by Levy Abad
Many of those who are familiar with the Rock ’n’ Roll scene of Winnipeg’s Filipino community most likely know also Jason “Jhayzon” Paredes as a rakista and the founder of three bands in the ’90s; namely, Palitaw (1994–2004), FourSight (2004–2011), and Fhamathou (2012–2016). Also a founding member of Filipino Association of Musicians and Other Unknown Artists (FAMOUS), Paredes conceptualized the website of Pinoy Musikeros of Winnipeg – an artists’ webpage where musicians can show their prowess – and initiated 204 Live Music on Facebook – a venue for artists in the community to post their live performances.
Recently, Paredes launched a music video of his song “Iisa Lamang.” He will be releasing also his EP titled Nasaan Ka Man, featuring songs like “Asahan,” “Bakit Pa?,” “Droga,” “Iisa Lamang,” “Di Nakakatuwa,” “Pagbabago,” and “Sinayang.” These materials may be found online at www.jaizendesign.com.
Jason the Entrepreneur. There is more to Paredes than some people know about. Not only a rakista singer-songwriter, he is also an entrepreneur. Paredes is one of the partners (the other one being James Haryett) and founders of JJ Cabinet Warehouse (406 Pacific Avenue corner Ellen Street). According to Paredes, JJ Cabinet started in 2011. On the first floor is the showroom, where quality cabinets are on display. In the basement, Paredes set up his music studio, where fellow musician friends hang out, unwind, and jam. Despite their success with their business, both Paredes and Haryett remain down-to-earth. They prefer donning casual attire; nothing fancy nor forced executive, wannabe getups. Whenever I go there, Paredes does not fail to say hi; none of those “deadma mode” assumed by the “hard-to-get,” snobbish-type corporate bosses. Paredes and I would usually talk about writing songs, plans of producing an album, or organizing a concert to make the community happy.
JJ Cabinet Warehouse. Touring the warehouse, I asked Paredes what led him to this business. He explained that he worked for the owner of the business for more than ten years as a web designer. Along the way, he learned the different aspects of the trade until the owner, Morton Sparber, decided to gradually turn the running of the business over to Haryett. Eventually, Paredes and Haryett, who, by the way, also plays guitar and likes siopao, took over the business and repackaged it as JJ Cabinet Warehouse. Paredes said that business is good. “We are getting good deals lately and are producing, selling, and installing a lot of products.” One time, Paredes took me with him to deliver cabinets and, over lunch, we discussed Rock ‘n’ Roll and business.
Browsing through JJ Cabinet’s website, I found an article that best describes its products: “For many, the kitchen can still be the hub of the family. And it can be beautiful when the cabinets are attractive and functional.” As a homeowner myself, I can imagine having JJ Cabinet’s quality products in my kitchen.
Quality is of paramount importance in the partners’ business. Their construction features include, first and foremost, three-quarter-inch plywood boxes and solid wood doors and drawers. Second, both the interior and the exterior of entire cabinets and drawers are stained with the same color as that of the cabinet doors. Then comes the choice of the three popular traditional colors: maple, cherry, and cappuccino (but with more color options available).
Knowing Paredes as a rakista in the community, I am really amazed by his profile as a business owner and partner. Furthermore, Haryett explained, “We priced one of our kitchens at about $2,900, and the same kitchen with the same specifications from a larger home retailer was $12,000. You may get a kitchen from somewhere for close to the same price as ours, but you will be sacrificing a lot of extras and quality.”
I asked Rocker-cum-entrepreneur Paredes where he gets his energy and what keeps him going. He said, “I really can’t complain about life even if I had experienced some hard times; for example, I was very young when I lost my sibling and my father. Nowadays, if I have success in my chosen path in life, then I am happy to share that with my family and friends in the community.” He added, “In life, you have to be patient and persistent and just go on, because everything that you sow will, one day, grow and bear fruit that you and your loved ones can enjoy and share with each other.”
*Levy Abad is a freelance writer, a singer-songwriter/recording artist, a member of Migrante Canada–MB Chapter, and a founding member / program coordinator of Winnipeg Multicultural Human Rights Forum. He has released three albums: Canadian Experience vol. 1, Never Give Up, and Rhythms of Compassion (Canadian Experience vol. 3). He is currently working on his fourth batch of works, titled I Love Canada. You may contact Abad via firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook.
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