Karlo G. Magpayo

Business + Entrepreneurship + Leadership + Motivation


Article Published by Karlo Magpayo
Philippine Star November 1 2018, page C2

There seems to be a rising popularity and interest on columbariums in the country (Philippines) especially in highly dense metropolitan areas. A columbary is similar to a mausoleum – a private or public structure with a key difference that a columbary vault as the name suggests, hold urns that contain cremains (cremated remains) in them. Roughly about 12 x 12 inches and deep it is made or built of stone, brick, granite, or marble.

Columbariums were first used by the Romans in 300 a.d. Where the ashes of loved ones were put in ornate urns and placed in sacred underground chambers, which were decorated with frescos and mosaics. The word columbarium is from the Latin term columba which means, “dwelling place of the dove.” A columba originally meant a sectional housing structure for doves and pigeons, what is now called a dovecote.

For hundreds of years, churches were the main places where columbariums were found. Many Catholic churches have columbariums located in them. The most favored locations for religious columbariums are within the church, or in church cemeteries such as that of Mother Teresa Columbary at La Loma Cemetery Compound in Caloocan. The massive structure was built several years ago with land belonging to the Archdiocese of Kalookan. This site has become a major landmark due to the historical significance of La Loma Cemetery and the modern take on addressing the needs of Filipinos of a dignified and cheaper alternative of burial lots which can be very expensive from both purchase and maintenance perspectives. This allows family members another to “move” a loved one with them, if the need arises, yet still provides a special place where family and friends can remember and memorialize their loved one.

Another peculiarity of Mother Teresa Columbary in La Loma, Caloocan is its decorated vaults covered in glass decorated with the deceased’s photo, or symbols of their life the demand of columbary vaults also translates to an increase in demand cremation service which is part and parcel of whole death care process ( a service that is also provide by Mother Teresa) . Statistically back in 2008, the use of cremation service in Metro Manila was only at 15% out of the total rendered services from Funeral Homes but in 2015 a study was conducted that cremation is at equal par with “burol” or wake services at 51% (49% being wake services). Cremation,

A columbarium does not require an in-earth burial, but instead, allows for the interment of a loved one in a structure, away from the elements. As our world becomes more populated, dense and the worsening traffic many Filipinos will notice the need for more columbariums eventually replacing in-ground cemeteries as the modernity, ease, beliefs and cost play an important role in the Filipino psyche.

Comparative Cost of Traditional Wake/Burol and Libing versus Cremation and Use of Columbary Vaults

Burol with Libing Cremation with Columbary Vault
Wake/ Burol Services: P65,000.00 (with casket) Cremation Service: P16,000.00 (with Urn)
Memorial Lot: P100,000.00 Columbary Vault: P53,000.00
Total: P165,000.00 Total: P69,000.00
Other Issues: Casket Upgrading, Memorial lot maintenance, harmful to the environment due to use of wood for caskets, use of embalming fluid that seeps to the ground water. Cheaper and more practical

Giving back to UA&P

There is a huge disparity and gap among the current workforce (youth) and employers nowadays, and this was more evident when I was invited to teach and give back to my alma mater at the University of Asia and the Pacific a few months ago.

My talk evolved around being prepared as they (the graduates) enter the workforce as an employee or an entrepreneur. Though nothing prepares them for actual experience and handwork but there are some tools that I’ve shared from the various industries, companies and businesses I’ve handled with success and otherwise. Gone are the ideas of traditional professions that the past decade would accept and rather have; some feedback from the students gave rise to certain new careers in the future that involve individuality, service, and sense of being, freedom, communication and social acceptance.

End of the day, it was fun experience and was glad I could give back to my university and would expect more in the future.

I did give out free tickets to the Huling El Bimbo play care of Ely Buendia.

Business Feature: Canadian American School Manila

The business of education is an abstract art that some have had success while others still seeking better and greener pasture. In the Philippines, schools are categorized as Non-Profit and Non-Stock. However, some have made into a lucrative enterprise (STI and AMA) while educating the masses for the present and future generation.

Recently, I am privileged enough to be part of organization that offers the best education possible combining excellent ethical practices and a modern approach to learning. The following is a feature on the Canadian American School Manila headed by Ms. Bon Farolan.


CAS is a progressive educational institution located in Makati City, Metro Manila, whose student body comprises representation from 28 nations, 17 diplomatic missions, and 190 multinational corporations. CAS delivers a North American hybrid STEAM curriculum with a distinct focus on early multilingualism and acculturation that builds self-identity in a diverse, multicultural, and inclusive learning environment. CAS operates an independent, co-educational Preschool (P1 – P3, JK), Primary School (SK, G1 – G8) and Secondary School (G9 – G12), providing English, French, German, Hebrew, Japanese, Mandarin, and Spanish language exposure and immersion at the Preschool level, as well as World Language learning in Grades K-12. CAS manages the Center for Exceptional Needs (CEN) and offers a variety of therapy, co-curricular, and enrichment programs for children with needs aged 2 to 18.


According to CAS, they value diversity. Aside from addressing the varied linguistic and cultural needs of our students, they offer an inclusive educational experience to those with varying needs, skills, and abilities. Highly qualified and dedicated teachers and staff collaborate to provide a comprehensive and challenging curriculum for all our students.


They have an open admission policy understanding the challenges of families relocating to another country for business or job placement. This is why students can apply for admission throughout the year. CAS believes that all students can learn when exposed to high quality instruction coupled with a nurturing environment.

Presently CAS offers the following programs;

Pre-School & Kindergarten

Early Childhood & Middle School

Junior High School

After School Programs

Summer School Program

Tours & Exchanges

Special Education Program

At the center of CAS is its raison d’etre by drawing its inspiration from three main guiding principles, whose proponents have dedicated their lives to education philosophies that are socially responsible, forward thinking, and democratically disseminated.

Brain and Intelligence Research

The (Goldie) Hawn Foundation’s MindUP is a social & emotional learning curriculum and mindfulness-based education training program developed from neuroscience research projects conducted by scholars and clinicians recommended by the Scientific Research Advisory Board. This accredited early learning program for kids aged 3 to 17 aims to reduce stress, improve concentration and academic performance, and nurture empathy and emotional regulation.

Change & Social Policy Development

Paulo Freire (1921-1997) is a Brazilian educator whose primary advocacy is critical pedagogy that empowers learners to be active change agents. His philosophies resonate in today’s world where children are able to draw learning from multiple sources, albeit unfiltered and unchecked; thus, it is the role of educators and facilitators to shepherd and nurture such an influx of information. Under Freire’s pedagogical influence, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM, or STEAM with Art) are taught in an integrated approach towards understanding humanity’s inherent role and the challenges it faces in providing and maintaining a sustainable planet. Critical thinking and analysis are skills that students learn; they not only learn the science behind climate change, but understand how to manage its implications on developing relevant social policy.

“Education makes sense because women and men learn that through learning they can make and remake themselves, because women and men are able to take responsibility for themselves as beings capable of knowing — of knowing that they know and knowing that they don’t.” – Paulo Freire

Language & Culture Studies

Mental agility, creativity, problem-solving, critical thinking, and reasoning skills are among the many benefits of language study. Learning a foreign language helps sharpen one’s cognitive skills, enhance one’s overall learning abilities, and improve one’s capacity for learning in all other areas. It is a multi-faceted experience to learn a second or third language, enriching one’s life in myriad ways. Introductory or beginner courses allow a student to feel how a language works — with its sounds and cadences — and gain insight into the culture and traditions of its speakers. As foreign language learning progresses, so does one’s self discovery.

Culturally responsive teaching (through the use of multicultural materials) is an essential element of teaching children with diverse backgrounds, which must be honored as a significant aspect of one’s ethnic identity. Ways in which to embrace such diversity include reflecting on multicultural literature, ethnic perspectives, and literary genres in the classroom. Math instruction can incorporate everyday-life concepts such as purchasing and consumption habits of various ethnic groups. These can be presented in sensory fashion with visual, auditory, and tactile delivery.

All this only helps to increase student self-esteem in the classroom as they go about learning, exploring, and experience sharing; to enhance communication within what may sometimes be a dull educational atmosphere.

“Those who know nothing of foreign languages know nothing of their own.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

Administrators and Faculty

President & School Administrator Bonbon Joaquin Farolan-Ferreira, MSJ,

School Director Didi Dolandolan, MA,


Exceptional Education Program Coordinator Ricci Mercado, MA,

Middle School & High School Program Coordinator John Stephany Jr.,


Strategic Development Officer Karlo
School Registrar Ana Victoria

Facilities & Auxiliary Services Coordinator Robson
Website & Social Media Coordinator Gianco la O’ Cui,


Admissions and Special Projects Coordinator Christina

School Nurse Hannah Bernales,


CAS is poised to expand further by developing and creating schools in Metro Manila with focus on progressive areas such as Taguig BGC, Manila/Pasay and the south. To know more about the CAS please visit Canadian American School

Continue reading “Business Feature: Canadian American School Manila”

Entrepreneurial Wisdom

I’ve spent more than a decade being in corporate but did dabble in a few businesses in between and over the years. None so significant that I went full on towards being a entrepreneur, doing what I a really good at. Presently, I sussessfully manage Mother Teresa Crematory and Columbarium in the Philippines with expansion projects in various parts of the country.

1. The most valuable asset is time.

Once time passes it’s lost forever. Personally, time or the lack of it is the greatest resource that an entrepreneur or businessman has in his arsenal. Prioritization is the key! In the years being in corporate, I have seen many of my colleagues and staff who confuse activity with progress. They mix up the less important parts with the important ones that clearly need the utmost attention. Many, too have simply over analyzed situations only to miss the important thing, which is action. As my father in law one the Dean of Ateneo Graduate School called it “analysis paralysis”.


Nothing gets done with over thinking. My former boss Ernesto Santiago of St. Peter Life Plans constantly would remind us to start ahead which is always the hardest thing to do then have enough room for adjustments.

2. Stay curious.

I’m not quite sure how curiosity can be learned but what I do know, curiousity is the framework for innovation. At this day and age where we work at a frantic pace, today’s news is tomorrow’s history, a curious mind builds the best and brightest products/services we know and use as exemplified by the great Steve Jobs. Moreover, being a one trick pony is so old school equated to bell bottoms that can never be worn ever. As a rule, listen to trends – take small data by heart. Another is to embrace novelty and create you make opportunities for yourself. Novelties, are precursors to trends, once it clicks it gets sticky then you have yourself a market to play with.

Years back, I would often remind my managers to expose themselves to the world and not be confined to what they are used to. Curiosity takes a certain amount sacrifice as well being exposed to the unknown and using that to ones advantage. Conversely, if you always have your blinders on, your perspective becomes too narrow and you miss out on promising opportunities.


A decade ago I was so immersed in advertising that anything with numbers let alone the death care industry was too out there for me. However, curiousity enticed me to learn and master all about the memorial business and preneed/ insurance game from which I created the most powerful brands in the industry to date. In the same manner, the idea of bringing in traffic and general content to Yahoo! Philippines opened the floodgates to content and information supply in the Philippines.

Take the time to learn about new ideas or even entirely new businesses. By staying open and curious. Remember, if ever curiosity killed the cat, the cat had nine lives to spare.

3. Master your thoughts and emotions.

The most challenging in my career and perhaps my personal life was or I’d about controlling my emotions. By nature I wear my emotions on my sleeve like a billboard telling everyone, this is me. However, it was also my waterloo and cause of my disasters and troubles.

We often hear that failures, setbacks, and defeats make us better. Although painful, we have developed self-awareness to grow and learn forcing us to spend time on mastering our own thoughts and emotions.

The Godfather (1972)

I’d often like to think and emulate the character of Al Pacino as Michael Corleone when addressing the heads of the five families. You can see his coolness under stress quite the opposite of  his brother Sonny who got the worst end of the stick after a knee jerk reaction from a call from Connie. Being emtional is then being predictable. As Don Vito said to the young Santino “What’s the matter with you? I think your brain is going soft with all that comedy you are playing with that young girl. Never tell anyone outside the Family what you are thinking again”.

It takes a lot of discipline to be a calm and collected operator. Becoming the one who takes decisive action while others get emotional at the push of a buttongives you the unfair advantage.

4. Intuition and vision.


It’s one of those things that’s difficult to define and place into context. Intuition or gut feel is unmistakably esoteric that comes from a higher plane. Intuition comes often than most would think off, Malcolm Gladwell easily pointed out in his book Blink that is the first reaction, the first instinct that we should listen to. The problem lies in between and when rational thought enters our sensibilities. Since we do have a combination of both rational and irrational behaviors, training our heart and mind makes way for the decisive moment of trust. Trusting a vision that takes a successful entrepreneur to making things happen. Economists, accountants and finance folks rely on statistics or historical data forecasting decisions of the future. That is all fine if your desire is to go on cruise control. To be pioneering, creative and a game changer, metrics and scale at times should take a backseat.

5. To be the best, employ the best.

Life and business is about getting to point A to point B in the least amount of time efficiently and effectively. As the top honcho, boss, CEO your job dictates you to be the dreamer, visionary, the person who creates opportunities and makes it happen. Leave the small things to your employees but hire the best ones to do the job.


Top talents are means to end and reward them appropriately whenever’s there’s a reason to celebrate. By creating a championship worthy environment the under current for inspiration and motivation would manifest itself in more ways than one could imagine.

6. Be unpredictable, don’t assume you know everything.

Many have compared business to war, if this is the true then it’s better to unpredictable with your actions. Being level headed and not assuming you know everything opens alot of opportunities to made. Thoughts and comments like “I’ve done that before” “I tried that” have no place in the curious mind if a successful businessman. Much of my success and favor in the business community came from my ability to listen and taking the finer points into problem solving and challenging opportunities that are game changers or first mover endeavours. I truly belive that nowadays people are smarter and more opinionated than before, by using such with a sprinkle of patience can lead to your next big idea.


8. Toast small wins.

The wisdom here is to keep the ball rolling for longer periods of time rather than having dry spells and lulls for periods at a time. To start a company is harder and its even harder to keep it in the black for the first few years. Statistics show that 80% of all start-ups fail during its first two years for a variety of reasons. 

The above are some simple lessons I’ve learned and applied over the years including some hard experiences that made me who I am and what I am made of. I am not saying that these are fool proof lessons as nothing is really. Even up to this point, I am still trying to learn and hone my skills even further to be better and sharper than before.


“Hard decisions are easier made when your own values intact”

Character and Dignity

If you want to see a person’s character, look at what he or she does with power. If you want to see a person’s dignity give him wealth. Nowadays, many have power and wealth combined without Character and Dignity.

Radio Guestings on Business Strategy

Radio guesting on DZME 1530am am radio. “We are in the era of individuality, almost all goods and services are customized to a certain degree based on our own preferences – needs, wants and usage. Successful companies tend to adjust to this trend and adapt to the situation which can be used as a competitive advantage or a feature to set you apart from the rest” #business#strategy #marketing #individuality #customization #competitiveadvantage

DZME 1530 Radio Guesting

Social Acceptability of Cremation and Columbary use in Modern Times

Source: Social Acceptability of Cremation and Columbary use in Modern Times

Social Acceptability of Cremation and Columbary use in Modern Times

Published for the Philippine Star Newspaper, November 1 2017, Section B-8 Business Section.

Philippine Star Section B-8, Nov 1 2017

Back in 2008, the number of cremation services in the Philippines was only 14% with concentration in Metro Manila primarily. Most Filipinos back then were still fixated with traditional means of burial and burial services such as the use of a memorial lot and a wake or burol (sometimes more than 4 days). Tradition and culture mostly dictated this method but as society evolved with time, money and views took center stage, cremation jumped from from 14% to 51% in Metro Manila as the preferred choice among Filipino families and the Baby Boomer generation when it comes to death care.

Cremation is a relatively new trend in Philippine history as we have been accustomed to the ways of the Catholic Church and the Muslim tradition mostly in the south of the country. However, in the lifetime of a single generation, cremation went from an alternative to the most popular choice. What changed to make cremation so popular and accepted so quickly?

The changes can be tied to three major factors: (1) cost & time (2) religious acceptance of cremation, (3) social factors – changing role of cemeteries in family life and rise of environmentalism.

Social Factors

The popularity of cremation has grown alongside the environmental movement and greater awareness for the need to protect and appreciate nature especially among the modern age we live in.

Part of this has been a move away from traditional burial practices because they are seen as damaging to the environment, with more than 827,000 gallons of embalming fluid and 1.6 million tons of concrete being buried each year.

Hardly a place for paying respects and being environmentally concerned

Another important factor is the increasing desire to be a part of nature. Though we are still far from the ideals of most western countries such as the United States and some parts of Europe, some Filipinos have become more focused on nature and the importance of protecting the environment, more and more want their ashes to be a part of nature and the ongoing cycle of life.

While more traditional burial options focused on the preservation and protection of the body separate from the Earth, today more people want their ashes or body to return to nature and the Earth.

Many Filipino families in the 19th and 20th centuries lived in the same towns and cities for generations. Because cemetery land, unlike today, was inexpensive, families owned large family plots where generations of the family could be buried together or were placed in the local or municipal public cemetery. Later generations could visit and connect with their family’s permanent place in the world knowing there would always be a place for them to join their family.

Present day, these family places became less common because many of the family plots ran out of burial space and the land around those plots had either been sold or become too expensive to purchase. Moreover, more Filipinos have given up local dreams in exchange for a life outside the country. Today, family cemetery plots for 10 or more people in larger cities are over crowed with multi-layer death dwellings or are too expensive to purchase.

As family members spread to new cities throughout the country, it also became harder for the children to visit their family burial plots. Parents often struggle to decide if they should be buried near their own parents or their children. When multiple children have moved across the country, it becomes even more difficult to find a family place.

Religious Acceptance

“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, and earth to earth” is a commonly used [phrasing] in many religion’s funeral rites and cremation is central practice of many religions. In Christian doctrine, Ecclesiastes 12:7 refers includes the passage, “and the dust shall return to the Earth as it was, and the soul shall return to God who gave it.” 

Up until 1963, however, cremation was banned by the Catholic church and very uncommon in other Christian denominations. Once the ban was lifted, many denominations quickly began to approve and in some cases promote cremation as a simpler alternative to traditional burial.

However, the Catholic Church endorses the use of cremation provided that the cremains are brought back to earth or be kept at columbary vault such as the Mother Teresa Columbarium located at C3 Grace Park La Loma Caloocan which stands on the property of the (RCBK Office) Roman Catholic Bishop of Kalookan.22141125_516134492070934_7957890997473028062_n

Cost and Time

As the role of the family cemetery declined, many families began to focus on keeping the ashes of their loved ones in a place of significance to the family or to them personally at home or at preferred columbary like Mother Teresa in Caloocan.

On an average it costs about P50,000 for a modestly priced lawn lot (2 bodies) outside Metro Manila and about P150,000 in the city compared to a columbarium vault of P46,000 only that can fit 6-8 urns. For an average Filipino family such cost can be prohibitive considering living expenses and other costs.

On the mortuary side, a typical wake service either pre need or at need, costs about P65,000.00 inclusive of 4 days viewing and a complete memorial service. Since majority of planholders who have pre need plans tend to pay (upgrade) more upon utilization of the plan.

Mother Teresa Crematory in C3 Ave. Grace Park Caloocan City

Cremation on the other hand is much cheaper with price ranging from P16,000 (Mother Teresa) up to P60,000 or more with the same burning time and end result. Time as precious as it is, is better spent with cremation and aids better on the acceptance and moving on process.

  1. Traditional

Memorial Service + Memorial Lot = P115,000.00 (average)

  1. Modern

Cremation Service + Columbarium Vault = P62,000.00

Personally, social change and acceptance will dictate the death care industry without losing our own Filipino identity and culture, a mix of the old and new so to speak. Numbers alone, the modern age is here with us with cost, time, social influences and service quality being the foremost needs of the new age Filipino family.


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