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Last week, I shared the real secret of successful marriages of many entrepreneurs and how their spouses have played a significant role in their lives. And just in time with the topic, my wife and I recently celebrated our 30th anniversary with a visit to Alaska through a cruise taking off from Vancouver where my sister-in-law and her family live. Cruise liners are all over Alaska and it is a very lucrative market. During one of the stopovers in Juneau, I was amazed to see two Filipina sisters who have a store in a prime location where all the cruise ships dock and passengers have to pass. Let me share with you their story which is an example of many success stories of our OFWs. Through their Manila Bay Cafe, the sisters Geny Evangelista Del Rosario and Maryann Evangelista bring the taste of Filipino food in an unusual place in Juneau, Alaska.
The sisters are both US citizens now. Geny came to America on a Rotary Group Study Exchange and has lived in Virginia, California and Nevada since 1990. Currently, she lives with her son, an engineer and her daughter, a college student. For 13 years, she used to own and manage a travel agency. On the other hand, Maryann has four girls who are all grown up and have families of their own.
Geny ran for office in the Nevada State Assembly. Even though she lost by a one percent margin, she has gained respect for being a Filipino who is independent and has the capacity and the willingness to serve like any other citizen.
Like my wife Marissa and I, Geny and her family went to Juneau as visitors. They were just visiting when she saw our hardworking kababayans doing their shuttle bus business. They too were business-minded which got Geny inspired with what she saw. She joined them and did the crew shuttle bus business for three years.
Similar to the usual entrepreneurs, Geny keeps on exploring. She sold her crew shuttle bus business and established Aunt Genyâ€™s Day Care for two years until she discovered this shack that they have now.
Genyâ€™s niece works with Magsaysay Shipping. Her niece told them that some of her crews in Juneau, rain or shine, would just eat under a tree or along the sidewalk. That is why the sisters were motivated to get the said shack. Luckily, it was on sale and they decided to bid and buy it.
They are so happy to see our kababayans as they come to eat at Manila Bay Cafe. The two try to make them feel at home with their simple home-style cooking inspired by luto ni Nanay o ni Lola sa bahay. Despite the challenge to find unique Filipino food ingredients for their food supply, Geny and Maryann give their best knowledge and effort to cook the food that our kababayans like to eat. The Filipino food is always distinct and they apply simplicity which makes the delicious taste exceptional.
The sisters are proud that their cafe has been a witness to the sacrifices of our OFWs away from their beloved families. With these OFWsâ€™ stories shared in the cafe, Geny and Maryann feel blessed that their food kiosk serves as a good venue where OFWs get to be happy when they come to visit the place. They have been seeing them from May to September during Alaskaâ€™s tourist season. Geny goes back to being a teacher at the Juneau School District after the summer.
The two keep updated of what is happening in Manila through friends calling, connecting in Facebook and reading newspapers that they pick up in the Filipino stores. Annually, they still go home to the Philippines. And just last year, they went home to visit their sister who was sick. They even had fun in Manila, Boracay and Puerto Princesa. They believe that after every hard work, a vacation in the Philippines is a good reward.
They belong to a big family and half of them are in the States, while the rest are in the Philippines. Geny, being single, would like to find someone to grow old with and come back home to retire in the Philippines.
Geny shared her words of wisdom, â€œMagsumikap lang at kailangan may goal at inspirasyon para maging successful. Think about your family and loved ones waiting and mawawala ang pagod at lungkot.â€
We were fortunate to have met the inspiring entrepreneurial sisters in Alaska.
We are also happy to report that last weekend, Go Negosyo successfully held the fourth run of the Negosyo Seminar (NegoSem) Basics at the RFM Auditorium. The signal number two of the storm Gorio did not stop the overwhelming number of about 200 aspiring entrepreneurs from attending the session. The feedback has been very positive with much learning from Angelpreneur-presentors Ben Ampil and Jorge Wieneke. Our active advocate Paulo Tibig of V Cargo led a panel of inspiring entrepreneurs like Rossana Llenado of Ahead Tutorials, Kamela Seen of Plato Wraps, Ycoy Sitchon of La Belle Weddings. So far, it was the most attended NegoSems we have had.
Also, last July 1, in partnership with the Microsoft and the ASEAN Foundation, Go Negosyo conducted its first ever ICT training seminar with Niko Atmadja, IT systems engineer of ASEAN Foundation as the key trainer, and guidance provided by Cheryll Ann Selda of Microsoft. Our participants were from Ayala Foundation, Autism Society Philippines, Leonard Cheshire Foundation, LetsGo Foundation, Tulay sa Pag-unlad Inc., Negoskwela, DTI-PTTC and officers from the entrepreneurship offices in the cities of Taguig, Makati, San Juan, Malabon, Pateros, Mandaluyong, Valenzuela, to name a few.
It aims to teach the enablers how SMEâ€™s can maximize the use of ICT programs in their negosyos, to improve their productivity and efficiency. One of the participants, Tobit Cruz (Ayala Foundation) said, â€œThe ICT training is very helpful for organizations like us who have been working closely with people in the grassroots. Itâ€™s a powerful tool that we can use to empower people and help them level up their skills whether for businesses or for work.â€
And this coming weekend, our Go Negosyo team is going to Cebu with the countryâ€™s leading marketing educator Josiah Go for the first ever run of Magandang Business Advice on Marketing & Innopreneurship on July 6, 12:30 p.m. at the University of San Carlos. The participants will also learn from the sharing of the countryâ€™s top furniture exporter Jay Yuvallos and prominent IT entrepreneur Wilson Ng. We are looking forward to seeing more SMEâ€™s join this session that will enable them to grow and level-up their business models.