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Madam Lyn Macanas: Tough Lady in a Man’s World

In February 1966, American singer and songwriter James Brown recorded, “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” with these lyrics from one of the stanzas:

Man thinks about our little bitty baby girls and our baby boys
Man made them happy, ’cause man made them toys
And after man make everything, everything he can
You know that man makes money, to buy from other man”

This song was written at a time when men went to work to make money and women were expected to stay home to take care of the household. Of course, we all know that this notion no longer applies today as women’s rights, gender equality and current economic challenges have compelled the fairer sex, err… the ladies to work and earn as much as, and often times earn more than, the men.

Madam Ambassador

This song came to mind when we sat down with businesswoman and construction magnate Lyn Macanas. We were able to spend some time with “Madam L”, as Lyn is fondly called, during her pictorial at the Autobot Offroad PH HQ+ in Quezon City, a few days before she was launched as the “lady brand ambassador” (ambassadress?) and image model for Autobot’s mega display of 15 modified pickup trucks and SUVs for the Manila Auto Salon on November 16, 2023. And yes, Madam L owns ALL these fifteen tough-looking modified vehicles.

“I just love big things!”, Madam L exclaimed while wearing a big diamond ring on her finger. “I just love to drive big trucks and SUVs with big wheels. I love it when my vehicle looks astig (tough) enough to warn people that I can run over them if they don’t get out of my way!”, she joked. “I may be diminutive in stature but I’m used to driving not just pickup trucks and SUVs, but heavy duty trucks as well as forklifts. I learned to drive these big machines when I was just starting out in business.”

Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough

“I got married before I graduated from high school to get away from my provincial life and move to Metro Manila”, she narrated. “I sold anything I could sell to pay for my college education because my husband, who was an engineer, didn’t earn much. At the time, I thought that getting a college degree, having kids and being a loving wife was the ‘dream’. But scraping just enough money to get by, watching my children go hungry, and staying home because my husband was the jealous type, was not my dream. I knew I was destined to do more. I wanted to achieve more.”

After she and her husband separated, Madam L worked overseas – first in Saudi Arabia and then in Taiwan – where she learned important business skills and practices while she moonlighted in various sideline jobs just to earn for her children. In one of her side jobs, she learned the marketing aspects within the construction industry and slowly but consistently built her network while working for her boss. She eventually got into the construction business herself but still engaged in other supplemental ventures because of her seemingly boundless entrepreneurial spirit.

Against All Odds

“When I started my own business venture, my only asset was my PR, the connections I made and the lessons I learned along the way”, Madam L recalled. “When I earned some money, I invested it in a used old truck for my scrap business. When my truck driver was absent when we needed to pick up 10 tons of scrap from a client, I had to drive the big truck myself. I even operated the forklift to load the scrap into my truck and covered the top with a tarpaulin myself because no one else was around to do it.”

Madam L shared some funny episodes from driving a truck. “Since my old truck was smoke-belching, I often experienced being flagged down by enforcers. Having no money to pay for fines, I resorted to using my charm”, she joked. “At the time, my clothes were dirty and I didn’t look my best because I was handling the scrap and doing the hauling myself. Still, I would use my PR with the enforcers and I think they would let me off with just a warning and a smile because they were so amused that a small woman like me could drive a big truck like that!”

Don’t Stop Believing

As her business ventures grew and her empire expanded, Madam L remained steadfast in her goal to help others. “I experienced the pain and the wanting of having nothing so I go about empowering people who came from humble beginnings, especially my employees, to learn from my experience and their own”, she proudly stated. “I patiently teach my employees so they can grow with the company. My General Manager started as a 19-year-old high school graduate who had difficulty writing business correspondence but he listened to me, followed my instructions and learned much. I’m so proud of his achievements as I am proud of my children’s accomplishments!”

“One of the things I taught them is to be focused on your goals”, she continued. “If you cannot achieve your goals with Plan A, you should have a Plan B, a Plan C and so forth until you succeed. You should never stop believing in yourself.” She gave an example. “I’ve always dreamed of having my own large billboard along a busy highway. Now, I am realizing this dream by being the brand ambassador of Autobot Offroad PH. On top of that, my 15 modified vehicles will be displayed at a prestigious auto show, the Manila Auto Salon and Sport Truck Show at SMX. That, for me, is another achievement that I only used to dream of.”

Playing With The Boys       

“I had sports cars before but I find more security in driving big masculine vehicles”, Madam L confided. “At the start, I wanted to have a Hummer like actress Angel Locsin’s H2 but it was no longer locally available. So, I bought a Toyota FJ Cruiser and modified it at Autobot with big wheels and a tall stance to make it look tough. And then my daughter, who’s also a truck enthusiast, convinced me to get a pickup truck so we can load stuff on its bed. We also had it modified at Autobot and then one thing led to another until we had a fleet of fifteen tough looking vehicles.”

Not one to shy away from challenges, Madam L and her children has driven their modified rigs over rough terrain. “I always have fun driving these big rigs off-road with my children”, she stated. “Being able to drive over seemingly impossible terrain is similar to conquering the obstacles that I face in business. The modifications made by Autobot allow my vehicles to easily go over ruts and mud pools, which in a way, is like a metaphor to the adjustments I constantly make in business to allow me to easily close deals and get contracts.”

After an enjoyable conversation with Madam L, I couldn’t help but revise one line of the song from “Man made them happy, ’cause man made them toys” to “Madam L is quite happy ‘cause Autobot made her toys”. I know it’s a bit cheesy and James Brown wouldn’t approve but, hey, it’s NOT a man’s man’s man’s world anymore. And besides, there’s also the chorus that says:

This is a man’s world but it wouldn’t be nothing, nothing, not one little thing, without a woman or a girl”.

Indeed, Madam L, her successful ventures, and her 15 rigs are a testament to this line. May she become a shining example of empowerment to all women around the world.

See all of Madam Lyn Macano’s 15 modified vehicles at the Autobot Offroad PH display area at the Manila Auto Salon and Sport Truck Show from November 16 to 19, 2023 at the SMX Conventions Halls 1 to 4, SM Mall of Asia Complex in Pasay City.