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  • By Denise Mesa Mendiola

A hog day afternoon

In business, things don’t always go as planned. I often repeat the famous saying to my clients, “Murphy’s Law: What can happen, usually does.” That’s why I believe that before aspiring entrepreneurs start a business, they begin with a vision and then write a business plan. The vision and plan will keep them on their path when they hit walls, go under water and put out fires.

My dad, too, had a vision to grow fruits and vegetables and raise pigs at his ranch for his family. This type of work requires daily heavy lifting, cleaning, feeding and the occasional snake-killing. Dad has no patience for the meek or lazy, so mom has been his loyal super hero sidekick, if you will.

The other day, Murphy decided to pay a visit on mom’s birthday. I wanted to give her a bit of a break from the ranch grind, so I planned a brunch for her and her sisters at Pika’s restaurant. I was sure the fresh brewed coffee, Chamorro sausage fried rice and latiya with birthday candles would be a great way to start her special day. As I was getting dressed, I received a message from mom that she could not make it to brunch because dad was just admitted into the hospital. I immediately called her cell phone, but she did not answer. She messaged that dad was “ok n rstng.” When did my parents start figuring out they preferred texting over calling? I messaged that I was on my way there, but she was adamant that I did not come, and instead help them with the work they were supposed to do that day. I thought, surely helping them with some errands is the least I could do to alleviate their stress.

Without hesitation, I messaged mom to let me know what she needed to get done. “Need you to give the pigs water at the ranch.” I sighed, feeling my grumbling tummy and dreading the unforgettable scent that only humidity, heat and pigs could bring. As I drove past trucks heading to the beach with barbeque grills at the back, I couldn’t help but think about how challenging it is for farmers and ranchers to find good laborers. I’m sure my dad’s vision included leaving his legacy to the next generation, but what happens if they don’t want to be part of that plan?

When I got home, I received another text from mom, “Go to WSTCO and buy sow ration for the momma pig. Need to go before they close at 4pm today and they are closed tomorrow.” As I fought my way through traffic, I wondered what the back-up plan would be if the two momma pigs didn’t have their special food. Is there another supplier open on Sundays? Can we make this food on Guam?

Not long after, I received another text from mom, “Dad was just released from the hospital. We are going to the ranch to feed the pigs, if you can come and meet us there.” Now I know where I get my stubbornness and tenacity. As I washed the grease laden pig food buckets, carefully wiping food grit from my lashes, I remembered what the school pastor said about me during his vision sermon at my graduation ceremony. He looked at me with his wild blue eyes and big teethy smile and said, “Denise will become a pig farmer.”

Denise Mesa Mendiola is senior business advisor at the University of Guam- Small Business Development Center, and program coordinator at the Bank of Guam Women in Business Program. Send feedback to

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