An inspirational story of Armand Nocum PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 27 July 2014 10:45



Pep Talk dedicates its column today to PR media colleague Arman Nocum – a successful self made-man Zamboangueño  who celebrated his nth birthday yesterday.  From cigarette vendor, painter, welder to Inquirer reporter, PR executive and adviser to Presidents – this is his story:

Birthdays are a good time to reminisce about your life – where you came from, where you are now and where you are going.

As I turn a year older today, I recall with great pride and joy my humble beginnings in an unknown barrio known as Manicahan, Zamboanga City and where the confluence of factors led me to.

First and foremost, I would like to thank my mom Aida Barredo Natividad Nocum for giving me the solid Christian values and strength of character that saw me laughing in the face of great national and international challenges that would have broken down a man made of lesser stuff

Of equal importance was the influence of my dad Armando Nunez Nocum – a native of San Juan, Manila and Pampanga – for challenging and giving me wings to ever strive harder and go further that my dreams and human potential can take me.

A born leader, my father was the local barangay captain in our place who put up the local church, the local Islamic Mosque, cemented roads, established a clean water system and as head of the local armed militia – Civilian Home Defense Force – led countless skirmishes against Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels to bring peace and order bring peace and order to our place.

More importantly, my father was one person who was looked up to in our place for having the “Midas Touch” in businesses that prospered in our place and expended towards neighboring areas in Zamboanga City. Among others, my father pioneered the business of photography, local bus-building, lumber yard, mercantile business, tricycle operator, t-shirt printing services, computer game shop; and countless more.

And so at a very tender young age – as soon as we got to count – my father exposed us all to the mercantile shop. More than that, he encouraged us to go on business when we were in our elementary years. One of them was selling Champion and Hope cigarettes, Halls Menthol Candy, Chiclets Chewing Gums etc. during the barangay or church-sponsored open air dance fund-raising events we call “bayle.”

By selling this stuff, we earn the money to buy ourselves toys we craved for like toy soldiers on parachutes that open up when we throw them up in the air. Of course they are only available from our mercantile shop – I told you my dad was a shrewd businessman.

We were also told how to scrap and paint cars and buses, do welding and acetylene torch repair work; and drive the fleet of tricycles operated by my father.

With my mom who is a very religious person, my dad also encouraged us to do volunteer work in the church that we helped built and it was there that I learned how to paint walls, ceilings, roofs and iron works that our machine shop business manufactured for the church.

Me and my brother Allan must have impressed the local priest with our painting skills that he hired us to paint the whole convent – for a fee. I believe that that was my first real job and I was only about 10 years old then. Until now, when I see workers painting my house, I surprise them by teaching them the right way to paint.

My other job for my dad was going with our chain saw operators in various areas to buy and cut tress from landowners who patronize our lumber yard business. I was already a wide-reader then, so you can imagine seeing a boy lying on his backpack reading Reader’s Digest and other books while the loud noise of chain saw cuts through the forest air.

My father was a voracious reader too. The only difference is that he has a photographic memory, something that I did not inherit. Fortunately, I believe Arizza  and Ashia did.

And so, it was my father’s love and challenge to pick up a business and to make it grow that also encouraged me very early on to try my hand in business or even any work that will benefit me financially. You can say my dad taught me ththe value of hard work and money.

And so on my own, I first became a sales agent for the Grolier Encyclopedia even while studying in college and selling synthetic gold from Japan and native backpacks on the sides.

Then I joined the local newspaper – The Morning Times. With my salary of P2,500 too small to maintain my playboy days, I also went into the dealership of NFA Rice with me impressing the laborers by carrying bags of rice in my back because by then I was also into body-building (to impress the girls). I used to ride my Yamaha DT 175 cc wearing a “sando” to show off my biceps and triceps. Once I attended a press conference with such get-up and one senior reporter complained about my “unbecoming” attire!

Later on, I went into the “tricycad” – or tricycle on bike – business and became among the pioneers of such business in Zamboanga City. My fleet soon grew to 15 and with many others going into it, the city councilors soon complained about the traffic it created. My media friend soon jokingly referred to me as “The Tricycad King.” Pirated by the Philippine Daily Inquirer in Manila, me and my Ann later went into the multi-level business known as Forever Living Products;” then into the used car business; and the restaurant business, with our restaurants in SM-Fairview, Manila and Ortigas called Satti Grill House. But with Ann getting fed up with the restaurant business, we closed it down after four years.

We are now left with my Dean and Kings Communications business where we count among our clients past and incumbent Presidents of the Philippines, Senators, Congressman, mayors, councilors and corporate clients and government agencies. These days, however, we are more excited about the social media arm of the business where we service mostly foreign clients.

What a life it had been! Who would have a taught a former cigarette vendor would now be advising Presidents, Speakers of Congress and billionaires who run the country’s engines of growth; and now foreigners too?

Life has been good indeed and I thank God, my parents, my wife and my children; siblings, clients, friends and everyone for taking the “tricycad” ride with me.

Belated happy birthday, Armand!

"Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well."  3 John 1:2

By: Dante Corteza

Last Updated on Wednesday, 30 July 2014 11:12