29 Jul2014


If there’s one thing I really enjoy facilitating or enabling, it is to take folks who have never/rarely ever been abroad on their first trip that requires a passport. Over the past 15 years, I figure Mrs. MM and I have done this for some 4+ dozen people (from personal staff and work colleagues), and in the vast majority of cases, it was their maiden trip abroad. We took a a rather infamous trip at the height of SARS with all of our home crew to HK, with air tickets at $99 roundtrip, and credit card points for hotels that were near empty and thus landed all of us in massive suites with harbor views that everyone thought was how everyone traveled (not!). We have been to Singapore and Bangkok and if only visas to some western countries were easier to obtain, we would venture further afield… The reason I look forward to these trips is that it is absolutely fascinating to watch everyone’s reactions to being somewhere new, often alien, and usually a place that works so differently from home. And because they are going as tourists, not OFW’s, it is a very different experience.


So a few weeks ago, after returning from South Africa, I headed to Hong Kong with over a dozen managers and employees from Cebu for a short trip. Several had NEVER been on a plane, and most had never been abroad. We had discussed this trip for the last two years (and everyone had gotten passports over a year ago) and when some wickedly good fares coincided with a real need to pick up lighting and other fixtures and equipment for the soon to open restaurant, that meant we had a legitimate excuse to go. We went on the barest of budgets, stayed in the tiniest of hotel rooms, and I can assure you we survived nicely on less than USD30 a day per person for food and drink, plus the crew even got a day tour of Disneyland in their package!


Days were spent madly chasing down lamps, bulbs, kitchen equipment like 30+ pork prickers, etc. while taking in the views, getting used to mass transport, reading maps, language issues, skyscrapers, ginormous shopping malls, riding ferries above water and subways in tunnels below the harbor… It was hectic but utterly invigorating.


Friends of our GM, including a Filipina with fluent Cantonese language skills and a Chinese local, acted as our tour guides, interpreters, bargainer(s) extraordinaire, and at this lunch with their parents, treated us to a whopping array of dim sum that kept arriving at our table until we were ready to burst at the seams! Our guide’s parents, more than two decades residents of the former British colony, had some of the best gossip about Filipino lawmakers running from the law and simply hiding out at 5-star hotels in Hong Kong for weeks or months, as if the news wouldn’t travel given that many employees are Filipino! But I was sworn to secrecy! :)


Some of the dim sum dishes included this stuffed eggplant…


…and some braised tripe. I didn’t take many other photos, but I clearly remember that there was enough food for 30, and our table couldn’t have been more than 12 or so!


On another evening, I took the crew for dinner at a street side Chinese restaurant near one of the night markets. Lots of food and large bottles of Tsing Tsao put everyone in a good mood.


Kai Lan in garlic sauce…


…sweet and sour pompano…


…roast duck or goose at another restaurant…


…sweet and sour pork…


…and greens with some dace (dried fish). Overall it was an incredibly successful trip, and I think in just three short days the experience was something most of our managers and crew will probably remember for the rest of their lives. The stories, experiences, photos are all priceless. These guys work hard and hopefully play hard as well. And frankly, I think it makes them that much better as employees/colleagues from a work perspective. Now they are talking about saving up for another trip in two more years time. If they put away just $10-$20 a month, and get a small subsidy from MM, who knows, we may just make it to Bangkok which is one of my favorite eating destinations in Asia!



  1. becoolano says:

    kudos to you MM for being such a good employer and making those people enjoy & experience being in another country, God bless you and your family!

    Jul 29, 2014 | 9:32 pm


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  3. maxikeam says:

    Wow! what a nice way to treat your employees…awesome!

    Jul 29, 2014 | 10:18 pm

  4. pinkytab says:

    MM, I think Aquino should appoint you to a position in the Labor department where you can implement policy changes that will affect pay, working conditions, etc. SM and other companies can follow your example. It pains me to watch these part time and I am quite sure lowly paid employees working at department stores and supermarkets. In my silly moments I sometimes wonder if the money they spend on their makeup is more than what they earn.

    Jul 29, 2014 | 11:08 pm

  5. Sleepless in Seattle says:

    Best Boss ever!! All I can say..You are awesome.

    Jul 29, 2014 | 11:44 pm

  6. Jenny says:

    Lucky employees, and they are so blessed to have you as their employer.

    Jul 29, 2014 | 11:53 pm

  7. bijin says:

    You have a good and generous heart. We need more people like you.

    Jul 30, 2014 | 12:35 am

  8. Anna says:

    The gift of travel is one of the best ways to uplift another person’s life. It truly broadens their perspective, and in my experience, gives them confidence and hope towards better things. You are wonderful MM, and may you and all those you love continue to be blessed.

    Jul 30, 2014 | 1:29 am

  9. Guia says:

    God bless you, MM! Such kindness and generosity; you will be rewarded a hundred fold!

    Jul 30, 2014 | 2:27 am

  10. Lucy says:

    You’re such a kind boss, MM! Very endearing gesture. All the best!

    Jul 30, 2014 | 2:36 am

  11. Connie C says:

    GOSH MM!!! Is there anything in the world you cannot do? Bet everybody’s joy bag is bursting at the seams!!!

    Jul 30, 2014 | 4:35 am

  12. La Emperor says:

    Bravo! You and Mrs. MM are unique individuals with golden hearts who truly care for your employees. That gesture is golden in this day and age.

    And as someone posted earlier, if only SM and the likes would follow suit. God bless you two even more.

    Jul 30, 2014 | 5:31 am

  13. marilen says:

    Such a wonderful story to share with us, MM. Thank you

    Jul 30, 2014 | 5:54 am

  14. Natie says:

    …and you gain loyalty and friendship! I bet you had the best time also!!

    Jul 30, 2014 | 6:59 am

  15. scott says:

    Happy well taken care of employees equals success, nicely done MM. I had to laugh about the “tiniest” hotel room, last time I was in HK we ended up staying in a room where I swear I could sleep/shower and use the restroom in 1 square meter..on another note though, right behind Singapore, Hong Kong has to be up there with food destinations.

    Jul 30, 2014 | 7:20 am

  16. al says:

    Very nice. More blessings to you and to your family.

    Jul 30, 2014 | 7:25 am

  17. artisan chocolatier says:

    I’m hungry!

    Jul 30, 2014 | 8:03 am

  18. Khew says:

    Don’t think the kai lan’s in oyster sauce. Yes, play hard but not in vices! :))

    Jul 30, 2014 | 9:35 am

  19. ami says:

    I think that dimsum place is Maxim’s Palace in Central because of the interiors and the chandeliers. We tend to have lunch there whenever we are in HK and try to come before they open as the lines and the wait could be long. Good thing you were able to bring them to watch the Symphony of Lights.
    So lucky of your crew to have such a generous and kind employer.

    Jul 30, 2014 | 9:48 am

  20. MP says:

    Wow, a simple praise for a job well done from the boss makes any worker so happy so i can just imagine how your crew felt. What a way to show gratitude (which most employers don’t do) and to motivate your team. I hope they reward you with loyalty and sincere desire to improve some more the service delivery at your restos!

    But i wanna know who those politicos are… Hahaha juicy gossip among pinoys is so entertaining…

    Jul 30, 2014 | 11:12 am

  21. Grace says:

    Oh, MM. you are perfect! What a big difference you make in this world! If only all employers are like you… hindi tinatawaran ang serbisyo ng empleyado, bagkus, pinahahalagahan. So inspiring! Work hard, save hard, play hard and hopefully you can encourage them next to invest hard. so after years of working with you, they have their own houses and big savings to show =)

    Jul 30, 2014 | 11:36 am

  22. Dogbone says:

    Amazing trip, fantastic Boss!
    That’s how you treat your staff!

    Jul 30, 2014 | 12:52 pm

  23. Gigi says:

    you should consider posting these pics in your branches b/c they give patrons a good feeling about the company’s CSR. The store that sells 1950s pandesal does the same thing, although probably not as frequent.

    Jul 30, 2014 | 2:12 pm

  24. Marketman says:

    Khew, you are absolutely correct, I must be losing my eyesight, it seems to be in just plain garlic sauce… will alter post. Thanks all for your kind words, didn’t post this to pat myself on the back, but more to encourage others to do the same. The wonder of discovery in adult eyes is so worth the effort. As our long-time messenger, turned buyer and now head buyer said in Disneyland “it feels like I am a kid all over again”

    Jul 30, 2014 | 3:06 pm

  25. Lou says:

    You must be the best employer and all your workers would be crazy to leave you. I hope there will be more bosses like you!

    Jul 30, 2014 | 6:42 pm

  26. Thel from Florida says:

    Bless your kind heart always for being the best employer ever, ever, ever!!!!

    Like you, I love travelling and giving trips to families and friends. When I was stationed in West Germany, the first year I flew in a sister, 2 brothers, and a niece from Pinas. The second year I flew in 2 sisters, 2 nephews, 1 niece from Pinas. The third year I flew in a sister and her two kids from Pinas. I took them all to London, Paris, Rome, Monaco, etc.
    We really had a great time. They are all here now living in USA.

    When we had our housewarming, I flew in friends from Idaho, Kentucky and Arizona–I paid for their plane tickets.
    BettyQ has yet to accept a paid for plane ticket to visit me.

    It is such great feelings to be able to give trips.

    Jul 30, 2014 | 9:35 pm

  27. Skye says:

    Is there someone in the group who loves to cook that tried to copy the dishes they tasted in HK for the first time?

    Jul 31, 2014 | 11:29 am

  28. WillieEvangelista says:

    WillieEvangelista – They are so Lucky employees, and they are so blessed to have you as their employer. You are a great person,Thumbs up!

    Jul 31, 2014 | 12:14 pm

  29. Shan says:

    You are more than an inspiration. You are a blessing to many! May we be reminded to always pay it forward. God bless you more!

    Jul 31, 2014 | 12:45 pm

  30. Nadia says:

    If I retire early from the academe…can I work for you MM? :) I can help identify your seafood up to the species level! He he.

    Jul 31, 2014 | 3:24 pm

  31. CCA19 says:

    Keep up the good work of being a good employer! I truly believe that travelling opens one’s eyes to different prospectives and views. Its also helps boost a person’s morale! I hope to bring all my housestaff abroad one day. :)

    Jul 31, 2014 | 5:06 pm

  32. Marketman says:

    Nadia, I could use your help right now as I am in the market almost daily looking for fish for the outlet… :) Skye, no, we didn’t have our head chef with us, whose passport wasn’t ready, but on another trip I am sure they will keep track of the dishes… But our buyer, who was on his first trip abroad was in AWE of the cooking supplies stores in HK, how quickly we transacted multiple purchases, how cheap tools and cooking utensils were, and how reliable the answers about stocks turned out to be. We did more business in 4 hours in HK than they do in 2-3 days in Cebu!

    Jul 31, 2014 | 9:06 pm

  33. Lava Bien says:

    Kudos to you MM. On this part we must think alike then. If and whenever I opened my own little panciteria after my early retirement, that was my plan too. To take my hardworking employees (to be), to Vietnam or any South East Asian neighbors for being the employee of the month or year, something like that. I will require my managers or supervisors (even regular employees if I could have it my way) to have passports ( I can even do a get your passports now and pay me later kinda deal) and then take them to my little trips. Employee retention and even if they go, they’ll never forget working for my little panciteria.

    Jul 31, 2014 | 9:45 pm

  34. mojito_drinker says:

    hi mm – sounds like a great trip! and yes, i have to agree: bangkok has some amazing food — on the street or otherwise!

    Aug 1, 2014 | 12:10 pm

  35. joanie says:

    sana Lahat ng boss ay katulad mo!

    Aug 1, 2014 | 12:48 pm

  36. Laine says:

    Great job MM, what I admire most from what you did was you took the time to be with them. It is easy (for those who really have generous hearts) to give money as bonuses but to share a precious resource – time, is something truly admirable. Surely you have inspired me to do the same whence I am able and have the opportunity. Thank you Marketman. You’re the man!

    Aug 2, 2014 | 5:23 am

  37. ginabeans91 says:

    absolutely. love. your. pictures.

    Aug 2, 2014 | 9:14 am

  38. super.me says:

    I hope to be half as generous as you, MM! Ang galing!

    Aug 2, 2014 | 9:40 am

  39. Len Dizon says:

    I salute you, MM! What a heartwarming story.

    Aug 2, 2014 | 9:48 am

  40. Allison says:

    Long time lurker here but just had to say that you MM, are so kind. From the Cebu feedings. the typhoon aid, the Halloween and Christmas parties you throw for your crew, to this trip and other things that I didn’t mention, you are truly generous in the purest sense of the word. The world needs more people like you.

    Aug 2, 2014 | 10:33 am

  41. aggy says:

    great job, mm! this post cheered me up this a.m. wish your businesses success sibyou can take your employees on more trips!

    Aug 2, 2014 | 11:22 pm

  42. joem says:

    You are a very good person and employer. Your generosity will be rewarded by God by gaining more friends, hard working employees and more customers because of your respect to other people financially lower than you.

    Aug 3, 2014 | 5:02 pm

  43. Mari of NY says:

    It is no surprise that your business is thriving…it comes back a hundredfold! I have only been to Zubuchon once and I must say, the employees reflect the personality of the owner. I look forward to going back to Cebu for more Zubuchon and now even Zubudagat!

    God bless you!

    Aug 5, 2014 | 9:09 pm

  44. Giancarlo says:

    Cheers for being such a good employer!

    Aug 6, 2014 | 5:03 am

  45. Junb says:

    thumbs up!!!

    Aug 6, 2014 | 8:58 am

  46. Betchay says:

    Always the Model BOSS! :)

    Aug 6, 2014 | 4:02 pm

  47. Eva Mondragon says:

    MM – There are many great employers out there, but I must say that you are probably one of the very few who has genuine compassion and interest in your employees’ well-being. Bravo!!!

    Aug 8, 2014 | 8:45 am

  48. Cheng says:

    This has been a dream of ours, me and my spouse, to be able to take our employees to an overseas trip for the first time! While we are nowhere near that goal yet, your story serves as an inspiration for us.

    Aug 8, 2014 | 2:39 pm

  49. shiko-chan says:

    thanks for being an inspiration to employees and employers alike! :)

    incidentally, could you possibly post the written and/or spoken words for those dishes, and where you ate? the few times i’ve been in HK (in the tiniest of accommodations too), i suspect the lack of a translator has sadly kept me from the yummiest food and places. :(

    Aug 10, 2014 | 11:44 am

  50. farida says:

    Hats off to you, MM. You are one special employer.

    Aug 22, 2014 | 5:48 am


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