Page 2October 3 - 9, 2008 Asian Journal - (619) 474-0588 Visit our website at http://www.asianjournalusa.com
By Jose Paolo S. dela Cruz Philstar
The Philippines is known for its limitless array of the exotic,the unique, and the exquisite.From luxurious jewelry boxesmade from mother-of-pearlto the deviant sculptures bornfrom Pinatubo’s ashes; there’sno denying that these so-called‘treasures’ never rundry on this side of the planet. And just like ithas always been in themost magical of worlds,Philippine treasures alsocome in the most splen-did of troves. Here, thattrove is called Tesoro’s.Known as the handi-craft store that has itall, Tesoro’s is a one-stop shop for genuinearticles that boastFilipino ingenuity atits rawest. With eight branches across thePhilippines, the special-ty shop is currently one of thelargest handicraft enterprises inthe country. However, Tesoro’swasn’t always in league with the biggest, the brightest, or the best.In fact, it used to be the other way around.On October 7, 1945, SaludTesoro of Baliuag, Bulacan
opened the rst Tesoro’s store in
Escolta, Manila. Small, start-ing, and arguably negligible, theonly item that attracted custom-ers to Tesoro’s is a thing to hangaround the waist – and no, it wasnot even a leather belt.Still recovering from the twi-
light of World War II, the rst
store catered mostly to Americansoldiers who obsessed on smol-dering Pinays in grass skirts.“The wall in between Tesoro’sand the nightclub was just madeof sawali. The soldiers wouldmake a stop at our store, buy the
skirts, and then have it worn bythe dancers who performed ontheir tables,” reckons Alice Teso-ro-Guerrero, the eldest of Salud’schildren and current chairman of the board of Tesoro’s.
Despite its protability, thisminute nancial success wasn’t
what Salud and her husband, Nestor Teodoro, had in mind.Having worked for her uncle’shat store in the past, the mother of four and classical career woman had a grander vision of what she wanted. “She didn’t just want to make a living. Shewanted to bring all Filipinohandicrafts in one store,” ex- plains Isabel Tesoro, the young-est of the couple’s 10 childrenand current group CEO of thecompany.To transform such dream intoreality, Salud worked 25 hours aday, eight days a week, constant-ly juggling her responsibilities asa mother and a businesswomanwithout fail. In between discov-ering the best artifacts, sellingthem at reasonable prices, andmaking her mark on handicrafthistory, the working mother alsomanaged to incorporate familylife with her entrepreneurial ven-tures. “My mom would do busi-ness in our store, go at the back to breastfeed her babies, andthen go back to work. It wasn’t just a business for her. It was anobsession,” explains Alice.Lucky for them, the obsessioneventually paid off. In 1948, at barely three years old, Tesoro’s
successfully completed its rst
international transaction byexporting its products to PuertoRico. It also caught the eye of
Manila’s nest men and women,
including the late PresidentRamon Magsaysay. “He was the
rst president to wear a barong
on his inauguration. Being very popular at that time, this gestureskyrocketed Tesoro’s to popular-ity, since his barong came fromour store,” explains Isabel.The president’s fashion state-ment established the barong asthe closet ‘must-have’ of thatera, and Tesoro’s as the‘it’ place to get it from.
Word spread like wildre
and soon, the Tesoros,including the children,
were hufng and pufng
to sustain the overwhelm-ing orders of their grow-ing clientele. “At one point, my mother got soexcited that she literallyfell inside a wooden cratewhere the barongs weredelivered in,” shares Isa- bel with a chuckle.The store’s popularitysoon grew into some-thing more immense than barongs and ternos. A few expos(and presidents) later, Tesoro’s became the store of choice for the handmade, the hand-woven,and a handful of everything else.It also secured its reputationas one of Malacañang’s mostfavored sources of gifts to headsof states – an eminence Tesoro’sstill enjoys to this very day.Such success, according to theTesoro sisters, can be attributedto their parents’ determination,hard-work, and integrity – vir-tues that the Tesoro children live by to this very day. “Our parentswere very simple and frugal.For a very successful businesscouple, they managed to liveharmoniously and raise all 10 of us properly. And, we’re proud tosay, my father never even had anaffair... ever!” boasts Isabel.To keep the business runningeven after Salud and Nestor’sretirement, the Tesoro childrenstuck to their parent’s entrepre-neurial style and attitude. Theyalso made sure to exercise their mother and father’s meticulouseye for detail. This, accordingto them, often translates into theTesoro’s trademark of near- perfection. “For instance, wenever machine-embroider piña.Others do that to produce moreitems, but the embroidery justlooks horrible. Such low (qual-ity) will never make the cut for our stores,” explains Alice.The sisters also shared thatTesoro’s nature as a family busi-ness helped it grow into whatit has become today. “We treateveryone as family. Our custom-ers. Our employees. Everyone,”explains Isabel. For instance,Tesoro’s offers scholarships to itsemployees’ children and rela-tives. As for its customers, thestore takes pride in its honest andreasonable pricing schemes.“We are not a tourist trap. Our prices for all customers are thesame regardless of race,” addsAlice. Now on its 60th year, Tesoro’shas clothed not only presidents, but international celebrities aswell. Some of the more popular items include Quentin Taran-tino’s barong to the Oscar’s,and Paris Hilton’s snazzy Yvettewooden mini-bag. Tesoro’s suc-cess has also inspired its former suppliers to become internationalexporters as well. “Some of themare now (our) competition butwe’re still very happy for them.It’s good to know that just likeTesoro’s, they, too, have grownin the business,” explains Isabel.More than these grand acco-lades though, there’s one rather unnoticed achievement that
Tesoro’s is denitely most proud
of. The store managed to bringPinoy ingenuity, not only to theworld, but back into the hearts of the people it came from. “Peoplewould think that our biggestclients are foreigners who wantto take home souvenirs from thePhilippines. However, Tesoro’stop customers are still Filipi-nos who want to celebrate their heritage by bringing home pieces
that reect our culture,” divulges
Isabel with pride.Photography by NikkorlaiTapan
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By Marvin Sy Phisltar, October 3, 2008
The Philippines has better prospects for survival with the USSenate’s resounding approval of asweetened $700-billion Wall Streetrescue plan, the Arroyo adminis-tration’s economic managers saidyesterday.“There will be a happy Christ-mas and a merry new year,” Socio-economic Planning Secretary RalphRecto said at a press conference inMalacañang.But he said the lower growth
gures for this year and in 2009 will
remain despite the good news fromthe US.Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas(BSP) Deputy Governor Nestor Espenilla said the approval of the bailout would lessen the fallout of the global economic crunch on thePhilippines and other developingcountries.“This (bailout approval) is goingto be a positive factor in limitingfallout as a result of continuing
nancial turmoil in the US,” Espe
nilla said in the same news brieng.
Espenilla said the local banks are“strong in their own right and wehave no problem down the road.”“The bailout will improve chancesof recession not taking place. It doesnot mean it’s no longer there, but weare talking of probability,” FinanceSecretary Margarito Teves said.“Slowdown will allow businessto take place but in recession, thereis contraction and people will beadversely affected, emerging econo-mies will be adversely affected,”Teves said.“In a slowdown, my neighbor isout of a job, but if it’s recession,I get unemployed, so we have toavoid recession at all costs,” he said.“We need your help to communi-cate to the public what is happening.We are focusing on medium casescenario, which we are all prepared
for,” he said at the brieng.
Recto said the Philippines’ mac-roeconomic fundamentals are better than those of the US itself “as far asthe country’s debt-to-Gross Domes-tic Product ratio is concerned.”The US has a negative savings ratewhile the Philippines has a positivesavings rate, he said.“Our foreign debt is going down.
We can nance our own develop
-ment. In the medium term, we are in
‘Economicprospects nowbetter for RP’
a better position,” Recto said.“To cope with crisis, we will con-tinue to improve debt-to-GDP ratio.We have brighter growth prospectsahead,” he said.He said the country remains ontrack to meet the United Nations’Millennium Development Goals of reducing poverty incidence by half by 2015.He said the government has down-scaled its GDP targets to 4.4 percentto 4.9 percent this year and to 4.1 to5.1 percent next year, which he de-scribed as “more realistic, credible,transparent.”“It’s good to be conservative. If we could go faster, the better,” Rec-to said. “As part of the mandate of risk management and risk aversion,it’s better to be credible,” he said.“There is a need to downscaletargets this year. We feel there will be a slowdown in US, where theyalready lost about 800,000 jobs inthe past several months,” he pointedout.Budget Secretary Rolando AndayaJr., for his part, said there was noneed to revise the proposed P1.4-trillion national budget as it wasdesigned to help the country survivea global economic slowdown.“The solution is spending,” hesaid.He said infrastructure spendingwill increase by 20 percent nextyear, and agriculture by a whopping56 percent.He said for infrastructure alone,the government has a public sector “infrastructure war chest” of P230 billion next year. Of this amount,P147.5 billion will be spent by thenational government, P32.1 billion by government-owned and con-trolled corporations, and P50 billion by local governments.The national government8 0s 2009infrastructure budget is 20.7 percenthigher than this year’s P122.2 bil-lion.“The budget is funneled to a
veriable spending menu called
HEARTS, for Health, Education,Agriculture, Roads, Technology andTourism, Shelter and Security,” hesaid.“The challenge is to have theseagencies spend the money they have
in the rst few months. There had been at growth in infrastructure
spending… but in June, July, Augustwe had an increase so we just had tokeep it up,” Andaya said.Recto said exports would be hit asthe US accounts for 17 percent of the country’s exports.“What the government can do ishelp the private sector by buildinginfrastructure, by helping them openup markets such as China,” Rectosaid.