Myrna T Yao; My biggest legacy, investing for women
Myrna is among those women who started from scratch and today has over 1500 employees, has founded 4 organizations and has won 65 awards. Her story is definitely inspiring for any woman who wants to be empowered. Although she was a shy child, she started selling earrings and T-shirts, but never neglected her lessons. In her interview for Global Woman she describes women around the globe, revealing their values. Her dreams have changed over the years, but she has always focused on helping others. Today, having fulfilled herself as a mother and as a businesswoman, Myrna enjoys her country and the humanitarian works she does
How do you remember your childhood and how connected are you with the memories you have?
I remember very well my childhood experienced because I was treated as a second class citizen. It has been a tradition in a Chinese family that girls are treated secondary and the boys are always given preferential treatment. Girls normally don’t get inheritance but only dowries. I was almost given away to my relative in China since I’m the second girl in the family. But this did not discourage me instead I became a fighter and act like a boy, I even fight boys who bullies me most of the time because I was dressed up in boy outfit by my mother with the belief that the next child will be a boy. I was very independent and does not fear anyone. Yet I prayed a lot to Mother Mary and Jesus to give me guidance. I had boils all over my body so my classmates and teachers avoided me. I was always alone that enable me to observe the poor people in our province. I told myself that I will be rich, successful and beautiful when I grow up so I can help a lot of people. And with God”s guidance, my dream come true.
How did your business journey start, what was your initial idea?
I started as a micro entrepreneur selling blouses and other goods. I started in grade school selling earrings and accessories using my allowance as capital. When I reached college, I was a working student attending night classes but I read a lot of biographies of successful people and psychology book. I studied Ballet, public speaking and Etiquette thru the books so I don’t have time for friends and socializing. My sales did well when I reached 3rd year college and was earning more than my husband who worked as a manager in a shoe company. As a micro entrepreneur, I became a small business owner,
Today, when you see the empire you have created, what impresses you the most?
What impresses me the most are the properties I owned and the 1,500 employees I employed. I am able to help a lot of people and founded at least 4 big organizations to help the women of our country. My dream have come true but I never stop and continue to dream on growing and sustaining all what I have accomplished thru my Daughters who are equally successful and helping me in the business. Now that I am running a large corporation both in Philippines and Thailand, training your successor is a very important component of success. Without the next generation, your success will not be sustainable. I have garnered 65 awards and 25 major Awards , yet this is just a decoration for me unless I am able to impart my learning to others and help the less fortunate people of our country.The true fulfillment is what you have done for your neighbors and not yourself.
Tell us more about the help you give to women in the Philippines, how does Myrna manage to empower them?
I have written a book entitled “The Gift of a Dream”. I wrote this when I founded the Great Women Project to guide the women micro entrepreneur of our country. As The Chairperson of the Philippine Commission of Women, reporting directly to the President of our country. I was able to get 7 Million Canadian Dollars to fund this project, I was also able to push for the enactment of the Magna Carta Law of Women which has been in congress for 8 years and not moving. I also help implemented the Anti- violence of women and Children Law , Before becoming a chairperson of PCW, I was a commissioner for 4 years and chaired the Celebration of the Women Month all over the country. It was only few women who are involved in the March Celebration of Women Month at that time, but as a marketing person, I was able to enjoined the local Government, the Business sectors and the Different Government Agencies in celebrating the women Month nationwide covered by media like TV, Newspapers and social media. Now, our micro entrepreneurs were recognized globally by the different countries in APEC and Asean. It was given an allocation for funding which is now separate from the Small Medium Enterprise. I founded the Philippine Federation of Local Council of Women to sustain in the implementation of this project in partnership with the different Government Agencies and the business sectors.
Due to your commitments you had to travel often. Where Philippine women change from European and American women?
In my travel and observation. I find the following traits in general:
European Women have more confidence in themselves. Gender Equality is not an issue, they have stronger empathy compare to other continents because they can express themselves without reservation. They are also fashionable and professional in their dealings.
American Women are more lax in their communication with others meaning they are very frank that sometimes they don’t notice that they can hurt the feelings of the person they are dealing with. They dress very comfortably without much emphasis on fashion. They are focus in their work and doesn’t have much concern for the people around them. They can be friendly if they like you but very down to earth in their treatment of others.
African Women are typically curvaceous. They work very hard because of the difficult life they have experienced. They are religious and considerate of others. They may not be able to speak freely compare to the European and American women because their gender equality is still a challenge. They are strong women and they fight for their rights.
Asian women are more family oriented, they are more friendly and accommodating. They are hospitable and more conscious of others and what they think of them. They work very hard and ambitious in many ways. Most Asian women are entrepreneurial compare to the other race. They are not vocal of what they think but they can show more action than words. They work long hours and family is their priority. They are also fashionable. They are adventurous compare to other race.
Appreciated in your country, but not only, with a successful business, a strong voice for women. What gives you the most satisfaction among these things?
The fulfillment of my achievements comes in different stages. Maybe,I am more confident in qualifying this question because of the life I’ve been thru. In my early age, my fulfillment is when I graduated my Masters in Business Administration even with 3 daughters.
From 25 to 45 , my fulfillment is the business I’ve grown to medium size company coming from a micro entrepreneur.
From 45 to 60, my fulfillment is growing my business to a large corporation and being able to serve as the Chairperson and Deputy Minister in the Philippine Commission Of Women reporting directly to the President of our country who is the minister of Phil Commission of Women. My dream of giving back thru the women and children of our country was very fulfilling. Being able to have the Magna Carta Law of Women turned into Law and create the Great Women Project for the women of our country.
From 60 to 68 , I was able to help grow the economy of our country by being active in all the different NGO or non- government organizations, garnering Global, Asian and National awards. Total of 65 awards and 25 major awards from age 35 to 68. I also became the Godmother of Micro Entrepreneur of our country as written in the book of a govt Agency known as The National Economic Development Agency of the Philippines. I was able to help in the employment of our country thru 1,500 employees and made Barbie as the second most popular Brand in the country next to Jollibee, a fast-food local Chain. I was also able to make Barbie as biggest in revenue for our country in Southeast Asia.
Retirement Age of 75, I am now donating a 30 Hectares property for farming for the unemployed in an area near Metromanila where I’am helping build a very big church on top of the mountain worth 2 Million dollars. It is in the finishing stage and my dream is to help more people and our country in my old age.