Roy V. Señeres has had a checkered life as diplomat, lawyer, political analyst, rebel (at least according to the previous administration), devout Catholic, economic nationalist, friend of Overseas Filipino Workers.
And now, entrepreneur.
He heads Our Father’s Coffee Corporation (firstname.lastname@example.org). And its main product is Kape ni Amba, a premium herbal coffee which includes Stevia plant powder, mangosteen, malunggay, grape seed, the aphrodisiac Tongkat Ali, and Gotu Kola (said to improve the memory).
From 1983 to 1989, Señeres served as Labor Attache of the Philippine Embassy in the United Arab Emirates. And he and his family (“four boys, two girls and of course only one wife”) provided comfort and shelter to housemaids exploited and abused by their employers.
Later he was transferred to Washington DC and by 1994 became an ambassador. Then President Fidel V. Ramos appointed him to serve—again in the UAE.
The Macapagal-Arroyo Administration found him still Chair of the National Labor Relations Commission (previously appointed there by President Joseph Estrada). But in 2005 he resigned “because I did not want to be part of the illegitimate and overly corrupt Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo Administration.”
Señeres joined organizations demanding that Arroyo resign, and for his activities was slapped with twin charges of inciting to sedition and rebellion. He will not seek or accept amnesty because for him the charges are “badges of honor.”
His years abroad and his experience with OFWs underscored the fact that “the causes of the Filipino diaspora—ten million abroad—are lack of livelihood, lack of jobs in the country. So by selling coffee I can contribute in my own small way to the generation of employment, especially in the farms.”
As he points out: “If you sell Philippine coffee you provide employment and livelihood to coffee farmers. And if you sell coffee in sachet form you provide employment in the production of instant coffee.”
His firm markets only coffee produced in the country, in places like Bukidnon, Mendez, Cavite and Batangas.
For the ambassador-turned-entrepreneur, “If you buy imported coffee, you help the farmers in those countries earn a living. So why not help our own (farmers) by selling their coffee? Every time you buy Philippine coffee, or Philippine items for that matter, money circulates in our economy.”
As for Kape ni Amba, “the demand has gone up and we now sell on a case-to-case basis to friends; it’s direct selling.”
These friends or dealers are returning OFWs and members of the family-run OFWFamily Club (tel. 5267522) in Pasay City. Its President is Roy Señeres Jr.
Everything was going fine. There were even orders from abroad. The corporation returned a margin of profit, and then a monkey wrench was thrown into the marketing operations. And things came to a halt.
Señeres learned that syndicates (“con artists, crooked racketeers”) were engaging in multilevel pyramiding, buying in bulk and promising the dealers exorbitant profits. An investigation was made, and warrants of arrest are expected to be issued. One alleged racketeer is based in Hong Kong.
The marketing operations are expected to normalize soon (“a matter of weeks”), but the boxes will carry this warning label: “These boxes should not be sold on a multilevel system but only by direct selling.”
Señeres concludes: “Our motivation is not just to generate profits, but to help our economy and be an example of entrepreneurship that patronizes Philippine products.”