Monday, November 29, 2004



Mano is both the Spanish word for “hand” and the Filipino tradition of showing respect for elders. It is also the first two syllables in the name of Manolo Samson, chairman of the Mano Business Program, which seeks to be the first network marketing system in the country that will conveniently be available nationwide.

For many Filipinos, networking has acquired a negative connotation. In recent years, it has become synonymous with pyramiding, a system wherein the bulk of income derived from commissions earned from recruitment of new sales associates. Although it is true that products are offered for sale, their prices are also bloated to ridiculous extremes, and it is mainly by recruitment that one gets his investment back. Thus, the pioneers do very well in the business, but the market is eventually saturated and new recruits barely derive income or even get their money back.

Mano seeks to dispel the negative under-tones of networking. With its partners, Itti Shoes Corporation (manufacturer of Itti footwear and Caterpillar Apparel), Millennium Plans (a P100 million paid-up pre-need company and an affiliate of the Technological Institute of the Philippines) and Oriental Assurance Company, the company promises that real value-of-money quality products and services will be given to its customers and partners.

What does this mean? A P5,770 product package would entitle a member to a P3,000 gift certificate of Itti products: Itti shoes and Caterpillar Apparel. This can be redeemed in more than 106 stores in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. It must be stressed that the items are retail-priced, and therefore one is certain that their prices are reasonable. In addition, P1,770 is applied to a pension and enforced savings plan (with built-in insurance plan) that has a money back guarantee.

The remaining P1,000 would entitle a member to a lifetime discount and privilege card that would entitle him to up to 40 percent discount on Itti stores and outlets nationwide.

Added features include 10 percent discount at Country Waffles Annapolis, Greenhills; Patronage Rebate on Itti and Caterpillar products; and 5 percent incentive on renewals of the protection plan package. Of course, one also earns from direct referrals, too. It is standard procedure for companies to give rewards on referrals to be able to boost their markets.

The entire Samson brood is convinced by their patriarch’s vision, and, as such, are committed to working towards Mano’s fruition. One cannot help but admire Manolo Samson who remains unassuming despite his business success.

In beautiful and fluent Filipino, he relates how he started working for the renowned shoemaking shoemaking clan of Marikina headed by his elders. The young Manolo Samson wanted to earn his own money, so his mother paid him P17 per week to cut threads in their shoemaking factory. He wanted to earn more, so he sold cigarettes to the factory workers. This wasn’t enough. So, with his twin brother Manuel, he got on buses to sell cigarettes. “I will never forget that one time I got off the bus in front of Nepo and I dropped the packs of cigarettes I was selling,” he says.

Eventually, he moved on to bigger achievements to become a leader in the shoemaking industry.

As a avowed unbeliever in networking who is immune to marketing spiels, I was surprised to be convinced at Mano’s Business Program presentation. Perhaps, my receptivity comes from the fact that Itti and Caterpillar are well-known and good-quality brands. Even more importantly, Mano seeks to encourage the Filipino consumer to support Filipino-owned labels and companies – a vital stand if local is to remain afloat against the barrage of foreign-made brands. Somehow, we Filipinos have to look out for, and support our own. Manuel Samson, twin brother of Manolo Samson is fully convinced, too. At the end of the Mano presentation, he declared that discounts with the privilege card will be honored by his Otto shoe stores, too.

Thus, Mano is aptly named. With its promise to deliver quality products, it gives back respect to Filipino brands. More importantly, as it seeks to promote the sale of locally made goods, it lends a helping-hand to generate employment for numerous Filipinos.

Superior product quality is the first step towards business success. The Filipino, who is gregarious and friendly, naturally gravitates towards networking. Business success hinges on giving the market what it wants and Mano seeks to capitalize on this fact.