• A mechanical engineer goes into the food business



    IT is only when you go into business that you feel the government impositions, which are necessary. You don’t have any other choice but to accept them.

    Should you reject them, you would be operating illegally, which you won’t like to do, because you are in business for the long term.

    Virgilio Tatlonghari, a mechanical engineer by profession, who spent most of his professional life working in Vietnam and in other countries starting sometime in the 60s, knew all the government requirements in going into business.

    Vietnam then was divided into South and North and was devastated by war. Tatlonghari was in the South employed as an engineer of an American company and not a member of Philcag, a contingent sent by the Philippine government. The acronym stands for Philippine Civic Action Group.

    He and his Vietnamese wife My Duyen, whom he married when he was 24 and she was 19, saw to it that they were not violating any law after they put up a restaurant in 2007 that then specialized in, and still offers, Vietnamese food.

    The couple called their restaurant Bawai’s, which minus ‘s, is Vietnamese word for grandmother. It is obvious that their grandchildren chose the name.

    “We call you bawai,” their two grandchildren told their Vietnamese grandmother, who has French blood in her. Why not name it that? They did and the Bawai’s, and its meaning in English and Tagalog became known.

    This piece, however, is not about the food, which Bawai’s, which is located in Barangay Bucal, Silang, Cavite—not Tagaytay City—offers. Duediligencer is relating here the couple’s experience in complying with government laws governing the establishment of businesses.

    The Tatlongharis never complained about the government and against its rules. The others, who plan to go into business, should hear their story, which is worth telling, so that from their experience they could learn a thing or two on how to legally engage in business.

    A basic lesson in business is for owners to ignore corruption and red tape, which are difficult to do, and don’t argue with government regulatory agencies, if they want their venture to continue operating and eventually succeed.

    As a law-abiding company, Bawai’s, which is under conjugal ownership, would serve as a good example of good corporate citizenship.

    First, Bawai’s is registered as a single proprietorship with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the local government.

    The restaurant religiously pays taxes. As a DTI-registered business, Bawai’s owners were told by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) “you should register with us.” The tax men had preempted them because Bawai’s did not intend and never intended to cheat the BIR.

    After the BIR, the Social Security System (SSS) came knocking at Bawai’s doors. It reminded the Tatlongharis that their workers should be SSS members because under the law, SSS membership is compulsory.

    In the process of dealing with the SSS, the Tatlongharis were probably asked: why so few employees?

    Well, the restaurant does not need so many of them, because it is not a fast-food chain. It operates only from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends, that is, on Fridays, Saturdays and Sunday.

    Follow-up question: Why the limited time and the two-hour gap in between two dining schedules?

    Answer: Four hours is enough for diners to tell stories while eating and two hours for Bawai’s to prepare the tables for the next batch of customers, who prefer to come at 4 p.m. to enjoy their meals until 7 in the evening.

    Besides, the limited dining hours, dining at Bawai’s is by reservation. It strictly observes “No walk-in customers” policy. Less dining hours means less overhead expenses.

    The government also requires membership in Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) Why not? Bawai’s enrolled its workers with PhilHealth.

    Tatlonghari had a good story to tell about Pag-Ibig Fund. With only a few employees, he asked the agency’s officials: Would they do the computations for him?

    Yes, why not? He was told. Pag-Ibig Fund personnel did the computation.

    Finding P100 per worker as management’s contribution with workers putting in also P100, the too small amount to worry every quarter, Tatlonghari volunteered to advance the payment for one year and every year thereafter.

    The suggestion was most welcome, Pag-Ibig Fund said. Accepting Bawai’s offer, which it did, would facilitate the fund’s task of collecting because it need not issue reminders when the next payment would be due, overdue, or worse, long overdue.

    Despite the growing demand for Bawai’s Vietnamese menus, the owners are not about to expand its market.

    Bawai’s used to operate a branch, which was managed by one of the Tatlongharis’ children, in a property development project owned by a family friend, but for whatever reason decided to close it.

    As of now, one Bawai’s is enough for the Tatlongharis.



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