CELEBRATING ENTREPRENEURIAL EXCELLENCE: PCCI-Iloilo honors outstanding Ilonggo entrepreneurs

By Mariela Angella Oladive

Ilonggo entrepreneurs who demonstrated remarkable achievements and made significant contributions to the local business landscape were recognized during the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) Iloilo Chapter’s second annual Ilonggo Entrepreneur Awards on December 27, 2023, at the UPV Performing Arts Hall.

The awards featured the following categories: Aspiring Ilonggo Entrepreneur, Young Ilonggo Entrepreneur, and the coveted Ilonggo Entrepreneur of the Year.

The nominees included Ediscape, Flour, Healthy Kitchen, Huzons, Max Pillows, Prometheus, and Rezbin.

Ilonggo Entrepreneur of the Year

In recognition of his exceptional leadership and impact on the community, Gerardo “Gerry” Guadarrama, the driving force behind Biscocho Haus, was named Ilonggo Entrepreneur of the Year.

In his acceptance speech, Guadarrama attributed the success to his parents, who started Biscocho Haus 48 years ago.

“It’s a great honor to be bestowed with this award tonight, but the real honor belongs to my parents,” Guadarrama stated and further added how his education in the US, made possible by the family business, had been integral for turning the company around.

Reflecting on the long history of Biscocho Haus, Guadarrama highlighted the company’s growth after overcoming setbacks, emphasizing its role in preserving Ilonggo’s culinary heritage.

Aspiring Ilonggo Entrepreneur

The Aspiring Ilonggo Entrepreneur of the Year 2023, an award given to entrepreneurs who have the entrepreneurial acumen and are committed to addressing society’s issues and problems, was clinched by Matthew Cristi Martirez of Rezbin, who also secured the Merit Awards for the same category under the tech subcategory.

Reflecting on the challenging journey of founding Rezbin, Martirez shared, “When we started Rezbin, it wasn’t an easy decision to make, especially after two failed startups in Manila prior… If you really want to be an entrepreneur, you will find a way to do it.” His determination led him back to Iloilo, driven by a belief in the city’s potential.

Homer Deloso of Ediscape received the Aspiring Ilonggo Entrepreneur Merit Award for the non-tech category.

Young Ilonggo Entrepreneur

Myka Ella Perlas of Healthy Kitchen received both the Young Entrepreneur of the Year and Sustainable Entrepreneur Award for her positive impact on the community.

In her message, Perlas shared her aspirations behind her decade-old venture, which aimed to challenge perceptions about healthy food, proving that it is not boring or bland but can be delicious and nutritious.

Under the same category, Daily Guardian VP External and Prometheus CEO Lcid Crescent Fernandez received the Innovative Entrepreneur of the Year award for developing a new and innovative business model.

Other notable awards included the Social Entrepreneur Award for Tracy Fontanillas of Flour, and the Creative Entrepreneur Award given to Levy Anne Samson Amosin of Huzons.

The judging panel, composed of distinguished individuals from various sectors, meticulously evaluated the nominees based on innovative business practices and community impact.

The criteria focused on excellence, resilience, and transformative contributions to the Ilonggo business landscape.

The recipients of major awards were given a unique trophy designed by Marzz Capanang. The trophy was inspired by the Tariktik, also known as the Visayan Hornbill, symbolizing the exceptional qualities possessed by an inspiring entrepreneur from Iloilo, such as resilience, demonstrated by the bird’s ability to soar through difficult challenges.

In an interview, PCCI President Fulbert Woo highlighted the chamber’s commitment to recognizing and celebrating the entrepreneurial spirit that drives economic growth and community development in the region.

He also cited the significance of instilling a sense of purpose among the youth engaged in business.

“We want to recognize and celebrate young entrepreneurs because we would like to encourage that while you are young and doing business, you have to think beyond personal gain. It’s not just about filling our pockets; we need to achieve goals with a purpose — goals that involve social awareness, innovation, and continuity,” Woo said.

The Ilonggo Entrepreneur Awards 2023 served not only as a recognition of outstanding achievements but also as a call to action for entrepreneurs to contribute positively to the community. The event highlighted the dynamic and innovative spirit of Ilonggo entrepreneurs, setting the stage for continued growth and success in the region.