From Houseboy to One of Cebu’s Richest: Looking Back at Rey Calooy’s Ala-Pursuit of Happyness Journey

They say great things come from small beginnings and Cebu’s Rey Calooy is the definitive example of that.

Calooy is a Go Negosyo Awardee Most Inspiring Entrepreneur of the Year and currently sits as Committee chairman on Entrepreneurship at Cebu Business Month.

The titles and honors he’s had in the last 20 years will make you really think he is an important person but decades ago, he was far from where he is today.

Rey Calooy comes from humble beginnings but for him, great things do not come to those who wait. He came for them.

You can trace Calooy’s early life in Leyte. He was born from a poor family but he did not allow that to define his future.

He was forced to work during his teenage years to help his parents make ends meet. He helped them pick kangkong and scrap materials to be sold at a junk shop. It became even harder for him as he wanted to support his studies.

In high school, he said he also became a fruit vendor that he even had to bring them to the campus and sell to his classmates in exchange for paper sheets he will use for his assignments.

From Leyte, he moved to Cebu where he thought there will be more opportunities for him to earn money. However, it was not easy for him. First, he worked as a houseboy or house helper. He was later on hired as a porter at the Carbon Public Market in Cebu’s capital.

He worked harder and harder and then got a job as a sales representative for a pharmaceutical company. This is very reminiscent of the story of Chris Gardner who was portrayed in the film Pursuit of Happyness that starred Will Smith.

The similarities didn’t stop there, of course.

Through his earnings from the odd jobs he’s had as well as working as a salesman, Calooy was able to save PHP20,000 which he used to start his own business.

He founded RNC Marketing in 1994 in Cebu, specializing in trading and repacking Cebu industrial products. Among the products were coffee, oil, sugar, and coffee creamer.

From then on, his business grew and his parents who used to work hard for him are now living a comfortable life.

In an interview with The Freeman, Calooy shared some tips to those who dream of becoming successful. He said that for one to become successful, one has to put in the work. The right way of working.

Q: What was the formula for your financial success?

I always have believed that hard work beats all the talents and skills if these do not work hard for you. Learn the value of saving, it’s the foundation of wealth. Saving doesn’t make you rich per se but what makes you rich is the discipline that you put into savings.

Q: Having been a successful entrepreneur now, what are your best investment advices especially to the millennials?

Invest first in the right education and financial knowledge because without the elementary  financial background is like a child wandering through a tangled forest trusting blindly to luck.

To millennials, if you work to learn it is an investment but if you work for money it is an expense. Work first in small companies then accept multi-tasking position, learn from the wisdom of your boss and whatever salary you earn, save it. I also encourage you to engage in sidelines for extra income before you engage in a formal business. Your best capital is “KITE” which stands for knowledge, imagination, time and energy.

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