Bobby Castro, Former Student Activist, Now Runs PH’s Largest Pawnshop Network

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Get to know the colorful life of Bobby Castro, the former student activist during the Martial Law days, who now runs Palawan Pawnshop.

bobby castro

Image by Palawan Express- Pera Padala

In an article on Esquire, Castro opened up about his days as a student activist until he became a successful entrepreneur. When asked about the Palawan Pawnshop, Castro likes to clarify that he didn’t establish it. However, his name will forever be associated with it. Castro is the one responsible for making it the Philippines’ largest pawnshop network to date.

“For the record, I did not start Palawan Pawnhop,” he said. “It was in existence since the early 1980s, opened by the Rodriguez family of Roxas, Palawan.

Student activism

During the height of Martial Law, Castro found himself among the forefront of student activism.

Castro was detained at the Camp Crame for more than a year when he was arrested in 1975. After he was granted a leave of absence to visit his family, he rejoined the movement. In 1977, he got hit in the head and shoulder and nearly passed away as a result of his injuries. For the next year, he remained in Camp Olivas, where he was held without charge.

Becoming a businessman

When Castro got out in 1978, he got married and moved to Puerto Princesa. Together with his father, Castro dabbled in various businesses. Aside from their family’s hotel and restaurant business,  Castro sold diapers and gift items. He also sold bangus fry and wild honey, opened a carinderia and even exported some Palawan-made products to Hong Kong.

Castro acquires the Palawan Pawnshop

bobby castro

Image by Palawan Pawnshop- Pera Padala via Facebook

But Castro hit the jackpot when he bought the Palawan Pawnshop business in 1985 for P40,000. The businessman claims that it was barely profitable at the start. The monthly profit would be around P5,000. Motor engines, boxy TVs, Betamax and VHS players, and even chainsaws were being pawned.

Slowly but surely, Palawan Pawnshop expanded across the province. By 1998, the company had 16 branches throughout Palawan. They decided to expand and had their first branches outside the island in the cities of Silay, Victorias, and Cadiz in Negros.

In 2003, Palawan Pawnshop started to offer a money remittance service, which it called Palawan Express Padala.

The Palawan Pawnshop now has 3,100 company-owned branches throughout the country. If you include the agent partners for its Palawan Express Padala, the total number rises to over 5,000.

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