It was supposed to be a date that almost everybody abhors—January 13, a Friday. This unlucky day, however, was set to launch “Pagetek Foodcourt”—the latest venture of the Palawan Pawnshop Group of Companies. For the owners, spouses Bobby and Angie Castro, it is yet another milestone in the “entrepreneur journey” (Pun intended on account of book entitled “An Entrepreneur’s Journey” by BLC. A must read). This humble and patriotic couple had been through numerous ups and downs and countless highs and lows of business undertakings until a first branch of Palawan Pawnshop saw the light of the sun in 1985. Hence, not a date in a calendar would dampen the energies of Bobby and Angie to set another hope in the service industry. After all, 13 too (September) is the date of Bobby Castro’s nascency.

What was rather remarkable about this launch was the play of culture during the said event. It is indeed commendable that while doing business, an entity goes to teach the populace as well, albeit unwittingly. Consequently, by teaching, values, cultural that is, gradually take root in the society. Banking on 38 years in the field, with over 3,000 branches nationwide, and more than 18,000 employees, Bobby and Angie do stand tall in their credentials to teach on how to do business, and doing it with care for values and concern for community in general. After all, Bobby is also referred to as Doctor Bobby Castro in the discipline of Humanities (Honoris Causa).

And so, what Bobby and Angie teach us through Pagetek on that very day of Friday the 13th?

First, language. Pagetek is a native Cuyonon term, which could be translated roughly as to “fill one’s stomach”. That it has become now a proper name for a feast of gastronomical choices all together in one place is such a treat too for those who advocate love for and use of “sariling wika.” Foreigners would pronounce is as “pej-tech”, others would have it as it is written “pa-ge-tek”, but to be more correct about it, one should say it in coordination with a twirling of the tongue, along with a little curving of the lips and a sort of a control of breathing to come up with “pa-gue-tok”. In so many words, magsalita ng sariling wika, saka na po sana ang maka-banyaga.

Second, sports. Pagetek has an array of different choices for your appetite and to your tummy’s content. Each business stall is unique from the others.. “Meron ako na wala ka; meron ka naman na wala sa akin,” so goes a beautiful wisdom. Accordingly, envy and rivalry are blotted out in this kind of game. Instead, Doctor Bobby had this to day to partners and tenants, “We are here to cooperate and not to compete. People would come over here for choices. Let us be thankful to each other that we are around…that we are also around for each other.” In other words, isport lang… walang dayaan, walang pikunan.

Third, environment. CLAYGO. It instills a mindset that whoever you are and no matter what your rank is you have a responsibility to clean, to be hygienic and to be clutter-free. To put it another way, we have to be mindful of and to be caring for our surroundings and for the next person who would use the same table. And talking about table, Sir Bobby proudly quipped that the table we were seated at was one that felled by the supertyphoon Odette. “Napakinabangan pa… Malaking pakinabang ang mga puno.”

Fourth, social studies. Love of country has been in the veins of Bobby and Angie. Decades ago, this love even brought them to a political ideology and had joined a movement (and to the point of being incarcerated) that sought to restore democracy in the country. It goes without saying though that love of country necessary means keeping an eye on the concerns and struggles of those who are in the fringes of the society – the poor, the voiceless, the marginalized, and the masses.

Before he started his speech, Sir Bobby invited everyone to come inside and get closer. Interestingly, he made notice of a group of young people who would then later on play as a band for the motorcade. “Pasok po kayo at umupo. Wala po kaming ibang special guests kundi kayo.” Such expression and gesture should indeed resonate in order that ordinary people are given space and attention in the scheme of things.

Finally, what I observed as rather amusing was when the Castro Family took turns to give a speech before those present. I overheard Sir Bobby prodding Bobbit, the youngest of broods, “Ikaw na. Magsalita ka rin.” But the irrepressible Bobbit replied, “Wala na po akong sasabihin. Ano pong sasabihin ko?” Sir Bobby quipped, “Kahit ano… magpatawa ka na lang.” Thereupon, Bobbit obliged and delivered a laugh or two. What lesson is this about? Being funny (read: making people happy and laugh) becomes, too, part and parcel of the class curriculum.

All said and everything done, a lucky day could not just be predicted by a date in the calendar. Instead, each day should be governed by the values we impart to each other and the culture we inculcate in the course of time with a view of making our world a better place. At the end of the day, it is all about doing business and building a nation at the same time. Henceforth, “I-Palawan mo na!”

(Disclosure: In every gathering of Palawan Pawnshop that I happen to be around, Sir Bobby would automatically acknowledge my presence saying, “The spiritual adviser of Palawan Pawnshop… and our family.” Should I not be lucky?)

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