When Bobby and Angelita Castro acquired Palawan Pawnshop in 1985 from a family in Roxas town, they hired Noemi Galan as an employee. She was then a working student who helped run the first branch of what would become one of the most reliable and leading pawnshops in the Philippines today.
That was 37 years ago when she began to get more involved in the numerous operational tasks at the company as she moved through the ranks.
“Noong mabili nila ang Palawan Pawnshop, graduating ako noon sa college. Ako ang na-assign para maging kasama ni ma’am Angie sa pag-operate ng branch. That was 37 years ago—nandito ang opisina sa Puerto Princesa, kung saan ang pamilya, yon ang number one reason,” she said.
Rema Dabalus is another employee who has been with Palawan Pawnshop for a long time; she started working there in 1997 and has been there ever since.
She had the opportunity to join Palawan Pawnshop after learning from a friend that it was planning to put up a lending business. Dabalus was managing a lending operation at a bank at the time.
Her decision to make the move to Palawan Pawnshop was influenced by the favorable incentives that were made available to her there, she said.
“All I was thinking was how to provide for my family and Palawan Pawnshop gave me better opportunities to be financially stable,” she said.
Galan and Dabalos are two of the dedicated employees of Palawan Pawnshop who have been recognized with awards this year.
Galan said she initially took on three different tasks at the same time: as head of its personnel department (Human Resources Department), the audit department (now Cash & Jewelry Audit Department or CAJAD), and as a solo trainer of Jewelry Appraising & Pawnshop Operations.
In May 2011, she was appointed as Operations Head, and the three positions were assigned to other employees.
Galan noted that throughout her 37 years with the company, the proprietors’ empathy for its employees never wavered. Employees are compensated not only with a wage but also with allowances and bonuses. She also mentioned that she had the opportunity to go abroad at the company’s expense.
“As the company grew, na-i-enjoy ko na ma-visit ‘yong other places—kung saan kailangan magpa-training, conduct ng audit ng branches. Maraming privilege, actually, hindi lang financial sa kumpanyang ito. Habang umuunlad, nafi-feel din namin yong malasakit, yong kasama kami sa kaunlaran,” she said.
She cited philosophies and managerial style as one of the reasons she remained with Palawan Pawnshop.
On the other hand, Dabalus began her career working as a loan processor before getting elevated to the role of head of a lending unit. In addition to that, she was given the task to handle the advertising and marketing department of Palawan Pawnshop.
At present, she is in charge of managing the program for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
“The financial benefits from the company can only go so far. There are always better opportunities somewhere else but I chose to stay with Palawan Pawnshop because of the culture that [[it has] imparted to me,” she said.
Participating in CSR initiatives gave her the sense that her work was making a difference not only at Palawan Pawnshop, but in the larger community as well.
Why workers serve decades
Palawan Pawnshop employs about 20,000 associates in total, including direct and indirect employees, throughout over 3,300 branches countrywide. Around 16,000 are directly employed or work as associates in the operations.
According to Talent Acquisition Supervisor Alfred Malunes, Jr., employees choose Palawan Pawnshop and decide to grow with the company because of the premium it gives to its workforce, not just through an employee-employer relationship, but the culture of developing close knit and meaningful relationships binded by mutual trust and respect. This has been his observation since he joined the Palawan Pawnshop Group in 2010.
Through CSR activities in education such as scholarship programs, sports development, and environmental preservation, the business appreciates the community as much as its workers.
Malunes said the company recognized the length of service of associates through a loyalty award. The recognition starts after a five-year period of service, up to the 35th year of service.
Beyond the formal recognition, Dabalus said she appreciated how the company valued her service as much as she did.
It is also showing appreciation and gratitude for the sacrifices and contributions the employees have made to the success of the company.
“Being an employee is not always easy. Sometimes, we must compromise time with our children and family just so we can finish our work. It is gratifying to know that the company recognizes our sacrifices and appreciates our commitment and dedication to our jobs,” she said.
Decades of valuable lessons
Galan has worked at Palawan Pawnshop for almost four decades, and throughout that time she has learned a great deal about the importance of respecting one’s colleagues and appreciating one’s own efforts. It all began with the first group of employees and has continued ever since.
The basis of their operations, she emphasized, is a culture which embodies honesty and integrity, fair play, humility, compassion, quality and competence, dedication and enthusiasm, family spirit, and concern for the success of the company.
These qualities may be regarded as simple things taught at home or school, but they all recognize and value them at Palawan Pawnshop Group.
“Sabi nga ni sir (Bobby) noon, ang negosyo hindi lang dapat basta lang kumikita. Dapat nakakatulong din sa customers. We don’t take advantage, mapa-associate ka man or customer, ang lahat ay pantay-pantay,” Galan said.
When employees feel valued by their employer, they reciprocate by working more for its continuing success, she said.
Dabalus feels the same way working at Palawan Pawnshop, which she described gave her the inspiration to help not only her close family but also some distant relatives.
“The most significant milestone in my career might be my 25 years of service. I am fortunate because I am at the point in my life where I don’t need or ask for much anymore. I have provided my family with the best life I could ever hope for,” she said.
PPS core values
Honesty and integrity are the top values of the Palawan Pawnshop Group in managing its associates, according to Malunes. These are essential if an employee wants to stay longer in the company, and if they want to make an impression by venturing into other job opportunities, he added.
He pointed out that these two values also enhance client trust and the company’s reputation. In return, their business would be able to gain more regular customers.
“Si Palawan Pawnshop kasi [ay] clear ang vision. Transparent sa lahat ng empleyado niya, isa rin sa values namin ay fair play. Isa sa attributes noon ay dapat transparent ka sa mga empleyado, pinaparating to all associates kung ano yong gusto natin mangyari ngayong taon,” he said.
Advice to fellow associates
Galan, as one of the company’s pioneer employees, has interacted with numerous generations of associates. Her advice is for them to take pride in their work and accept the fact that nothing in life comes easily.
She went on to say that it is not only the pay that keeps people at a company; rather, it is the environment that fosters camaraderie among workers.
For Dabalus, current Palawan Pawnshop employees made the right decision to stay because it is unusual to find a company that cares about its people as much as it does about its profits.
“Masarap ang tagumpay kapag iyong pinaghirapan. Do your best, while you are young. Set goals and accept challenges kasi that will make you stronger and more confident. Continue to learn and be open-minded,” Galan said.
“You have joined a company that will appreciate your work and will also support you during your personal hardships. So value your work and it will value you too, you have chosen well,” Dabalus added.
The success and expansion of the Palawan Pawnshop Group owe a great deal to the dedicated and loyal employees who have been with the company for decades. People like Galan and Dabalus have not only contributed to its growth but have also become an integral part of its identity.
Their stories highlight the significance of fostering a positive work culture, recognizing employee contributions, and creating opportunities for personal and professional growth. Palawan Pawnshop has demonstrated that by treating employees with respect, empathy, and fairness, they are more likely to remain committed and dedicated to the company’s mission.
“The journey of Palawan Pawnshop is not just about financial transactions. It is also about building relationships, uplifting communities, and creating a sense of belonging among its employees. Today, Palawan Pawnshop is hailed as one of the best employers in the Philippines by the Philippine Daily Inquirer and Statista, an online platform that specializes in market and consumer data. With its core values deeply ingrained in its operations, Palawan Pawnshop continues to inspire loyalty and pride among its workforce, setting an example in the pawnshop industry in the Philippines.
As Palawan Pawnshop moves forward, it will undoubtedly continue to nurture and cherish the hearts and minds of its long-time employees, recognizing their unwavering dedication and commitment as the driving force behind its success. And with each passing year, the bond between the company and its employees will grow stronger, creating a legacy that will be remembered for years to come.