Rhea Ylanan was once among thousands of commuters just coping with the city's overstretched public transportation system.
Getting to work at the online store Half The Price Clothing (HTP), Rhea made do with whatever public utility vehicle was available. And, being a supervisor at the store meant that she could not use the commute as an excuse to be late.
She managed, but there was no doubt that her commute was a daily exercise in patience and perseverance.
Rhea was a valuable employee. Her boss, recognizing this, moved to make life easier for her.
Ricca del Rosario, the 31-year-old chief operating officer (CEO) of HTP, offered Rhea her own car at an amortization of only PHP2,500 per payday to be taken from her salary.
It was a sweetheart deal.
Interviewed by PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) on July 10, 2020, via Facebook Messenger, Ricca reveals why it all came to pass.
She says, "Si Rhea, siya na talaga iyong one of the first employees. She was one of the first three assistants na nakuha ko during the starting years namin.
"'Tapos nagkataon rin na since siya iyong pinakamatagal, siya na rin naging head ng mga employees namin ngayon."
Ricca started the Bulacan-based business in 2014.
"Normal online seller lang ako," Ricca narrates, "na nagbebenta ng used clothes ko, ng mga pre-loved.
"So, parang side racket ko while having my full-time job back then. Ako nagpa-pack and all, hanggang sa luckily, nag-expand siya.
"From a one-woman team, 20 plus na kami. Si Rhea iyong head nun."
Ricca gave the car to Rhea on June 21, 2020. She shared the good news on her business' Instagram page and her own Facebook account on June 8, the same day Rhea celebrated her birthday.
Part of Ricca's Facebook post says: "Bilib ako sayo, sobrang desidido mo.
"In three days, natuto ka mag-drive!
"O 'di ba, back to work ka na, wala kang choice!
"'Di mo na puwedeng sabihin na walang masakyan hahaha. Labyu."
Ricca tells PEP.ph, "Noong nagsimula ang pandemic, siya ang pinakamalayo ang bahay.
"Wala siyang masakyan. Iyong asawa niya, may motor, kaso bawal ang angkas.
"Kailangang kailangan ko talaga siya sa office dahil siya iyong next sa akin sa pagma-manage, e...
"Nag-stay naman siya hanggang ngayon naabutan na niya ang pandemic...
"Ang naisip ko, ibili siya ng kotse. Super deserving naman talaga kasi during the pandemic.
"Kahit naka-work from home siya, kami talaga iyong laging magkausap.
"Pero iyong kotse, car plan iyon. It’s a plan na hindi masakit for her.
"It’s just PHP2,500 per payday in five years. Wala siyang kahit anong interest.
"Kumbaga, binigyan ko lang siya ng car tapos babayaran sa madaling paraan lang.
"Tuwang-tuwa naman siya. Hindi siya nag-think twice, kasi parang sabi niya, hindi niya maisip na magkaka-kotse siya. Kaya grinab na niya iyong opportunity."
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In the same Instagram post, Ricca talked about how she started her business.
"Ang awkward lang magbigay ng mga titles kasi we started really small. I never call myself CEO nga. Pero mukhang mapipilitan dahil ganoon sa skin-care world.
"Sa business card ko, naka-blank lang ang position. It’s just my name. I don’t know, pero hiya ako...
"Sobrang love ko lahat ng HTP Angels (staff) and HTP Girls (customers). Parati ko sinasabi, walang HTP kung wala kayo.
"Sa lahat ng ginagawa ko sa business, ang nga taong tumutulong dito ang priority ko, kayo ang laman ng WHY's ko."
In August, Ricca will be launching Looca, another online store which she describes as "HTP's skincare spin-off."
As her business continues to grow, the CEO says she keeps herself grounded.
She says in her post: "We are heavily affected by the pandemic. We had to sacrifice a lot for the common good, pero forward pa rin tayo kahit gaano pa kabagal.
"We will continue to reach for our dreams, tulungan lang tayo."
Interestingly, Ricca's online-selling ventures opened doors in the social-media arena.
"It happened by accident. May biglang nag-survey sa office ng Bulacan, parang research company.
"'Tapos nakipagkuwentuhan na rin after survey. Yun pala, kasama nila yung VP ng Globe myBusiness, nag-o-observe.
"Natuwa siya sa story of how we started. Parang a few weeks after that survey, I got a call from them to be their ambassador."
GlobemyBusiness has been helping small and medium-sized enterprises cope with the new normal.
Rica's deal with the brand—with its Internet bundles, Cloud services, hotline solutions, and back-end services—has given HTP a welcome, extra boost.