Anyone traveling anywhere in the Philippines couldn’t miss the yellow and green signage of the ubiquitous Palawan Pawnshop dotting major cities, capital towns, and second-tier municipalities. With several hundreds of branches spread nationwide, the homegrown pawnshop has indeed gone a long way since its inauspicious start in Puerto Princesa several years back. Founded by Col. Greg Castro, a retired Air Force Officer, and son Bobby, PPS hit it big with its ” Pera Padala ” business anchored on its core value of “paspas and barato” with the iconic Mommy Dionesia doing the pitch.
On a recent land trip to Cebu’s northern towns, I tried to track down the number of PPS located on major streets starting from Mandaue City all the way to the pilgrimage town of Sibonga. Well, it’s just so numerous, I lost count and all. And even in the big cities of Cebu, PPS is giving the Lhuillier’s a run for their money. It has, in fact, encircled the urban centers with branches in the peripheral towns where I’m sure business is as brisk. As a dyed in the wool Palaweño weary from the day-long trip in a strange territory, I can only beam with pride for every PPS I saw along the way. There, it is not just a pawnshop, but it stands for what a Palaweño businessman can achieve: that it can grow a business nationwide, make a dent in the big league, and inspire hope that with enough tenacity, grit, and excellence, there is no limit to one’s horizon – wherever you may be.
AND BY THE WAY: PPS is one of Puerto Princesa’s biggest employer, next perhaps to City Hall itself. Recruits from our local universities are trained and eventually sent to its many branches, literally to man the shop……… Bobby Castro has remained low key despite PPS’ huge success. Not many may have remembered, but Bobby once sat as a member of the City Council of Puerto Princesa. He also represented the business sector in the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) for many years. Enthused with his success in running PPS, there are some quarters who think of him as a possible candidate for Mayor of Puerto Princesa. The idea is not far-fetched given Bobby’s managerial acumen and organizational savvy. He is certainly a whiff of fresh air in the arid political landscape of the city. But the 64-dollar question remains; is he politicized enough to take the plunge?
Let me just say that the real threat to democracy is when men of proven competence and with a big heart for the downtrodden, disdain public office and thus allow backbenchers and second stringers to make a fool of our institutions – all in the name public service. A sad tale of what might have been.
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