Bernard Chong: Acquittal of False Drug Smuggling Allegations, Childhood with World Balance and Building Philipines' eSports Community with AP.Bren - E360

· Founder,Philippines,Podcast Episodes English

“I learned about hard work. I also learned that there are times when people will misunderstand you for decisions you make that will be beneficial in the long run. Sometimes, you will hear conversations that it's not yet the right time. When is the right time? You have to do it. You have to be brave and follow your dream, but you should also learn how to step back. We’ve experienced some hard times, and we decided to step back and close the factory. And there was a decision to keep moving forward. But sometimes in life, you also know when to stop and recoup. There are times when I go forward and become aggressive in my investments, but when times are hard, I like to pause and reassess the situation so that I can regain energy and momentum, or get my footing back.” - Bernard Chong

“I like playing games and I realized that when Street Fighter was famous, a lot of people watched others play and a community was born. Anytime a community is born, there's a chance that it will go mainstream. The same thing happened with DOTA. There were players and fans. I thought that the players could be eSports stars, just like sports stars. Instead of just randomly playing, I wanted to help them and share how they can lead and manage a team, how to plan, and how to recoup when needed, especially because they can't win all the time. They’re learning things that they can apply as they grow older and encounter real-life challenges. I wanted to support them, so I started Bren Esports.” - Bernard Chong

“You can't guarantee success. Some will be successful in three years, others in ten months. Normally, even if they become successful in ten months, if it doesn’t go through the test of time, success is still not guaranteed. The business should stand the test of time. I like to observe how people grow and learn and figure out what I can teach them. If they're on a good path, they will make value to the maretplace and they will get money. With VCs, I understand that they get a lot of people funding and they have a checklist to follow to make sure that the fund will go to a proper entity that passed the checklist, but that's their thing. They probably have an exit for a five-year or a seven-year clause. And that's a good time also to exit if they're doing things properly. But the thing is, you cannot generalize everything because some things need a longer time and some need a shorter time. With me, because I'm an angel investor, I can be patient if I need to be patient because that's just my resource. So maybe, I was just blessed that I could wait if I need to wait.” - Bernard Chong

Bernard Chong, Founder of professional esports organization AP.Bren, and Jeremy Au talked about three main topics:

1. Childhood with World Balance: Bernard talked about his childhood experiences learning the family business, World Balance, the biggest local shoe brand in the Philippines. He learned from his parents about the importance of hard work, clear decision-making, and the importance of stepping back when necessary. He also explained how this foundational training later led to his future entrepreneurial ventures including an animation studio, the local coffee brand franchise Tim Hortons, the platform business Easy Franchise, and now setting up businesses in the US.

2. Acquittal of False Drug Smuggling Allegations: Bernard recounted his 3-year struggle to prove his innocence after being falsely accused of smuggling $34M of methamphetamine. He shared how he had angel invested in FortuneYield, a cargo company, and how the culprit Wealth Lotus had misled the legal system to believe that FortuneYield had been the consignee. He described the emotional turmoil faced by his family, particularly his children, who faced ridicule and doubt due to the public nature of the accusations. He had to stay silent and have faith in the legal system while the investigation proceeded until he finally received the news that the court had acquitted him and revoked the arrest warrant.

3. Building the Philippines eSports Community: Bernard discussed how his love for gaming and the potential he saw when he ​​observed communities forming around games like DOTA and Street Fighter led him to found the eSports team AP.Bren. He believes in the necessity of patience in allowing time for communities to grow organically. He also highlighted that youth can learn life lessons through professional gaming such as leadership, team management, planning, and resource management.

Bernard also touched on investing in different industries, building overseas, and his passion for teaching which led him to set up an education foundation.

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(02:07) Jeremy Au:

Hey Bernard. Really great to have you on the show to hear a little bit about your journey. How's life for you?

(02:12) Bernard Chong:

I'm okay. Thank you. Thank you for having me.

(02:14) Jeremy Au:

Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

(02:16) Bernard Chong:

There are three things about me. a businessman. I'm an angel investor and I've experienced some stuff about being wrongfully accused. And I've gone through that journey and hopefully, I can share it to people, my experience with it.

(02:29) Jeremy Au:

Yeah. Thank you for sharing.

(02:31) Jeremy Au:

Could you share a little bit about what you were like as a kid? Were you introverted, or extroverted? Were you a gamer?

(02:36) Bernard Chong:

I grew up in a close family system. It means we are in one house. My grandfather and my father's brother's family are on one floor. I was learning the life, how they talk and exposed to the realities of adulthood when I was young. So I could see my uncle and auntie sometimes arguing. My father and mother talked about business when I was young. So I was exposed at an early age. And we have a family business called World Balance. It's the biggest local shoe brand in the Philippines. I was taught to go to the store, look at the sales check the inventory, know the system, collect money, check the customer, and talk to the customer. So I was trained when I was young and we have a busy life because maintaining a family business is like a full-time effort also. And you need hands to be big, which is, right now, we're the number one shoe brand in our country, the Philippines. From there, my training in sales started also. So, it was my father who guided me and told me that I have to read so I can talk to people about what I know and I could share with people what I know and they'll be interested in communicating with me and then I could open up sales also with them.

So that's what I did when I was young. I read magazines, encyclopedias, anything that I could get my hands on so that when I talk to my uncle or the clients, I could share something. It's normally people who you develop, who like you, and who you like, those are the people you make sales. So upon having those conversations, I kind of learned from them too, from their questions. That's how I grew up, talking to a lot of different people. And I studied Electronics Communication Engineering at De La Salle University. It's a good university in Manila. And so, I developed to study problem-solving, how to analyze things and check them per component. That was my training too. And I use that also in my business and how to analyze the business.

(04:25) Jeremy Au:

You shared that you learned a lot from your parents and family. Could you share some of the lessons that you learned?

(04:30) Bernard Chong:

Hard work, that's one. And sometimes, people will misunderstand you because you make decisions and there are certain decisions that for the long term, for example, opening a factory for certain areas because it's going to be voted by the board. And sometimes you will hear conversations that it's not yet the right time. When is the right time, right? You have to do it. So being brave, following your dream. I learned that, but also learned how to step back, Not just forward, because by the time we opened the factory, there came a moment in time when we were having a hard time. And we decided to step back and close the factory. And there was a decision to keep moving forward. But sometimes in life, you also know when to stop and move backward, also to recoup.

So I learned this too through my parents and I use this lesson also in my life. Sometimes, I go forward and be aggressive in my investments but there are some times when the time is hard, I like to pause and reassess and sometimes I like to personally hibernate in investments so that I can regain energy, and momentum, or get my footing back. So being able to be adaptable and being able to know when to move ahead, stop, and take a step back is also a lesson I learned from my father, and from my experiences growing up.

(05:44) Jeremy Au:

Amazing. And it's interesting because you went off and graduated from university. Could you share a little bit more about what you decided to do next?

(05:51) Bernard Chong:

Well, I did a lot of investing in Manila and also outside Manila. So I have an animation studio. I put money into Tim Horton's coffee brand in the Philippines. That's a Canadian brand of coffee. I put money also into our own business, World Balance, and it's the biggest retail shoe store in Manila. I put money on platform businesses too, like Easy Franchise. So we make franchising a service and we manage the franchisee and we give the proper share to the shareholders. And there's some food and beverage restaurants also that I put money in. So in Manila, I've done that.

When I visited the United States, I felt like there were a lot of good opportunities here and the upside is really high because the land is big. The opportunity is great. And people here are more exposed to developing superior business. So I like to develop businesses here in the United States. That's what I'm doing here. It's one of my passions and, I put up a coffee shop, Mendo Coffee, and I'm making a platform business here in the USA, but that one, I can talk about in December, or January when it launches. And I put up an education foundation also because I like teaching. In Manila, every Sunday, I would sit in a coffee shop and people would just go there and ask me questions, and I would just share and solve their problems. Here, I guess, the same thing when I opened my coffee shop in Silver Lake, I would be there every Sunday. And people can just go there, ask me questions if they want to.

(07:16) Jeremy Au:

The question I have is that you know, you're all these like franchises and businesses.

(07:20) Jeremy Au:

What were some learnings that you had from building these businesses? Because it's not common to build a franchise business, right? you know, a lot of people want to do startups, other people do things.

(07:28) Bernard Chong:

The lesson I think I could share with people, and it's kind of like a shortcut, but it's good if you know it's the who person rather than the how person. You've got to get the theme. You've got to get people who have done it to be on your side, to be in your corner, and do the journey with you. That's very important. You can study stuff. Of course, it's easier and safer if you're doing it with someone who has done it and decided to do the journey with them.

So that's my suggestion. So if you're planning to do something, if you have someone who knows how to do it, then you have a higher chance to be successful. And people who are listening also, a lot of people have done stuff. You just have to talk to them and invite them to your journey. And if you can get them on board your journey, that's a good way of ensuring a higher chance of success rate of what you're doing.

(08:17) Jeremy Au:

How did you learn that lesson in your business career?

(08:20) Bernard Chong:

I realize that there are people who have experience as an employee and who decided to make their own business. So when they talk to me, they say, okay, would you fund this? Then this is what I know. This is what I'm good at, and this is what I do. And I have a high success rate of supporting these people who have done it, people who are in the industry and decided to start their own. They have a high success rate rather than people who just thought of, "I think I want to do this". But they don't have an experience. It's going to be a long journey for them. I support them too. There are some people that I support because I see they're young and they're passionate, and if they decided and I can trust them to grow with me, I support them too, but that's a long journey for them. It's not easy, but those people who have done it and I support them two, three years, it's self-sufficient. It's successful because from day one they know the right step to do.

I'm an angel investor. I plant to people. I plant a lot of businesses. So I continue getting in touch with them, talking to them, researching them, helping them. And as you read more, as you learn more, there will become insight that you kind of know.

(09:24) Bernard Chong:

An example is, I've been to a platform business for a token that was used in the mainstream, in usage. And there's like in the US, people who are in blockchain business and NFTs. And they talked to me about a beer that has an NFT on merchandising. And I said that transactions per second would not hold up to a full countrywide implementation. And the founder, the owner, thought about what I said and he said I was right. It's not ready for a full country implementation because the transactions per second cannot be that many. So least they know how to pivot it. There's another investor also pitching me for a sports app, that has something to do with basketball and NFL stadium stuff here in the USA. And I told them, if you want to go to the mainstream market, you have to have a cell phone app. It cannot be web-based.

And they like it. These are small stuff that I learned and I teach. I told them, yeah, if you have a business plan, ask me. I could tell you what I know for free, you don't need to pay me. I just sit in, talk about it and I can give my feedback because that's what I do. I learn, I teach and I share also, what I know or what my experience, what I know. So that's what I told them. I told them, to make a phone app first. That way you could be accessible to the user using the phone. Then you can grow big. If it's web-based only, not going to be mainstream. that's what I told them.

(10:38) Jeremy Au:

What's interesting is that you've also built out this, reputation in the eSports side as well. Could you talk about how you got onto it?

(10:45) Bernard Chong:

Oh, I like playing games, and they're fun games. And I realized that when the time Street Fighter was famous and they were being watched when two sides fought, a community was born. Anytime a community is born, it's accepted. There's a chance that it would go mainstream. So when DOTA was famous, the five-on-five player computer and the shooting games, it became mainstream because there was a community. Some players are fans of it. And then I decided that these people could be eSports stars like sports stars. And I helped them also because there are lessons there as a team: how you lead, how you manage your team, how you plan, and how you also have to recoup when you need to recoup because you're fighting and you can't be winning always. So sometimes you have to manage resources, manage time. There's a lot of lessons there. So when I thought of supporting them, that's how I started the Bren e-sports team. And then the community also was there. They opened an organization. We had a tournament. And I think it's a blessing from the universe or from the Lord that we won the M2 League of Legends World Champion and we were competing with different countries. And I'm so proud that I gave the Philippines a world champion title in esports. So that's an achievement. And I like helping kids too. Instead of just randomly playing when they were in our team before, I could teach them that this is the right way to manage a team or is the basic foundation for making sure to attack something, to enter combat. So they're learning adult stuff when they were young and they can use it as they grow older or just as they encounter real-life challenges. So I find happiness in teaching them good and proper stuff.

(12:23) Jeremy Au:

What games do you personally play?

(12:24) Bernard Chong:

I seldom play right now because, in this journey, we're in the USA. I am focused on building my business here. So I connect, I read books, I have to study because when I talk to people, I have to really update myself on stuff and there's a lot happening here in the USA. But I did play the game Civilization VI before on Steam and I do play DOTA sometimes when I have time. And Be the King and Lords mobile, but those are mobile games and now, I just look at them. Sometimes Clash Royale, I play also Hearthstone. I played Diablo 3 I played, but to see where the game is. I study how they hook the players and the in-app purchases because the platform I'm making in the USA also has something to do with customer retention. So I studied the game also, and I see how they use the psychology of buy one, buy two, get one free, to make sure that I'm in line with what's happening

(13:18) Jeremy Au:

Let's talk about that, right? Because there's a lot of game design that's happening Um, you know, I used to play as well. StarCraft, Counter-Strike, and Overwatch more recently. I also played some of the VR games as well. DMU, so it's like tabletop as well, A bit of poker as well. It's interesting because all these games I was at a DOTA, you know, the Blizzard, competitions recently. One big one was in Singapore. I thought it was interesting just to watch. And I was just watching this whole stadium full of esports fans. I was like, told my best I said, Hey, we made it, right? We became cool, over the past 20 years because it's like, you know, 10,000 folks cheering our DOTA teams as well. I was just kind of curious, what do you think has transitioned from why you know, it was just a computer game and now how did it become esports?

(13:59) Bernard Chong: Well, again, there's a following, and a community and it became mainstream. One thing I can talk about this is because our population is hitting, it's like our lifespan is becoming long because we're getting healthy, and there are so many people and we're getting a niche market now. So some are famous in basketball, some are famous in baseball, and football, but there are still a lot of people and they want to be famous too. That's why kickboxing was developed. And also in games, I mean, the athlete, they're superior in physique, but there's also people who has to be famous, but in their mind, for example, chess. So it was a niche. And now the kids also want to be famous. So there are YouTubers, TikTokers. So we're becoming a niche, and we will have a following or community in niche places. So like ice skating, hockey, and baseball, we would become a society of many niches and they have their community and it's going to be like that. That's just like the normal trend when the population of our civilization is growing. That's normal.

(14:56) Jeremy Au:

What's interesting is that you've also set out to build those communities as well as the tournaments, right? Can you share a little bit about how you go about building?

(15:03) Bernard Chong:

Well, for example in sports, NBA, there's a game and then there's a newscaster. They wrote about it, but that was very old. So it's been developed. When you're a fan of esports and nobody's writing about it, and of course you love it, so you like to have someone who's writing it. If nobody's doing it, then you'll write. all right, Let us write the news about it. So in Manila, I'm part of the company Mineski and it's the number one e-sports company in the Philippines where a publisher wants to put their game out in the Philippines, they got to talk to Mineski. And from there we make the right articles. We make the write-up, we make the events, we make the venue and we make the plan for them to be engaged with the people. So nobody was doing it. That's why we did it. And that's the right way to do it because you have to record it. You have to video it. You have to write about it. You have to talk about it. And it so happened that there was a niche that we could enter and we took advantage of it because nobody was doing it. So that's just how it is.

(15:59) Jeremy Au:

What are some myths or misconceptions about you know, building a niche?

(16:04) Bernard Chong:

Well, I think if you're gonna be impatient and forcefully think on niche. So that's a misconception. With everything, you have to be patient. Even though we supported esports, it wasn't like being famous before. It would be in a pop shop and the players are really not that famous. You're famous in your niche, like maybe you're just 50. And then you just have to be patient and then the 50 players, the 50 communities will suddenly turn into 200, then suddenly turn into 1000, 5000, and then 100,000. So you have to be patient. The misconception is you can force it to grow and that's wrong. Like, If you want the grassroots stuff, you're going to grassroots stuff and you got to be patient for five years, eight years, 10 years, 15 years before it will become really big. So the misconception is you can force stuff, which you cannot. There's an actual time and that time must really go. What I mean is if it takes 8 years, 10 years to develop an e-sports community, then you have to do that 10 years.

(17:00) Jeremy Au:

I think the interesting part, of course, is that how much time you have also corresponds to like, your business model, how you make money, the economics. Can you wait that long, right? So, you know, in venture capital, everyone's trying to make it done and dusted within 10 years, right? So no, I was just kind of curious, how do you construct the economics of the business model so that you're able to be patient for the 10, 15 years for the community to grow out?

(17:21) Bernard Chong:

Well, you can't guarantee it. Some will be successful in three years. Some will be successful very fast ten months. But normally, even if they become successful in ten months, if it didn't go through the test of time, it's still doesn't guarantee. The real guarantee is to stand the test of time, which is normally, a three-year, five-year mark. And with me, I wasn't really particular with getting the money recoup back because I got a source of income in my businesses. So I'm really observing people how they grow, what they learn and what I can teach them. If they're in a good path, automatic for sure, they will make value to the marketplace and they will get money. But that's me, maybe I'm blessed to, or able to do such thing. With VCs, I understand that they get a lot of people funding and they have a checklist to follow to make sure that the fund will go to a proper entity that was passed by the checklist. But that's their thing. And they probably have an exit for just five years or seven year clause. And that's a good time also to exit if they're doing properly. But the thing is, you cannot generalize stuff because some stuff needs longer time and some stuff need shorter time. With me, because I'm an angel investor, I can be patient if I need to be patient because that's just my resource. So maybe, I was just blessed that I could wait if I need to wait.

(18:37) Jeremy Au:

What's interesting is that you build a community, and then you got hit by this drug case right, that came out. Could you tell us a little bit more about what happened and how you discovered this thing happening?

(18:48) Bernard Chong:

I really didn't know that there was like that. I usually travel. I got businesses everywhere. I got business in Malaysia, Panama, Switzerland, Malta, Indonesia, Taiwan. And I build businesses because of friends, because of the e-sports, normally they have a group chat, right? And I befriend them. And when I befriend them, I go meet with them and I build businesses with them. And then the article came out that my name was there. And because I angel invest in a lot of stuff. So it was like I own a processing company where they process shipment, and of course I don't do that. I mean, I'm not a general manager because it was there in paper that I was a general manager and I don't have a payroll there. I didn't enter there and I didn't know that I was even there. I mean, if I did something, there should be one person that says I saw you, you're there and you did it.

But there's no one person there. So because I really didn't do it. So it was hard because that's a serious accusation. And at first, I reacted and I even posted on my social media that it was wrong. But then again, the people who knows how to deal with this, they told me that just not to keep quiet and just to let the system clear itself and just remain faithful to the system. And that's what I did. It was long, I think two years. And for two years, I can't introduce myself to people. In two years, they have a bad name also. It hurts because I got kids. And then the news came out and then of course my kids are proud of me that I'm their father. When the news came out, they say your father's like this, your father's like that. It hurts my children. What can I do? I mean, this is like what God told me to, you have to go through this and I have to go through that and maybe it's a lesson also for my children and some other good friends that maybe I was strong enough to encounter this journey. That's why it was given to me and I can show to the people how I surpass this. It's really hard, but I guess my children learn from it. My friends learn from it. So if I've been used to be an example to be strong and to be believing in the Lord Almighty that everything will be okay, then it's okay. That's my role and I've done it.

(20:46) Jeremy Au:

Yeah, thank goodness. I mean, it's such a crazy thing, because it's a, crystal meth shipment, 34 intercepted at Manila International Container Port. right? And there was an arrest warrant there was a request for you to kind of like surrender in front of the authorities.

(21:03) Bernard Chong:


(21:04) Jeremy Au:

How did you find out about this? Did you get, like, over email? Did you find out about it from friends from friends?

(21:09) Bernard Chong:

It's from the news because my friends couldn't believe it. So when they heard about it, it's not true, right? But then suddenly there's a news that come out and then the news came, they called me and there was a news came out that I, that I even read it before. I was surprised that it was my name. I think the spelling even is wrong there. It was like Bernardo something, but then again, at first, I overthink and I was really scared actually because it's serious and I don't do those stuff, but I know people don't want to associate with criminals.

And I tell people who really know me, they still know me from who I am and they will talk good about me, but in the media, there's a lot of people that media reaches and they will have a certain belief of what they read. So I really had to clear my name that time. And that's how, when it's clear, I really have to put a write up. I have to put interviews. I have to tell what happened to clear my name too, and our system too. If you have a bad name in the media, you can't open banks. It's really affected. I don't know if you may know someone or have talked to someone who have experienced this. I tell you, your banking will be taken out. You cannot move, you cannot function in the system. It's really a torture to go through it.

(22:15) Jeremy Au:

How did you feel when you found out? What were you doing when you found out?

(22:19) Bernard Chong:

I remember I was at home building Lego. And then when I found out, I was scared and I got angry and a lot of phone calls and a lot of them don't have the idea they told me a lot of stuff that aren't verified. They told me I have to fly out. I have to go to the car, hide, I have to turn off my phone. And I didn't change phone by the way. My phone was still the same phone. until now, and my email didn't change too. I didn't even cut it off. So, I feel like I don't need to do that. And I said, if they're gonna check it, that's good. I would rather not change my phone, so if they check it, then they can see everything, that everything's clear, rather than me changing phone numbers.

So, in my thoughts, like, no, I'm not gonna change. And if they're listening, go ahead, let them listen. Like, they would say hey, Jeremy, change your phone, because if they're listening to your phone, they'll tap your phone. And I said, just great. If they check it, good, because I'm not there, so I never changed phone. Yeah, I think I was at home building Lego.

(23:09) Jeremy Au:

How did your kids react to the news?

(23:11) Bernard Chong:

My kids, of course, don't believe it because they grew with me. I know what I teach them. I spent time with them, eating, as they grow. So they know their father's not like that. But of course, their classmates or their friends, sometimes, the parents of their friends will talk like that, they will feel hurt. So some of them kept quiet, some of them will cry, some of them will call me and say, this is what happened. I just have to tell them, we have to be strong. Your dad is not like that. There's a system here and it will clear it out. It's not a good experience also for the kids.

But then again, that's life. I mean, people experience many stuff and it's a good thing. It's not like I've cut off my arm. Not that I lost my eyesight. I mean, there's a lot of stuff happening in the world. I should be thankful maybe that's my experience in a way, because there's a lot of bad things more could have occurred, but again, if I were used because I have the strength to overcome it, and then maybe just use me. But now that it's done, I hope I won't be tested like that again.

(24:06) Jeremy Au:

I hope not. Definitely. Sounds like a huge pain. Sounds terrible as an experience.

(24:11) Bernard Chong:


(24:11) Jeremy Au:

How did you feel during this torturous time?

(24:14) Bernard Chong:

You were gonna be angry at first. The initial reaction of anyone who experienced it will be anger because it's something unjust. But then again, you have to believe that the system will make it right, or will clear it. But you gotta take time. Again there's nothing you can actually do but wait for the system. Because you cannot blab around. It's in the media. It was written like that, but I didn't do it. And who will they believe? A write-up or what do you say? And people can say, of course, you say you're innocent and everything. But at the end of the day, it's the legal system that has the final say. They have to investigate. They have to finish the investigation, and they have to do the report, and then they will say, hey, this is the paper. So that's it. Then I feel happy and it's good. done. I do not wish for anyone to go through that. It's really hard.

(25:00) Jeremy Au:

How did you take care of yourself? I think you mentioned that you know, you pray to God. you know, what else did you do? During the tough times you know, of the trial, you know, you're working through the petition and so forth. how did you take care of yourself?

(25:13) Bernard Chong:

Talk to the family because the family loves you. So I talk to my dad, my mom, my brothers, and my core friends. You will always go back to your core. When faced with difficult times, you're being shot character by character. So, you will go back to people who really know you. And they're the ones who speak out for you because you cannot speak for yourself because you're being accused. So the ones that will speak for you are your friends. I mean, the immediate family will not even speak for you because it's obvious, but the friends you mingle with. The partnership with the friends you spent time with. So it was good that I spent a lot of time talking to a lot of people before it happened. And a lot of people know me. On my behalf they said, that's not the person. I don't drink. I don't smoke. I don't go out at night. I don't even party. You won't even see me in a partying place unless there's something special Christmas occasion or a celebration of graduation or something, but I don't do that stuff. My addiction is actually attending seminars. As long as there's seminars, I like attending them. I read books. So those are the stuff that I do. And I play games. I'm normally seated online and I'm in virtual stuff. So, you know, that's what I do. And people know me for it. So, people who really know me, that's what I do.

(26:20) Jeremy Au:

Yeah. And what's interesting is that, you know, it turns the facts of the case where like, you were only CEO in 2019. The container intercept happened in 2021. But more importantly, it was a totally another company called Wealth Lotus that was a consignee of the shipment, right? So, the company that you were the CEO of till 2019 wasn't even involved in this at all.

(26:38) Bernard Chong:

To explain it, it's like, this is the company that processes the shipments and their job is to process whoever put goods in there. And this is Wealth Lotus and this is where I was in the paper. And this is the one that put the bad item. We're supposed to process everyone. So first clear the item for each of your stuff, and we process it. For another item owned by another person we process and then Wealth Lotus, we process it. But then of course it was triggered. But like I said, when they investigate it, they have to investigate everything. The processor, this one, everything. The source and everything. And I'm sure it's not just me. Some people are also included there that are innocent. I was just talking about my journey because I never knew that. But then again, it's cleared, it's good, and that's the story.

(27:23) Jeremy Au:

nd then, fast forward, to the year, plus plus, when you finally found that they had proved you to be innocent, they revoked the arrest warrant, do you remember where you were

(27:32) Bernard Chong:

I kind of get used to, I had the case, and I feel like it's not gonna be finished, but I have to continue living. So, I didn't really, let's just say, I didn't follow up. do my thing. I study, I do what I can. And I wasn't even sentenced. It's not like I was found guilty. I was just being invited to explain. But I couldn't because I'm doing something. That was the idea. I wasn't being sentenced. being asked to explain, but I didn't because I didn't want to, because I felt like I didn't need to when it cleared, so it just surprised me also, Oh, I'm cleared. That's good. it felt good, but I kinda didn't mind it. It's like hanging in my head, but I just get used to it because I cannot do anything. But I still have to move on and survive. maybe I'm a fighter also in life or in what I should do. So I just do what I have to do. And then suddenly it was cleared. Good thing.

(28:20) Jeremy Au:

Could you share about a time that you personally have been brave?

(28:23) Bernard Chong:

Well, many things that I do in my life, I'm scared because I don't know. So you could say that I've been brave, but just if you think of it, it's. It's also dumb if you don't try stuff. So for example, I have an avenue, I'm going to make a platform and I don't know anything and I'm going to put resources there and you can say you're brave sitting in the corner is dumb and that's braver if you just sit in the corner and knowing that everything will be as is, but change is constant.

So brave is when you know how hard it is. Or you know that you're going to put work on it and you have to still do it. To me, that's brave, and I'm brave because I have kids who depend on I got family who depends on me. I have a father and my mother sometimes depends on me. So I have to be brave I should move forward. I should be stronger. I should be wiser for them. I should learn more things so I could tell my kids, I could tell my friends, I could tell people who are asking stuff what they don't know. Hopefully, I researched it and I know it. So, those are the stuff. And being brave is like going to the unknown but knowing that you can learn it.

(29:27) Jeremy Au:

So I'd love to kind of like summarize the three big takeaways I got from this conversation. Let's wrap things up. First of all, thank you so much for sharing about what it's like to grow up in your family, to be part of world balance in terms of the factory, in terms of seeing your father and your family, kind of make certain decisions about life and the lessons that you've learned from them over time.

Secondly, thanks for talking about eSports and how you went about building community. And I really love said about how you need to have patience because it just takes time to build and it happens organically and you can't rush the process.

Lastly, thanks so much for sharing about the, drug smuggling case and how you were cleared of all charges. But more importantly, I loved hearing about how you personally felt about it, how you discovered the news, and what you did to take care of yourself, take care of your family, and clear your name. So, uh, thank you so much for sharing, Bernard.

(30:12) Bernard Chong:

Thank you, Jeremy, for having me.