Marco Delgado: Not given everything he wanted (and it was okay)

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Wind turbines and Marco Delgado

Marco Deglado has a legacy to Philippine Christendom that not very many people know about.

It started with passion, and a mission. Ambassador Antonio C. Delgado, Marco’s grandfather and the First Philippine Ambassador to the Vatican, made it his personal advocacy to have a Filipino saint canonized. This became a reality with the beatification in 1981 and canonization in 1987 of San Lorenzo Ruiz. An issue came up, however, when the sculptor started work on the likeness—whose face?

It was then that Marco’s grandmother took out a picture of the boy Marco (who was then living with them) and thus, immortalized him as the face of the patron saint of the Philippines, the Filipinos and interestingly, the Overseas Filipino Workers.

More passion, more mission

Although he had deep roots in Vancouver, Paris, New York and Japan, Marco is all Filipino.

“I think I credit that to my mother, Mercedes Prieto. She raised my sister Karla and myself to be very Filipino, to be very nationalistic and proud of our heritage. But I can also credit my grandmother and my grandfather. Although they were international and they lived in Rome and traveled the world, they were all about God and country. Growing up with them and growing up with the influence of my mother,  it was very clear that no matter where I am, whether it’s Canada or Europe or the States, that’s secondary to what I am, which is being Filipino.”

In fact, at age 13, he was the first Filipino and the only Filipino student at St. George’s School for Boys in Vancouver, and he did not mind. What struck him, however, in this experience and his other experiences  abroad was his discovery that “we’re all equal; every person is not more special than the other.”

His idealism nurtured (by family, by school, by life), Marco found as his truth that he needed to believe in himself and in what he does.

Idealism

It was this idealism—the desire to make a difference—that led him to wind turbines, his current business.

It started with a phone call and a decision to go back to Vancouver. Marco said, “My wife and I decided that we wanted to raise [our children] where we felt comfortable, where we felt that the values that we held dear were ingrained as a part of people’s living. That’s why we chose Vancouver. We thought that it was a wholesome place to raise a family.”

Upon arriving, he got in touch with his old friends from St. George’s and one of them, Peter Schriber, who had a wind farm business in Alberta, invited him for a meeting. The rest, as they say, is history.

“When I joined him at Energy Logics, we grew that business from a small 10 MW wind farm in Alberta to over 1,000 MW in Alberta-Montana. I convinced that company to invest in the Philippines. I wanted to do that because it gets me back to the same ideals. There was an opportunity in the Philippines to develop a renewable project because there was none. There was the one wind farm that is in Ilocos but I just found that this is a way I can contribute. So this Canadian company eventually was sold to a Spanish group but I ended up with the whole Philippine project. That’s how I ended up in wind power in the Philippines.”

Energy Logics Philippines is currently working with the big boys in the Philippines—Meralco, the Department of Energy, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Energy Regulatory Commission. Marco thinks that in general, his participation in the power sector in the Philippines is welcomed by the private sector and the government.

He says, “[We are] providing energy security so that we’re not dependent on oil and diesel. I firmly believe that I’m doing something that’s not only good for the environment but good for the Philippines.” Marco’s group even flew  the Commissioner of the California Electricity Cooperative to the Philippines to help educate the lawmakers and the public on the benefits of renewable energy.

“I think part of what I do is all about education and educating the public, educating the politicians, educating the leaders that there is a place for renewable energy and there’s a value in having renewable energy in their portfolio, the country, in their departments,” he adds.

Within seven years, Energy Logics plans to put up wind farms that can generate a total 420 MW, and a solar power portfolio that can produce more than 250 MW in additional capacity. The proposed projects may require $1.8 billion in investments.

Advice to entrepreneurs

Marco shares an important lesson he learned from working for the then Chairman of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, Richard “Dick” Gordon. “He [Dick Gordon] taught us so many things—being strong and believing in what you do, but also not being intimidated by money or politics or these big names in business and politics, and to just do it.”

Marco has one of those ‘big names’ in the business world. He acknowledges that it afforded him a privileged upbringing, but despite this, he knows hard work and its value.

“My grandfather, my grandmother, my father, my mother… all of them taught me so many things about work and about the value of working.” He confesses, “You know, not once did I ever feel that I could sit back and relax and receive money. Sometimes I wish that I did,” he said in jest, “but we were never given anything that we wanted. We were always given perhaps a safety net—we knew that our health and our education  will be taken care of, but none of us were ever given fancy cars, or a lot of money. Nothing came free and we had to work for what we have.”

He tells entrepreneurs: “Valuing what money can get you in terms of your business idea is very important not just from an individual standpoint. I think it is really important to think about saving and to build up your savings so that you can invest. It is actually much simpler than what many people think. I think it should be a habit for every Filipino who earns any form of salary, that even of the simplest of jobs, as long as you are able to provide for what you need, there’s no need to go into buying so much of what you want.”

Needs and wants are delineated concepts for Marco. “Putting the difference of what you need and what you want into the bank allows individuals to be enterprising. And I think Filipinos are very enterprising. It’s a natural inclination for Filipinos to want to do a business, whether it’s a corner sari-sari store, or an ice cream cart. There’s always an enterprising individual there. That’s a good start.”

His final advice, “As an entrepreneur you need to be resilient. There’s a lot of setbacks all the time. But don’t be afraid to dream great and to pursue your passion. I think passion is important in any profession but especially as entrepreneurs, you need to believe in what you do, you need to believe in yourself.”

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