Despite his youth, millennial businessman and poverty alleviation advocate Manuel S. Reyes VII has learned early on that success — whether in the private or public sector — tastes sweeter when it has a positive impact on the lives of others.
As the firstborn son of Ruben Cesar C. Reyes, Manuel grew up wanting to be a successful businessman. “My father had children late in life. He had me when he was 45. He was already in a rush to mentor someone right away,” he says with a chuckle.
And so, his real-life lessons began as soon as possible. The elder Reyes, whose L & H (Land & Housing) reportedly pioneered low-cost and bare housing in the Philippines, started to bring his then 11-year-old-son to work so that he could learn the ropes early on.
Eventually, the Reyeses divested from their real estate business in the Philippines and invested in mining in Indonesia. “I learned a lot from my father, whose hands-on approach to business, I emulated. For instance, while I was in Indonesia, I would really spend time with the workers in the mines to know what the situation is on the ground. I am definitely not a pencil pusher,” he affirms.
His training was soon put to the test, though, when his old man had to undergo critical open-heart surgery, just as their company was in the middle of a time-sensitive, multi-billion-peso acquisitions deal.
With Manuel now at the helm, he needed to seal the deal within the given timeframe, so that their family-owned RR Resources could obtain majority shares in a state-owned oil producing company in Indonesia. If not, they would lose the business opportunity and the award will be once again up for bidding.
“I had to just focus on the task at hand and ensure that everything was going according to plan. At the same time, we were not allowed to discuss the deal or anything related to business with my father, as advised by the doctor,” he shares.
Fortunately, the deal pushed through. However, the young Manuel had to wait almost a month after the ink had dried, before he could finally share the news with his father, who by then was on the way to recovery.
His own man
After having proven his chops as a businessman abroad, Manuel came back to the Philippines to establish MSR Healthcare, a company that equips hospitals in the Philippines with technologically advanced tools and medical supplies to ensure sustainable and superior operations. More than another business venture, it was an eye-opener for this enterprising gentleman.
“It was the first time I saw the dire circumstances that many patients in the Philippines had to endure. Many hospitals operated in poor conditions,” he says. “However, we also noticed that we have good doctors and nurses and that it’s really the facilities that needed to be upgraded.”
From then on, it became his mission to uplift the quality of healthcare in the Philippines through the technologies and tools that MSR supplies.
“As a company, we are able to ensure steady supplies to hospitals in various parts of the country and provide the government with a good credit line. That way, patients in these hospitals will continue to enjoy uninterrupted treatments and services at all times,” he says.
From a fledgling company with only a handful of employees, MSR has now grown into one of the largest medical suppliers in the country — one that currently serves more than 80 percent of all the hospitals in the Philippines.
“I think this business succeeded because I never treated it as a small business. It might have started small, yes, but I knew where I wanted to bring it. I had a 10-year plan and we are well on our way to reaching our targets,” he shares.
A heart of service
Having achieved success early on, Manuel has also been on a constant search on how he could serve his motherland.
In 2017, he took a step back from the world of business and entered public service as a presidential advisor. In this role, he helped the government handle sensitive political affairs in an advisory capacity, specifically for the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police.
Believing that legislative reforms on foreign policy and national defense can help rejuvenate the country’s economy, Manuel also helped push for the improvement of the AFP Modernization Act.
Having seen the devastating effects of the pandemic, Manuel is also keen on sharing his expertise as a businessman in order to help the country generate jobs. He would also like to launch projects that could help MSMEs get back on their feet as soon as possible.
It is for these reasons that he has volunteered to take on advocacy projects that are designed to alleviate poverty, promote the well-being of Filipinos and ensure good governance.
“I’ve seen firsthand how resourceful, resilient and intelligent Filipinos are. Our nurses and doctors, for one, are among the best in the world. If I could help create programs and even push for legislation that could bring opportunities to our fellowmen, especially in the time of the pandemic, then I’ll be very happy to help,” he concludes.