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From Rags to Riches: The Success Story of John Gokongwei

If his success story doesn’t inspire you, then nothing else will.

Bernadette Carillo

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Meet one of Philippines’ top billionaires, John Gokongwei, a man who used to belong to the marginalized sector, his ultimate climb to the top has proven once again that nothing is impossible if you have dreams and determination.

I was born to a rich Chinese-Filipino family. I spent my childhood in Cebu where my father owned a chain of movie houses, including the first air-conditioned one outside Manila. I was the eldest of six children and lived in a big house in Cebu ‘s ForbesPark. A chauffeur drove me to school every day as I went to San Carlos University, then and still one of the country’s top schools. I topped my classes and had many friends. I would bring them to watch movies for free at my father’s movie houses.

When I was 13, my father died suddenly of complications due to typhoid. Everything I enjoyed vanished instantly. My father’s empire was built on credit. When he died, we lost everything – our big house, our cars, our business – to the banks. I felt angry at the world for taking away my father, and for taking away all that I enjoyed before. When the free movies disappeared, I also lost half my friends.

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On the day I had to walk two miles to school for the very first time, I cried to my mother, a widow at 32. But she said: “You should feel lucky. Some people have no shoes to walk to school. What can you do? Your father died with 10 centavos in his pocket.” So, what can I do? I worked.

My mother sent my siblings to China where living standards were lower. She and I stayed in Cebu to work, and we sent them money regularly. My mother sold her jewelry. When that ran out, we sold roasted peanuts in the backyard of our much-smaller home. When that wasn’t enough, I opened a small stall in a palengke (market). I chose one among several palengkes a few miles outside the city because there were fewer goods available for the people there.

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I woke up at five o’clock every morning for the long bicycle ride to the palengke with my basket of goods. There, I set up a table about three feet by two feet in size. I laid out my goods — soap, candles, and thread — and kept selling until everything was bought. Why these goods? Because these were hard times and this was a poor village, so people wanted and needed the basics: soap to keep them clean, candles to light the night, and thread to sew their clothes.

I was surrounded by other vendors, all of them much older. Many of them could be my grandparents. And they knew the ways of the palengke far more than a boy of 15, especially one who had never worked before. But being young had its advantages. I did not tire as easily, and I moved more quickly. I was also more aggressive.

After each day, I would make about 20 pesos in profit! There was enough to feed my siblings and still enough to pour back into the business. The pesos I made in the palengke were the pesos that went into building the business I have today. After this experience, I told myself, “If I can compete with people so much older than me, if I can support my whole family at 15, I can do anything!”

Looking back, I wonder, what would have happened if my father had not left my family with nothing? Would I have become the man I am? Who knows? The important thing to know is that life will always deal us a few bad cards. But we have to play those cards the best we can. And WE can play to win! This was one lesson I picked up when I was a teenager. It has been my guiding principle ever since. And I have had 66 years to practice self-determination. When I wanted something, the best person to depend on was myself. And so I continued to work.

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People Avoided this Smelly Homeless Man at Starbucks Until a Stranger Made a Difference

People avoided this homeless man but when someone took and posted his picture, thousands of people cared.

Ann Moises

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Every person has his own story to tell and a purpose in life, even the homeless people we come across every day. Yes, those people whom some regard as a mere burden to the society are human beings too. They have names and they lived a life like most of us before they tragically ended up the way they did.

It's sad that some people avoid them like being homeless is some form of an infectious disease that they can catch by just talking to them.

It's heartless, and it's true.

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Inspiring

This Dad’s Heartfelt Wedding Gift To His Daughter is a Real Tearjerker

She was not deaf, but her father decided to do this to express how strongly he loves his daughter.

Inah Garcia

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When a woman marries, one of the most emotional persons on the wedding day is her father. Although dads do not usually show cheesy gestures to express how they truly feel, deep inside their hearts is an intense bottle of emotions tightly sealed but may explode when faced with events involving their children.

In this video we found, a dad uses sign language as he renders a song number on his daughter's wedding reception. The bride, Nicole Cortez, is not deaf but her father just wanted to express his emotions in a unique way -- something that could really showcase how he really feel deep inside. The performance got the guests all teary eyed as it was truly heartfelt and beautiful.

Watch the video here:



A father's love is really unique and it is one of the best forms of love one could ever imagine. So to all soon-to-be grooms, remember to love your future wives the way their fathers did. For daughters, treasure your fathers and don't forget that no matter what happens, a father's love never fails.

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Inspiring

This Awesome Prosthetic Arm Allows Kids to Create Lego Attachments

The IKO Creative Prosthetic System allows kids to create Lego attachments for their prosthetic arms

Mark Andrew

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Losing an arm can be a traumatic experience for a child. Imagine not being able to write, draw, play, and other ordinary things that kids do. On top of that, a child can be a source of ridicule among peers because of his or her change in appearance. No wonder being an amputee can take a toll on a youngster’s confidence.

Fortunately though, there are people like Carlos Torres.A designer by profession, Carlos has created the IKO Creative Prosthetic System which, as the name implies, aims to encourage a child to stay creative despite losing his or her limbs.

No, this is not an advanced ultra high-tech prosthetic arm.

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