Lyndon Cayco shares how the toughest times have taught him to see the good, recognize potential, and ultimately empower others.
This is an excerpt from Lifestyle Asia’s March 2023 Issue.
It was a chilly and overcast Saturday in Paris, eve of the Lunar New Year. Lyndon Cayco just finished viewing the Louis Vuitton Fall-Winter 2023-2024 men’s fashion show—held at the Louvre’s Cour Carrée—as guest of the
preeminent French luxury house.
In between rapid fire appointments in the City of Lights, Cayco asks his Paris-based Filipino chauffeur for a good Chinese restaurant in the 8th Arrondissement, to celebrate the start of the auspicious holiday. One of his friends inside the car remembers a recommendation and after a quick perusal of the restaurant’s Instagram, Cayco and his group found themselves waiting at the front door of Diep, a Chinese-Pan Asian restaurant. A young burly French bouncer managed crowd control outside. Even with a reservation, there was a long wait to get seated. It was evident le tout Paris takes ushering the Year of the Rabbit seriously as well—even with temperatures dropping outside.
It took some prodding of Cayco, who is 45, to agree to a written article about him. A seemingly quiet and shy man at first meeting, this proud Tsinoy is scion of his father’s side of the family that produces a brand of seasoning staple of Filipino cuisine and is found in majority of kitchens. As managing partner of his family corporation, which counts several privately held companies in various industries in the Philippines, his role in the business leads him to travel the world—mainly Europe, US and Asia.
And the one city that holds a special place in his heart is Paris. It is the first city he and his siblings visited, without their parents. Prior to graduating De La Salle University with BS in Management of Financial Institution—Cayco was predestined to work for a major bank having done an internship for a US bank’s Manila office. Then there was the Philippine bank which was intent on hiring him right after graduation.
“Honestly speaking, I didn’t see myself working in the Philippines, I really wanted to work in Hong Kong or Singapore. Even during the start-up phase of the family business, I still clamored to work outside of the country” he tells Lifestyle Asia.
Cayco could have easily worked for a major bank, a hedge fund or even as an economist—perhaps even starting a graduate program. However, life had other plans in store for him.
Cayco can trace his knack for business starting with his father. He recalls his father saying, “I had to stand on my own and not depend on my parents and grandparents.”
“My father started with spare parts—he saw the opportunity in supplying engine parts for bangkas (small fishing vessels). At the time Malabon-Navotas were considered fishing villages. He wanted to be independent, together with my mother. Even though both came from a family of means, they still started the business from humble beginnings. It all began with a 120 square meter workshop,” he shares.
However, the senior Cayco, having battled colon cancer early in his life, passed away in 1987 at the young age of 41—only four years after formally establishing the groundwork and foundation of the family business as it is known today.
Being the youngest of four children, Cayco was nine years old at the time, grieving was a new emotion for a child like him, and in a sense was suspended for him. His full realization he was fatherless didn’t come years later when was 13.
“One morning ride to school, it was 6:30 AM, inside the car I remembered the day my father gave me a copy of Steven Spielberg’s movie E.T.—and right at that moment I realized my father was gone. Time passed and on my first visit to Universal Studios, I bought as many E.T. merchandise I could get a hold of. It reminded me of my Dad,” Cayco reminisces.
Without skipping a beat, “My mom took over the business which she grew and expanded single handedly,” he says. “I remember her as being a Tupperware lady when I was child.” These visionary and entrepreneurial traits of the Cayco matriarch were crucial to the future of the business’ success. She had the foresight when it came to identifying new business opportunities. In addition to being a woman of strong faith and devotion, she was a humanitarian.
Cayco immediately took on part of the role of his father, assisting his mother—shadowing her during business meetings. It would seem it was the on the job training for this future endeavor.
Yes, another obstacle faced the Cayco clan when his mother was diagnosed as diabetic and would face future health complications.
Cayco had this gut feeling—before the subject was even broached—that he would be the one. Call it kismet or call it fate.
At the age of 56—due to her active lifestyle and age her doctors advised she was a good candidate for a kidney transplant.
“My three siblings share their blood type with my father. And I was the one that was a perfect match of my mother,” he shares. “I donated one of my kidneys to my Mom, it was 1999—eight months after graduating De La Salle. I was 21.”
The transplant surgery gifted the family more precious time together as a family unit.
“My mother passed away due to complications from diabetes and renal failure a few months later,” Cayco adds. When asked if there was any doubt or regrets, he says, “I was ready to give my second kidney if it was an option.”
The family group of businesses were now in the hands of the Cayco children—which was experiencing exponential growth.
“My eldest brother took over at first. Once all of us graduated from college—in 1999 we incorporated. My siblings and I gave up successful corporate careers to support the family corporation. Inevitably, my brother asked me to join running the business full time. Each sibling carries a different role and equal interest. We were establishing workshops in the Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao regions,” he adds. “It was never about sacrifice. I have been thankful ever since the decision to join.”
With steady and organic growth, the objective for the future is to grow the business to be able to hire even more Filipino talents, provide meaningful long lasting employment and advancement within the organization—as a means of giving back to the community, of paying it forward.
Read more by purchasing a copy of the Lifestyle Asia March 2023 magazine via SariSari.shopping or select newsstands in National Bookstore and Fully Booked. Subscribe to the E-Magazine via Readly, Magzter, and Press Reader.
Photos by Arsen Vasquez.
Shot on location at Paris, France