By Danielle Gabriel
The second half of 2016 was also just as memorable for the BusinessMirror’s Envoys and Expats section, as a wide range of business executives and diplomats talked about their careers and lives.
For the month of July, the following men tell their stories of dedication to work and the opportunity to mix in their passion with the work they do.
Japan Foundation Manila Director Hiroaki Uesugi was then thinking of joining the media industry, and to write about politics and human rights. Little did he know that further on in his career, he will get to be part of the process toward bridging countries through his different diplomatic posts.
Uesugi said he wanted to work with people and aimed to pass the series of thorough examinations to be able to be a part of the group to introduce Japan to a number of other countries.
Striving to provide Filipinos with quality service and products, Terry’s Bistro & Gourmet Store founder Juan Carlos de Terry shared how he strived to overcome challenges in establishing his business.
“You miss out on the Christmas season,” de Terry said.
According to de Terry, during the initial year of their operation, they had to pay $5,000 to rent space for one whole year to secure government certifications, but they also had nothing to sell yet at that time
Meanwhile,Australian-Filipino Michael Deakin, managing director of Lifeline Ambulance Rescue Inc., made use of his experience in hotel-and-restaurant management and tweaked it to provide people with actual service in times of need.
To ensure that they always have qualified staff, Deakin said they now have the Lifeline EMS Academy, where they train individuals to become emergency-medical technicians.
Traveling on a constant basis and being in the airline business for a long time, on the other hand, has provided online and mobile applications-based hotel-booking company Nida Rooms founder and CEO Kaneswaran Avili with the idea to push for his new business.
“Airline business is always a very sexy business. And starting a low-cost airline is something very new and very tough back then. There was no low-cost airline in Southeast Asia. People were asking how come the airfare is so cheap? Is the pilot trained? We had to break all the barriers in gaining people’s trust. In terms of cost, it was challenging,” Avili said.
He added, “We provide technology in one single view at what price and what kind of quality. For many of these hotels, their brand is not recognized. They only have maximum one or two properties per country, and they do not have much marketing money. Most of them do not even have a web site. What we do is we bring their hotel to a global stage under Nida Rooms.”
Mixing tourism and love for nature, Swiss Arthur Mueller, who co-owns the Artistic Diving Resort, said there is more to traveling in the Philippines than Boracay. He encourages tourists to explore the country’s abundant nature and its islands.
“I was feeling better on the islands, and not on the cities. The weather is very ideal. I got familiar with the surroundings. It was another life,” he said.
Unconventional careers and brave ventures are something personalities for August have in common.
British Craig Wosahlo claims he has been living the rockstar life. The musician has found joy in backpacking all over the world and finding lessons in each trip. Now hoping to find light in the country’s underground music scene, Wosahlo said he has experienced working different jobs and learning from them.
“I was teaching English to every age imaginable. From babies to high-school and college students and professionals, like doctors and pilots, I was teaching them. I guess, it was there where my patience ran out,” he said in describing his time in China.
Making use of the fast-growing technology and changes in the business landscape, Baker & McKenzie Global Services Manila Executive Director Gabriel Pardo said the company wants to provide people with the know-how of handling global demands while giving them the trust to work flexibly.
“There is no punch in and out. We have trust and accountability. They can come in as needed. We treat them as professionals. What matters is what they produce,” Pardo said, while adding that their staff has taken advantage of their flexi-time schedule to enjoy longer time with their families.
British Tom Graham, who runs a social enterprise MAD Travel and volunteers for Gawad Kalinga foundation, said the future calls for more sustainable business solutions that assist the marginalized sector and provide opportunities for inclusive growth.
An all-around child, exposed to different arts and culture media, Taiwanese Cheryl Yee did not just settle for being known in the world of journalism. Aside from working in and establishing her career in media outfits, Yee also created an accessories line: Zhen Pearl, which is able to help raise funds for small communities in different countries.
Feeding the body, as well as the soul, is highlighted by expats in the month of September.
Wellness coach Chad Davis, who runs Primed For Your Life program, said it is more disheartening that good nutrition is not expensive and people are not maximizing it.
“All of this is garbage. Nobody should eat that s**t,” Davis said, pointing to the junk food in the racks in the convenience stores.
Davis, who services over a thousand clients locally and abroad, runs a program called Primed For Your Life and a blog site of a similar name, which aims to encourage and provide steps to a healthy living and mind-set.
Meanwhile, commenting on the events coinciding with the government’s “war on drugs”, Argentine priest Fr. Luciano Felloni said it is necessary to put up programs that would cater to the rehabilitation of drug users, instead of calling for their execution.
“Hindi sagot ang bala,” he would say in fluent Tagalog.
And coming from someone who has had firsthand experience on the spiral toward drug addiction, Spaniard Abelardo Garcia Gutierres, who now runs the Remar Rehabilitation Center of the Philippines in Caloocan and its secondhand store along Edsa Nepa Q-Mart area, said there is always hope for people to change, but strong faith and dedication must also be present in the individual.
“Jesus changed my life. God was the only one that changed my life. I tried several programs and medication. Nothing. But when I got to the [Remar] organization, they read the Bible, we were sharing experiences with one another, persons who were like me. And I saw the change. I am totally convinced that only God can change your life, not the money, not the doctors,” Gutierres said.
Retired ambassador Shirley Ho-Vicario, on the other hand, said she and her team assigned to Papua New Guinea strived to improve the conditions of the 9,000 overseas workers there.
Envoys and expats featured in October called for a deeper understanding in the clamor of overseas workers and entertainment and gaming business community.
According to retired Philippine ambassador to the Vatican Mercedes Tuason, her family had been worried her work would consume even the weekends, but Tuason was firm in giving Filipinos in Rome the assistance they deserve.
“Those are the worst days for the OFWs [overseas Filipino workers], if I do not get to meet them. That is their day off,” Tuason said, referring to Saturday and Sunday.
Another diplomat commented on the change needed for the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to fulfill its duty in ensuring Filipinos all over the world are well-served.
Retired Philippine Ambassador Alberto A. Encomienda said DFA personnel today are more concerned with promotions and assignments, along with the public perception that it has become nothing more than a passport factory.
He said the DFA should basically function as a think tank and not, as the majority of Filipinos think today, as an office for providing passports.
Best Sunshine Resort Saipan Director for Database Analytics and Marketing Bradley Wilson said the market for casino resorts are not entirely composed of gamblers but people wanting to see something unique. The challenge is to come up with an overall package that would suit different people’s needs.
“We do not advertise gaming and slots machines throughout the US. We advertise the shows, the package. Casinos are just one element of the overall package for tourists. It is just one element in the entire package that makes their experience complete. So it is important not to think that, ‘Oh, we are all going to bring people to gamble,’ because people nowadays can gamble anywhere they want. They can go to casinos anywhere they want, so it is just another element,” Wilson said.
Meanwhile, South Korean businessman Jung Yong-kim wants to shed light into an otherwise overseen causes—that for the animals. Kim now wants to start a business where proceeds will be donated to foundations that will give care to abandoned dogs.
For Globe Senior Advisor for Small and Medium Business Group Derrick Heng, the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the Philippines should be given more opportunities to grow and be recognized.
“The Philippines is poised for entrepreneurship. I think what is very interesting is SMEs no longer means the traditional sari-sari store. We are seeing this trend of very progressive millennials that have very interesting business models and have very digital mind-sets to doing business. Social media is key to how they communicate and connect with their potential customers so we want to make sure to help them deliver success,” Heng said.
The month of November marks expats and foreign businessmen who want to bring more international foot traffic into the Philippines.
Philippine Country General Manager of IBEX Global, a United States-based business-process outsourcing company, Eric Kaufman, said his way of putting steam into the industry is by ensuring employees remain engaged and are performing above standards.
“There is people interaction in the office. There is genuine focus on people. It is a way to ensure healthy employee management,” Kaufman said.
Filipino Jemy See, who oversees development of Philippine-Taiwan tourism, said he rolled out a promotion and marketing strategy that resulted in favorable deals with airlines, travel agencies and even the media.
“I created packages, organized familiarization tours and worked closely with tour operators in the Philippines,” See said.
More on the tourism side, Mondial Tours President Juan Jose Berenguer-Testa said infrastructure woes continue to haunt the country, but places with cultural and historical significance make for very attractive tourist destinations.
Richard Emslie, general manager of Kahuna, was able to mix love for sports and operating a business, saying the hotel and restaurant in Makati City and resort in La Union that he runs has uniqueness as its edge.
Undying hope in the holiday season marked December personalities as the Envoys and Expats section opened the month with Australian ambassador Amanda Gorely, who still saw the momentum in the Philippines despite negative perceptions.
“There is the perception that it is a very poor country. Of course, it does have a very high rate of poverty, but there are also very highly developed areas in the Philippines. I think a lot of people who come here are surprised at how this sort of area, I guess, has a modern state-of-the-art kind of development, so it is a country of contrast,” she said.
Evident by the Jollibee franchises opening up and the news of Swedish furniture store Ikea putting up its first shop in the Philippines, Gorely said the trickling down of the economic growth to the grassroots level will happen sooner than expected.
Dr. Daniel Su of the Gonstead Chiropractic Society of Australia said the practice of chiropractic medicine is there to assist patients who have fear of going under the knife.
“We have a lot of patients who come from physical therapists because they want to avoid surgery. What we do is adjust the spine to make sure the nervous system functions better because the spine could be misaligned. If you are starting to have misalignment, it is going to affect your health. So while getting rid of all the misalignment in the spine then your overall health will improve,” he said.
Meanwhile, sustainable properties in emerging provinces is the vision of Arch. Romolo Nati of Italpinas Development Corp. (IDC).
Nati said affordable eco-friendly buildings are pursuit that will certainly allow IDC to pace the growing middle class in a country that consistently shows economic gains.
Wrapping up the year, Virlanie Foundation founder Dominique Lemay advocates for programs allowing people to motivate and empower themselves.
Lemay said he sees the need for more rehabilitation and renewal programs for drug and juvenile-delinquency program in the country, adding that lowering the bracket for child imprisonment will not solve anything.