MAPFRE Insular top producer Gerardo Butas, “Gerry” as he is better known, reached his current standing because of other goals in mind. He had other motivations and reasons for striving to build his clientele and portfolio other than competing to be the number one agent in his local area of operations in Bacolod City. In fact, it came as a shock, he tells us, when he was informed that he was to receive an award for being a top producing intermediary in the MAPFRE Insular Bacolod Branch. The story behind Gerry’s success is one characterized by sheer determination and will to overcome the most humble of beginnings and one defined by the most admirable of characters.
“Galing ako sa walang wala (I came from nothing),” Gerry opens as he tells us about his childhood and early youth. He recounts the struggles as a young boy of 10 tending to sugar cane farm lands where he was subject to hard labour. Without a breadwinner in the family, Gerry took charge to helping his mother support and provide for the family resulting in the halt of his studies during his first year in college. “Hindi na kaya talaga (It really wasn’t possible),” he stresses, pertaining to his inability to complete his undergraduate degree.
Gerry obtained a janitorial position in a small insurance agency that sold life and non-life insurance. Here he caught the eye of his boss, the owner of the company. “Mabilis daw ako matuto, kaya ginawa akong messenger at tinuruan ako tungkol sa insurance. Habang ako nagdedeliver, tumutulong rin ako magbenta at kumuha ng mga bagong account. (He (my boss) noticed that I learned fast so he made me a messenger. He also mentored me and trained me. Aside from just delivering policies, I was able to help get more accounts for the agency with my new knowledge on insurance.)” Years later, the agency faced problems and had to close. Gerry’s boss, became a consultant for life insurance after the dissolution of the company. With the loss of his main source of financial support for his family along with the company’s non-life insurance accounts left unaccounted for, Gerry decided to handle and pursue these accounts. He became a licensed agent with MAPFRE Asian in 1999. From here on, life took a positive turn.
Honesty and dependability are the two traits Gerry claims to be the backbones of his current portfolio. By being honest and dependable, he was able to gain the trust of his clients. “Yung ina-assist mo sila talaga lagi, at pati pag mag claim andun ka. (I make sure I am available for assistance when my clients need me. When they have a claim I make sure I am there too.)”. As he gained their trust, he began to obtain even the non-life insurance accounts of the businesses of his clients such as the buildings, company cars, etc. They also began to refer him to their circle of friends. The referrals grew with such enormity; new clients came left and right, that he didn’t have difficulty seeking new accounts anymore. He also retained most, if not all, of his accounts. “Bihira rin na hindi ma-renew sa akin ang mga accounts (It is seldom that these accounts are not renewed with me),” he says proudly. Gaining trust through honesty and dependability has been Gerry’s only weapon in the sea of competition and it proved to be effective and most lucrative for him and his non-life insurance business.
When asked, what motivated you to overcome your situation and the many difficulties you faced in the past? He said, “Na hindi maranasan ng mga anak ko yung hirap ko noon. (That my children never experience the hardship I went through.)” Being able to send all three of his children through college in De La Salle Bacolod, and giving them the opportunity for a much better life is his strongest source of inspiration and greatest achievement in life. “Galing ako sa broken family at napaka hirap namin. Sa sipag at tyaga napagtapos ko silang lahat. (I came from a broken and poor family but with perseverance and determination, I was able to send all my children to school),” he reiterates. His very own childhood dreams that faded along with his past turned into big dreams for his children which today, they are living. Criticism has also been a source of motivation for Gerry. The toughest of which, he narrates, were those of degrading comments on his status and capabilities, “Minamaliit ako at pinaparamdam na wala akong kakayahan (People looked down on me and made be feel like I was incapable.)”. He took this as a challenge to be better making the most of whatever resources and competencies he was armed with. Lastly, Gerry believes that his faith also has played and continues to play an important role in his achievements. Every night he prays the rosary and never fails to express his gratitude for even the simplest of blessings. Being grateful and faithful has allowed him to seek for greater things for him and his family but at the same time feel content in the simple and ernest life, a unique combination for someone who has already achieved so much. “Ganito parin naman ako. Simple lang naman kami. (I’m still the same person; We are simple folk.)”
Many have similar success stories. Many have overcome pasts they dare not recall or remember as Gerry has. Indeed, like many others as well, he and his family are better off, and he has been able to provide them with so much more than what he had to start with as a young boy. The more admirable part, perhaps, of this success story is the undertone of simplicity. Gerry’s worldly desires are harnessed by humility of character, honest industry and relentless faith. No doubt his positive drive to face and overcome trials is distinct and remarkable, but Gerry shines even more because of his modest and unassuming character that parallels his driven persona.
Gerry’s advice for others:
“Kahit anong kamalian sa past ay kaya mong ituwid para sa sarili mo. Don’t forget to pray and ask for guidance kasi nasa sayo parin and kakayahan, yung what to do and what is right for you.”
“Always remember that whatever mistake there is in the past, you can correct it for yourself and your future. Don’t forget to pray and ask for guidance because it’s always up to you. You decide what to do and what is right for you.”
Bring it On.