Amid the prolonged lockdown that has forced many small business owners to shut down their operations, there are the stalwarts who struggle to keep going for the sake of their employees.
Among those hanging in there is actor David Licauco, owner of the Turks Shawarma restaurant and Lucky Bunny Milk Tea shop both in Valenzuela City and the Alpha Fitness Club in Taft, Manila.
David talked about the difficulties of running a service business amid COVID-19 in this exclusive interview with PEP.ph, (Philippine Entertainment Portal) via phone on August 7, 2020.
He admitted it would be more practical to close shop than bleed his business dry, but realized it would result in people losing their means of livelihood.
He said, "As much as possible, to be honest, it’s not feasible for me na i-open pa rin yung restaurants because mahina yung sales.
"But then, naawa naman ako sa mga employees ko. Siyempre naka-build na din naman ako ng relationship sa kanila.
"Wala akong kinikita and medyo down pa ng konti. Pero kung i-close ko yung mga businesses ko, kawawa naman sila. So ayun na lang, sympathy na din."
Meanwhile, his parents have also been paying for the personal protective gears and vaccination of the truck drivers and delivery personnel of their businesses that David helps manage.
These are a fast-food franchise in Bicol, a GPS tracking provider called Hitechfleet, and a trucking company called Fastpoint Enterprises.
The actor said, "Kasi nagpa-flu shots kami ng family ko and then sabi ng dad ko, ipa-flu shots din namin kasi for their well-being din naman.
"And mas okay pa rin na safe yung employees. Siyempre ayaw naman namin din silang magkasakit."
To help subsidize his shops and create new jobs, and because "everything's going digital na," David has ventured into e-commerce.
He launched the website AsNatureIntended.ph that sells healthy made-to-order dishes he has branded Sóbra Comfort Filipino Food.
He told PEP.ph, "Dati naman, business-minded na ako, pero I wanted businesses before na medyo madali.
"Those are franchises e. Pero ngayon, sabi ko sa sarili ko, I want a business that is scalable, na parang pwede lumaki in the long run."
A Business Management degree graduate of the De La Salle University College of St. Benilde, David recalled he was not a model student when he was in high school and college.
"Like tipong hindi pumapasok, ganun," he said.
But when he started going into business, he did thorough research and studied hard.
The ALV talent recounted, "Ayoko naman na papasok sa industry ng wala akong alam.
"Nag-start akong mag-aral. Slow start lang, e. Nagsimula lang akong magbasa ng libro.
"Parang three pages nga lang kaya ko nung simula, e. Hanggang sa umabot ng ten, 'tapos nakatapos na ako ng book.
"Tapos sabi ko, ‘Why not mag-aral ako? Why not mag-enrol ako?' Talagang nag-aral ako.
"Nag-online course ako, maraming online courses. Took up marketing, took up digital marketing, design thinking, operations. I was really focused.
"Medyo mahirap siyempre. Wala akong tulog. Natutulog ako 2 a.m. kasi ang dami kong inagawang content and non-stop searching nga sa potential merchants."
David said he thought of investing in small businesses as his back-up, having long realized the ups and downs of a showbiz career.
He explained, "To be honest, nung start nung lockdown, I was a bit disappointed especially because I was supposed to do several shows.
"I was supposed to do another business na restaurant. Lahat kasi siya na-put on hold, actually, nawala nga.
"Parang uncertain time ngayon, e. To be honest, sa showbiz, hindi naming alam kung kailan kami babalik as well as for everybody din naman.
"Pero suwerte pa rin ako na nasa bahay ako ngayon. Parang I realized na why not make it an opportunity.
"I feeling like in every crisis that we get is also the same amout of opportunity.
"When the pandemic happened, parang naisip ko na kailangan ko nang mag-seryoso and all that."