like most of her peers, and most “superstars” of the day, Mila del Sol could have wasted her millions on drugs, sex, and chachacha. instead, she raised six kids (as a single mom, with some help from our fathers), and supported her parents, brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, uncles, aunts, friends, friends of friends, and the strangest of strangers.
and, in the 60s, she put all her savings into Superior Maintenance Services Inc – what was to become the flagship of the family’s little armada.
with my dad, my uncles, and my eldest brother and sister, mom drove (look out! asian woman driver!) into one of the most competitive, lowest-margin industries in the philippines: janitorial services.
“now why would you want to do something as stupid as that?” asked Senator Raul Manglapus, war hero, the “voice of freedom”, and one of mom & dad’s closest buds. (this was some 20 years before his second stint as hero – this time of our peaceful revolution)
“because so many people keep asking me for money,” mom said. “but i dont want to just give them money. i want them to earn it, like i did. i want to give them jobs.”
(despite her current reputation as a saintly philanthropist, mom was never a bleeding-heart. she put all of us – her own kids – to work, with no regard for child labor laws (mila del sol, as we all know, makes up her own laws). i was dusting tables, in SMS uniform, at the bureau of immigration, when i wasnt even tall enough to see the tabletops)
and janitorial work is the only work that most of them can do, she reasoned. that will get them started. once they have this job, they can move on to better jobs.
and move on they did. 40 years and over a hundred thousand maintenance workers later, come to our reunions and youll see moms former staff, their kids, and grandkids: teachers, doctors, lawyers, politicians (not all of them went on to honest labor, but you cant blame mom for that).
tito Raul got it, and it is to him that we owe some of our first and most loyal clients. and it is also to him that we owe our name: Superior Maintenance Services was his recommendation, and mom & dad were smart enough to accept that noble gift. thank you, Tio Raul.