The Unwritten Journey to New York from the Pacific Islands
Hi, I am Maner. I am an I.T. executive based in New York City. This is the first time “again” that I am writing for Internet consumption. Since the boom of blogging in 2003, I have reserved this domain as a venue to put on my thoughts, basically opinions, on new technologies in different places and regions I visit mostly through my job. The times were tight in the past decade, but a moment of awakening this week pushed my to revive this little space in the world wide web universe. Setting serious work aside for this moment, I would like to welcome you to my blog!
For the much needed introductions, I would like to share with you my simple life story, though filled with ups and downs, that have brought me steps closer to my personal life destination. I was born in Sta. Cruz, Manila in the late 70’s and my story of awakening started in the 80’s in Guigiunto, a small municipality in Bulacan, a province in the Central Luzon in the Philippines where our family migrated. My parents have lived happily and simply, sometimes almost too modestly, that we have to always make ends meet. My mother worked in different factories in Bulacan sewing baby dresses, ready-to-wear (RTW) apparels, and stuffed animal toys. My father, on the other hand, worked as an overseas contract worker (OCW, now OFW) in Saudi Arabia. As a child, my brothers and myself would scrimp on our limited budget to still enjoy our elementary and high school education. We have fortunately made it well with our academics despite having less. I guess this mindset of not having enough bore its fruits in the long run – it is easier to take risks because there is practically nothing to lose.
My interest in science and information technology started even before I stepped in high school. I believe this was the same reason why I was able to pass the entrance exam to be one of the select students in Marcelo H. Del Pilar Science High School in Bulacan. Oh, I can still remember the first time I laid hands on a Personal Computer, and the lessons using basic word processing and programming. Information technology in the late 90’s has really emerged and my fascination for the industry grew more. So in college, I pursued Computer Engineering and Computer Science. While enrolled, I was working as a computer graphic designer and later an ISO documentation assistant, to support my college education. Back then, doing these did not feel like work, rather learning opportunities that will give me practical training on I.T. and business, which I take as an advantage before graduation and stepping into the real world.
After college, I was able to land a job into the Philippines’ largest recruitment company, JS Contractor, Inc. where I started as a documentation assistant for the company’s ISO 9002 certification. I was later on transferred to operations as monitoring officer and promoted to being the assistant head in the I.T. Department. I learned as much as I can in terms of project management and in perfecting the art of requirements specification to come up with a sound and fool-proof system. New opportunities came with my little victories in the recruitment industry. When I was offered by LBS Recruitment Solutions to head its IT Department, I gladly said yes. With the vision shared with me by my mentor and the company’s owner, I was immensely trained and eventually became LBS’ general manager.
My preference of working with recruitment firms that prioritize the welfare of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) may be attributed to my engaged, and sometimes unnecessary, feeling of responsibility over OFWs. My father is one of the 8M overseas Filipino workers in the 90’s who have sacrificed their time with family to work away for the family. This irony of providing for family yet leaving the country makes this workforce phenomenon closer to the heart of the Filipinos.
So when an opportunity came in 2005 to develop a remittance system that would cater to Filipinos abroad, I immediately dived in. The name of the company is Rechargeplus International, Limited, a company based in Australia that has a number of offices in the globe. I was President and CEO of their development team that is under another corporate entity called i-Payment Solutions, Inc.. With this company, I was able to create a system that links a prepaid debit card into a mobile phone managed by text messaging syntax – a product ahead of its time back in the latter years of 2000. The said OFW service is real-time, almost free of charge, and multi-functional, almost too good to be true, but it is true.
Rechageplus was able to provide me the opportunity to learn a lot in the payments industry and pioneer a new technology, and was able to strengthen my business acumen, particularly through exposure in territories where there are significant migrant worker populations. In order to get our product and service across, the team was able to approach several Filipino organizations, financial institutions, telcos and banks in countries such as the United States, Australia, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and the Caribbean. Travelling and meeting people from other cultures and industries have allowed me to expand my network and build meaningful partnerships. We have established offices in the said countries and I was given the task to ensure that all technical requirements for every corridor is achieved and fulfilled at the strictest possible time.
The company was not spared from the global meltdown in 2010. This recession has taken a toll in the global operations, with U.S. taking the biggest hit. In 2011, the company withdrew its support on the U.S. operations to cut bigger losses. Being a natural risk-taker, I decided to stay in the United States and maintain the relationship with the partners to continue supporting the operations of the product. Staying brought more sour events, and it even if it was hard to admit then, I have failed. Having only experiences and knowledge as resources, I was again back to square one. This made me look back to my early years in Bulacan where I literally had nothing, which leaves me with nothing to give my family. I only had to hope that tides would change to present me a new opportunity to rebuild my career.
The universe conspired in 2012 when a previous partner offered an opportunity to be a founding member of a new payment company based in the Bahamas. I took the chance with a big heart and doubled my efforts to see immediate growth, change, sales and better developments for the company. We have named the company Payments Network Corporation (“Paynetco”) which then changed to PyxPay which means a box or container for valuable items. To date, we have established five offices in corridors such as the United States, Senegal, Caribbean, Philippines and the United Kingdom. We have launched several programs for OFWs, businesses and individuals who wish to avail of mobile payments systems. The time has changed the requirements of daily payment transaction from face to face interaction to mobile and Internet remote transaction processing. This is where PyxPay currently thrives. And as its CEO, my direction for the company is to seize all possible markets who share the same aspiration as ours – provision of: quality service and care for customers; efficient and honest transactions, and; cost-efficient and effective technology.
The technology landscape will change in the next years, so will my age! But this time, it will be faced with more resolve and wisdom – from the unbeaten track record of ups and downs since I was a child. I hope to be able to share with you more lessons, opinions, and some new knowledge in the next blog posts.