Do you have a vacant space in your backyard? Do you have an idle commercial space that you don’t know what to do with? Is that idle space near a training center for seafarers? Then you just might have stumbled upon a promising business that you can start right at your own home! This is what happened with Mr. Illac Diaz.
Illac founded the Corte Real located in the historic Intramuros (Manila) in June of 2001. Corte Real is the Philippines’ first professional dormitory for seafarers. Offering space for seafarers who have nowhere to go once they transact business in the Big City, Corte real is Illac’s pet project, a fruit of his entrepreneurial spirit.
Set in a 2,500-square meter lot in Intramuros, Corte real is Illac’s thesis in graduate school about professionalizing the fractured markets like photocopiers, street vending, etc. Illac said that he thought of a business which can be given quality service through professionalization.
Stumbling upon the hundreds of seafarers hanging out in Kalaw Street in Manila gave Illac the idea of setting up a professional dormitory for seafarers. “Of course, when you have people, they have their needs. They need food, space, and entertainment. And I focused on the need of these seamen to have space. It was then that I found out that most of these seamen live in miserable conditions when they here in Manila. They are the so-called heroes of our time, yet when they come back home, they get abused.” Illac said.
From a market sample of 20 beds, Illac acquired 580 more to make his dormitory 600-ned strong. He also had to sell some of his investments to help start up the business. To cut expenses, he himself dipped his hands into work needed for redecoration of the area. “I was the architect, the interior designer of the comfort rooms, I did the bedding, all those little things I had to do for this dormitory at the start.”
And so by mid 2001, the dormitory was ready for operation. Illac though was not prepared for the anxiety of getting into such kind of endeavor.
“I was scared. At first, I was so excited, happy…but when I saw my dormitory ready it was scary. I was saying ‘This is it. This is where I invested my money.’ I was praying all the time!”
His worries grew after failing to get a tenant despite advertising his business along the stretch of Kalaw for a week. Adding up to his anxiety was the most of those who promised him tenants backed out in the last minute.