Woman of Substance: Gerby Cadungog

Photo by Eros Goze, Styling by Ushi Sato and Make Up by Ginno Alducente, “Mariposa” wrap by Dita Sandico-Ong and Diamonds from Liali Jewellery



Gerby Cadungog

Young Entrepreneur, Go Getter

“I’ve always known that I’m going to be rich someday.  I didn’t know how, but I was very certain that it was going to happen,” entrepreneur Gerby Cadungog said resolutely.  In her mid-30s, this young Filipina achiever co-founded and leads a successful five year old company – NineCubes Interior Design Company LLC, which counts Etisalat, Comtel, UTS, Al Sayegh Brothers and LG, among their roster of prestigious clients.

But her bright smile and infectious energy would belie the fact that her climb to sustainable entrepreneurship was not an easy one, in fact just eight years ago, her family went broke and was saddled with a PHP1.8 million debt when they were cheated out of an investment.  She shares, “We had no means to pay our debts. We were left with PHP4,000 in the bank.  I was in a catatonic state.”

Gerby was born to a middle class Filipino expat family and spent her early childhood in Iran and Libya. “I was the responsible ‘ate’ always taking care of my brother, especially when we were left home alone, when our parents would go to work.” From a young age, she was already very conscious about her responsibilities and was eager to help contribute to the family’s finances.  “My parents were not so savvy when it came to managing our money.  So I knew I had to be prudent.”

She was a go-getter and a consistent achiever from the start – a valedictorian from elementary through to high school, an awarded high school Corps Commander and Editor-in-Chief, and a scholar at the University of the Philippines where she took up Journalism. “More than just wanting to learn and excel, I had to make sure that I was at the top of my class to get scholarships – to save my parents from paying tuition fee.”

A voracious reader, Gerby poured all her efforts into everything she set her heart to.  She even joined the Binibining Pilipinas in 1997 and bagged the Ms. Talent award in a bid to convince her brother Gerard Pizarras now an actor, to explore his potential in modeling and enter Philippine showbiz.  “I used to have a weight problem.  And I didn’t have much money so I would dance for an hour at home every single day, just to get myself into shape,” she shares.

The same determination, focus and drive were carried by the young lady everywhere she worked.  She started as Marketing Officer and later moved on as Area manager and Sales and Marketing Manager for leading shipping and logistics companies in the Philippines, as well as Japanese pharmaceutical corporation Yamanouchi where she was a consistent performance awardee, leading sales teams towards achieving their numbers.

Then, misfortune struck in 2003 when she and her family were left heavily in debt, when they were cheated off a pyramid scheme investment.


Determined to recover and pay-off their dues, Gerby tried out for employment in Dubai and landed an Account Executive job at Pico, a company that provided experiential marketing services.  Here she focused all her efforts on work.  Her colleagues found her strange, she said, since she didn’t socialize much. “My focus was my work, to close as many projects as possible so I can get commissions. I had to work late nights and early mornings. In some client meetings, I was even hesitant to spend for bottled water because I only had ten dirhams in my wallet. It was a trying time but I survived and surpassed it with flying colors.”

She made waves in the company, bagging three performance awards during her training in 2005, and got the attention of satisfied clients who were offering to help her start her own business. In 2006, with the encouragement of a colleague and an investor backing her up, Gerby left Pico and started NineCubes with a designer and production manager.  And the rest is history.

For the last five years, Gerby had been able to recover capital, and drive the company into profitable and sustainable existence. On a personal level, Gerby says she was able to settle the family debt and secure their financial situation and make some worthwhile investments in the Philippines. She also continues to give back to the community and built a dream house in scenic Tagaytay. Currently, she is building a Montessori Pre-school back home and she has also completed a course in Pre-School Montessori Education. She says, “Learning is never ending. Education is the best investment. I want to become a teacher, who teaches life experiences and help create future leaders. This will be my legacy.”

And you better believe it, because this empowered Filipina will definitely make that happen.