From med to tech: A Mindanaoan’s inspirational change of heart

Being confined within enclosed facilities was not the vision Lilang held for herself upon graduating from college. So she decided to take a leap of faith and embrace opportunities within the free fall.

Navigating and exploring uncharted territories may, indeed, evoke fear. Nevertheless, Lilang Grande, now 40, welcomed the unfamiliarity. She tapped into her inner adventurous spirit, unveiling the latent businesswoman within her.

In the past, her trajectory seemed predetermined. Her family’s aspirations were for her to pursue nursing in college. She fulfilled their wishes, blossoming into an accomplished nursing student with much to contribute to the medical field. The future appeared exceptionally promising.

Despite her yearning to apply her expertise abroad, however, circumstances thwarted her plans of venturing beyond the country’s borders.
Recognized for her industrious nature, she redirected her energy toward endeavors that wouldn’t render her stagnant.

Observing her older sister’s success in running her own business, she resolved to follow suit. She departed from Marawi City to Manila, aiming to assess her adaptability to the path she had chosen.

As an emerging entrepreneur hailing from Mindanao, she initially dipped her toes into the business world by venturing into the sale of bags and watches. However, the plan did not align with her intentions, as she found the endeavor both exhausting and ungratifying.

Transitioning to her subsequent business venture, she delved into comprehensive research on identifying a sustainable market for the long haul. Aware of the rapid technological advancements, primarily as the Y2K era unfolded, she recognized the need to ride the technological wave.
“Nalaman ko na hindi nawawala ang cellphone. Mabilis at hindi siya mahirap na negosyo (I learned that cellphones never disappear. It’s a quick and easy business),” she said.

Taking a calculated step, she secured a P50,000 investment from her mother, an action supported by thorough research and insights she had gathered from the city. This risk, surprisingly, yielded returns within a mere three months, dispelling doubts for both her family and herself. With her determination validated, she nurtured her business from 2003 onward to the present day.

Her innate street smarts and acumen for the local technological market served her unfailingly over the years. Amidst all circumstances, she clung to a steadfast principle: an unyielding adherence to uncompromised quality. She has never had problems, she added, because she has always ensured her products are authentic.

If the bustling marketplace of Greenhills could share its tales, it would vouch for the enduring presence of Lilang in the cellphone industry. Not only did she evolve as a businesswoman within its walls, but she also discovered her life partner there.

Prior to their marriage, they operated individual cellphone businesses. Merging their entrepreneurial passions proved immensely rewarding. As their enterprise flourished, so did their horizons. They achieved the prestigious status of being official iPhone dealers in their locale.

Since 2015, they have been the preferred iPhone supplier for Greenhills’ vendors and in 2018, they expanded their outreach to wholesale retailers across Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. They capitalized on social media’s expansive reach, attracting Facebook sellers as well.

Their bold risk-taking bore rich fruit, as their business investments encompassed their home, vehicle and children’s education. Despite their children’s academic pursuits, they displayed an early interest in the family business.

“Mga anak ko, tinatrain ko na. Pag wala ako, sila ang nagmamanage ng shop ko. Kasi interesado silang matutong magnegosyo pero ayaw ko rin namang igive up ang pag-aaral nila (I am training my kids already. When I am away, they manage the shop. They are interested to do business but of course I don’t want them to give up their studies).”

Lilang’s narrative inspires those who grapple with the fear of the unknown. The uncharted path remains shrouded until one embraces it with self-belief and trust in divine plans.

With a journey marked by the challenges of entrepreneurship, Lelang imparts invaluable advice to those who dare tread in her footsteps.

“Tiyaga lang at saka kailangang marunong kang magbudget sa lahat ng gastusin, at kailangang madiskarte sa gadget business (Just persevere and learn to budget your expenses, and you should be skilled at devising ways in the gadget business),” she said.