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This Ad Agency CEO grew up in Bilibid Prison

This Ad Agency CEO grew up in Bilibid Prison

We found a real-life ‘Miracle in Cell’ and he is a Filipino who happened to spend most of his childhood days among the prisons his dad used to guard in the day. Years later, Third Domingo is CEO and founder of IXM, a leading advertising agency in the country and a member of Hakuhodo, Japan’s second largest marketing company and fourth largest in the world. The CEO behind one of the most successful PH ad agencies grew up in New Bilibid Prison.

“I was practically raised by prisoners,” he confessed. “Since hindi naman uso yung mga yaya sa amin, doon ako tumatambay sa Bilibid Prison. Sa loob mismo ng Maximum Security Compound at sa Medium Security Compound.”

According to Third, the reservation compound served as his playground growing up. It was where he first learned to play basketball and chess, with inmates as his teammates.

He attributed his now perspective in life with this exposure as it given him a realistic picture of how it really is for Filipinos in the unfortunate sectors.

PHOTO BY JEFF PAULINO/IXM

The Impact to a CEO’s life

At a very young age, he would witness prison breakouts. These events, as he recalled, were the kinds that gave him a profound effect on his view on life.

Third was bittersweet with these memories in an interview with Esquire .

“My father died when I landed my first job at McCann. It was just before dawn, and my family kept calling me on my cellphone, they were saying that I need to come home. I said, ‘Hindi puwede, may presentation ako.’ They were so mad at me because I didn’t want to come home. Iyon pala, hindi nila sinasabi na patay na… Sinasabi lang nila na gusto akong makausap ng tatay ko. Tapos, habang nagpe-present ako, may nag-text. ‘Kuya Third, condolence. Balita ko kagabi pa namatay si Papa mo.’ I froze. Hindi ko alam! Hindi lang nila sinasabi sakin.”

He reminisced his struggle as a poor boy studying in an exclusive school and how he approaches some of the lessons.

“So I was learning about constellations, but imagine sa isang lugar na eskenita, it’s like, fuck constellations! Makakain ba ang constellation?”

PHOTO BY IXM

The Reliable Kuya

Third was very compassionate for his own people which is why he acted as a teacher for the out-of-school youth in their community way back. That became the Poblacion Boys Club, and he became their reliable Kuya. They would play and he would teach the boys whatever he learned from school. He even raised funds for the club.

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“I want the young kids to get out of that mindset that their current life is the world and that they’re never getting out of that reality. Dream big. Aspire. You might fail, but at least try.”

Being exposed to an unusual environment for his age really equipped him to brace himself from life’s challenges. He couldn’t be any more grateful for them.

“The hardest part is you thinking and believing that ‘this is the world,’” he shared. “Kapag laking hirap ka kasi, there’s a helplessness that you get accustomed to, and that’s the worst. I really had to bootstrap myself to gain some advantage for my own interest and over other people all the time.”

Third took up Integrated Marketing Communication at the University of Asia and the Pacific as a scholar and persevered his way to where he is right now.

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