Business & Leisure Column

Creative entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship has indeed gone a long way in the Philippines in the past decade. It has also spawned several novel, innovative ideas for business ventures and for those bold enough to embark on these ideas well ahead of others, rewards come in terms of profitability before the bandwagon comes in.


We have come across some of these business enterprises in the past year. While they may have been patterned after ideas from other countries, bringing these ideas to the Philippines at the time when there is a need for them is what makes the difference for these entrepreneurs. One of these is Diligence Café along Katipunan St. in Quezon City. The location is perfect, being near such universities asAteneo and University of the Philippines. They cater mostly to students and also corporate clients who need a quiet, comfortable and easily accessible space for study, hence the name. Here, many students from these nearby universities have found their second home when thesis period comes. Tables and comfortable bean bags have been set up here and students can work overnight on group projects, take a short snooze on the bean bags, request for wake-up services, then take a quick shower and be ready for school the next morning. Food is available all day. The menu is short and simple, comprised mostly of rice meals, pasta, sandwiches and pastries, but there is hot food on request and unlimited drinks to go with the repast. Perfect indeed for students and office employees who need to work on a group project in peace and quiet. A second home indeed for the diligent.


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Another idea that has caught on is the cat/dog café. Actually, this is big in European countries where many live mostly alone with their pets, but who would have thought of bringing it here? The cat café idea is particularly interesting because cat lovers are a breed among themselves and the idea of enjoying a hot cup of coffee or chocolate in the company of beautiful, elegant and spoiled felines must be their idea of a perfect day. One of these is the Miao Café in Congressional Rd., Quezon City. Here, food and beverage are only second to the ambience and the company. The cats are the main attraction, and mothers come with their kids for the wonderful experience of watching these languid creatures, but never interacting with them. That is the cardinal rule here: no touching, no feeding the cats please, and don't bring your own pet cat to the café either. Sanitation of the entire cafe is taken very seriously too as the staff takes a break midday to completely sanitize the place. The owner is a certified cat lover who owns over fifty cats at home and brings about a dozen of her creatures to lounge in the café she set up for them.


On the other hand, the dog cafes we have here are not as stringent in rules as the cat cafes. We have quite a few already, and it is a common sight to see dog lovers eating on the same table with their pets. These cafes have a separate menu for humans and for dogs!


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Perhaps because the idea has caught on, gourmet dog and cat food are now available too, the business of an enterprising young lady named Giannina Gonzales who comes from a family of chefs and restaurateurs. The family owns Café Ysabel and runs a culinary school as well, so it is not surprising for the daughter of the house to come up with her own business along this line.Whole Pet Kitchen atC.M. Recto St. in San Juan near Café Ysabel is dedicated to pet food scientifically developed for healthy, nutritious and delicious eating for cats and dogs. Check out the menu she carefully developed: she has frozen foods, snacks, biscuits and even specialty cakes for dogs, so one can actually celebrate her dog's birthday party here in style.


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Filipinos are generally not hairy, and several decades ago, the idea of a dedicated waxing salon would have been weird as a business in the Philippine context. But today, I am surprised to see not only women but also men patronizing waxing salons regularly. The thing with this type of service is, once they get started on it, they get "hooked" and tend to do it regularly as part of their life's routine, and that makes it a viable business venture. Lay Bare is one of the pioneers in this field and today, they have franchises numbering over fifty spread across the archipelago. What is surprising for me is the fact that they have a regular clientele of men too that come in to have their facial hairs removed. The video that the B&L staff took showed these men come in with unsightly stubbles all over their face, and then come out looking fresh and neat. The process, though, is not pleasant for first timers as the hot wax is peeled off the face. But like the fastidious women, these male customers come in regularly for the service and it is a common sight to see female customers patiently line up for their turn.


Lay Bare has also expanded their services and has even developed their own line of body care and spa products like lotions, scrubs, etc. Way to go!


Mabuhay!!! Be proud to be a Filipino.


For comments & inquiries (email) sunshine.television@yahoo.com


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About the Author

Ray Butch Gamboa graduated from the College of Arts and Letters of the University of Sto. Tomas. It was a course that should have been preparatory to a law degree, but the call of broadcasting aborted his plans.

At the age of 16, while still a student, Butch tried his hand at disc jockeying, landing a job at Mareco Broadcasting Network's AM stations DZBM and DZLM. From there, Butch moved on with his illustrious career as a popular disc jockey, riding the airwaves of Bob Stewart's middle-of-the-road music at DZXX, and ending his disc jockeying career at ABS-CBN's DZYL and DZQL.

From there, he stayed on with ABS-CBN, covering live the proceedings at the Manila Stock Exchange and eventually entered into the world of television sales as an account manager for the premier channel of ABS-CBN Channel 2.

In the early 70's, at the outbreak of Martial Law, Butch was one of the thousands of professionals who woke up jobless when then President Marcos declared the new status of the nation. With the closure of ABS-CBN, Butch ventured into different fields outside of broadcast. He tried his hand and with ease and success at export (Costume jewelry), real estate (brokerage), and restaurants (fast food).

In 1987, after the revolution, with the broadcast industry back to its free state, and with its irresistible call ringing in his ears, Butch made his inevitable comeback and pioneered in a local motoring show, producing Motoring Today on Channel 4 and co-hosting with local motor sports' living legend Pocholo Ramirez.

After 4 years, he ventured into another pioneering format by producing and hosting Business & Leisure, which was originally aired on ABS-CBN's Channel 2. The format eventually espoused similar ones in other different channels. But the clones in due course faded away leaving the original staying on airing on Channel 4 and eventually on Shop TV on Sky Cable's Channel 13.

The following year, the pioneering spirit in Butch spurred him to produce another TV show, Race Weekend, also on Channel 4, covering circuit racing at the Subic International Raceway after the motor sport's hiatus of 17 years. But when similar shows with duplicated formats sprouted, he decided to give way and ended the program after a year, although still enjoying unparalleled viewership.

In 1998, when the local automotive industry was in a slump, Butch contributed his share to help the ailing industry by producing another popular motoring-related show, this time exclusive to the automobile and its industry—Auto Focus, which became a vehicle for local automotive assemblers and importers to showcase their products and dwell on the industry's latest technological developments.

In 2003, Butch teamed up with his brother, Rey Gamboa who was a former Shell executive and presently one Philippine Star's business columnist to co-produce and co-host the TV show Breaking Barriers on Channel 13. It is a talk show that features guests who are in the news and in the middle of controversies. The program ventures to draw deeper insights into current issues to learn how they impact to our daily lives.

Today, Motoring Today on its 28th year of service to the general motoring public still enjoys its unprecedented loyal vierwership nationwide while Auto Focus, after 16 years has firmly established its niche viewership among automobile enthusiasts and on the other hand Business & Leisure is on its 24th year dishing out current business issues and lifestyle features.

Today, aside from writing weekly columns for the Philippine Star (Motoring Today on Wednesdays and Business & Leisure on Saturdays) and executive producer / host of weekly TV shows (Motoring Today, airs Sundays on Solar Sports Channel 70, Business & Leisure, airs Tuesdays on Shop TV, Sky Cable Channel 13 and Auto Focus airs Thursdays on Shop TV, Sky Cable Channel 13, Ray Butch Gamboa is currently the Chairman and CEO of Sunshine Television Production and Marketing Services Corp., President of Gamcor Management and Development Corp., Chairman of Asia-Pacific Realty Corporation, President and Chairman of Socio-Communication Foundation for Asia and Founding Chairman of the Society of Phil. Motoring Journalists (SPMJ)