Jun 262013

Last week, we paid tribute to our fathers in honor of their special day.  Their inspiration and mentorship led us to our success as entrepreneurs.  This time, I would like to pay tribute to our spouses.  

My wife, Marissa, and I are celebrating our 30th anniversary.  Time does fly so fast. It is hard to believe that we have been married this long, with five children. Our eldest is 25 years old and our youngest just turned six.  

Isabella, our youngest, was a surprise to us.  Marissa was 46 years old when she gave birth to her.  We went to the doctor because she was experiencing some unusual pain.  The hospital did a series of tests.  Luckily, no tests with radiation were done.  Our family doctor then advised to get the basic pregnancy test kit, just in case.  

I remember the day when my wife saw the result from the kit.  She tossed it to me because her first reaction was shock.  She was scared, but happy at the same time.  Both of us have been blessed to have a late addition to our family.  Isabella kept us young, as she is quite a handful.  

Our 30-year-marriage definitely has its ups and downs.  During our early years together, we started a small popcorn business. Today, she is one of the reasons why I am able to bring RFM to where it is today. In buying brands like Cosmos and Selecta, among others, she has provided encouragement and good advices.  She has also been very supportive in the Go Negosyo advocacy.

Like all marriages, there are always challenges – we do argue a lot.  This is the Concepcion trait of having to debate on every issue. Managing our children’s curfew has always been an issue. As our children grow up, my wife handles this quite well. Through the years, we do not let a fight drag on for days.

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The success of every entrepreneur relies on a happy family and home.  Marissa is a great co-pilot and conductor of all things, especially in our home. I share this story in honor of my wife.

I know that we still have a long way to go, as my parents just celebrated their 56th anniversary.  They still do fight, but they surely have the same affection for each other.  They are our inspiration on what and how marriage should be.

Let me share other stories of my fellow entrepreneurs with their spouses.  Here are the secrets to their success in life and business.

Unrestricted love

Married for 44 years, Felipe and Tessie Gozon of GMA Network met and both studied at the University of the Philippines.  Because they were too young back then, they had an “on-off” relationship.  That lasted for 11 years before they decided to settle down.  They are compatible in business and family matters.  Their give-and-take relationship is one of their secrets.  Each is willing to compromise and accept the shortcomings and faults of the other.  They have faith in each other.

Felipe keeps the balance between work and family. He and his children’s family live in the same house. He sees them every day. They all make it a point to bond and spend quality time together.  

For Felipe, success, like power and wealth, is fleeting.  He has learned over the years that it is best not to let success, power or wealth get into your head.

Commitment and communication

For 18 years, Johnlu Koa of The French Baker has been cooking special dishes for Marilou.  They see each other as true partners in life.  With Johnlu’s schedule as an entrepreneur, they make sure to commit to family activities.  They even bring their kids along business trips to involve them in their business mission.  They plan out early the travel schedules for the entire year in order to be present during important occasions of family and friends.

The couple stays strong by doing things and finding new interests together.  They also take advantage of business -problem-solving as an opportunity to communicate.  They attend Sunday masses and social functions as a couple.

Mutual respect

Since 1976, S.L. Agritech’s Henry Lim Bon Liong and Rita have been married for 37 beautiful years.  It took him four years to court for her sweet “yes.” 

Henry’s father passed away on a business trip in February 1976.  Under Chinese tradition, he should get married within 100 days of his father’s death or wait for another three years.  Since they have also been together for four years, Henry and Rita decided to get married.

For Henry, it is never easy to balance business and family, especially if they are involved in many associations and social activities.  Mutual respect and understanding are their secrets.


Marine Resources Development Corporation’s Lee Hiong and Rosalind Wee have been married for 42 years. They were high school classmates and friends. Their secrets to a successful marriage are simple: they both deposit a lot of sweet and romantic memories. So, when marriage becomes hard and rough, their memories are always there.

With their business schedule as entrepreneurs, the couple schedules their family trips in the country or abroad at the beginning of the year. Sunday is always a family day for them. They all eat together for lunch or dinner. When challenges come, they always remember their family values. They believe that family should always be first.

Love and work

DJ Sta. Ana and Karen Davila have been married for almost 12 years. They were together for six years before getting married. That’s a total of 18 years together.

They first met in GMA7. He was a desk editor and she was a news reporter and anchor. Their work allows them to have countless things in common. The couple has been blessed with two boys, David and Lucas.

DJ is workaholic and Karen has three daily live programs and a weekly magazine program. They are very grateful to be working in a profession they both love and to be serving the public through broadcast. Their secrets to a successful marriage are acceptance, kindness and patience. There are imperfections, but there is mutual respect. They speak kind words to each other and correct each other in a very honest and gentle way.

Simplicity and harmony

Foodlink Group and Central Mall Group’s Rikki and Beng Dee first met during their grade school years. Coincidentally, the two met again during college years in a party and got married after a year. They are also celebrating their 30th anniversary this September.

According to Rikki, while he is the boss at the office, his wife is the boss at home. Respect and understanding are the couple’s secret.

Family time is always a priority for them while managing their business. During the early days, he used to bring his family along on meetings, store visits and jobsite inspection. Now, he involves his family by assigning them tasks to start and join their family business. Dinner is always fun as the family discusses various aspect about business, current events, and food. They have a happy family that everyone works for.

Temptations will always be there. For Rikki, it is a choice between something temporary and something forever which is for everyone. And it is an easy choice.

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