Business in Batac, Ilocos Norte

Today, Emy and I made our way south to Batac, Ilocos Norte.  Batac is one of those first class municipalities caught up in the “City/Not a City” dispute generated by a Supreme Court ruling.  “Founded” (in Western speak) in 1587, it is one of the oldest towns in Ilocos Norte and is sometimes called the “Home of Great Leaders.”  Among those who hailed from Batac are the former president Ferdinand Marcos, Fr. Gregorio Aglipay (a member of the revolutionary movement against Spain and later the USA, and founder of the Philippine Independent Church), and General Artemio Ricarte (fought against Spain and the USA, called the “Father of the Philippine Army”).

Only a truly worthwhile venture would have us leave the dry safety of our house to travel through the high winds and rain extending from Typhoon Morakot (aka Kiko, currently coursing across Taiwan).  Today’s trip was neither for sightseeing nor for shopping.  Today was the blessing and opening day of a new business venture.  Our cousin, Annalee, (the daughter of the tiangi (sari-sari) [small store] owning auntie living across the street), struck out as a partner in a travel agency called “DSJ Travel & Tours.”

Survival Cebuano

In many forums and discussions, I’ve either read or heard about Filipinos (and expats) complaining of the lack of opportunity available in the Philippines.  Here was an example that shows not all is as it seems.  Striking out on a business venture is difficult, even in good economic times.  The courage of these partners opening a travel agency, of all things, is commendable.  The agency is located just across the street from the municipal building, in a small, two desk office above an “Ukay-Ukay” [used clothing store] – plenty of foot traffic.

Like many travel agencies, DSJ offers passport services, inter-island and international travel and tour bookings, etc.  What sets DSJ apart is their inclusion of local and provincial tours.  This is something that is a little lacking at other agencies.  DSJ is readily taking advantage of Department of Tourism reportsof Ilocos Norte being in the top ten of tourist destinations in the Philippines, and plan on offering premier service to tourists as well as local and provincial residents.

Computers, printers, facsimile machines and telephones at the ready, Annalee and agency staff are open for business.  The positive atmosphere and the drive to provide top-notch service to clients and walk-in customers are paramount in importance.  Building up a clientele by a young start-up agency is difficult to say the least.  DSJ is not thinking small, however.  Providing travel services for the commercial and business communities as well as for tourists are among their planned goals.   Even the municipal offices directly across the street are in DSJ’s crosshairs.

Operations of this type are still viable business opportunities in the Philippines.  Unlike many Western countries, where individuals can procure airline tickets, book cruises and the like via the internet, the intermediary still provides the desired service of cutting through red tape, eliminate the need to wait in long lines, interpreting and complying with confusing regulations, etc.  By the time most individuals in the Philippines will be able to mimic their Western counterparts, DSJ will find a niche where it can still fill a travel or tour void that would remain.

Mabuhay!  DSJ Travel & Tours, and may all your opportunities be met positively and profitably.

I should mention that this is not an advertisement or endorsement for any product(s), service(s) or business(es).  It is a salute to those who boldly venture into the world of business, even when others speak in terms of problems, woes and impossibilities.

I took the outdoor pictures during short breaks between strong gusts of wind and downpours.  The photo of the municipal building was a lucky shot – moments later the rain placed a slight haze between the building and me, making photography not likely.  We plan on returning to Batac later this year and I will provide a better sightseeing report at that time.

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PaulK

Paul is a CPA and a retired tax accountant, having served companies and corporations of all sizes, as well as individuals, in public accounting practices. Prior to what he refers to as his "real job," he served a 24-year career in the U.S. Navy, retiring as a Master Chief Petty Officer. It was during this career that he met and married his OFW spouse of 40+ years, Emy, while stationed in London, UK. (Though he pleaded for the assignment, Paul never received orders to the Philippines.) A "Phil-phile" from an early age, Paul remembers his first introduction to the Philippines in the primary grades of a parochial elementary school where, one week each year, children donated their pennies to purchase school supplies, food and other necessities for Filipino children in need. That love for Filipinos continues to this day. Calling Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte--in the far northwestern part of Luzon--home (just about as far away from Davao as one can be while still being on one of the major islands) Paul prefers a more relaxed provincial life style, and willingly shares a different view of the Philippines from "up north"!

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Tommy
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Hi Paul, so are you an invester in this venture ? and more importantly can you get good deals on flights ! 😉

John Miele
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John Miele

Andy: Thank you! Glad the move went well for you. Andy Griffith isn't on our cable here… I'll watch when I'm going through the States (That, and some of the older US Shows).

Jody
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Jody

Paul I have been self employed all my life and it has its ups and downs.

I agree with you that courage is needed to open a business; and particularly in these difficult times. Like many others I often rhyme off the usual list; research, capital, marketing and all the rest of the song. I rarely mention courage and the the sweaty, clammy fear that walks side by side with you at the beginning.

You hit the nail on the head when you mentioned Annalee’s courage in starting the business. I wish her all the success in the world.

Best

Jody

Paul
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Paul

Hi Jody – Yes, Annalee is a perfect example of an industrious and brave Ilocana. I’m sure she has that fear, but outsteps it as she walks. I’ll pass along your wishes; thanks for helping expose what start-up business owners live with.

Tyleen
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Tyleen

Hi Paul,
I wish Annalee all the best.
The only advice I can give a new business is:
– don’t be afraid to step outside the box
– always,always have business cards on your person everywhere you go
(you never know when the opportunities pop up)
– don’t be afraid to ask for someone’s business
– pray every day!!!!

MindanaoBob
Guest

Hi Paul – Ha ha!!! Hey, thanks for stopping by, I hope you will become a regular here!

Hey, you're in the Philippines, viva la difference! I mean, if Lola was having a nice time, you should enjoy yourself too! 😉 Hey, who knows…. she might be looking for a foreign husband, after all! 😯

We certainly do live in a land of many interesting things, don't you think, Paul?

Again, welcome!

John Rodgers
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John Rodgers

I love the spirit to open anew business. It’s not easy, and things can , and sometimes do get tight. Heck if I wasn’t married, and was walking buy. I would buy a ticket just to see that wonderful ;)smile. BEST WISHES for her becoming a success……..i2f

Rusty
Guest

It is funny how most temptations are not good for us but that’s not always the case. There is beer, some of the best in the word bottled right here, there is the water, not too dangerous on of the more wholesome temptations, there are cigars and I have a chest infection right now, for most sun worshipping is a temptation that can come back to bite.. I don’t have that one. Almost everyone of us has the temptation of spending more money than we should. There’s the temptation to pick up that pretty red banded cone shell, if its… Read more »

Paul
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Paul

Hi John – Will pass along your wishes. Prior to moving to Batac a couple of weeks ago, I used to see that smile every morning while Annalee waited for the bus (I’d be out walking the dogs). 🙂

Jay McDowall
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Jay McDowall

I have been to Batac. That is where Marcos is now. Yeah being from Hawaii, I though all Filipinos were Ilocano, and that was their language. I know better now. My wife is from Laoag, and most of my friends have ties to the Ilocos region. I hope the business does well. Esp, since I heard rumors of a direct flight from Honolulu to Laoag in the future.

Paul
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Paul

Thanks, Jay – I’ll pass your hopes along. Every bit of encouragement is important for a start-up business!

Direct HNL-LAO flights are in the rumor stage all right. I remember when Taiwan, Honk Kong and Mainland China were rumors, too. Now, Laoag is an “International” airport serving those locations. 😉

I’ll have to keep an eye on runway construction/modification projects. Don’t know whether the runways are long enought for a long-haul jet.

Mike in Canada
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Mike in Canada

Hi Paul I came across this great web site and I have noticed your article and the mention of DJS Travel in the North. Maybe you can give there conact info I could not find it on the web. I will be traveling there in January and require some flights and rental vehicles.

Thanks

Mike in Canada
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Mike in Canada

Thanks I will be in Ilocos Sur Candon City with my girlfriend for the month of January and am looking for flights from Taiwan to Laoag and would also like to book some tours hotels etc. I will give them a call

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