By Sebastien Lai
“It helps prevent cancer” exclaimed Gilden with excitement in her eyes that will rival any stars in the sky.
Passion is what I felt from that exchange and an inkling of ambition. She is the owner of G&G goods, a producer of various drinkable powder, such as ginger and turmeric. Salabat as it is called is a healthy mix of ginger powder with sugar enjoyed mainly by the elderly as a health drink.
Simple right? I know, but with a little bit of marketing we could turn this ginger juice into a secret potion from a exotic land, the solution to all your woes, cure for the common bad day. I mean why not, we have been selling you sugar water for 90 years, tying the experience to all that is good and patriotic, to urbanisation and friendship. Isn’t that the beauty of marketing, turning something that scientifically gives you cancer into your entry ticket to an exclusive club, a burning stick of tabacco into an unspoken ritual, literally creating value from smoke. Some of you reading this will no doubt point out that my last two sentences is everything wrong with this world, that this ideology is the reason why people spend money they don’t have to please people they don’t like, that though small, it is the tip of the iceberg that will sink the titanic. Hemingway would agree with you “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”, it is too bad that most people aren’t born or will ever achieve true nobility. To us greed is a necessity, it is for many why you wake up in the morning, there is something satisfying down to your every cell to be better than your fellow man. Call it dumb all you want but, would skyscrapers exist if man didn’t unconsciously want to stand above others, would Hong Kong.
On our first time going to the factory, Gilden insisted on giving us a ride to where the production of Salabat happened. At 6:30 my partner and I waited at the dock as a white van pulled up and out came Gilden who welcomed us, her husband was in charge of driving the car. Now there are no theme parks in Guimaras so what ensure would have been the closest available experience to a roller coaster ride on this island. Admittedly the fact that I’m here in one piece writing this post means that the husband is a good driver. To that man it would seem that the speed limit is just as fast as the engine can go, swerving in and out of lanes, avoiding cars as if they were not even moving.
I digress, it was fun, upon arriving we saw a rudemetry version of a factory. Like a black and white drawing straight out of a book about industrial revolution. Manned by around six people you could call it a small operation. Upon entering we were welcomed by a spread of food. Gilden told us her story about how her sister is working in Canada in order to support the business and how her brother was a week into starting a rival business. Most of the employees there were relatives. It would seem that businesses of this scale is very much intertwined with family life, with practically no separation of the two. Working with family is never easy, the repercussion of an argument in the work place echoes far and wide beyond the walls of the operation. These family problems create inefitiencies which are never good for business, you can’t fire people as you want and you can’t discipline them when they step out of line. Creating an environment that has the lingering scent of European socialism. The same smell that seems to suffocate you anytime you try to get anything productive done, that threatens to kill optimism and replace it with politics. I won’t bore you with technical jargon but it would seem that the company is at a bottle neck, just a few steps from evolving into a medium sized business.
From small ailments to big ones, the illnesses that this product cures seems everything short of death. I cannot in confidence say that it is as effective for as many disease as it clams, one thing it does cure is a hangover, I can attest to that. Could it prevent a hangover if taken before a night of heavy drinking? That I am unsure, but for the good of the business, science and therefore humanity, I will try to find out.