Triumphing over tragedies

Glen and Maribel Morales proudly showed their diverse products. This is their testament that success can be achieved when we do not give up on life’s challenges.

Resiliency is the key to success during trials and unexpected tragedies.

“The fire destroyed our family and business, but it did not destroy our hopes and dreams,” said Glen Morales, 44, a resilient entrepreneur from Barangay Luneta, La Paz, Leyte.

Glen had a challenging childhood due to financial difficulties. Due to an uprising in their area, his parents had to stop planting vegetables, their primary source of income.

He was only seven when they moved to Tacloban City to live there temporarily. Glen’s family relied on government assistance without a permanent home or job until they returned to La Paz in 1990. At a young age, he helped in planting vegetables and processing coconut and abaca.

“I was only 11 when I became a carrier of copra, earning one peso per kilo. It was meager earnings, but it was vital in our daily life,” he said.

Despite the difficulties in life, which caused interruptions in his education, Glen’s perseverance enabled him to graduate from high school. He was then immediately hired as a bagger at a supermarket in Tacloban. After five months, he began working at a well-known donut shop.

For 11 years, Glen was a diligent employee. It was at this job that he met his wife, Maribel. As they started their own family and eventually had four children, his income became insufficient, so he took the sidelines in a bakeshop. He gained the skills and ideas for bread-making, which he later used to establish his bakery.

Using their savings and a loan from CARD Bank worth PHP 40,000, they bought an oven and other materials for their bakery in 2011.

“In 2005 and 2008, we became CARD Bank clients. We applied for separate loans to capitalize our bakery. It helped us a lot because this is also where we learned to manage money and business,” he said about his clientship.

Their bakery was doing well and they hired some employees and provided a cart to sell their bread until the couple faced challenges that halted their operations. After their employees repeatedly experienced robbery while vending bread, the couple decided to consider a different business for their safety and to prevent further losses.

Again, they applied for a PHP 30,000 loan from CARD Bank to rent a two-story space in Marasbaras, Tacloban, and started a canteen in 2012.

With their hard work and the help of their four children, the sales of their canteen were good. They hired seven workers and rented the next lot space to run a vulcanizing shop. Although they were devastated by typhoon Yolanda in 2013, their business immediately recovered and operated again.

“Life was easy then because the income was good. It is also a good feeling that although our children are still young, they learned to help in our canteen even with simple things such as washing plates and preparing lumpia wrappers. It seems like there’s no storm we cannot face as long as we are together,” said Glen while happily remembering his children.

But the trials in Glen’s life were not over yet. He went through many trials, but nothing was more devastating than the loss of his four children at the same time that a fire destroyed the canteen he had worked so hard to establish.

On the morning of May 25, 2016, when the couple left their canteen to go to the local market, Glen was notified of the tragic news. The couple’s world seemed to collapse when they learned that their four children were not able to get out of the burning building.

“In an instant, we lost everything. It was a few years ago and is still fresh in our memories. We could have started a canteen again, but we can’t continue with the same business that constantly reminds us of our children,” said Glen.

After the tragedy, the couple decided to return to La Paz. Noticing the abundance of turmeric plants in their yard, the couple had the idea to produce and sell various types of turmeric powder. CARD Bank again supported them by approving their business loan application, giving the couple a fresh start.

“We always look forward to CARD Bank because it has been our companion in business. We also tried other microfinance institutions, but CARD Bank had the lowest interest. Only with CARD Bank that we feel this security,” he said.

They returned to Tacloban in 2017 to sell their turmeric powder. Following customer suggestions for better packaging and branding, they attended seminars of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and livelihood training of CARD MRI. The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) also loaned them PHP 375,000 to buy a juicer extractor and pulverizer machine. Their products are now sold under the brand “GLEN’s.”

GLEN’s product packaging improved throughout the years. From plastic, he now uses a transparent paper pouch. Their product range has expanded. They now offer Turmansi Juice, Herbal Juice, and Healthy Juice along with various chips such as cassava, banana, and karlang strips.  They’ve also started producing chili garlic in oil and vinegar with chili.

GLEN’s factory in La Paz, Leyte has a business permit and is approved by the DTI. They also have a rented space at the Pasalubong Center in Tacloban City. GLEN’s products are not only available in Tacloban markets but are also being ordered from Bohol, Manila, and Bulacan.

In the coming years, the couple wants to build a physical store and a wider processing facility to grow their range of products. They also want to continue participating in trade fairs and product expos to further expand their market.

“CARD Bank helped us not only with finances but also with business development skills. If it was not for CARD, we might have given up on doing business. They motivated us to try again. CARD Bank believed in us and pushed us to persevere,” said Glen.

Despite the trials and tragedies that Glen faced in life, his success story underscores that resilience and determination are the keys to achieving success, even in the darkest of times. His journey from the ashes of his past to a successful venture is an inspiration to all who never give up on their dreams.


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