Profiles, Stories

Dioceldo Sy: The Father Of Philippine Cosmetics

In the past 37 years, founder Dioceldo “Deo” Sy led Ever Bilena Cosmetics through thick and thin. Accomplishing this wasn’t an easy task, but with a resilient attitude and clear goals – top-quality cosmetic items at affordable prices – he expanded Ever Bilena into one of the biggest (and most affordable) beauty brands in the country and turned him into the “Father of Philippine Cosmetics.” 


Dioceldo Sy grew up as the first and favorite grandson of his grandparents of both sides, and had what he admitted was a privileged upbringing. Sy, however, recounted the story of how his Chinese immigrant grandfather, which he called the “pioneer of Philippine cosmetics” came to the Philippines. “He came in empty-handed, worked hard, and had a good network, especially during the Japanese time,” recounted Sy. With their house on top of the Japanese camp, Sy’s angkong befriended them by cooking food for them, which Sy felt doubled as PR for his pomade business. “He was one of the few fortunate people or businessmen that was able to continue the business even if there’s war,” he noted, and his big takeaway there was, “You don’t fight with the government. You work with [them]. Strike a deal with them. Be fair. I think that’s one of the best wisdom I learned from my grandfather in my earlier years.”


In his younger days, Sy was a working student, working in the morning and studying in the evening. Working cost a lot of sacrifices, including a potential basketball career for him (this didn’t stop him from pursuing basketball, as today he’s a co-owner of PBA team Blackwater Elite), and ultimately not finishing his college in Philippine School of Business Administration. After other stints in selling shirts and other promotional items, he found it too difficult, so he returned to the cosmetics industry to start up his own business – Ever Bilena Cosmetics – which began with nail polish. He later expanded to eye shadow, lipstick, and other products. Following the economic growth after the EDSA Revolution, his Taiwanese supplier extended more credit lines, and his business grew over three times in 1986, which led him to extend further and to hire more beauty consultants to man the stores. “I was fortunate and blessed enough to be at that time where the economy was starting to grow, and I was able to grow with the economy, and grow with our major partners, so that was the start of the growing of our business and our country’s economy,” he narrated. 

As he began to be more engaged in department store business with Ever Bilena, he noticed that foreign cosmetics were too expensive for local people. “I [needed] to do something to help our countrymen, especially our pretty Filipinas, to enjoy luxury makeup,” he said regarding the market surrounding these products. This led to him contacting his suppliers and partners around the world who helped him transform Ever Bilena into affordable products without sacrificing global quality, beginning with selling it at half of the minimum wage. 

Hiring factories in China for Ever Bilena was difficult at first due to China’s reputation in manufacturing lesser-quality products, but Sy managed to find reliable factories which learning for him was a two-way avenue – he helped them in how to produce quality products so they can export abroad, and he learned from them, since they were able to produce quality items that was much better than what he taught them.

Dioceldo Sy (left) with his brother, COO Silliman Sy. Taken from Preen.


“It’s probably an inspiration in my part to help our Filipina consumers to be pretty, and I think they deserve products who make them pretty at an affordable price and a global quality, and I was able to do all these things,” he shared. “That’s one of the things I want to share [with] the next generation who will run the company: Make it global quality and affordable price, and remember at least 50% of the cost of minimum wage. If you continue to do that, you will always be successful, because I feel a Filipina consumer can always share half of her daily wage to buy a pretty product make her feel good. That’s a secret to have a good quality product that can last a long time.”

Sy hopes the next generation continues to work hard and to stay grounded. “I believe you work hard before entitlement comes in, not entitlement first before you work hard. Once you’re entitled, you won’t work anymore, because you’ll feel that everything is so easy,” he advised, continuing, “I don’t believe that there’s ‘luck’ or ‘lucky’ in life. I term ‘luck’ as blessings, and blessings will come through hard work. Of course, if you don’t plant or cultivate, there’s no harvest.”

“I believe Ever Bilena is a legacy for our people. It’s a local brand, local inputs, and it’s all Filipino ideas in these product lines,” he reflects, looking back at his many years of running Ever Bilena. “Work hard, nothing is impossible, don’t be discouraged, put God in the center, and everything will be alright.” 

If you want to learn more about this Chinoy, watch his extended CHiNOY Profiles here!

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