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Conchita Toribio-de los Reyes and Roland Delantar when he received the Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Award in 2016.

A tale of two rags-to-riches

Here are two unique, inspiring stories of lowly, hardworking people. One, a woman in a hurry to get to the top without a college diploma and two, a man who wanted an education and dreamed to be a lawyer but ended up in real estate business instead. 

Conchita Toribio de los Reyes was born dirt poor in Carmen, Bohol. Her mother was a laundry woman in the local hospital while his father was a mailman in the town post office. “With my brothers and sisters, we sold anything like vegetables in the sidewalks of Carmen to help our parents earn our keeps,” revealed Conchita. 

After graduation from high school, Che, as she is fondly called, went to Manila by herself and lived with his uncle who sent her to college to take up BS Accounting. “But I calculated. My course was five years and I would apply for work maybe at one year, so it would sum up to six years. I respectfully told my uncle I would quit school and take up even odd jobs,” Toribio-de los Reyes recalled. “I didn’t want to a clerk or a secretary. I didn’t want to be an employee. I wanted to be on my own.” 

All she wanted was to get rich. 

Then she met a man whom he married and bore him five kids. It was still a squalid life. Before she knew it, the husband left them. 

Che had to rear up her children so she took on menial jobs like selling cold drinks, vegetables, fruits, banana cue and other saleable stuff just to earn her keeps. In another occasion, she would vend bottled water in EDSA near the National Statistics Office (NSO). 

Still, she sold insurance and stainless utensils to keep them afloat. 

Then she tried selling nameless bath soap. She went house-to-house. “I was even mistaken for a budol-budol (a scam allegedly associated with hypnosis),” she chuckled. She rode jeeps and tricycles just to get to her prospects. 

Despite all these, she wasn’t rich yet. “If you’re poor, you’re nothing so said to myself I would be rich and God would help me,” she promised herself. 

Until she thought of borrowing sixty thousand pesos from a friend to start her own soap business. Then she consulted a chemist-friend and together they concocted beauty soap with unique properties. 

Beauch was born and it started to draw in good fortune for her as she still went out to sell her own product. 

This was also the time she met her new love and they lived and still are living together with her kids from her estranged husband. 

Now in her sixties, time is the living witness as Che climbs to the top and calls the shots in anything she holds on to like running her business empire. 

Just like how Rolando Delantar—a former resident of Leyte, Leyte, a town near Biliran Province—rise from poverty. 

Rolando—as Lando was called as a kid—was one year old when his mom died. His dad decided that he was the one left with him while his siblings were fostered to their kin. While his father was a widower, he fell in love with a younger woman and bore her children. As a stepson growing up, Lando had bittersweet experience with his stepmom when he was violently throwing cuss words at him. He wouldn’t mind them and still continued what he was doing like cleaning the house. 

Their shanty was on top on a mountain Lando had to walk down five kilometers to his school and to go up the same distance. 

When Lando was already in high school, he spoke to his father about owning or buying as piece of land instead of squandering his money on liquor which didn’t sit well with the old man. He then got beaten. 

One day, there was a chopper hovering and landing on their barangay during an election campaign when everyone was agog of its flight. It whisked away a gubernatorial candidate he couldn’t remember if it was a Romualdez. “I asked a grown up beside me what a politician should possess to be able to fly a helicopter,” recalled Delantar, now addressed as Roland or RCD, in his corporate office. “One should be a lawyer,” he remembered what the man said. “Right there and then, I dreamed of being a lawyer,” chuckled Roland. 

Because Lando had free range poultry, he sold them for his sea fare and provisions going to Manila after high school. “I had a six hundred peso in my wallet,” he recounted. 

In the ship, he saw her female teacher and on the Manila port, she requested for his assistant in carrying her luggage which obliged. 

She then asked him where he was going. When he learned that his companion evaded his teacher because of academic misdemeanor, he told her he didn’t have somewhere to go. 

The teacher willingly brought him to a lawyer town mate who then sent him to school. Lando was a houseboy he didn’t mind because he’s got a role model and dream profession to look up to. 

But instead of enrolling in Law he ended up in a business course, Accounting. He was a working student at the newly installed Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) in Sta. Mesa. After a house help stint, he went into a manufacturing glasses in Union Glass Pasig. Then he went into a paper factory. He also had a stint in Mennen, a baby products company, as a salesman. 

During this time, he had already a family so he had to strive more. 

When he finished college, he was already working at the Union Carbide as sales rep assigned in the north of the country. He was a top seller of the battery and flashlight products he was promoted and moved to the city. When he took his board exams, it was with flying colors. Until then he was again promoted to the Finance Department. 

One day, he was talking to his manager and Roland asked him if he was already rich. The manager had a two-digit paycheck, a car, a house and a contented life but for Roland, it wasn’t his idea of a wealthy man. “I wanted to be a millionaire,” Roland recalled. 

The world of real estate brokerage beckoned Roland couldn’t resist so he took a licensure exam on the job and passed it. 

One of his first tripping was Filinvest near Commonwealth Avenue when he had a client who knew better the location than him. 

“The place was hilly going up. It was a struggle for the tricycle where I was on backseat of the driver. I couldn’t recognize the location. It’s good I knew my client. He was a former officemate. He was jeering at me but I was just cool,” Roland recollected, laughing. 

His stint with Camella was also his playground where he also learned the ropes of the real estate business and swayed to it. 

One day, he started to toy the idea of applying what he learned from his past works. He was looking for a lot to develop into a house in Bacoor, Cavite and found one. 

It cost P1.2M. He was able to convince the owner for a staggered payment of an initial P200,000.00 DP which was accepted for a one-year full payment. He then subdivided the land into four lots and built four houses on a pre-selling scheme which sold like hotcakes. 

From there, JCD Land, Inc., which Roland presides, was born and is now a giant construction and developer. “But we’re just a small fry as compared to the bigger firms like where I started,” Roland beamed. 

Boy Villasanta 

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