Dr. Emiliano Hudtohan

Educator, Business Writer, Industry Expert and Entrepreneur

Funes and Agno pedicabs

News Paper Segment: Green Light

Published, Manila Standard Today February 27, 2012 This article is a continuation of my January column on “Freshmen and entrepreneurs Agno”.  Two research teams from business organization (Busorga C32 and C37) at the De La Salle College of Business provided valuable inputs to this piece. Although I was a resident of Agno for almost 30 years, and have known the Funes couple jointly manage their pedicabs, I did not get a total picture of their business until these two teams did a research.

Research teams
Team Derick Flores with Kristel Venturina, Vhea Ocampo, Nico Tan and Mark Ong and Team Enrico Ramos with Inigo De La Torre with Marc de los Reyes, Martin Lim, and Kyle Lim interviewed Mr. Nanding Punes and his wife, Mrs. Esmy Punes.According to them, Nanding and Esmy were delighted to know that they were practicing the management skills of planning, leading, controlling and organizing (PLOC). In return, the team members were surprised to know that the basics of management described by Schermerhorn in their textbook are being done by street-smart people like the Funes couple.  There was a realization that at Br. Andrew Gonzalez FSC Hall we discussed the fundamentals of management; but it was along the street of Agno that the micro entrepreneurs put PLOC into action.

P 4,000 capital
Today, Nanding and Esmy Funes own and operate 46 pedicabs (trisikad, foot pedal-driven), two kuligligs (powered by rice-thresher engine), and one tricycle (motorbike with a sidecar).  In 1997, with a capital of Pesos 4,000.00 from Esmy’s father, they bought a pre-owned pedicab and Nanding himself was the driver for four years. His was earning then an average of Pesos 400.00 a day. According to Esmy, ”Hindi kami nagpaplano pa noon. Basta minomonitor ko lang yung pera kasi graduate naman ako ng [business] management.”  But to supplement their operational expenses and start up capital, Nanding admitted that they borrow money from a ‘Bombay’.  According to him a brand new pedicab is Pesos 12,000.00 and a segunda mano is Pesos 8,000.00.  A mechanical engineering student drop-out, he and his wife decided to expand their business by buying ‘old bicycles and old side cars’ and assembled them into pedicabs.  He did the repair and with his wife they refurbish pedicabs by repainting the iron works and covering the sidecar with tarpaulins from ‘discarded advertisements’.

Nanding’s inspiration
Nanding and Esmy were inspired by Mr. Ronnie Bote, a pedicab operator in Tondo who owned some 70 pedicabs. Early on, they primarily relied on Ronnie’s practical tips in running their business. But when asked what his secret is in running one of the longest pedicab operations in Malate, he shared his experience and wisdom saying, “Tulungan lang talaga. At saka tiwala sa aking drivers.”  The pedicab drivers he hires are his relatives, friends of his relatives, and even scavengers who are referred to him. He wakes up early morning to check on the assigned drivers and at the same inspect pedicab tire pressure and other mechanical parts. Of necessary he immediately repairs them.

The financial strategy of Esmy is ‘savings before expenses’.  And she regularly goes to a bank in Harrison Plaza to maintain her account. She keeps a record of income, personal debts, driver’s debt, salaries, and impounded pedicab fees in a ledger.  However, for their business to expand they need to acquire more pedicabs. They resort to accessible source of capital by borrowing money from a ‘Bombay’ and they amortize their loan using their income from the boundary.  Two problems beset their operation: 1) tricycles that are not yet registered are impounded at Manila City Hall and 2. tricycles are stolen.  For impounded tricycles, Nanding and the driver jointly shoulder the fine on a 50-50 arrangement; for a stolen pedicab, he relies on the Bombay financing. He personally collects the ‘boundary’ from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM and attends to exigencies like impounded, missing pedicabs and maintenance inspection.

Driver’s benefits
On holidays, he does not collect the boundary which is considered the lowest rate in Malate area.  He allows the homeless scavengers to sleep inside the pedicab.  The driver determines the price for every ride of an ordinary passenger, depending on distance covered. However, foreigners who need assistance in locating his/her final destination pay and De La Salle students who are considered special passengers pay a premium price.  This means higher than the ordinary minimum price of Pesos 20.00 for short distance, Pesos 30.00 for medium distance and Pesos 40.00 for long distance.  The passenger may haggle for a lower price.

Flood transport service
The pedicabs are in demand during rainy season especially in flood-prone areas like Agno corner Quirino, Taft corner Quirino, and Castro corner Taft.  A pedicab service makes it possible for passenger to reach dry land without taking off his/shoes or getting hemlines wet. The pedicabs plying along these routes dare to tread water where motorcars hesitate to pass; for De La Salle students, pedicabs bring them right at the doorstep of Br. Andrew Hall, DLSU Razon Sports Complex, entrance to De La Salle Gokongwei Building and De La Salle University back entrance along Agno St.

Lessons learned
Mr. and Mrs. Funes are residents of Tuason compound at Agno. This is where Sr. Christine Tan, RGS of the Good Shepherd congregation also lived and established the Alay Kapwa, a basic ecclesial community of the Catholic Church.  Having been exposed to the Christian ideals of Alay Kapwa, the Funes couple has become an example of entrepreneurial and conjugal partnership. For them, “practical knowledge, hard work and faith in God” empowered them to success.

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