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Season 2 Episode 3 Recap: Dioceldo Sy on Creating an Empire and Paying It Forward

“It is the character that matters. You can lose money, but it’s very hard to earn back your credibility.”

These are the wise words of visionary entrepreneur Dioceldo Sy who emphasized the importance of character and credibility in successfully running a business empire. In the third episode of the much-anticipated season 2 of “Chinese by Blood, Filipino by Heart” series, Sy shares with CHiNOY TV the inspiring tale of his humble beginning which, with grit and and a strong character, led to his creation of one of the biggest cosmetics company in the country today, Ever Bilena. 

Being angkong’s boy

Sy attributes his success to his angkong who he labels as the ‘Pioneer of Philippine cosmetics’. Being with his angkong more than with his parents while growing up, Sy was instantly immersed in the world of business and industries at a young age. He remembers visiting factories with his angkong who toured him around and taught him everything there is to know. 

“I was fortunate enough at that young age to get to learn a lot from my angkong,” he shared.

Sy recounts an important life lesson he gained from his angkong during his childhood. ‘You have to be generous to have more blessings’. With the world being such a small place, Sy found out that sooner or later, the people he helped were the same people he would come across with later in life. “Somehow, somewhere, this help that you gave earlier will always come back,” he said.

Humble beginnings

Sy was no stranger to labor and hard work as he had already started working during his high school years. He continued his college degree at the Philippine School of Business Administration but later on dropped out to become a full-time worker for his uncle.

During that time, Sy recalls that selling was relatively easier. “Once you build your brand well, distribute well and when the products sell, you’re like printing money,” were the wise words of his angkong that inspired Sy to look for a company whose products he can import for his cosmetic business.

In 1983, he secured a deal with Taiwanese company Queen Chemical Factory, and from there, sprouted the birth of his beauty empire, Ever Bilena.

Fun fact: The term ‘Ever Bilena’ in Hokkien means “forever beauty lady”.

Sy took a walk down memory lane and remembered that during that time, there were only four of them working in the company. After a year and a half, he started expanding his workforce as well as the variety of his products. With this successful expansion, Sy was able to create a beauty brand that caters inclusively for every Filipina.

Encounters with business legends

Sy also shares his encounter with renowned tycoon Henry Sy Sr. who accommodated him and generously purchased his products. He also shared wise words from Henry Sy himself which is, “it is easier to earn one peso from one million people than to earn one million from one person”.

Aside from SM’s Henry Sy, Dioceldo Sy was also able to create ties with another giant in the business world, John Gokongwei, who would eventually become his wedding ninong. Gokongwei also played a crucial role in Sy’s success as he offered a helping hand when Sy was looking for extra sources of funds for his capital.

It is also from Mr. Gokongwei that Sy learned about the importance of building credibility. “You can lose money but it’s very hard to earn back credibility,”. 

Inspired by Sy’s story, Facebook netizen Ditas Emperador Tolentino shared that “Credibility is in a way, a higher bar than success. It means others look at you as a reliable source and decision maker so your stronger testimonials [from them] is your own personal example and you need to follow [through] on your promises. When you are credible, others have confidence in you because they see you as believable, competent and trustworthy. Credibility is the main precursor in building trust.”

Sy proudly stands on the shoulders of these business giants, always keeping in mind the various life long lessons he gained from them.

This played a big role in the success of Ever Bilena today as it celebrates its 39th year with over 1,000 products, 3,000 outlets, 700 business centers and 285,000 direct sellers nationwide.

Giving back to the community

“What’s nice about my dad is beyond being a business owner, he is also already known as a personality for giving back to women’s associations and women’s non-profit organizations, basically encouraging women’s empowerment,” said Sy’s daughter, Denice as she proudly shares her father’s passion for women-centered advocacies.

This also led to going beyond borders and Chinoy traditions as Sy proudly passed on the torch to his daughter. A number of people questioned him on why his successor was a woman instead of a man to which he answered that “It’s not about your gender or your sex. It’s about your competency, and all genders have equal competency and opportunity for as long as they work for it,”.

Passing on the torch

Who else to entrust his hard-earned flourishing empire to than Denice Sy? But it was not an easy flowing conversation between the father and the daughter.

During her college years in the US, Denice was offered a high paying job starting at $55,000 a month. As soon as the salary started rising, Sy knew that he had to get his daughter back. “I had to fly to San Francisco and practically drag her home. In my mind, pag nag-umpisa yan mag work sa US, hindi na uuwi yan. So patay ako dito, wala akong next gen sa Ever Bilena,” he shared.

Sy and his daughter eventually reached an agreement to Sy’s relief, as he is optimistic that his daughter can continue his success.

Again, he remembers another words of wisdom from Henry Sy and John Gokongwei. “Let them start at ground zero,”. Denice began her journey at the bottom with a salary of Php 20,000, and slowly, through hard work and passion, earned her position to the top. Today, Denice Sy currently serves as the Chief Sales & Marketing Officer for Ever Bilena and has been awarded several recognitions for being a promising business personality.

Words for the next Chinoy generation

“Never burn bridges”. Aside from the wise sayings mentioned earlier, this is another essential reminder that Sy has continuously shared to his children and the younger generation. Preserve your character and credibility and never hold bad blood with anyone for this will serve you later on in your life.

Inspired by Sy’s story, Facebook user Dyaneen Tz shared in a comment that “Maintaining good credibility is so important. Because of that personality, many people will trust and be with you. Lalu [na sa] panahon ngayun, bibihira na ang mga ganyang ugali ng tao. Not all have a good heart, [or are] kind and trustworthy.”

“Protect your credibility. In the end, in the latter years of your business life, that will help you as a good entrepreneur,” shared Sy.


Catch the next episode of ‘Chinese By Blood, Filipino By Heart’ on Sunday at 8 PM, airing on CNN Philippines. 

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