Posted by: Jae | September 16, 2007

Closet Capitalist

When I was four years old, I was plunked in a kindergarten class where my classmates were all one or two years ahead of me. It was a school near the public market, chosen for its proximity to our house. Previous to that, I never even went to a play school or any of those colorful places where children are taught how to make animals from clay and the teachers occasionally come to class in rooster costumes. This was a REAL school. We sat solemnly on wooden desks facing a stern teacher who taught the alphabet and wrote with chalk on a green blackboard. I was a salengket, an outsider, and my classmates made sure to remind me of that every chance they could get. Compounding the problem further was the fact that at the time, I could only speak English and unfortunately had difficulties understanding Tagalog. I had no friends, everyone was competitive and my teacher picked on me because I wrote the slowest. It was Child Stress and I had no Sustagen.

My teacher had this habit of bringing polvoron and yema to class and sell to students. (I used to think all teachers were like that. When I transferred to St. Scho for Prep {“Prep – Saint Emebert!”}, my class adviser was this kind middle-aged rosey-cheeked schoolmarm type. On the first day of class, she gave us one cookie each as a Welcome Token. I panicked for a bit, because I thought she would make us pay and I didn’t have any money with me.) The students would fall in line and buy from this polvoron-selling teacher, maybe at fifty centavos each. I was not given money by my parents at the time, so I could only stare wistfully while my classmates bought polvoron. It seemed the “in” thing: buying polvoron from the teacher. It meant you had M-O-N-E-Y. It meant you were cool. I tried asking my mom to give me money, but she said no. She thought I would use the money to buy the bacteria-infested junk foods outside the school. I put on my most kawawa face, does she want me to go hungry and die? What she did was ply me with loads and loads of delicious home-prepared baon — sandwiches, cereals, cookies, chocolate milk, pasta, until my Barbie lunchbox was bursting at the seams.

But I was not happy, of course. I wanted to buy from my teacher. I wanted to be a consumer! I wanted purchasing power! So this nasty four-year-old devised a scheme: she would sell her baon to get money to buy her teacher’s polvoron.

I first offered to my seatmate. Three huge chocolate chip cookies. How much, the classmate asked? Doh. I forgot the part about having to price my items. One peso each, I said. The deal was clinched, and with my shiny one peso, I proudly and boldly lined up at the yema line. In my knapsack, carefully hidden, were two more shiny one-peso coins. For tomorrow and the day after next.

Look out, world. This four-year-old is now EMPOWERED.

And so begin my adventures in small-scale entrepreneurship.

When I was ten years old, I came up with a family newsletter — I was editor, lay-out artist, writer and circulation manager — and compelled family members to “subscribe” to it. I charged each person five pesos, from my Lola to all my Aunties and Uncles to my immediate family in exchange for a copy of “Newsdate by Jayee the Great”. (I am called Jayee in the family). Just a few months ago, my mom was cleaning out her closets and tokadors and she found her yellowish copy of “Newsdate”. The headline for that issue was the birth of my cousin Nikee, now sixteen years old and off to College.

When I was twelve, my brother and sister and I pooled our money together and bought tetra pack juice straight from a juice plant. We made a sign and tacked it in front of our house. The kids came in droves. We were rich beyond our wildest dreams that summer. We were buying gadgets for ourselves and things for the home.

Of course, while growing up, particularly during College, I earned income primarily from writing. But every now and then, my entrepreneurial skills honed in Kindergarten kick in and I “launch” a new business venture.

Sometimes though, business ventures were born of desperation, like that time Monica, Dianne and I went to Puerto Galera and realized we brought too much alcohol (from Manila) and too little money. Because we were young and reckless, but mainly because we didn’t really have much of a choice, we laid down our beach mats on the beach, lit a bunch of candles and sold drinks that we concocted on our own. Actually, just one drink we concocted on our own: a blue-curacao based cocktail we named “Blue Job”. Wearing the tiniest of bikinis and the biggest of smiles, we sold one styro cup after another. Did we make money? We did. Only to lose it — ALL OF IT! — afterwards on the boat ride home.

In law school, I made bracelets and necklaces from Swarovsky crystals and sold them to my blockmates, who bought them at P800-P1000 a piece. I also sold name bracelets before anyone else did, and my classmates put in orders for themselves, for cousins, for friends. My dad joked that I wasn’t enrolled in law school anymore, I was just going to Malcolm Hall to get orders.

There were HUGE failures too. Like when my friends Marga and Monica put up a booth in a bazaar in Valle Verde. Marga sold handmade jewelry, Monica some lip balm stuff, and me — creative, imaginative, artistic, soulful me — sold spell kits. I had bought this witchcraft book from Powerbooks months before and decided I would make potions and charms and whatnot and package them in whimsical containers. I made little cards where the instructions were written in poetry. In short, effort talaga. But maybe the white witch of the east decided that her magic was not for commerce, our whole weekend venture was one big flop. I was only able to recoup my capital when my boyfriend at the time purchased all my items. Mercy purchase? I’ll take it bebeh, hehe.

* * *

There is a point to this long-winded narrative. I’M AT IT AGAIN. May business na naman akong bago. Tadaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah: Now selling: OLAY TOTAL EFFECTS MOISTURIZER. P400 only, comes with free facial wash. (In Watson’s, it’s P649 and the facial wash is P200 if bought alone and P150 if bought in tandem with the moisturizer.) Offer good until supplies last!! Bili na!


If you want to order, text me if you know my number. If you don’t, email me at






  1. hey gorgeous..

  2. fotah ka… nag-iisip na sana ko ng magandang comment sa iyong capitalistic self-criticism e… tapos ganyan?! shet…. pabili nga isang olay total effects chuvachuchu (seryoso ako) πŸ™‚

  3. bibili talaga ako. pwede ba pag wala nang facial wash? baka naman masobrahan na ko sa effects nyan diba? hehehe. i’ll order!

  4. ateng jae,

    hmmm parang may mali sa title,
    di ka naman papasang ‘close capitalist’,
    dahil di naman profit ang iyong motive
    kundi ‘beauty standard’ ‘ala imelda.


    ps: ang order ko, nahan na?

  5. beach boy: πŸ™‚

    taroogs: sige. πŸ™‚

    arni: okidoki. πŸ™‚

    gari: cold profit ito. hindi beauty. ferdinand marcos, not imelda. haha. joke. hindi naman ako mapagkamkam. san ka ba? kala ko nasa area ka. sige hatid ko nalang orders mo sa CARET. mwah! πŸ™‚

  6. Hindi ka naman capitalist kasi wala namang oppression ng manggagawa, haha! Cool! Pabili nga rin, nauubos na face wash ko rito at moisturiser, magwi-winter pa naman. Sobra mahal dito ng mga ‘yan! Good luck sa business, lalo na’t magpa-Pasko! πŸ˜‰

    P.S. I met a lawyer (UP) who enjoys her job selling insurance more than offering her legal services! πŸ˜€ Go Sassy Lawyer! πŸ˜‰

  7. hi jae, sabi ko kay gus i-order nya din ako, para steady lang ang Olay moments ko. hahahaha.

    seryoso din ako. tirhan moko. or better yet, dalhin mo bukas sa yoga class. pls pls πŸ™‚

    thanks, mwah

  8. wala bang Regeneris?

  9. bonn – mas mahal pa ata shipping kesa cost ng commodity. haha. kareen – sureness!
    mori – gaga, it’s regenerisT with a T. wala, pero pupunta mama ko sa states next week, kung gusto mo ipapabili kita.

  10. ayan, di ko na kelangan mag-ebay at magdeposit for gcash.pabili.kunin ko sa monday.

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