Seven-Seven Trading: No Substitute for Hard Work

When Te Otong passed away, his many business ventures were divided among his children. Seven-Seven Trading, his first business interest was passed on to Enrique “Ike” Te, the third of his five kids.

Established in 1945, Seven-Seven Trading is a testament to Ike’s parents’ hard work and perseverance.
“Kuwento ng mother ko (Chang Siok Tek), right after the war, wala pa kaming store, latter part na lang yun, ” recounts Ike. “Yung mga Americans nagbibigay ng root crops sa mga tao,. Ang ginagawa ng mother ko, yuing mga pagkain binebenta niya at yung perang napagbilhan binibili niya ng lipstick, kumot. Nakaipon siya hanggang naka-open sila ng store.”

Seven-Seven Trading
Seven-Seven Trading | Photo Scanned from Ilonggo Initiatives published by Iloilo Business Club (2011)

Ike’s late father, a naturalized Filipino, worked as an employee in one of the stores along JM Basa Street in Iloilo. Early on, he and his Chinese wife inculcated in their children the value of honest labor. “Kaming mga anak nila,” shares Ike, “nung maliliit pa kami, kapag walang klase, tinatawag kami during Christmas time. Natutulog pa kami, ginigising na kami para tumulong sa tindahan. Umiiyak pa nga kami nuon, kasi ang sarap matulog.” But unlike other business-oriented folks, Ikes parents also put premium on education.

“Hindi sila nagpabaya sa amin sa pag-aaral naming magkakapatid, ” says Ike who graduated from the University of San Agustin with a degree in Commerce.

A mini department store that sells anything from school and office supplies to toiletries and dressmaking materials, Seven-Seven Trading is one of the oldest establishments in the fabled JM Basa Street, also known as Calle Real. A one-level shop with a mezzanine which serves as a stock room, one of the store’s prime attractions, other than the items they sell, is a vintage US-made ceiling fan. “Pre-war pa yung bentilador na yun na nasira six months ago. Kasayos lang and yung repairman nagulat kasi hindi na raw makakakita ng ganung klase ngayon.

Like that rare ceiling fan which has rendered years and years of service to the Tes, the 65-year-old Seven-Seven Trading looks like it is good for another six decades in the consumer-oriented field. “There’s no substitute for hardwork, reflects Ike when asked about the family’s trade secret. It turns out to be no big, confounding secret after all, “Kung gusto mong magtagumpak kailangan talaga magsikap. Success is really 99% perspiration.”

Source: Ilonggo Initiatives published by Iloilo Business Club (2011)


Sheila is a legal editor and a digital marketing enthusiast. She is a kdrama fan, a dog person and a certified foodie!

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