Icon of Entrepreneurship



Atty. Dominador D. Buhain
Awardee – Icon of Entrepreneurship

(Delivered before the Graduate School of Business of San Beda College, Conference Hall, San Beda College , Manila on March 3, 2012)




Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. I would like to thank the San Beda College School of Entrepreneurship through the Dean of Graduate School Dr. Ramon Ricardo Roque for inviting me and giving me with an opportunity to say something on the topic “Entrepreneurial Best Practices”.


It is the dream of every alumnus to be invited back to his alma mater no longer to study but to be recognized and be allowed to share his experiences and hopefully inspire current students.


It is truly an honor for me to be here today in the midst of bright, young and intelligent individuals who are destined to be the realized hope of the fatherland, to quote our National Hero Dr. Jose Rizal.


I was told that my topic should center on best practices on management and entrepreneurship. I guess as students we are all raring to find out for the magic formula for success like a guideline on how to walk through a pathway which would remove all the obstacles to obtain a profitable and problem-free business.


The elusive formula is hard to find. There is no magic formula. There are no guaranteed solutions. Entrepreneurship and management are concepts that continue to evolve and success comes to those who are qualified to embrace change.


Now I don’t want to bore all of you by giving a lecture on various theories. I am sure you have enough of those in your classes.


Allow me to pose the following questions: What does it take to be a good manager and successful entrepreneurs? Is it a college degree? A master’s degree from the Ivy League School? Successful or well known parents? Diligence and hardwork? Lots of money and capital? Lakas ng loob? Each success story is unique and the ingredients for each are as varied as it can possibly get.


I only have to site the late Steve Jobs and now the very famous Mark Zuckerberg, as examples to prove my point. Both did not have profile of a successful entrepreneur. Mr. Jobs dropped out of Reed College only after one semester and was even unceremoniously removed from the Apple Board in 1985.


Similarly, Mr. Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard after his sophomore year. Normally, they would have been classified under “those not likely to make it” because of their failure to complete their studies.


But both proved the stereotype wrong as Mr. Jobs went to build an empire that is now Apple by creating gadgets and changing the way people communicate while Mr. Zuckerberg, the 2010 Time Man of the Year, revolutionized the way we connect to each other through Facebook and now holds the distinction of being one of the world’s youngest billionaires.


Now before you get ideas of dropping out of school, let me point some of our local business heroes who completely have opposite profile. They have strong belief in education and that they pursued their studies to better prepare themselves in the competition.


There is the father of Philippine retail, Henry Sy who acknowledged the importance of education and persisted in going to school whenever possible. Though his education at the FEU was cut of short, his thirst for learning continued as he was eventually conferred honorary degree after showing excellence in his chosen field. He not only owns the SM Malls but has also established his presence in the banking and real estate industries.


We have also the eight (8th) generation of the Zobel de Ayalas who were schooled abroad, finished with distinction and now have managed to grow an already sizable business empire.


There are others of course like Ed Sia of Mang Inasal fame, the civil engineers who founded the Megawide Construction, and Washington Sycip, who founded SGV and the Asian Institute of Management, just to name afew.


So what is my point in giving those examples? To reiterate once more, there are no hard and fast rules to bring about a successful business. A college or masters degree should not be viewed as a guarantee for success but admittedly they can be stepping stones and can provide an edge in this increasingly competitive world of business. Looking at the stories of those people I have used as examples, we can see some commonalities: great ideas, guts, vision, hard work and perseverance.


Allow me to say something where I came from. With respect to my educational background, I am a product of San Beda College where I studied from Grade One up to Fourth Year High School thus earning for myself a gold loyalty medal, a graduate of Bachelor of Science Business Administration from the De La Salle College and an alumnus of the Ateneo College of Law. I took the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education at the University of the Philippines.
Over the years I have been joining seminars related to the industry where I come from on the belief that I do not have inherent talent and that therefore I, characterized by mediocrity, need to survive amidst the competitive world through education.


I am now the Chairman and President of the Rex Group of Companies (Rex Group) after succeeding the founders: my stepfather Mr. Juanito Fontelera two (2) years ago and mother Jovita Dungca who faced her Creator ten(10) years ago.


The Rex Group is comprised of the Rex Book Store, Incorporated, Rex Printing Company, Incorporated, Rex Book International, Rex Crown Publications, Incorporated, Rex Oasis of Arts and Culture Foundation and JJ Property and Realty Company. They employ around a total of one thousand (1000) associates.


We have published todate Six Thousand Two Hundred Twenty Six (6226) preelementary, elementary, secondary tertiary and post collegiate including lawbooks wherein Forty Five Percent(45%) thereof is active. We publish around two hundred (200) titles per year.


We consider writers or authors as number one in the hierarchy of importance in publishing as explicitly mandated by the founder Mr. Juanito F. Fontelera (Mr. Fontelera) my stepfather, which could help explain our comparatively numerous titles and correlative authors.


Rex Book Store started from a humble beginning with my real father Dominador M. Buhain, graduate of Bachelor of Laws and my mother Jovita Dungca who finished with a Pharmaceutical Degree sixty two (62) years ago.


My father succumbed to an illness leading to his death at an early age. Upon my fathers’ death, offers of marital concession emanated from adjacent bookstore owner at the left who was a Chinaman and the adjacent bookstore owner at the right who came from Zambales.


We are lucky my mother has chosen the industrious bookstore owner at the right wherein his bookstore was absorbed by the Rex Book Store. Instead of confining the activities into the buying and selling of books he ventured into publishing law books and elementary and high school textbooks.


After the bookselling and book publishing business has started to stabilize, the underinsured bookstore was razed to the ground because of a conflagration. To resurrect I assumed the position of the first salesman traveling across the Archipelago carrying a prayer book entitled God Save Me which was miraculously not damaged. (12th Slide)I am proud to announce that the clientele I have developed during these early years continued to patronize us todate under a stronger relationship.


During the initial years business is conducted in a highly personalized manner. During the opening of classes my stepfather and myself while overseeing the store perform the task of putting the books in the paper bags and giving the money to the acting cashier oftentimes my mother or wife Cynthia.


Due to personalized care together with the free cover and engraving on lawbooks the patronage has gone up. It would be a usual sight that while our store was filled to its capacity the neighboring bookstores did not have as much.


This could have been the turning point for eventual improvement of the business particularly in carving a niche in the legal publishing field where known authors started to submit their manuscripts for publications.


This could help also explain why it took me ten (10) years to finish the law course. The professional and fatherly approach of my stepfather and the budgetary expertise of my mother combined with my humble efforts brought humble progress to the business.


This personalized approach of personally visiting clients was cascaded to my son, Don Timothy, whom I had waited over the years to shine academically at the Ateneo and Dela Salle College so that I would go on stage to pin a medal similar to other proud parents. I, unfortunately, was not lucky as there were even occasions that you could not see him in the graduation march to receive the diploma.


When he worked and studied at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM), the much awaited moment to pin the medal has come to a realization because he obtained the grade of superior excellence on the newly opened course of Master in Entrepreneurship at the AIM.


When I learned about it, I asked myself whether it was by design or accident? The professor affirmed that Don indeed deserved the honors. Due to the fact that the success of a business would depend a lot on the ability to interact with people and Don does not belong to the shy or silent type, interacting with the Lopezes, Ayalas and other big personalities is a walk in the park for him.


Due to his gregarious nature coupled with his ability to tap the cream of the crop for business assistance, he has catapulted the business to its present humble stature with myself being tagged along, being his father. Love and respect of parents and the elderly are important requirements within my wife’s clan.


During the initial years of the business, another big challenge that confronted us was the labor militancy of the union which was then an afilliate of the Kilusang Mayo Uno. My legal background and my little connection could have helped in ensuring the survival of the business over the unreasonable demands of the union.


It could serve as a blessing in disguise as we realize now on the importance of professionalizing management and that non-routinary and important matters should be decided upon collectively by top management and/ or board of directors as contra-distinguished with individual decision making unknown to others. Company rules should be formulated and documented.


Upon the recommendation of Don, the family members attended a seminar at the AIM entitled “Survival and Progress of Family Business”.


It gave us opportunity to document the following values practiced by the founders:

Love of God
Love of Country
Good Morals
Leadership by Example
Maximizing Time and Resources
Palabra de Honor /Word of Honor
Entrepreneurial Spirit
Lofty Ambition
Habit of Savings
Dignity of Labor

With the above-cited values as the foundations, the family members gathered together and with the aid of consultants formulated the following vision, mission and core values of at least the two important entities, the Rex Bookstore and the Rex Printing Company:

Be the leader in providing educational books, materials and services, globally accepted for relevance and performance:

Relevance in:
Contribution to education;
Keeping pace with the world at large;
Making its place in the educational landscape.

Performance through:
Product and service quality;
Business excellence

We commit to develop and publish books and other supplemental materials that will enable students and learners to contribute and excel in a complex, rapidly evolving, global. highly technological and environmentally fragile world.


We commit to recognize and develop the talents of authors and other architects of knowledge as partners in cascading thoughts and learning.


We commit to build a robust, sustainable business that will redound to the welfare and benefit of our  customers, authors, employees, business partners, shareholders, and the communities we serve.


These sets of pronouncements serve as guidepost to be cascaded and to be internalized by the staff and to be made operational by the work unit(s) concerned. In view of the physical impossibility of giving personal touch to varied phases of doing business operation as in the past with the expanded set up, the hiring of professional managers with correlative high remunerations appears to be indispensable.


As mentioned earlier, sister companies have additionally been organized to identify and accentuate their predominant functions to promote efficiency towards greater profitability.


Recently, during the sales rally at Baguio your humble representation was given accolade for being tagged as the “Greatest Salesman” being one of the leaders of the Band after my parents. They acknowledge that the humble infrastructures would not have been built without my intercession.


It is a nice feeling if management is somehow professionalized and that members of the family are in harmony with one another and that you are being credited through predominant efforts of my son Don.


We were also reminded in that rally through the Institutional Sales Manager that though the year of the dragon is supposedly an abundant year, complacency should not set in especially in the light of recent developments like technological change wherein traditional books are being replaced by e-books and other developments negating business survival thus prudence and foresight are indispensably needed during these times and more importantly God’s intervention.


In the effort of the company to help in improving the quality of education to meet the demands of the 21st century, REX Book Store in cooperation with the ABS-CBN Bayan Academy and Knowledge Channel recently held the First Excellence in Educational Transformation Awards (EETA) wherein seven (7) schools were given recognition for their efforts at improving the quality of their educational programs and offerings.


This year’s winners are St. Paul College (SPC) in San Rafael, Bulacan; Assumpta Technical High School (ATHS) in San Simon, Pampanga; Pembo Elementary School (PES) in Makati City; Claret School of Zamboanga (CSZ) in Zamboanga City; Ednas School of San Carlos (ESSC) in San Carlos, Pangasinan; Colegio San Agustin (CSA) in Makati City; and Elizabeth Seton School (ESS) in Las Piñas City.


The winners exemplify transformation in the sense that it refers to the ability of the school to innovate and manage changes, to improve and turn around a difficult situation and to upgrade or uplift education standards.


Due to the modernized ways of management, modesty aside, I am proud to say that I, aside from being the President-Chairman of the Rex Group, am likewise now the President Emeritus of the Philippine Educational Publishers’ Association or PEPA, President of Philippine Printing Technical Foundation or PPTF, President of Ayala Heights Village Association or AHVA, President of Asia Pacific Publishers’ Association or APPA, Chairman of La Consolacion College Mendiola Board of Trustees, Vice-President of Asean Book Publishers’ Association and membership in other noteworthy associations or entities.


I am proud to say also that I could be considered the most traveled in the Asia-Pacific countries for having visited two hundred eighty nine (289), two hundred three (203) countries under the Travelers Century Club listing and one hundred eighty (180) countries in the United Nations’ Listing.


Others would attest that I am also the Father of RA 8047 or the Book Publishing Development Act as I spearheaded the passage of the law in my capacity as PEPA President. All taxes related to books like the taxes on importation of raw materials to be used in book production shall not be imposed. Machineries destined to be used in book production are subject to tax holidays. Book publishing and printing is now included in the Investment Priority Program.


As my friend Dean Roque would attest, I am a cancer survivor.


Allow me to reiterate what I have mentioned earlier that although there is no hard and fast rule for success if you are industrious, if you wake up early in the morning, and adopt all guidelines to succeed giving importance to good health, there is a chance you will receive the same if blessing would be poured in.


Harmony in the family setting or business likewise is something to be pursued as it is an important ingredient in the law of success, succession and happiness.


More importantly, whatever life and blessings I am enjoying now is due to God’s intercession.


Thank you very much Lord for allowing us to stay in business. Thank you to each and everyone of you for bearing with me in these past minutes.

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