Beyond timeless carols, Jose Mari Chan shares business tips to struggling firms

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Jose Mari Chan, singer-songwriter and sugar mill owner (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 31) — Jose Mari Chan may be the ultimate icon for the so-called ‘ber’ months, but he is actually a formidable businessman all year round.

More than being a Christmas icon, the singer-songwriter makes a living out of sugar production, earning him the moniker "sugar baron of Negros."

Chan, now 75, has more to share beyond his iconic songs like "Christmas in Our Hearts" and "Beautiful Girl." When he is not out serenading Filipinos with his warm and soothing carols, he has dedicated decades running a sugar mill. He is president of the Binalbagan Isabela Sugar Company, Inc. He's also into real estate.

COVID-19 has not stopped Chan's sugarcane farm in Negros Occidental from churning out their produce, as food items were marked as basic commodities which needs sustained action.

A silver lining to the pandemic is that the government refocused priorities towards "food security," but he knows that not all industries were able to keep going amid lockdowns.

He shared some tips to business owners looking to bounce back from the slump.

"You don't have to look far. Look around your community and see what needs there are to be filled. Channel your talent towards filling those needs," Chan told CNN Philippines' Rico Hizon.

To borrow his own words from the long-time classic: please be careful with what you get into.

"Be prepared to work hard as you can, don't shy away from competition. The 'quick and easy' is just easy, but it's easily gone," he says with a reassuring smile.

He recounted the hard work of his father, who would travel from Iloilo City to Antique back in the day to deliver muscovado or unrefined cane sugar that contains natural molasses as a trader.

Lucky for him, he has more than enough to sustain his needs and with his five children giving a helping hand. He is comfortable enough to balance business and music, where he both struck gold.

READ: Why Jose Mari Chan doesn't want you to call him 'Mr. Christmas'

With a gloomy 2020, the hitmaker sows a glimmer of hope as Christmas — often his time to shine — is just a few months away.

"Christmas is a time for celebration. We have to celebrate life, thank God that we are healthy that we are alive but continue to be cautious and be. Let's think of a creative way to celebrate Christmas," Chan said.