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I have been contemplating writing a book about my father for quite some time now. It’s been years since we commissioned National Artist for Literature Nick Joaquin. He finished the piece during the interviews, and I remembered having to buy a case of beer for him as he had to be motivated to interview and write. But the manuscript was set aside for reasons I cannot remember.
As my father’s 80th birthday approached, I felt that maybe this was the time for me to write a book about him, after finding myself writing two weekly and bi-weekly columns about entrepreneurship, as well as publishing eight books on Go Negosyo entrepreneurs. As I said to myself, it was my father who somehow molded me to become a man for others and not just for myself. I want to share the story of his life — how he managed to surpass 50 years of marriage with one woman, how he mentored his children and kept the family together, and how he risked his own life to help restore democracy in our country through NAMFREL, which at that time was indeed an impossible dream for many Filipinos. Without democracy, the quest towards eliminating poverty will be difficult, and it does not stop at that. So after almost eight months of planning and writing the book, with the help of the manuscript from the late Nick, which we resurrected as a resource, Joecon’s journey will finally be shared with his family and friends who are really part of his path towards his “impossible dream” of seeing a better Philippines.
To Don Jaime Zobel, who graciously accepted the task of doing the foreword and allowed us to use a photo he took of my father, thank you. To those who helped me put the book together: Lito Gutierrez, Thelma Sioson San Juan, Milen de Quiros, and the Go Negosyo team, thank you.
Joecon’s story is a story of a man who dared to dream the impossible and has the passion to see true democracy take place in our country. I will continue his journey to help see that one day, Filipinos will see the end of poverty with all the help of our entrepreneurs through the Go Negosyo advocacy.
Dad and his twin brother Tito Ronnie both lived their lives remarkably. This is why for their 80th birthday, my dad, Joecon, and Tito Ronnie’s respective families have put together their biographies as a tribute to them, for leaving a legacy that really gives us all Concepcions great pride.
Excerpts from Joecon’s Journey: Our Father and His Remarkable Legacy by Joey Concepcion:
My father is a dreamer, a visionary. He had many dreams, from being a pioneer in agriculture to being a priest. And he pursued each of them, although not all of his dreams would turn out as he wanted, just as his desire to become a priest never came to be. But that was because he had a bigger calling — to be able to serve the Filipino. Each step that Dad took for the greater good offers a great lesson to us, and every chapter of his life a great source of inspiration.
The majority of Dad’s life story will about his journey towards founding Namfrel and ultimately contributing to the restoration of democracy in the country. Even the founding of RFM was “precisely an anti-imperialist effort to fight foreign domination of the economy” when America had “control of the economy through Marcos.”
When Dad won his campaign with Lolo, he “led a double life: a businessman in the morning, a legislator in the afternoon.” The Commission on Elections (Comelec), whose members were all Marcos loyalists, would keep denying accreditation, saying Namfrel was a partisan organization, not the neutral electoral watchdog it was purporting itself to be. The truth was that, while Dad was himself expressly neutral, Namfrel had become a magnet for people who felt Marcos had overstayed his welcome in the people’s house by the Pasig River. They believed if the vote count was fair and honest, Marcos would lose. The people felt it was high time to evict him.
To this day Dad is offended by any suggestion that, without him, Namfrel would not have been conceived, and thus [the] EDSA [People Power Revolution] would not have happened. He insists that he has always been but a digit among countless and nameless others who, like him, risked life, limb and livelihood for a cause bigger than themselves.
Excerpts from In Pursuit of Excellence: The Odyssey of Raul T. Concepcion, by Carmencita de las Alas Concepcion and Joanne Rae Ramirez:
It was the encouragement of our children that made me decide to write the biography of their father, my husband, Raul (Ronnie) T. Concepcion. My children convinced me that there is not one person who knows Ronnie better, and as well as I do. The amount of information I got from family, employees of Concepcion Industries, Inc. (CII), business associates, and friends was a wealth that helped me write the book. The volumes of albums of clippings about Ronnie, pictures of the family, as well as important mementos, are all part of the biography. My co-author, Joanne Rae M. Ramirez, assisted me in putting the book together.
Any book about Ronnie will also be about Concepcion Industries, Inc. After all, Ronnie’s life, aside from family and home, was dedicated to CII. It is the story of a son whose goal was to fulfill his father’s vision. And for Ronnie and his father, Jose Concepcion Sr., the vision was to make CII a great Filipino company. Through hard work and commitment, CII not only produced the first truly Filipino line of appliances, but is also able to compete successfully in the global arena, maintaining the position of being the country’s top world-class exporter.
To most people, Ronnie is an industrialist. But, he once said, “I want to be remembered more for my advocacy work rather than my achievement in business.” Ronnie is a man of commitment and involvement. He is very passionate about his advocacies. In times of crisis, he is called upon to head various task forces. He is the untiring spokesman of the business industry on issues of national and public concern. His advocacies are all directed to the good and benefit of the common “tao.”
These are just snippets of the life of Dad and Tito Ronnie as we shared through the books. We hope that the twins’ lives will be able to inspire everyone else to really live life to the fullest, to do what we can, and to fight for a cause to make our country a better place to live in.