Brigada Group of Companies Inc.
Brigada Mass Media Corporation
Baycomms Broadcasting Corporation
Brigada Publishing Corp.
Brigada Healthline Corporation
Brigada Pharmacy Inc.
Brigada Distribution Inc.
Brigada Unlimited Inc.
Brigada Healthcare Inc.
Brigada Rock Garden Resort Inc.
Global Dynamic Star Security Agency Inc.
Global Dynamic Star Protective Services Inc.
KaBrigada Foundation Inc.
BRIGADA: A magical success
By Rommel G Rebollido
“It’s a magical spell.”
That was how a woodworker-turned-radio journalist, and now a successful businessman, described in jest how he built a marketing media empire from literal scratch.
“My company owes it to high optimism, sheer guts and a full load of prayers,” remarked a smiling Elmer V. Catulpos, president and chief executive officer of the Brigada Group of Companies.
Stepping out of his elevator-equipped three-storey mansion, the businessman, who just turned 40 this year and started to earn his millions when he was 28, would sit alongside the swimming pool and reminisce the wretched situation he and his family were in some three decades ago in Tambulig, a mountain town in Zamboanga del Sur.
Catulpos grew up as a child in Upper Ludyong, a very remote village where one has to walk three hours and cross two streams from the Tambulig town proper. “My father would carry me on his shoulders whenever the water level is high,” Catulpos remembered.
As a playful child, Catulpos ran around with the other kids, wearing nothing but soiled and tattered oversized clothes of their father which he alternately used with his siblings. Catulpos was the second child in a brood of five.
“That was the good life I would know then in my innocence of what luxury is, but, I have seen how my father persevered to give us better life – spiritually and physically,” he pointed out.
“My father was a hardworking man. I saw him work until 10 in the evening. But he simply lacks the entrepreneurial skills that would get us out of poverty,” he said.
That famous idea that for one who is down at the bottom, there is no other way to go but up, worked quite well for Catulpos, who never went to a prestigious business school, spending most of his teen years learning the craft of his father – furniture making.
Back in 2005, out of a regular job, a furniture shop he tried to put up was destroyed and with a meager pay he gets from a contractual job with a local radio station, Catulpos tried every means he can to provide for his family.
He became an insurance agent, went treasure hunting, joined in multi-level network marketing schemes, tried buy and sell. All proved futile until he thought of selling a two-page lottery tipster.
Armed with determination, courage and a borrowed P1,000, Mr. Catulpos on August 8, 2005, embarked on his lowly venture which he called “Tolindoy.” It is a flyer the size of a bond paper that would contain entertainment articles and tips on how to win the Philippine Lottery.
Mr. Catulpos engaged a cartoonist to draw the caricatures for the lottery tips every night after he would be off from his nightly radio program. Printing the Tolindoy was not quite easy. Mr. Catulpos would bring its material each night after his radio program to a photocopy center along Aparente Street at City Heights in General Santos City.
There, he would wait for two hours until Tolindoy gets printed and goes home at around 11 in the evening or at times at around one in the wee hours of the morning.
He must be up early, usually at four the next morning, to deliver the Tolindoy copies to newspaper vendors at the public market. By nine in the morning, Mr. Catulpos needs to be in the radio station for his news reports.
On the first day of selling Tolindoy, Mr. Catulpos earned P10 for two copies sold. This, however, failed to dampen his spirit and went on to print the issue for the second day, the third day and until the earnings showed encouraging results by the second week of selling the Tolindoy.
As Tolindoy started to sell hot, new challenges emerged with Mr. Catulpos being accused by some his media colleagues of promoting illegal gambling, among others.
To confront the assault on Tolindoy, Mr. Catulpos registered his small business with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and applied for a business permit with the City Mayor’s Office and improved Tolindoy into a four-page mini-tabloid.
Thus, the birth of the daily tabloid Brigada News Philippines on October 18, 2005.
By mid 2016, media-consumer research firm Neilsen declared Brigada News Philippines as the Official No. 1 Regional Newspaper in Mindanao, with an overall readership rating of 71.58 percent, leaving a wide gap to second placer Sunstar CDO’s 27.65 percent.
The emergence of Brigada was more of a circumstance than planned and the risk Mr. Catulpos took proved rewarding. Brigada was derived from the radio program he hosted, “Brigada sa Super Radyo.”
Mr. Catulpos’s experience as a media practitioner came handy in rearing Brigada to grow into what it is now. In his media stints, he served as news reporter, news anchor, newscaster and news writer with major Philippine radio networks – dxES Bombo Radyo Gensan from 1997 to 2000, with dxMD RMN Gensan from 2000 to 2005 and dxBB Super Radyo Gensan from 2005 to 2006.
Two weeks into circulation of the reformatted Brigada, Mr. Catulpos’s wife Yelcy would join her husband in his flourishing venture. Incidentally, the wife’s job contract with the city government of General Santos was to end and no renewal was expected.
Ms. Catulpos took the task of looking into the income and financial aspect of Brigada, as the husband was just too lenient in doing business with Brigada dealers.
Each day since then, the demand for Brigada and its lottery tips and other information was getting bigger until the Catulpos couple decided to move their production to a bigger printing firm. Later on, they leased printing equipment for several months until the couple bought their own printing machines.
The husband and wife team personally handled the day to day operations of the business that was already growing big. The husband would spend two to three hours every morning at an Internet café of a neighbor to prepare the news and all other articles to be published on Brigada while the wife worked on the finances and logistical needs.
In March 2006, the couple’s endeavor took a major leap when the husband left his contractual job at the radio station, but, maintained a block time program.
Taking the new-found business more seriously, Brigada flourished, allowing them to expand and put up branches in Davao City and Cagayan de Oro City. This allowed Brigada to circulate even in remote villages in northern and southern Mindanao, becoming the number one most read newspaper in Mindanao.
It was then that the husband and wife business tandem hit the blazing trail to success as they put up one investment to another, making up what is now the Brigada Group of Companies.
Barely 11 years since it all started, Brigada grew with the following companies: Brigada Group of Companies Inc., Brigada Mass Media Corporation, Baycomms Broadcasting Corporation, Brigada Publishing Corp., Brigada Healthline Corporation, Brigada Pharmacy Inc., Brigada Distribution Inc., Brigada Unlimited Inc., Brigada Healthcare Inc., Brigada Rock Garden Resort Inc., Global Dynamic Star Security Agency Inc., Global Dynamic Star Protective Services Inc., KaBrigada Foundation Inc.
The pivot to growth began In April 15, 2007, when the couple established Brigada Healthline Corporation, a distribution business of food supplements and other health products that are now popularly known as Power Cells herbal capsule, Drivemax adult herbal capsule, NutriCleanse, Guard-C calcium ascorbate, Fast Relax, Power Cells liniment oil and Power Cells soya-coffee.
Other product lines are Curamed Herbal Capsule, Fast Relax (Ibuprofen Paracetamol), Panamed Capsule (Mefenamic Acid), Brigada Veggie Zoya, Brigada Zoya, Brigada Zoya Choco and multivitamins Yummyvit Syrup for kids and Yummyvit Capsules for teens.
Brigada Healthline products were made available in drugstores nationwide and advertised by more than 120 radio stations and Brigada News FM stations all over the country. Many of these Brigada Healthline products are considered as leading brands in their category.
The company took further steps in expanding its product line and went international by gaining the trust of a foreign firm to be named as sole distributor of Lala cosmetics from South Korea along with other brands of cosmetic products, cologne and perfumes, Glutaflex Glutathione Soap, Glutaflex Glutathione Capsules.
Reflective of Brigada’s risk-taker character, the company took a side-step from its traditional herbal and food supplement distribution by venturing on a product not for humans but fit for vehicles. Aerolube Racing Oil is an all-natural engine oil additive from plants touted to reduces fuel consumption and protect the lifespan of engines may iy be bunker, diesel or gas-fed.
Seeing the vast potential of a fast growing millennial market segment, Brigada saw it necessary to upgrade its capabilities as a marketing media company by responding to the call of modern technology – going digital and establish a strong online presence.
Thus, Brigada (brigada.ph) operates over a wide array of websites and social media networks and the products it distributes are made available in online stores like Lazada as well as in various physical outlets in every key areas in the Philippines.
Early on, Brigada flexed its broadcast muscle by putting up state of the art News FM radio stations all over the country. Brigada ended up not only operating News FM radio stations, but, rating News FM radio stations. Today, Brigada’s network of News FM radio stations is considered among the top three rating radio networks in the country.
It was in October 18, 2009, when Brigada acquired a fledgeling radio station and reformatted it as 89.5 Brigada News FM in General Santos City. They later on upgraded all the broadcast apparatus of this station to a state-of-the-art broadcast equipment.
Brigada now has 36 fully operational News FM stations and more are slated to be built.
In October 18, 2012, the company launched its television station, the Brigada News TV in General Santos. It is the first-ever local television station in General Santos that allots 70 to 80 percent of its programs to local issues and concerns.
Brigada News TV is on Channel 21 over Marbel Cable in Gensan City, Koronadal City, Sarangani, South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat. Channel 35 on Sky Cable in General Santos and Channel 15 on Skycable in Polomolok, South Cotabato, JVL Star Cable in Koronadal City, in Polomolok, South Cotabato and in Sultan Kudarat and Channel 44 in Skycable Maguindanao in Cotabato City.
Barely two years in the television industry, Brigada News TV has already captured a substantial slice of the viewership pie, especially its news and public affairs programs in the morning and afternoon prime time slots.
Brigada was able to acquire shares in Baycomms Broadcasting Corporation, initially giving birth to Brigada News FM stations in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
Currently, Brigada News FM Philippines airs in the following areas: 104.7 Brigada News FM Batangas City, 93.1 Brigada News FM Cebu City, 89.5 Brigada News FM General Santos City, 89.9 Brigada News FM Zamboanga City, 95.7 Brigada News FM Koronadal City, 91.5 Brigada News FM Davao City, 92.7 Brigada News FM Lucena City, 93.5 Brigada News FM Tacloban City, 89.3 Brigada News FM Kalibo, Aklan, 102.9 Brigada News FM Daet, Camarines Norte, 88.5 Brigada News FM Toledo City in Cebu, 89.3 Brigada News FM San Carlos City in Negros Occidental, 102.5 FM Brigada News FM Cagayan De Oro City, 103.1 Brigada News FM Puerto Princesa City in Palawan, 89.3 Brigada News FM Cotabato City, 97.5 Brigada News FM Kidapawan City, 93.5 Brigada News FM Olongapo City, 95.1 Brigada News FM Iligan City, 92.7 Brigada News FM Pampanga, 90.9 Brigada News FM Bogo City in Cebu, 98.3 Brigada News FM Quezon in Palawan, 95.7 Brigada News FM Brookespoint in Palawan, 96.5 Brigada News FM Narra in Palawan, 99.9 Brigada News FM Iba in Zambales and 93.3 Brigada News FM Roxas in Oriental Mindoro.
Adding to its supremacy over the airwaves in Bicol region are 103.1 Brigada News FM Naga, 91.5 Brigada News FM Legazpi and 101.5 Brigada News FM Sorsogon.
On the pipeline and eyed to air soon are 107.3 Brigada News FM Roxas City in Capiz, 92.9 Brigada News FM Cauayan City in Isabela, 92.5 Brigada News FM Tuguegarao City, 99.9 Brigada News FM Ormoc City, 90.3 Brigada News FM Digos City in Davao del Sur, 105.5 Brigada News FM Surigao City, 105.5 Brigada News FM Trento in Agusan del Sur, Brigada News FM in Butuan City, Valencia City in Bukidnon, Bacolod City, Dumagete City, Boracay in Aklan, Iloilo City, Baguio City, and other key areas in the country.
What used to be a small livelihood just to make booth ends meet is actually turning into a venture that is now making people from every end of the country meet – in communication, health products and public service.
The couple who started it all are now the President and Chief Executive Officer and Executive Vice President of a steadily growing business empire.
Brigada is also active in its Corporate Social Responsibility, sharing its blessings to the needy and less fortunate individuals with the KaBrigada Foundation, Inc. The company earlier adopted the elderly residents of St. Vincent Strambi Home for the Aged in General Santos City and provided monthly medical mission, free medicines and food in partnership with the Rotary Club of Dadiangas. Mr. Catulpos is a long time member and also a Former President of The Rotary Club of Dadiangas of the Rotary International in General Santos City (Rotary Year 2013-2014).
Conscious of its commitment to benevolence, Brigada regularly extends help to victims of calamities, like the super typhoon Yolanda, with food, medicines, and clothes. The company has a yearly free circumcision activity for children during summer and several other corporate social responsibility activities. It also gives assistance and scholarships to a number of deserving students.
Mr. Catulpos said, “We know our game and we are confident with our capabilities. In our business, it’s not what we want, but what the people want. I know my purpose, I know my goals and I know my direction.”
“To be successful is to believe in the power of our mind. It’s all in the mind. Know your passion and let it guide you in discerning what is your mission and purpose in life. This will easily help you achieve your goals. We have different passions and each of us have different experiences. We cannot all be businessmen and entrepreneurs. We cannot all be employees and we cannot all be managers and executives. But, I firmly believe that each one of us have the birthright to be successful in every endeavor we want to pursue in our lives. Every one of us have its own place and way of achieving success. Every one of us deserves to be successful and live a happy life!”