MANILA, Philippines – Years of sleeping on the floor drove Natividad Cheng to work hard for a better sleeping arrangement, and ultimately, a better life.
Cheng, 70, is the owner of Uratex, a brand that produces commercial and automotive polyurethane foam products in the country.
Growing up with nine siblings, Cheng said she did not have the comforts she now has as the chief executive officer of the RGC Foam Group, the company behind Uratex.
“Ayoko na bumalik sa kahirapan. Lahat kaming magkapatid nakahiga lang sa sahig, kaya sinasabi ko sa mga secretary ko, sa foam na ako ngayon, hindi na ako babalik sa sahig at sa papag,” she said on “My Puhunan.”
Naty Cheng. Photo from My Puhunan Facebook page
Cheng met her husband Robert in a factory, where they toiled in low paying jobs. With only P4,000 saved up, they decided to resign and put up their own business trading furniture and bedding supplies.
The couple continued to save their earnings until they were able to put up P200,000 as capital to invest in German-made machinery.
“Kung kumita kami ng P1,000, P200 lang ang gagastusin namin, ‘yung P800 iipunin namin para gamitin sa negosyo,” shared Cheng.
From beds, the Chengs’ Uratex brand also began supplying foams for vehicles.
But tragedy struck the company when a huge fire razed their warehouse, causing damage to around P2 million worth of goods and equipment.
“Parang bumagsak ang langit sa amin pero malakas naman ang fighting spirit namin na kailangan namin bumangon,” said Cheng.
The couple was able to restore their business through a loan, but it was put to the test when Cheng’s husband passed away in 2003.
“Noong namatay ang mister ko, ‘yung ibang customer namin natakot. ‘Sino magpapatuloy ng negosyo?’ Nagbigay naman kami ng assurance na tuluy-tuloy pa rin dahil ang vision ng mister ko nandiyan na, ang foundation nandiyan na,” she said.
Uratex. Photo from My Puhunan Facebook page
From being a factory worker herself, Cheng now oversees operations of the Uratex plant in Muntinlupa and its 3,000 employees.
Uratex has branched out from mattresses and foams and is also now the biggest supplier of sponge in the country.
“Habang may buhay tayo, may pag-asa tayo. Sariling sikap, huwag na tayo umasa sa ibang tao. Kung may mga makakatulong sa atin, pasalamat tayo. Kung wala, dapat tayo mismo ang gagawa ng sarili nating buhay,” she said.