by Bro. Oyie Alejandro, Mission Director-Santiago Chapter
We give you the personal testimony of our Bro Oyie Alejandro that he shared with the more than 3000 BCBP members during the Grand Breakfast of the 33rd National Anniversary Celebration of the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals.
It is truly amazing to be standing here before you this morning, seeing all your joyous faces! Never would I have realized that I would one day speak before an audience as big as this! And I know this is possible only because I am a BCBP member. I am “Oyie” Alejandro, happily married to Josie . We live in Santiago, Isabela where we operate our business. Presently,I am serving the Lord as the Mission Director of BCBP Santiago Chapter.
But more than twelve years ago, I was just an ordinary struggling businessman. I was so focused on succeeding in my business that I put in long hours at work. Grim and serious, I hardly ever smiled, and hardly ever communicated with my employees, with my family members and with other people who had nothing to do for my business. These attitudes toward my business and toward people were carried over to my spiritual life and religious practices.
Actually, at that time, I don’t recall ever praying! If I ever went to church, it was not to attend Mass, but only to stand as Godfather in baptisms or for weddings. I wouldn’t even let myself be caught making the sign of the Cross. Doing that was against the “macho” image that I wanted to project. In keeping with my “macho” image, I became a man of few words. For me, what mattered was that the few words I uttered would be strictly followed by my family members and employees!
In 1996, our business was enjoying an upsurge. Sales were booming and surpassing the previous years’ performance. The banks were crowding our doorsteps – each offering us loans in premium interest rates, lower than before the bull run. At that time, I was gripped by the urge to grab as much capital as I could in order to chase at much greater profit. So, I seized at the banks’ offers and planned to use the loans to purchase prime real estate properties and sell them off at great profit on wide margins. I expected this track to speed up my progress in business.
Then, in 1997, the Real estate bubble in Thailand burst, which was followed by the collapse of the economy that swept throughout Asia, particularly in the South East.
In the Philippines, we suffered the full impact of the financial crisis. The value of the dollar to the peso shot up from 27 to 37 in a short span of time and continued to inch further upward; the loan interest rates rose from 16% to 32% and even climbed higher to 45%. By the year 1998, countless businesses and their owners including myself, reeled in agony at what was happening. A great many businessmen in the province of Isabela ended by folding up, while others downsized their businesses. In our case, we grappled with the crisis and struggled to overcome the difficulties. Because our core business provides the vital inputs for our agricultural/ farming sector, we had all the reasons not to give up despite what befell us. However, we had to bite the bullet and had to sell or surrender to foreclosures the properties we earlier acquired just so we could tide ourselves over the crisis.
Our struggle to survive and rise again from the 1997 financial crisis continued into the following millennium. It was at this time that, I believe, God’s hand came into play. He called me to join the BCBP. In late 2001, several of my acquaintances and associates took turns to invite me to the BCBP breakfast. Although I ignored their earlier invitations, I finally succumbed in 2002 and eventually became a member of the Santiago City Outreach after our BCLP in September of that year.
To this day, I still cannot fully understand how and why the BCBP as a community “caught me” and uploaded me to its fishing boat!
The twelve years since the time I got into the boat, I could not but comply with the mission, “Go.. I am with you!” into the marketplace and change the face of business. But, of course, changing the face of my businesses could not be achieved without FIRST changing myself, both as a family man and as a businessman.
From the moment I responded to the CALL, the transformative grind crushed my former self, gradually molding me to complete the 180-degree turn-around from the haughty, self-sufficient person that I was! Through our immersion as a couple in the BCBP way of life, there were evident changes in me that had a great positive impact on my family. Foremost among the changes is our recognition of God’s continuing intervention in our lives and gratitude for His abundant blessings.
The changes in our businesses happened gradually through the years. It began very quietly while my wife, Josie and I were still attending our BCLP. In our Company, we used to sell the “white ball” of sodium cyanide which we called “candy” – the code name we used for it. The product sold like hotcakes in our stores despite the fact that it was a banned product unconscionably used to kill fish in the rivers, lakes or ponds, and as collateral damage, other small fish and living organisms as well. As our gesture of gratitude and acknowledgement of God’s blessings, we completely stopped selling the item. I thought we would feel a drastic loss of income, but instead, God abundantly blessed us even more.
This reminds me of Philippians 4: verses 6 to 7 that says, “Be anxious about nothing. But in all things, with prayer and supplication, with acts of thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known to God. And so shall the peace of God which exceeds all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Not long after graduating from the BCLP, I went on a traveling visit to our branches in Cagayan Province. My team planned on eating breakfast in Tuguegarao. We were rather early and the fast food restaurant we wanted to eat in wasn’t opened yet. The crew were busy putting the place in order and as we looked inside through the glass wall, the place already looked clean. We wanted to get in, but were prevailed upon not to enter yet. I inquired why and the Security Guard explained that the crew was still in prayer prior to starting the day’s work.
I was struck by the guard’s reply, and then an idea came up, “Oh, yes, we could do the same thing before we open our branches and the Head office for business!” Today, that small incident has started us on the road to building our businesses for Christ. We have introduced various activities that nourish our people in our businesses spiritually. Every Saturday, we have our Praise and Worship; we formed our music ministry. Spiritual retreats are conducted at least once a year, and seminars for spiritual growth are conducted regularly. Last year, our company hosted the BCBP Market Evangelization Program (MEP) where more than 100 employees of our two companies participated together with some employees of our BCBP Brother’s businesses.
Actually, since we entered the Brotherhood, we have succeeded in bringing in to the BCBP the Managers of our companies and of our loyal customers and business partners. The values we are committed to in BCBP are the same values we encourage our employees to live out as members of our organizations. As we beef up our manpower in the course of our expansion and growth, we lean on hiring of the young and inexperienced in our line of business. This bias is borne by our experience that having adopted the culture of BCBP’s centering on God and Jesus Christ, this is so much more welcomed by the youthful entrants of our firms. The challenge here lies in the fact that once these new, young and eager employees become trained in the business and in the ways of our culture, they become attractive to our competitors and subject to their wooing and pirating. These competitors offer them better remunerations only to pirate them. A great many, however, are not lured easily.
There were occasions when opportunities to transact with the government arose for our company. Regretfully, the three or four times we attempted to enter into transaction with them all presented problems and failed to materialize. I dreamt of finally consummating a contract with the government without the hassle and corruption they are so used to. I so wanted to help our government in a clean and honest way, but to date, we must admit, we are yet so unsuccessful! However, the dream remains and we do not surrender the mandate of our Lord.
In Paul’s letter to the Philippians 4:6-7, he says, “Be anxious about nothing. But in all things, with prayer and supplication, with acts of thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known to God.” To me, this enlightens me and frees me from frustrations, “And so shall the peace of God which exceeds all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
In the marketplace, whether our business or profession, I realize fully that our spiritual welfare never ceases. When BCBP drummed up into my consciousness the Vision of “Bringing Christ into the marketplace and winning the marketplace for Christ”, I understood that together with this mission, there would be a need to be on guard against our spiritual enemy. The enemy, Satan or devil will keep us from progressing spiritually and prevent us from building our businesses for God.
Many times, despite my desire to follow Christ, I still experience confusions and hesitations about remaining steadfast in my resolve to build my business for God. During such times, I turn and pray to the Holy Spirit to help me ward off the influence of Satan. And the words of St. Paul comes to mind. He tells me to put on the “full armor of God” to become invulnerable and to stand my ground until the battle is over and I have everything; and I know that with the help of our loving God, and with the support of my BCBP brothers and sisters, I will stand victorious.
As I close, there is one thing I wish to say that I learned through the years I belonged to BCBP: it is the fact that my family and I are not the sole owners of Amihan Farm Supply and the Aljay Corp. We have, in fact, a Business Partner Who is no less than Jesus Christ Himself. He directs our operations and it is to Him from whom we derive counsel when we make decisions on the way we run our businesses. My fellow businessmen and friends would smirk or express disbelief whenever I attribute the progress and growth of my businesses to the help of our Beloved Lord. But in Malachi, God said, “Try me in this, if I shall not open the windows of heaven and pour unto you the blessed prosperity. I will not allow the locusts to waste your crops and make productive the fruits of your vineyard.” “To change the face of business”, I shall continue the change in me!
May Our God’s blessings be poured out on all of us in this 33rd Anniversary of the BCBP community! Thank you and good morning to you all!