John Belmonte


  • Belmonte began selling sampaguita and sweepstakes tickets on the street at 10 years old
  • Belmonte said his parents' separation inspired him to work hard for a better life
  • Belmonte said the secret to success is being prepared for when opportunity strikes

A Filipino who previously sold Sampaguita on the streets is now the owner of four restaurants, a supermarket and an agency in the United Kingdom.

John Belmonte, 49, began selling sampaguita garlands and sweepstakes tickets on the streets of Batangas, a province in the Philippines, at the age of 10. In an interview with Philippine media ABS-CBN, Belmonte—whose father comes from a political clan—said his parents' separation inspired him to work harder.

"Life was very difficult for me after my parents separated when I was young. My mom was trying to bring us up on her own. She was able to send all of us to school, so of course there were many struggles and those struggles taught us to fight in life and make the most of what we have and try to be successful," Belmonte, who is now married and has two children, told the outlet in his native Tagalog.

"Coming from a broken family has inspired me to have a better life and build a better family. That way, our family remains complete and I can provide for them the best I can."

Belmonte's career took off in 2013 when he opened Comfort Healthcare Services, a nursing agency that supplies nurses to over 400 private hospitals across the U.K. He and his wife later opened Spoon and Rice, a Filipino restaurant that now has four branches across London.

Soon after, Belmonte and his wife opened a grocery store in London where Filipino suppliers could sell their products, those often found in the Philippines but not in the U.K.

He is also working on a new venture -- Japanese takeaway restaurant at Willesden.

When asked about his secrets to success, Belmonte said, "I always believe, opportunity is only for the people who are ready. So if you're ready and opportunity knocks, then that's yours. But if you only start preparing when opportunity strikes, you will miss it."

In addition, Belmonte reminded business hopefuls to keep believing there is God and to be grateful for what they receive.

According to 2021 data from the U.K. Office for National Statistics, there are about 158,000 Filipino immigrants in the country. The Philippine Embassy, the estimate is about 200,000 -- an increase of 800% from the 1980s. About 36% of Southeast Asians in the country are living in London.

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