A Personal Testimony by Bro. Hector Tina, BCBP Mactan
I am a Mechanical Engineer by profession, a Cebuano by choice, and am now operating a Petron-owned service station. My career with Petron is one of God’s greatest gifts to me. I joined the company in 1976 and steadily rose in the corporate ladder. But instead of being grateful, my work became an obsession. Little by little I became arrogant, inconsiderate, even uncaring to Edna, my wife and our four children. I was slowly drifting away from the Lord to the point where my work almost wrecked my life.
In 1988, I was promoted to handle Mindanao Reseller based in Davao. I was proud of my career and thought that was the most important thing in my life. Edna took care of our home and the children while I was busy working, traveling, attending social activities, and later found a new kind of love – golf. I got so hooked to the game that I spent a lot of time in the country club and would often go home late and drunk. Several times Edna tried to talk to me telling me she felt so lonely and neglected. I just brushed her off thinking that as long as I have provided for the material needs of the family, I have already completed my obligation. The rest she will have to handle. Quarrels would often erupt over our finances and her mahjong games with friends and ended up with us not talking to each other for days. I knew back then that there was something terribly wrong with our marriage and relationship, but I was not sensitive to it.
God’s wake up call came through a painful and humiliating experience. I have since realized this was actually a blessing in disguise.
In 1993 we got transferred to Cebu and decided to build our own house. We made the plans and in the early stages of construction I was telling everybody that the house will be finished on time and within budget. I was supervising the work and I thought I was in control. This was not meant to be.
When the house was about 50% completed, I found out that Edna, in her loneliness, anger and frustration over how our life was going, had lost the balance of our construction funds in the casino. I was full of bitterness and anger. I felt betrayed and humiliated. I avoided friends for I felt so ashamed. In an instant my life was in complete disarray. Edna felt so guilty that she asked my permission to go home to Daet and leave me and the children for good. My family was breaking up before my very eyes and I felt totally helpless.
But, amidst all the anger, resentment and confusion in my heart, I found God. The truth is, I realized later, I had nowhere else to go. On June 19, 1993, after refusing many previous invitations to attend a BCBP breakfast, and during perhaps one of the lowest points in my life, God gave me the grace to respond to this invitation. There I found hope and felt alive, returning every Saturday hungry for God’s comforting and uplifting words. A year after that, Edna joined me and we have since made the BCBP our way of life.
In 1996, Petron offered an attractive Manpower Reduction Program. After a lot of prayers and discernment with the family and BCBP friends, I decided to retire. I was only 46 years old. I will not be telling the truth if I say that I was not scared of that decision. We had two kids in college, one in high school and my son, Michael was just starting prep school. But I felt at peace with my decision and trusted that God was guiding me.
I started looking for a second career but God had other plans for us. Colleagues and friends in Petron accepted my application to operate a company owned service station in Cebu City in late 1997. Since then it has been our business and source of our livelihood.
We are now in our 12th year of operations and by God’s providence, despite the difficult times these days, the station is doing fairly well. Here we do our best to honor the “real owner” by following Christian values in doing business. We have prayers to start each shift and we serve our customers with the best service and products available to us.
It is truly a challenge to be a Christian in the market place. Let me share with you some of my own experiences. Since we started the station, we have candidly advised customers, suppliers and government agencies we deal with that we do business honestly and fairly. We pay the correct taxes and will never agree to any under the table transaction. Two learning experiences come to mind. First, after a year of operation, the BIR in a letter, assessed us penalties worth P180,000 due according to them to errors in invoicing and preparation of cash receipts. This came with a visit and a very subtle suggestion that things can be arranged easily.
I discussed this thoroughly with our accountant and was advised that the correct penalties should be about P20,000. So what I did, I visited the BIR office and talked to the director. I told him I was a member of the BCBP, I have just been blessed with a business of my own, and I intend to pay the correct taxes in my operations. I then offered to pay the P20k+. There were a lot of subtle harassments at first but we stood our ground. Would you believe what eventually happened? I’m sure when they saw my firm resolve not to succumb to pressure, they finally accepted the P20k penalty payment – of course I politely asked for an official receipt. What lesson did I learn that I continue to share with my co-dealers and other business people I meet? Because I have made the choice to pay the correct taxes, I cannot be harassed, pressured, or intimidated. Since that time I have not encountered a single difficulty with this tax agency. This gives me tremendous peace of mind.
Second, in May of this year, we lost a big customer. We had been serving them for the past 2 years but due to a change of command, the new decision maker wanted us to do some things with their fuel deposit that were clearly contrary to the value of honesty. We did not hesitate to lose this account to maintain our integrity. Of course we lost substantial business. The Lord however rewarded us for this choice. How? Barely two weeks after, the Caltex station near us closed down due to lease expiration, thus giving us a substantial volume increase per day, more than enough to cover the losses we incurred. Additionally, with this volume increase, we can now easily hit the quarterly volume targets set by the company and we will receive substantial cash incentives because of this. I said to myself, “ Ang bait talaga ng Panginoon!” It is experiences like these that continue to strengthen my resolve to follow Christian teachings and values in my work place. Besides having peace of mind, being a Christian businessman, with the help of God’s grace, pays off.
What have I learned from all these challenges and struggles? I have realized that the many painful and difficult events in my life were in fact blessings in disguise. They were learning opportunities. They made me strong, hopeful but dependent on God’s love and providence. I know I have become a better person because of these challenges.
I have realized that the most important things in my life are my relationships: – with God, with Edna, my children, my community, friends and people around me. In BCBP, I have brothers and sisters who continue to pray for me and help and encourage me to be a better husband, father, brother, friend and businessman. This realization has brought much peace, simplicity and contentment in my life. I cannot ask for more; I feel truly blessed! To you, Lord, all the praise and glory!