Skip to main content

"Business as Usual" as the Filipinos Define It (Vulcanizing Shop, Sari-Sari Store, Bakery) – Part 1

I asked the shop owner about these old unused tires on what are they doing with it. The Vulcanizing shop owners says, “Oh, someone will pick up those tires and pay us 5 or 10 pesos each. Sometimes they just take it for free”.


Vulcanizing Shop - A Classic Example of Filipino Business
You’ve most probably seen and been into a local, typical vulcanizing shop like this one in the photo. The business concept is very simple. Here’s a customer with his flat or deflated tire and the vulcanizing boy will repair it using a rubber compound patch, a heating tool, and an air pump. If it’s a regular car or van tire, repairing one may only take 10 minutes the cost of which is around 30 to 60 pesos. If it’s a tire from a truck or bus, it could be around 30 minutes and the repair would cost the vehicle owner around 100 to 150 pesos.


Here’s the thing. A shop like this one could potentially earn a revenue of 1000 up to 2000 per day just by repairing a flat tire. Why? Well, with thousands of vehicles like jeepneys, tricycles, and trucks passing by this shop each day (obviously it's on the side of the highway), it is likely that 10 to 20 of them will pull over on this shop and get their flattened tire vulcanized. This shop have 3 crews waiting to serve customers and they’ve been here for quite a number of years already.

But here’s the question: Why vulcanizing shops like this one are this ugly? Earning say a conservative average of 500 pesos, can’t those roof, walls and doors be constructed into something sturdy (looks like typhoons will blow them away)? Maybe, since it is a dirty job, moreover that it is situated on the side of the road, there is no need to make the shop presentable. What’s more important is the service it could offer. Another reason could be is that overhead cost is too high that the revenue is just good enough to give the shop owner a small profit. Nice business idea, anyway.

Well, it is good to start this post from this example. There is something deeper you need to know about how Filipinos define business and I am about to discuss them here.

Sari-Sari Store - a Variety Store
Now, here are the so-called “Sari-Sari” stores. Sari-sari means “variety” and yes, a store of this kind speaks for itself. It sells a huge variety of products. From candies to junk foods, canned goods to frozen meat, softdrinks to beer or wine, laundry soap to shampoo, rice to livestock feeds, name it and the store has it. Well, maybe not all, but a Sari-Sari store has those typical household’s basic needs in stock. On the flip side, there are lots of Sari-Sari stores competing in one zone or barangay. They sprouted there like mushrooms. This can be good for the consumers but a problem for most store owners. Imagine having ten stores in a barangay with only about 100 households. The best store keeps the loyal customers. Those that can’t compete well have to close down.


On this photo, you can already see 3 stores in a row. Still not included here are the stores a few meters away on the left and on the right. What do you think; why Filipinos are these aggressive in opening a Sari-Sari store given the reality that there’s a big competition in front of them? The simple answer is: It is so easy to open one!

So what happens is that those stores that cannot compete end up in low revenue and then to nearly zero profit and then they decide to close in just a matter of months. Yes, setting up a Sari-Sari store is easy. You can have one right in the front of your house, on your garage, even in tricycle or push cart. How much would it cost you? 2000 pesos startup capital is enough and there is no business permit needed considering that it is just within your home. Also, local government gives consideration to store owners on not to pay taxes if their sales income is not that big (we’ll go over on this subject later on). It would be a different case if you will build a store in the town or city commercial area. You will have to abide by the business registration policy by all means.

To reiterate, almost everybody likes to open a Sari-Sari store, unknown of the fact that there’s a big competition ahead of them.

Pandesal in the Bakery
I often buy hot pandesal from this bake shop or bakery. They only sell 3 kinds of bread – pandesal, monay, and bonete. Their pandesal is tasty and this “malunggay pandesal” they sell seems a healthy option for many. There is no question about the flavor quality of their bread products. If it comes to location, the shop is along the road and near the intersection where people used to come and go. If you will notice, there are papers posted on the wall of this shop. They are the business permits, sanitary permit, and clearances required by the local government (I will also go over these business requirements later on).


Good business in general but if I am to compare this shop with other bake or bread shops nearby, the cleanliness is not that good. And the way crews are serving customers is also not that impressive. Yes, customers like their breads but I observed that the number of customers started to go down when another bread shop, which is cleaner and more organize, opens just three blocks away.

As I wander around my place, I took photos of storefronts, signages, and products offered by those stores. Have a look on these Filipinos stores.

From this photo angle, you will see a small food shop named Jumborger. Despite this small, it is in a strategic location where it potentially earns a good revenue.


These signages looks very detailed. However, it would take you about a minute to read all the information published on each of these signages.




Owners of these shops prefer to use small signages some made of tarpaulins, even of plane plywood.






Business as Usual
If you will examine, it appears that Filipino business owners have their own ways of promoting their respective businesses. From a standard viewpoint, we know that the quality of products and services customers will get depends on the quality of business they are running. In the Philippines, however, this does not always hold true. Let me expound on that.

Many Filipino small business owners actually have no formal training on business management. The moment they start to sell and customers buy from them, that is the start of everything. And here's the truth. Customers will prefer to buy from these small stores for this one obvious reason: it is more convenient.

On one hand, this is great idea considering this business-minded characteristic we have on the land. On the other hand, most businesses who started this way did not even last for half a year. Those who implemented good planning, consistency in execution, and embraced innovation made it to survive for several years.

If I am to summarize my observations on how most Filipinos defines business here in the country, I would put it this way:
  • With life this hard these days, income is first and foremost the most important above anything else.
  • Who needs business training? Not us.
  • We sell because we want it. It’s our right.
It is “business as usual” in many places here in the country. It is engraved in the culture. What you’ve just read is the tiny portion of the entirety of the Philippine business landscape. While small businesses struggle at the bottom, only a few big businesses thrive at the top. There is a deeper reason we need to understand behind this reality. I will get to explain that on Part 2 of this post.


Related Posts

"Business as Usual" as the Filipinos Define It (Palengke, Business Permits, Illegal Vendors) – Part 2

Filipino Job Seekers: Here are the Practical Tips on How to Get a (Good) Job in the Philippines – Part 1


About the Author
Noriel Panganiban is a Filipino blogger who's like any other ordinary Filipino, has experienced the real way of life in the Philippines. Noriel has a mission and that is to bring positive changes in this beautiful country. With blog posts like this, he believes that he is able to carry out that mission even in little ways; that if someone has read his post, that triggers the start of an awakening. You can read more posts about the Filipinos and the Philippines from this blog site. For more information about Noriel and his vision in life, you may also visit www.knowriel.com.

Comments

Most-Read Posts of the Month

“I Love Baguio City” - My Travel Story in the Summer Capital of the Philippines

The Strawberry Farm, Burnham Park, Mines View Park, the Mansion, Wright Park, Lourdes Grotto, and Session Road; these are among of the popular landmarks in the more commonly known “Summer Capital of the Philippines” – Baguio City. Why so? Well, the temperature here seldom exceeds 26 degree centigrade. During the cold season of December to February, the temperature falls down to even below 10 degree centigrade. The record low temperature was 6.3 degree and that was on January 18, 1961.

How to Travel to Baguio City?
Going to this cold city in the mountainous province of Benguet, Philippines is a six to seven hours travel by passenger utility bus from Manila. Starting from EDSA, traversing the NLEX, entering SCTEX, exiting the province of Tarlac and going through the neighbouring provinces of Pangasinan and La Union, and then exploring the zigzag road of either the Marcos Highway, the Kennon Road or the Naguilian Road, the coldest place in the Philippines will be reached. Baguio is about 2…

A Walk to Divisoria - Filipinos Love this Place!

“Divisoria” - almost every Filipino knows this word. The millennials even call it “Divi”.



We paid another visit to Divisoria. Same as usual, it is so crowded that more than half of your energy will be spent on bumping people, spinning round and round to find a better direction, and on walking back and forth, up and down. Of course, finding that product and bargaining for its price is where the remaining energy will be spent.



We arrived there at around nine in the morning and streets are still not too busy. But you will notice that shoppers are on their feet rushing towards the popular 168, 999, Tutuban Center, Divisoria Mall and 11/88 shopping malls. (Any idea why the malls' names are numbers? Chinese thing? I’m not sure. That’s a trivia.) You can see the excitement on them. With a few bags, themselves and that money on the pocket, it is like going into a shopping war. Meanwhile, sellers are all set up with their products too. Their energy is always on top, some are shouting while…

Who are These OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) and Why are They the Modern Heroes of the Philippines

At the turn of the millennium, the Philippine government launches this campaign program calling the overseas Filipino workers or OFWs as “Mga Bagong Bayani ng Bayan” (Modern Heroes of the Nation). From then onwards, different organizations established programs giving awards and recognitions to selected OFWs who did a remarkable contribution or action to their family, friends, work or in general, to the country.


OFW ka ba?Bakit?Eh kasi dating mo pa lang, mayaman ka na. Boom! 
(Are you an OFW? Why? Because with just the way look, it seems that you’re rich. Boom!)

My Cousin Dado as an OFW in South Korea 

At present, OFWs around the world are estimated to be around 12 – 14 million. This is approximately 10 – 12 percent of the Philippines total population. These OFWs are distributed on many countries all over the globe majority of whom are in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Japan, Singapore, Hongkong, Taiwan, South Korea, and Italy. Immigrant workers in the United States, Australia and Eu…

“Fixer” in Philippine Government Agencies Like the Social Security System (SSS) and Land Transportation Office (LTO) – What We Filipinos Can Do About it?

Maybe in this post, I can clearly explain how “fixing” works in many government offices in the country. The idea is first, to warn you that such illegal fixing happens, and second, to give you tips on how you should avoid them. Plain and simple, we will not in anyway damage or speak against anyone or any particular office of the government in this post. It just happened that this is about my experience with LTO and SSS Tagaytay. I want to emphasize that still many government employees in the Philippines are doing their jobs right - including those who are working in the said branches.
If you have experienced transacting with any government offices here in the Philippines, whether you're a Filipino or not, you should already be familiar with these signages.



Here’s a bit of knowledge for you to digest first.
What is “fixing” or who is a “fixer” by the way?
In the Philippines, these good words happened to have a negative connotation over the past decades. Good words? Yes, indeed. When …

The Divisoria Malls - Defining Shopping in the Philippines

They call it the 168 Mall. It is one of the busiest places in the Philippines during shopping days like Christmas season when longing for enjoyment and relaxation is on the air once again. From Cavite, my home place, going to Divisoria, it will take you about an hour travel under normal traffic flow.

What is in this place? Well, Divisoria is the Bargain Shopping Capital of the Philippines. This is where wholesale and retail prices make shoppers say “WOW!” on delight. Visiting this place will definitely give you a realization about shopping on a different dimension. Find out why on the next paragraphs.

On the Photo: The Popular 168 Mall in Divisoria, Manila, Philippines


Divisoria is located in Binondo, Manila. It is accessible via Quiapo(where the famous Black Nazarene of Quiapo Church is) thru Recto Avenue and via Lawton near Manila City Hall. Divisoria has been there since the early 90’s. As it is near the North Harbour, Manila’s main seaport, the freshest and cheapest products usuall…

Why Do We Share Photos of the Foods We Eat on Social Media?

Poor people can’t just do it and here’s why.

According to Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), in the first half of 2014, the Poverty Incidence among “Filipino individuals” was 25.8% while the Poverty Incidence among “Filipino families” was 19.9%. It means that one of four Filipinos experienced poverty during that period. What does it mean by being poor? According to the Office of the President website, “To be poor means earning less than P16,841 a year”.

On the Photo: Filipino "Karinderya" Foods


Are you poor?

May God bless you if you are. You need blessings from above.

I shared the above statistics for one simple reason – there are poor people who can’t eat three (3) times a day. They skip their meals. Well, compared to other third-world countries, it’s even worst. In the African region, people die because of starvation. To that extent, Filipinos are still lucky. But to the extent of being a citizen of a country having P2.6 trillion budget in a year, all of us should have comp…

How Filipinos are Loosing their True Identity

What happens to the Filipinos foods?

Haven’t you noticed, foreign foods are invading the Philippines by storm? International restaurants serving foreign cuisines are everywhere. Culinary arts, the way Filipinos look at it, is just becoming a trendy topic. Chefs, food blogger, culinary experts, food architect - goodness, are they soon to replace the simple “kusinero” and “kusinera” words that best describes our real identity as Filipinos in terms of cooking?




Globalization shapes the future of the country, particularly the food landscape. There is nothing wrong with innovation. I’d been a waiter for quite some time in a popular catering business and if its about food preparation, I’m really impressed with the way our cooks and kitchen staffs do it. Those garnishing, decorative artwork, and plating styles, they really add beauty to the foods we serve. Even an authentic Filipino food, they make a twist making it lovely and attractive to the hungry eyes.

Those terms like “buffet”, “a la ca…

Great Reasons Why You Should be Proud to be Pinoy Today

Yes, we live in a poor country. We walk up and sleep in a country with high unemployment rate, low quality of life, high crime incidence, rampant corruption in the government, unsolved traffic issues, high poverty and so on and so forth. We are residing in a country where there are New People’s Army, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Abu Sayyaf Group and plenty of other leftists doing harm to the nation’s freedom and sovereignty. Many of our rivers, oceans and lands are totally polluted – some are dead. Our streets are flooded with criminals, kidnappers, snatchers, drug addicts, drug pushers and tons of other bad elements invading our liberty. In remote areas around the country, there are children walking barefoot, on their empty stomach and with unconditioned mind and body just to taste the education which their parents were forced to believe that “poverty is not a hindrance to education” – but is not. We experience over and over again the fury of strong typhoons leaving us billion-wort…

“Pasalubong” – What Makes this Filipino Word Very Special?

Probably next to the beauty of a tourism spot, if it’s about the real reasons for traveling there, is our search for the best “pasalubong”. It’s the tagalog word for “gift” or “souvenir” and it can be anything from foods, toys, clothes, handicraft, furniture, soaps, wearables, or household items. It’s practically anything, big or small, cheap or expensive, edible or not. And for as long as that special item was bought somewhere else and then given to someone as an act of love and kindness – the true purpose has been served.


A simple gesture of “Salamat po” (Thank you) for sharing that pasalubong is enough to make you feel the love and kindness back. There is the best pasalubong for kids, for grandmas and grandpas, for a favorite grandson, for a close neighbor or friend, for the workmates, for the boss, for a former enemy, for a religious brother, and even for a complete stranger. Yes, indeed!

Well, “pasalubong” is actually different from a gift for birthday, wedding, or special gatherin…