"Hope is really a very powerful thing. This is what we can use to fight the darkness that seems to shroud many of us today. This started because we realized too many are angry today, too many are incensed, so we said why don't we change the negative with stories that are positive," Robredo said during the unveiling of Istorya ng Pag-asa photo exhibit on the Upper Ground Floor, SM Puerto Princesa Activity Center on February 9, 2018 where 23 Palaweños received plaques of recognition, including Palawan Pawnshop President and CEO, Bobby L. Castro.
Istorya ng Pag-asa (INP) is a traveling photo gallery featuring extraordinary stories of ordinary Filipinos who triumph over adversity. Through words and portraits, this project aims to inspire, empower and be a source of hope for all. This is an initiative of the Office of the Vice President which was launched in November 2016, aiming to direct our social conversations away from animosity toward positivity by spreading stories of hope.
The itinerant photo exhibit was unveiled by Vice President Leni Robredo herself, wherein 23 courageous and optimistic Palaweños were showcased and awarded as attestation of their triumphs against poverty, their unselfish dedication to serving other people in the communities despite hardships.
Other stories of hope that were featured were the accounts of Lawyer Grizelda Mayo-Anda, the founder and executive director of the Environmental Legal Assistance Center (ELAC); Cuyunon folk songwriter Fe Tria Fernandez; the Brooke's Point Public Elementary and Secondary Teachers Multi-Purpose Cooperative; pineapple farmer Virginia Dureza; local artist Jonathan Benitez; restaurateur Eric Yayen, owner of Ka Inato; nurse Rochelle Viray; the late Palawan Governor Salvador Socrates.
Castro was among the three Palaweños highlighted (along with Atty. Grizelda Anda of ELAC and former Governor Salvador Socrates) on the Vice President’s presentation because of his commitment and generosity as a successful businessman to provide scholarships to deserving students in the province. Another factor was the humble beginning of Palawan Pawnshop Palawan Express Pera Padala which started as a small pawnshop with only one branch located at Rizal Avenue, Puerto Princesa City, with him and his wife, Angelita, as the only employees.
"At his young age, Bobby already knows how to handle business, so he started a small one with the help of his family. But when he decided not to depend on them anymore, he started his own and he didn't expect it will turn out to be one of the biggest chains of pawnshops today," Robredo said.
To date, PPS PEPP network of branches are continuously growing all around the Philippines with more than 2,000 branches and over 10,000 employees. Truly a story of hope for every Filipino.