And so I continued to work. In 1943, I expanded and began trading goods between Cebu and Manila. From Cebu, I would transport tires on a small boat called a batel. After traveling for five days to Lucena (Capital City of Quezon Province, located in Southern Luzon Island), I would load them into a truck for the six- hour trip to Manila. I would end up sitting on top of my goods so they would not be stolen! In Manila, I would then purchase other goods from the earnings I made from the tires, to sell in Cebu.
Then, when WWII ended, I saw the opportunity for trading goods in post-war Philippines I was 20 years old. With my brother Henry, I put up Amasia Trading which imported onions, flour, used clothing, old newspapers and magazines, and fruits from the United States. In 1948, my mother and I got my siblings back from China. I also converted a two-story building in Cebu to serve as our home, office, and warehouse all at the same time. The whole family began helping out with the business.
In 1957, at age 31, I spotted an opportunity in corn-starch manufacturing. But I was going to compete with Ludo and Luym, the richest group in Cebu and the biggest cornstarch manufacturers. I borrowed money to finance the project. The first bank I approached made me wait for two hours, only to refuse my loan. The second one, China Bank, approved a P500,000-peso clean loan for me. Years later, the banker who extended that loan, Dr. Albino Sycip said that he saw something special in me. Today, I still wonder what that was, but I still thank Dr. Sycip to this day.
Upon launching our first product, Panda corn starch, a price war ensued. After the smoke cleared, Universal Corn Products was still left standing. It is the foundation upon which JG Summit Holdings now stands.
Interestingly, the price war also forced the closure of a third cornstarch company, and one of their chemists was Lucio Tan, who always kids me that I caused him to lose his job. I always reply that if it were not for me, he will not be one of the richest men in the Philippines today.