Maria Cecille and Pedro Bravo treat the guests with Fiesta theme reception at the Plaza of Las Casas.
Maria Cecille and Pedro Bravo treat the guests with Fiesta theme reception at the Plaza of Las Casas.

HIS mother died when he was in grade 4. After he graduated elementary, his father also died.

"When my father was dying, he held my hand and told me. 'You will be a millionaire at the age of 35.' I asked myself how can that happen? He left us with nothing and we are 16 siblings with different mothers," Pedro Bravo, 70, recalled.

Just like a fantasy story or even a biblical tale, his father's prediction on his deathbed came true. At 35 years old Pedro became a millionaire.

The couple with the bridesmaids Catherine Sicam and Cristina Saldaña Williams and bestmen Isagani Acueza and Raoul Barbosa
The couple with the bridesmaids Catherine Sicam and Cristina Saldaña Williams and bestmen Isagani Acueza and Raoul Barbosa

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His secret? Hard work and determination to succeed in life, his children and the support of his wife Maria Cecille Bravo, the woman he married three times.

Humble beginnings

After elementary school, he needed to work as a farmer earning P1.50 a day and other odd jobs so he can finish high school. Pedro thought that nothing will happen to him if he will remain in Ilocos Sur, his hometown.

Remembering what his Tatay used to tell him to dream and fly high, Pedro went to Manila to be with his siblings who were also struggling like him. He worked hard accepting odd jobs just to survive and study until he graduated from Feati University with Bachelor of Science in Telecommunications Engineering course.

"I spent 10 years studying in college because I have to work at the same time," admitted Bravo.

After graduation, he worked as an employee as an engineer in charge of design plans for outdoor installations of telecommunication facilities. Over the years with the advent of telecommunication facilities, it was time to move on he said, so he took the bold step to form a small company that he is the only one employee working. In November 1986, he registered his company Intele which means "Integrated Telecommunication and Engineering."

"Actually, it started with me as the sole employee closing the deal and implementing all the jobs until I was able to hire 15 employees," remembered Bravo who met a Chinese lawyer who lent him an office at the fourth floor of a building in Sta Cruz, Manila.

Pedro and Cecille Bravo with their children Jeru, Maricris, Matthew and Miguel
Pedro and Cecille Bravo with their children Jeru, Maricris, Matthew and Miguel

Through referrals because of his expertise and dedicated work ethics, he met big-time Chinese clients along the way who were putting up big businesses after the 1986 revolution.

"I installed all their telecommunication facilities," explained Bravo until Globe became his biggest client until now.

Now, Intele has expanded into a corporation with 170 regular employees and is now called Intele Builders and Development Corp. with four sub-contractors.

His company won the Outstanding Contractor award of Globe for three consecutive years now.

The woman behind his continued success

Cecille, on the other hand, was honed to be an entrepreneur at a young age. She had worked for her family who used to sell spare parts and heavy equipment in Quiapo.

She focused on helping her mother and her siblings because her father has another family.

She dreamt of having a Christian family until he met Pedro through a common friend. They became friends until they fell in love. Little did Cecille knew that Pedro has another family.

"Those were very challenging times for me because everybody was against our relationship and I was an active member of the church," recalled Cecille who admitted that she really fell in love with Pedro.

They decided to end their relationship several times until Pedro learned that his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. They decided to separate for good.

But Pedro's wife did not survive breast cancer. She died and Pedro experienced business challenges in his company.

Cecille and Pedro met again until Pedro asked Cecille to marry him.

"I decided to marry Cecille because she has all the qualities of a woman who would be a good wife, a good mother, a very good partner in business and most of all, who loves me unconditionally," said Pedro who promised to change for good.

Cecille is now the vice president of Intele Builders and Development Corp. who handles the Finance and Marketing Department of the company.

"My wife is a very good manager. She handles the finances and marketing side of the company which eventually grew into what it is today," Pedro said.

Happy wife, happy life

They had their first civil wedding in Quezon City on Pedro's birthday on Sept 22, 2007.

After a year, they had a Christian wedding in Tagaytay on August 8, 2008 and from then on, their business flourished until now.

To give gratitude for all the blessings they received as a family, Pedro and Maria renewed their vows and celebrated the 70th birthday of Pedro with the family, employees and friends at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar on September 21 to 23.

They treated their more than 400 guests with accommodation and food at the famous historical resort.

The solemn renewal of vows at the Santuario de San Jose in Las Casas on September 22 was followed by a grand fiesta reception at the Plaza of the same resort with star-studded celebrities like Dulce, Wency Cornejo and Ima Castro who all sang at the church and at the reception.

The birthday celebration of Pedro in the evening of September 22 started with spectacular fireworks display then a concert by Wency Cornejo, Gigi de Lana and Joey Generoso or Joey G of Side A Band at Hotel de Oriente of Las Casas.

One big family

Cecille accepted and tried to love all the children of Pedro.

She also forgave her father and make friends with her other siblings.

"What's the use of hating each other? Life is short and everything is possible if you learn how to forgive and just love," said Cecille.

The couple considers the employees of Intele as their family. According to Pedro, "We give them housing loan without interest especially those who stayed with us for a long time."

Cecille shared, "Every Christmas, it's just not a party but an overnight treat because we want to bring them to different resorts with their family."

According to Cecille, "You have to dream big but have to start with small business. Prayers also can make the impossible, possible just like what happened to me and Pedro."

"Have a big heart and be truly kind to those who help you reach your dream," concluded Pedro.

Additional text by Ferdinand S. Beltran