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The Millionaire Series: Cristina Decena

The Millionaire Series: Cristina Decena


I love this woman – if only I have the chance to meet her in person.
She is a perfect example of a rags to riches story.
A woman who proved that earning 1 million at age 20 is possible.

Side note: Join our newest Facebook Group: Filipino Financial Freedom Forum. Our mission: #FilipinoFinancialFreedom. Kalayaan!

Here’s an article from GMA featuring Cristina Decena, and the above Youtube video during an interview for Powerhouse, hosted by renowned journalist Kara David.

Earning your first million at age 20: Tips from Cristina Decena
Isabelle Laureta
GMA News
November 6, 2013

Many may think earning a million pesos at the age of 20 is impossible, but businesswoman Cristina Decena proved otherwise.

Born to a poor family in Tondo, Cristina decided she will not become part of her parents’ burden, so she started working at a young age.

She started her business sense by selling candies as a child. In college, she sold clothes and food. From these small businesses, she saved up enough money to invest in real estate, which earned her first million at 20 years old.

On the GMA News TV program “Powerhouse”, Cristina openly shared her journey as a businesswoman and generously shared some tips on being successful and happy.

Save money – and take it seriously 

Not being born with a silver spoon, Cristina learned the value of saving money at a young age. She was able to save what she earned from her small businesses and was surprised by the accumulated results.

“Nag-start ako magbenta, Grade 1 pa lang. Nagbebenta ako ng Chocnut sa eskwelahan. ‘Yung kinikita ko, iniipon ko at ginagamit ko na baon at pambili rin ng pangangailangan namin,” she said.

“Kasi parang nakita ko sa nanay ko [‘yung pagbebenta], so ginaya ko. Inipon ko ng inipon [‘yung kinikita ko] hanggang sa medyo lumaki na, nagamit ko sa puhunan.”

“‘Yung lahat ng kinikita ko, pinagsama-sama ko. Matiyaga ako talaga eh. Kapag meron akong singko, pinipilit kong maging piso. Pag may piso na ginagawa kong sampung piso. So ipon ng ipon,” she added. “Sabi nga sa ’kin ng nanay ko, nagkaroon daw agad ako ng isang milyon sa masyadong batang edad.”

Sell second hand goods for a higher price

A self-confessed “vain” person, Cristina shows “Powerhouse” host Kara David her collection of signature bags and belts. Her collections do not only serve as trendy pieces but also as investments, since she manages to sell her used bags and belts for a higher price!

“Mayroon din akong tindahan ng second hand na bags. Kung anong color ng damit ko, gusto ko ganoon din ang kulay ng bag ko [kaya ko binili lahat ng kulay], dahil pwede rin naman siyang ibenta after mong magamit,” she said.

“Mga after three days, binebenta ko na [‘yung mga bags and belts] tapos bibili nanaman ako. Minsan meron pa kong kita, kasi mas mura ang mga signature belts and bags [‘pag] sa ibang bansa [ko binili].”

Get your hands dirty

Two of Cristina’s main source of income are her build-and-sell real estate and furniture businesses. Deviating from the usual perception of what a company owner is supposed to do, she actually educates herself in the nitty gritty details of the job.

“Nag-start ako mag build-and-sell ng mga bahay [noong 21 to 22 years old ako.] Kailangan matiyaga ka maghanap kung ano ‘yung good buy,” she said. “At the same time, ‘wag ka na gumamit ng mga contractors [at] mga architect. Kasi ako mahilig ako magbasa ng architectural digests, so natatapos namin ‘yung project nang kaming dalawa lang [ng nanay ko].”

“Meron akong planta ng furniture (Muebles de Cristina) sa Marikina, bagay rin kasi siya sa build-and-sell. Ako ang nag-design, ako rin ang nag-manufacture [ng mga furniture sa bahay],” she added. “Nag-start ako sa kitchen cabinets at tsaka wardrobe cabinets. Ngayon, lahat ng mga binebenta kong condo at tsaka house and lot, furnished ng Muebles de Cristina.”

Have the right attitude towards success

What’s knowledge and talent without the right attitude? Cristina owes her success not only to her clients and employees but also to herself and to God.

“Hindi hadlang ang kahirapan sa magandang buhay na gusto mong makuha. Kailangan [ng] sikap, tiyaga at laging sasamahan ng dasal,” she said. “Paggising ko, lagi akong nagpapasalamat, tapos lagi kong sinasabi [na] kahit saan ako magpunta, sana samahan Niya ako. Napakamakapangyarihan ng dasal.”

When I saw the interview, I felt the pain of recalling moments of your life when you experienced downfall. Cristina Decena had her own rock bottoms, which inspired her to move from where she was to a better place. Personally, I would think that I would love to follow her footsteps (except on the lovelife part, I pray to be lucky or should I say blessed on that area of my life). Her personal life may be controversial, but her business acumen is sharp and something worth emulating.

There are 5 key takeaways I learned from this interview:

  • Poverty cannot stop you from succeeding if you have the will and the proper mindset to convert that will to action.
  • Start early and you will not know it, you have reached your first million.
  • Start small, dream big.
  • You can do-it-yourself, you just have to learn and never stop learning.
  • Diversify your earning assets.
I’d like to thank and acknowledge GMA News for coming up with an informative show such as Powerhouse.
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