BUSINESSMAN KONO SALINAS
EVERY ENTREPRENEUR HAS A STORY AND MORE OFTEN THAN NOT, THE BEGINNING IS NOT GLAMOROUS. KONO SALINAS IS PROOF, HOWEVER, THAT NO MATTER HOW GRIM YOUR PAST, YOU CAN STILL TURN YOUR LIFE AROUND.
Kono Maximo Lazaro Salinas, the young entrepreneur behind the hog-raising Farm to Market (F2M) Agricultural Business, was a “siga (tough guy)” in his younger years. He said that he would always pick a fight, especially if he saw someone being bullied.
“Kahit hindi ko away, nakikisali ako. Hindi niyo pwedeng kantihin ‘to kasi kaibigan ko (Even if I was not initially involved, I always join in the fight. No one should mess with my friends),” shares Salinas, likening himself to Robin Hood—the legendary outlaw/hero who fought for the downtrodden.
Given this history, his success as a businessman was the biggest plot twist for his family who never expected that he would turn out this way. Initially, he wanted to become a police officer, maybe even pursue law. His mother, however, encouraged him to take up Information Technology (IT) instead, fearing his “basagulero (belligerent man)” side would lead to violence in the field.
Salinas never finished college and instead found a job in 2013. Soon after, he developed an interest in repairing cars, motorcycles, and racing, which led him to buying and selling cars by 2015. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, his business struggled and he sold it all as he ventured into agriculture with a hog-raising business.
At first, he was hesitant given the circumstances, and marketing meat is vastly different from selling cars. But with the help of his friends who would sell his products, Salinas’ business emerged successful despite the global health crisis.
A FATHER’S LOVE
Beyond money, Salinas’ motivation that pushes him to work harder is his daughter, who died in 2015 because of a heart problem. He shares that his thenfive-year-old daughter was not given full medical attention because they could not afford the expenses; his car buy-and-sell business was just starting then. Salinas admits that it’s still painful to remember what happened to his little princess, but he holds no resentment towards the hospital staff.
“Hindi naman mangyayari ‘yun kung walang plano ang Diyos. Siguro ‘yun ang naging susi, ang sign sa ‘kin ni Lord na sipagan at galingan ko pa para hindi na pwede maulit (I believe that wouldn’t happen unless God has a plan [for us]. Perhaps it was the key, a sign from the Lord that I should work harder so that it will never happen again),” Salinas muses.
Currently, he is focusing on giving his two sons everything they need and want as a way to compensate for what he could have provided. “Mahal na mahal ko ang nag-iisang prinsesa ng buhay ko. Sinasabi ko sa kanya na ako ang bahala sa dalawa niyang kapatid at hindi na mauulit ‘yung nangyari noon na walang wala tayo. Ngayon, kung buhay sana siya, mabibigay ko sana lahat ng gusto niya (I adore her, my princess. I assure her that I’ll look after her two brothers and we’ll never reach the point of bankruptcy ever again. Now, if she were still alive, we would’ve been able to give her everything she desires).”
Although he is separated from his children, Salinas ensures that he is not only a financial provider but also a supportive father. “Growing up, I yearned for my father’s attention,” he says, adding that he used to compete with his older siblings to be noticed. Salinas would join karate competitions and strived to bring home medals to impress his father, who would only attend his brother’s basketball matches.
This deep drive continues to push him to succeed in life, eager to prove something to his father. However, he is grateful for his tough childhood and how his father “raised them in a disciplined manner.” Salinas recalls how they were expected to be home by 6 pm, and to be bathed and done eating dinner by 8 pm. Like some children who grew up in the 80s and 90s, spanking as a form of discipline was a regular experience for him and his brothers.
While the entrepreneur acknowledges that he has a complicated relationship with his father, he digresses and shares that he is somewhat grateful for his father’s lack of attention because it developed his competitive nature. This ambitious personality, Salinas stresses, is what brought him his current accomplishments. Currently, he adds that he is not as “tough” as his father once was, but his children are made aware of their mistakes especially when he raises his voice. Salinas also constantly reminds them to develop reverence for the Lord.
Sa mundo ng business, maraming nagsasabi na kahit hindi naka-graduate, pwede magtagumpay basta may diskarte. Ako, hindi sang-ayon dun. Siguro, sinwerte lang ako. Pero pa’no kung hindi? Iba pa rin po ‘yung graduate ka (In the business realm, plenty argue that your success is not based on whether you’re a college graduate, as long as you’re resourceful. I disagree. Perhaps I just got lucky. Suppose I wasn’t? Being a college graduate still makes a difference),” Salinas explains, adding that he discourages the youth from imitating his decision to drop out of college.
A JOURNEY OF RESILIENCE AND EMPATHY Starting his hog-raising business was a giant leap of faith for the businessman who had zero experience in the industry. Salinas admits he thought it was much like raising dogs and he learned the truth the hard way—pig farming is a lot more complicated than it appears. When he started out, his first major crisis was the death of 20 piglets. Only then did he learn that hogs are more susceptible to illness compared to dogs due to their weakened immune systems.
But that experience never deterred him, and he says, “I didn’t think about [the complexities of the business]. When I got into hog raising, I had already placed my bets. It’s like whatever I had, I wagered and risked everything.” And the efforts paid off. Salinas reveals that he will soon open a flavored lechon (roasted pig) business in Quezon City.
By the end of the year, Salinas aims to establish the Tupad Pangarap Foundation to assist students who require financial assistance for their education. He also wishes to guide the children to develop grit, stressing that aspiring to reach the stars is just half of the equation and they need to put in as much work because success is an uphill battle.
“Alam ko naman na hindi ako si Superman, na hindi ko kaya sagipin lahat. Pero gusto ko pa rin makatulong hangga’t sa kaya ko (I know I’m not Superman; I can’t save the world. But I want to help as much as I can),” Salinas says.
He wishes to launch this education program because while he achieved success without a college degree, Salinas believes education (and the diploma that comes with it) is still important. “Sa mundo ng business, maraming nagsasabi na kahit hindi naka-graduate, pwede magtagumpay basta may diskarte. Ako, hindi sang-ayon doon. Siguro, sinwerte lang ako. Pero pa’no kung hindi? Iba pa rin po ‘yung graduate ka (In the business realm, plenty argue that your success is not based on whether you’re a college graduate, as long as you’re resourceful. I disagree. Perhaps I just got lucky. Suppose I wasn’t? Being a college graduate still makes a difference),” Salinas explains, adding that he discourages the youth from imitating his decision to drop out of college.
As the former chairman of the Tau Gamma City of Biñan Triskelion executive council, Salinas currently supports a number of scholars and has initiated many charity projects through their fraternity. Sharing with those in need, even if one has nothing, is the most valuable lesson in his life, he says. Salinas also instills the value of generosity in the young students that he mentors.
Above all, the 34-year-old businessman believes that his dark past does not define him. If anything, he wants to use his story to inspire others to overcome their trials and be God-fearing individuals. Salinas is grateful, however, for those who helped him when he was at the lowest point of his life and he had nothing. It’s this generosity that also inspired him to turn his life around.
“You never know, [what if] that small amount of help or even just a little of your time helped change their lives? What if they’re at their lowest? Your generosity will leave an indelible mark; it could make all the difference,” Salinas ends.