mga sinulatan nanday Napoleon Hill (“Think and Grow Rich”), Tony Robbins, Guy Kawasaki kag madamo pa nga mga maalamon parti sa kon paano kita maka-angkon sang dako nga manggad. Diri kag naglain na ang akon panan-awan bahin sa kwarta. Nakamarasmas ako nga mas makabulig ako sa iban kon may kwarta ako. Kag ining pagsulat ko sang Blog nga ini isa ka paagi nga makabulig ako sa mga luyag man nga mangin manggaranon.

Indi man sa pahambog, pero mas dako ang akon kinitaan sining nagligad nga tatlo ka tuig sang sa siyam ka tuig nga yara ako sa kapitolyo bilang provincial administrator.

Sigahumon ko nga maka-share sa inyo sang dugang pa gid nga mga ihibalo bahin sa kon paano kamo maka-manggad.

Subong, lantawa ninyo kag pamati-an ang You Tube video interview ni John Assaraf kay T. Herv Eker, author sang libro nga “Secrets of the Millionaire Mind”, sa dugang pa nga mga ideya bahin sa “wealth-building”. I-click lang sang underlined nga ngalan ni T. Herv Eker.

Indi kita magkahadlok sa kapaslawan

Isa ka rason kon ngaa kadam-an sa aton ang indi makatigayon nga mag-uswag ang kabuhi amo ang kahadlok sa kapaslawan, ukon “fear of failure”. Ina bangud nga sa aton bug-os nga pangabuhi, halin pa sa magagmay kita, ginatudloan nga dapat madinalag-on sa tanan nga bagay nga aton sudlan. Maski ang aton pag-eskuwela nasandig sa “performance standards” kon sa diin naga-sigahom ang kada isa nga makapasar ukon maka-angkon sang matag-as nga grado.

Bangud sini, madamo ang wala na lang nagatilaw himuon ang mga hilikoton nga makadulot kontani sang manggad para sa ila. Sa ila kahadlok sa kapaslawan, naga-atras gilayon bag-o pa gani magsugod. Ang iban, naga-untat pagkatapos nga mapaslawan sang maka-isa pa gid lamang. Ginapasulabi na lang nila nga magpabilin sa ila nahamtangan kaysa magtilaw liwat.

Apang tanan sa pinaka-manggaron nga tawo sa kalibutan ang nakaabot sa ila sitwasyon bangud nagpangisog nga sulongon ang tanan nga kabudlay kag ginbale-wala ang mga nagahambal nga indi nila masarangan ang ila ginahandum. Ginpanas nila ang tingaga nga “impossible” sa ila vocabulary. Ang ila sekreto? Gindula nila ang “fear of failure” sa ila kabuhi. Wala sila naghadlok sa kapaslawan.

Para sa inyo nga luyag mapanginbabawan ang “fear of failure”, yari ang isa ka @youtube video ni Tony Robbins, isa sa pinakabantog subong nga motivational speaker, “On How to Overcome Your Fear of Failure”. I-click sa title sang video agud malantaw ninyo kag mabal-an kon paano nga kamo man, mangin madinalag-on, kag mas mangin manggaranon, sa inyo pangabuhi.