Looking back now, I am grateful to my parents,” says Rachel Marjorie Renucci-Tan, who with her husband Patrick Francois Renucci have revolutionized the local rice industry with the award-winning Dalisay Rice.
“My parents encouraged me to spread my wings. They did not keep me sheltered.” (Disclosure: Rachel’s sister Ricci was my batchmate in elementary and high school.)
When she turned 22, Rachel was on her own, financially. Her father, broadcast media pioneer Edward Tan, reasoned that with a philosophy degree from the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Rachel could make a good living.
Rachel taught for a year in her alma mater. For four years, she also worked with her father at the headquarters of Channel 5 in Novaliches.
Her family lived in Forbes Park, but she had “no car, no driver” and commuted from Makati to Novaliches and back.
On the way back, she would alight from the bus at the gates of the posh subdivision and walk home. Once, the guard asked for identification, and when she replied that she was a resident, he retorted, “No one who lives here takes the bus. No one walks.”
Rachel moved out of the family house and lived in her own flat, with no air conditioning. She founded her own media enterprise and when it was sold, she used the proceeds to study for her MBA at Insead Business School in France.
Afterwards, Rachel created another company, Tan-EU Capital, this time focusing on real estate investment and management, based in Hong Kong. She traveled extensively from East to West and back, handling assets of more than a billion dollars.
In 2004, Rachel was set up on a blind date and for Patrick, it was “love at first sight.”
Over Thai food, Patrick listened with fascination to this “Filipino-Chinese girl who did so many many things. She is incredible! I cannot let her go.”
“Incredible” is an understatement.
But Rachel was simply following in her father’s footsteps.
Rachel is descended from storied ancestors. Her maternal grandfather Ching Banlee was the first taipan who, through grit and determination, in 1920 founded the business Ching Ban Yek. The young Banlee went around Binondo by bicycle, providing necessities such as oil, flour and textiles. The business grew and its flagship product Baguio Oil became the most well-known in the country.
The next generations of the Ching family work in the business up to today. Rachel’s father, an in-law, was offered a position there, but his heart was set on media. Edward started his own advertising agency, with some of the family businesses as clients. It was he who came up with Baguio Oil’s iconic tagline “Order ni Misis.”
Contrary to rumor, Edward’s parents were not tycoons. His grandfather was successful in various enterprises for a time, but when these failed, his father had to struggle. The family had all the basic necessities, but “they were not well off, not exactly secure.”
But through creativity and determination, “my father became the first Chinoy to own a TV station,” Rachel says. “He invented block timing. He imported popular foreign TV shows such as ‘Charlie’s Angels’ and ‘Little House on the Prairie’ for local channels. When the time came, he invested in and managed Channel 5 and did very well. Eventually he sold Channel 5 to Tonyboy Cojuangco for a good sum.”
“Growing up, I resented my parents because I thought they were being hard on me. While friends had many luxuries, I had to work hard. But I realize that what I have achieved, I owe to my father and my mother.
“Before he passed away, my father told me, ‘We’ve had our differences because you are so much like me. Live your talents to the fullest. Embrace risk without fear. I want you to be happy.”
For Rachel and Patrick, to be happy is to succeed in business—and to help others in the process.
Dalisay by Renucci Rice is available in major supermarkets.
Queena N. Lee-Chua is on the Board of Directors of Ateneo’s Family Business Center. Get her book “All in the Family Business” at www.lazada.com.ph or call National’s Jennie Garcia at 0915-421-2276. Contact the author at [email protected]
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