The Exciting 70's
Davao City, Philippines
Excerpt from the Book, "My Incredible Life Journey"
[additional writings by Juana,Walden and Cecilia Celis, to our best recollection]
[Walden -- We started outgrowing our place in Anda. It came to a point that we have more actions than we have spaces. Every movement within the facilities becomes an issue. By late 1969, my father signed up a new lease with the Francisco family -- a brand new 5-Door building right in the main street that was San Pedro. By 1970, we opened the first ever, fully air-conditioned, largest department store in Mindanao! Customers never seem to stop coming, and my father's ideas never stop flowing. All roads lead to USA Department Store.]
[Juana/Walden] Around that time, my mother was running a full size department store, and a Restaurant/Night Club in the second floor. It was a decent size restaurant with a back-end stage (10'x30') for the band (we used to call it "combo.") I was always amazed by the music and the musicians, and was a huge fan of the band leader and guitarist, Sergio Morales. The RestoBar became very popular, especially for people who roams the night life in Davao. The band was playing anything pop, latin, classical, you name it -- My mother even teach the singer, Elvie Gonzales, a few Chinese songs, notably "Wang Bu Liao" or "Forget me Not." It became an instant hit, not only to the very few Chinese patrons, but to the local Visayan speaking customers. The crowd always go wild.
[Juana/Walden -- On September 21, 1972, President Marcos declared martial law in the Philippines. During its early days, panic and fear became a norm among the residents. Many businesses suffered, and many move to safer destinations. My father was among the many who flew out of the country. He temporarily lived in with his Sister and Niece in Hongkong. I wasn't really sure how long, but remember we always have Mama with us during those times]. Meanwhile the business name changed to Lima Department Store, and this time my mother took the lead. The business actually flourished during the martial law years. My mother, through great patience and perseverance brought the store to its peak with flying colors.]
[Walden -- My father's return from his self-exile in the early 73, show him the potential of the restaurant aka Night Club business. He invited famous national singers, movie stars to perform. I remember Gloria Sevilla, Jun Polistico, It was during this time that Papa met the famous Relly Coloma, an organist artist under the label of Villar Records. He immediately took the opportunity to work his way into signing up distributorship for Villar Records, and later as the the distributorship for Yamaha Musical Instruments.]
[Juana/Walden -- Seeing the opportunity in the business, my father quickly sign up more international vendors -- Kodak Processing, where he was the first ever Photo Processing in Mindanao, Enicar Watches, Seiko Watches, Pias Cosmetics, and even signing up Dyna Records (for a short period)]
[Juana/Walden] One day, my mother noticed a black butterfly circling around her counter. She tried to shoo-away, but it kept coming back. It might have been superstition, or perhaps plain coincidence. That night, a group of drunk local guests 'intentional' destroyed the gents' bathroom. The restaurant 'bouncer' Boy Galope confronted the group, and one of the drunk open fire. After minutes of gunfire, one lay dead, several wounded. Boy Galope, was fighting for his life and later survived - my mother and all of the employees were unharmed. Going home, that night, my mother received news that her father (our grandfather) passed. The restaurant aka Night club closed for several days, and in a few weeks, my parents decided to shut down for good.]
[Juana/Walden/Cecilia Celis -- When a door closes, a window opens. (I should have said that then.) For with the Restaurant official closed, a window of opportunity opens. It was during that period in time that my father started to re-learn music. With the empty space that was the restaurant, he rebuilt and redesign it to become the Yamaha showroom.
[Walden -- He opened his music school -- The Yamaha Training Center of Davao, with much help from very good friends, Rosario Romero and Cecilia Celis. My brother William, myself and the rest of my siblings were the first students. With aggressive promotions, the Yamaha products started to sell, my father also invited then the younger, Amormio Cillan Jr for concerts with back to back promotion for the Yamaha Musical Instruments. William and myself were huge fans of Amor, we cut our first musical record with Dyna label with his help. In a few months, ,William and myself were playing demos with my father, as he peddles the Yamaha organ all over Mindanao - I recalled bringing 7 Organs in our huge truck, and we played and demo across the province over Tagum, Carmen, Nabunturan, Lupon and Mati, and sold out every single unit in that one single trip. The Yamaha days was one of my happiest days -- playing in the Parks (Davao, Digos and Mati, played in our school, played in Memorial All Saints Day, we played everywhere.]
[Cecilia Celis -- Ate Rose, then Ms. Rosario Romero way back, was the Administrator of the Yamaha Music School at Pasong Tamo. I was her Assistant Administrator. We were surprised one day when your Papa showed up and talked with me and Ate Rose inviting us to take charge of teaching in Davao as your Papa will open a dealership for Yamaha Electronic Instruments. I didn't know how he came to know that I used to be a piano teacher at Immaculate Conception College now known as the "University of the Immaculate Conception". To make the story short, we became your Papa's hired teachers at the "Yamaha Training Center" at your department Store . If I remember right it was named "Ong Department Store in San Pedro Street. We first knew him to be Johnny Ong with your Mama, Juana Ong. ( Am sending you pictures of the recitals with many students of course including you "Kids". You were all so young.]
[Walden -- My father's love for music dates back to the early fifties, I remember my father have one of the odd looking Chinese string instrument, that Wiliam and I sometimes use as swords to play with. During the Yamaha days, Papa used to play the organ his favorite song then, Dahil Sa Iyo. I bet he must also have a Chinese version of that song, although I have never heard him sing that version.]
[JuanaWalden -- In 1973, my father bought our very first own house in Davao. This was in Juna Subdivision. In the pebble-finish front driveway, he proudly have a cut-out finish in concrete his Lima Logo cemented. Inside the rear pathway, he made a cut-out of the letters - L I M A, for Loyalty, Integrity, Modesty, Always.]