How R. Lapid made his millions from chicharon
MANILA, Philippines (CORRECTED) - Have you ever wondered who R. Lapid is? The man synonymous to that salty, puffed pork rind that's a favorite of most Filipinos.
On ABS CBN's My Puhunan, host Karen Davila shed light into the nagging question we all ask every time we take a loud bite of the famous chicharon, who is R. Lapid?
Davila met Rey Lapid, owner of "R. Lapid's Chicharon and Barbecue", chopping away piles of pork skin himself inside his largest factory in Valenzuela City.
When asked why he's chopping kilos of pork skins himself despite having several employees, Lapid answered, "kailangan hands-on. I have to teach them, observe them if they are doing it right."
"Talagang sipag at tiyaga. Hindi pwedeng mayaman na ako, tigil na ako o pahinga na ako. Sa akin po, kahit ano pong edad, hangga't kaya ng pag-iisp, kaya pang kumilos, mas maganda po yoon. Sa akin po pinakamahirap ang walang ginagawa," he added.
Lapid, now at 62, first thought he could make money off the usually discarded pork skins at the age of 9, while watching his dad set up shop in a "palengke" at Quaipo.
"Nung nakita ko yung mga balat na parang tinatapon niya, sinabi ko sa kanya, 'tatay, bakit hindi po natin ipunin yang mga balat kaysa po itatapon lang?' Kaya inipon ko ng inipon," Lapid said.
"Bukod sa palengke na siya'y nakukunan ko ng mga balat-balat na parang intintapon, naikutan ko yung ibang nag-titinda. Pumayag naman ibigay sa akin yung mga balat. That was late 60s. Siyempre lalagay ko sa loob ng ref. Eh biglang nabisita ng father ko yung ref na punong-puno ng plastic --yun yung mga ipon kong balat ng baboy. Sabi ko litsonin niyo na para mayroon tayong additional product. So niluto niya. Nagkaroon kami ng additional chicharon sa tabi ng pwesto namin mismo," Lapid shared.
Lapid told Davila that it was the difficult times that he shared with his family that drove him to become successful. He credited his father as his inspiration, teaching him the importance of hard work and determination in the world of business.
"Talagang siya ay napakasipag po para supportahan kami ng mga anak niya. Kaya naging challenge din sa akin. Sabi ko, 'kailangan ko po talagang makatulong sa aking ama'. At pinagaaralan ko po talaga kung paano po ang tamang negosyo. Yun po ang naging mission ko na matututo din akong mag negosyo."
But back in 1974, at the age of 23, Lapid decided to put up his own "kainan" --- R. Lapid's Chicharon and Barbecue. Though, it didn't start out as a big of a hit that it is today, according to Lapid.
"Talagang pong napakahirap. Pero kailangan lang po talaga think positive. Lagi kong sinasabi sa sarili ko, 'Rey, sipag at tiyaga, makukuha mo rin yang itaas na yan!"
He started with selling pork and chicken barbecue, longganisa, tocino and his famous chicharon. Lapid said it was the combined effort from his wife and cousin that kept the business afloat during its early days.
"Katulong ko ang aking asawa na siyang taga tali-tali ng longanissa. Mayroon din akong pinsan na taga timpla-timpla ng tocino. Ako naman po taga taga-taga ng balat," said Lapid.
On the edge of bankruptcy
But Lapid almost went bankrupt when a venture abroad turned disastrous for him.
"Mayroon pong nagyaya sa akin sa USA...Magtatayo nang restuarant sa San Francisco. Big problem ko dun, wala akong mga katulong dahil kinakapos na yung capital. Ako lang po magisa," he confessed.
"Ako po ang cook. Hanggang sa closing ako maglilinis, ako magliligpit ng plato. Napakahirap po yung naging experience kong yoon," Lapid recalled.
So Lapid decided to close shop and return to the Philippines to start again.
"Pagdating ko dito sa Pilipinas, talagang zero ulit. Sabi ko Rey, 'challenge ito!'
And stepped up to the challenge, he did.
Today, Lapid owns more than a 100 branches of R. Lapid's Chicharon and Barbecue around the country. He even owns 2 resort hotels in Laguna, and managed to put up a six-storey mansion for his family.
When asked whether he could believe that selling chicharon would earn him millions, Lapid answered, "Ako rin mismo nagtataka pero siyempre po, kaya tayo naghanap-buhay, kaya tayo nag-nenegosyo ay kasi gusto po nating medyo yumaman. Lagi po nating iingatan ang ating future. Magkakaroon tayo ng mga anak, magkakaroon tayo ng mga apo, talagang ginawa ko talaga yung aking best para sa kanila."
As part of My Puhunan's program, Davila took Lapid to meet Mark and his wife, Rebecca Oracion.
Last December, the couple lost their first child, Adam, and are now largely in debt because of the hospital bills from the efforts to save their son.
"Parang tumigil po talaga ang mundo mo kasi parang kinuha agad siya ng diyos. Mahirap tanggapin," confessed Mark.
"Yung bill po namin sa hospital, inabot ng P187,000. Hanggang ngayon po mayroon po kaming pagkakautang sa ospital po kasi P50,000 lang po ang nahingi kong tulong mula sa mga charity," he added.
Mark, being an undergraduate, found it difficult to find a stable job. Desperate, they sold off almost everything they own just to meet their daily needs.
"Lahat po, pati yung mga binili kong set na mga plato at mga baso, binalik ko po siya lahat sa mga lalagyan. Kung pwede nga lang ibenta na tong kama eh o kaya mga kahoy dito sa kwarto tanggalin na lang din para mai-benta, para may pangtustos na rin," Mark tearfully said.
When Mark found out that Lapid was going to help him alleviate themselves out of debt, he said, "blessing po talaga ngayon kasi walang-wala talaga. Walang trabaho."
Along with giving Mark the tour of the factory and teaching him the process of making chicharon, Lapid also gave Mark a week supply of pork skin and kitchen utensils needed to be able to start his own chicharon business.
"Talagang tutulungan kita at bibigyan ng dapat inegosyo, itinda. Lahat tuturo ko sayo. Wala akong isisikreto sayo," Lapid said.
Lapid, as part of his gift, gave Mark some words of advice on starting a business, that he himself lived by.
"Kailangan talaga pag mag-nenegosyo ka, matutunan mo yung tamang sistema...and always focus on the positive. Trust yourself!"