MANILA - The Pinoy Star, a community magazine in Singapore, recently published its list of 10 Top Filipino Entrepreneurs in the country.
One of the winners is Ronald Celestial, creator of PinoySGcom.
The Pinoy Star has given ABS-CBNnews.com permission to republish the interviews with the winners.
"Go to PinoySG." This, more often than not, is the standard advice Filipinos in Singapore give a clueless kababayan--inside and outside the city-state--eager to learn the five Ws and H--and more in the delicious chicken rice.
"PinoySG.com undoubtedly has become a household name for all Filipinos living in Singapore," says Ronald, the brains behind the "one-stop info shop" online that provides easy access to anything and everything that Filipinos need to know about the Singapino lifestyle. Together with friend, Ron jump-started the website that now serves as a visual Filipino community online.
Ron and three Filipinos working as forum moderators hold full time jobs, but this is the beauty of the internet--whatever you need to do with it, you can anytime, anywhere.
All the PinoySG.com team needs is a computer and Net connection with the number of daily hits, buzz and trust this site is generating, who knows, it may not be long before Ron can finally hire himself on a full-time basis.
Where did you get the idea to create PinoySG.com?
I noticed how other expatriates like me found it hard to meet other Filipinos. Looking for infor about flat rentals, working visas, etc., was a huge research task. It was so difficult to be informed.
Did it occur to you that PinoySG.com would be a hit?
Actually, creating this website was not really a business-driven move. We didn't do this just to make money, although it did cross our minds. The main priority then was to build an online network for Filipinos. We were just fortunate that it became a success.
How long does it take to "run your business" in a day?
Administrating the site only takes about five hours. It's never been a problem to me because I manage my time wisely. When I have free time in the office, I log onto PinoySG and check up on the forum.
Do you feel threatened by similar Pinoy sites that crop up?
There were competitor websites that offered the same features PinoySG has, but they never lasted. People always come back to us. Maybe because of the way we take care of our users.
So how do you take care of your users?
We maintain harmony in our forums. We make sure that the forumers have clean and peaceful discussions. We also organize the forum categories as much as we can so that users can easily navigate through the different topics. For example, there is a popular question like how to apply for a work permit, we chunk all the data into one folder so the forum won't be clogged by repetitive questions.
What makes you better than other Pinoy sites?
We work closely with the Philippine Embassy and meet with them once a month for updates. We check our data against the right sources. Actually, even our embassy coordinates with us when it comes to info dissemination.
How exactly does PinoySG make money?
We earn our keep through Google ads, banner ads, electronic direct mailer and events. Our most poplar sections are the forums and the classified ads so we have regular users who increase our website traffic.
Your wife and two young sons are in Davao. How do you maintain the ties?
We make sure to have our video conference three times a week. I also go home at least four times a year to see them and also to visit my parents. Even though I'm busy with work, I'll always have time for them.
What's the best thing about owning a website?
In a few years' time, I'm going back to Davao and administer the website frm there. This is one good thing about this job: I can work on it anywhere.
What does PinoySG do for FilCom?
Our website works with other agencies in organizing events like a blood donation drive and goods donation drive for runaway maids. We act as the loudspeaker that calls on people to join these causes. We also lighten the load of the embassy in providing information. Instead of Filipinos calling them up to ask about how to get an exit pass, for example, they just go to our website and find out on their own.
How important is PinoySG's role in Filipino community?
We provide them an online community where they can build relationships with their countrymen. Our classified ads help Filipinos find a place to stay, work, a badminton buddy, or just someone to talk to. Filipinos who move here easily meet new people. We also hold sports and holiday events in which PinoySG members can have a good time and keep the Filipino spirit alive.