Pinoy Entrepreneur – Rebecca Bustamante


Rebecca Bustamante

I grew up in a very poor home in Dasol, Pangasinan with 10 siblings. My childhood life was a very challenging experience because I saw the difficulty of life, from the moment you wake up to when you go to sleep. My mother died when I was just 18 and my father did not work to support us. So at a young age, I was forced to seek work outside the country as a domestic helper to pay off our family’s debts, our house which was used as a collateral for a loan, and to feed my siblings and send them to school.

I worked for more than 3 years in Singapore alongside studying with an Open University. It was tough, of course, balancing work and studies. But I always thought about my siblings back in the Philippines, and that I always thought about my future goals. I want to transfer to Canada because I know opportunities will be better there for our family.

After those three years, luckily, I was able to transfer to Canada where I also started as a househelp. Unlike in Singapore, the opportunities in Canada were better. Eventually, I could even become a citizen. So while I was working as a househelp, I did many sideline jobs including selling Saladmaker, and then I was also studying at night. So in the morning, I would do my household chores, and then at night, study. During my day offs, I would then go out and sell. All the profits I had from selling, I would keep as savings. I did not want to spend on anything, even my clothes were all bough second-hand. I wanted to save up so I can start my own business.

I then started a recruitment agency called High-Q Personnel that helped bring domestic helpers to Canada. I wanted to help our fellow Filipinos. I always thought that if they can come to Canada, they will have better income and they can also provide better lives for their families. I want to inspire them to see that even though you start from the bottom, you can succeed because you are the driver of your own future. No one can drive for you expect you. I am in this future bec I drove myself, I pushed myself.

I started working again in the Philippines when I was already in Mary Kay Cosmetics and they sent me back because they wanted to start selling in the country. I also worked with the Canadian embassy. In 2005, when my husband lost his job in Canada, we decided to stay here in the Philippines and start our own company, Chalre Associates.

Chalre Associates started out as a multinational recruitment firm for senior management executive positions. But now, we are more concerned with another type of marketing—marketing the Philippines. I want to make the Philippines a first world country. I see our fellow Filipinos, working hard, but are still suffering. I want to change that. They say it’s a huge goal, but I say, If you don’t know how to shoot for the moon, how will you land among the stars?

To achieve this goal, we’re regularly holding the Asia CEO Forum and Asia CEO Awards, to give recognition to the Filipinos who are doing a great job and to inspire more to follow their footsteps.

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Why did you become an entrepreneur?

Then, I just wanted to help my family. But as I gain more experience and see more of the world, I saw the unlimited potential in myself, in all of us, and in the Philippines. ·       


What odds were stacked against you and how did you overcome them?

I faced so many challenges but the secret is staying focused on your destination. I left the Philippines without finishing college but I knew that I needed to learn and grow to be able to make it far. So I studied, even during the wee hours of the morning, I read books, I did assignments, I talked to people. I kept learning and growing so I’ll have more opportunities open to me. I also try to focus on what I can do for others, instead of focusing on what others can do for me. Building good relationships is key to succeeding in any field. I try to cultivate relationships that I make, and never forget the learnings and wisdom from the people I meet.



What is the single biggest thing that allowed you to achieve your dream?

The most underrated thing: Love. First, it was just love for my family that pushed to go out of the country and work and develop myself. Now, my love for the country is what drives me to keep going, keep organizing forums, keep meeting people, keep marketing the Philippines. I want my kids, the future Filipinos, to live in a country that’s more prosperous and better, and I want my legacy to be that I helped create that country.



What are your 5 tops tips to starting on growing your own business? Please give 5 points with a bit of description for each one.


  1. Know your purpose in life
    Set goals, small and big, short-term and long-term. When you don’t have goals, you won’t know what your next step in life is.
  2. Do the action
    You can always think about what you can do, but the key is starting it, really doing it. As long as you’re not doing anything, your dreams and goals are nothing. Action will take you where you want to go.
  3. Failure is just a word
    There is no success without wisdom, no wisdom without learning, and no learning without failures. Never give up. You might run into people who will doubt you, you might run into circumstances that make you sad and tired, you might run into businesses and opportunities that won’t work out, but it all helps build you as a person.  
  4. Determination is a must
    Have discipline in whatever you do. Have discipline with the things you eat, have discipline to wake up early and do more today, have the discipline to stick to your plans and goals. If you practice discipline in different aspects of your life, you’ll master discipline even in the hardest tasks.
  5. Love.
    Keep love at the center of everything you do—love for yourself, love for your family, love for your country, and even love for the world. Everything is easier when you do it for love.


What else do you want to achieve in the future?

I want to inspire children and give them hope that we are all born lucky. I may be born poor but I was blessed to have been born with a huge family that I can love. I may be born without the usual stuff that people have but I am born with the practicality and the drive to turn things around. We all have something; we just have to change our perspective and see things differently. Focus on what you have, focus on your strengths, and use these to defeat your weaknesses. I want to inspire more people to have this kind of outlook in life.

And I want to make the Philippines a first world country. We can do that. I believe we can.

Read more on entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship here:

From OF to Entrepreneur in the Philippines: Adjusting Your Mindset To Get Closer To Your Dream

Filipino Entrepreneur: Timeless Elegant Event Management (TEEM)