I just came from a seminar on entrepreneurship sponsored by the Philippine Embassy in London (correctly, I should say the PHL Embassy in the UK) co-presented by Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and Philippine Trade and Investment Center (PTIC). I met many interesting OFWs, successful entrepreneurs and some inspired soon-to-become coffee planters among the group.
I took home with me many life lessons: OFWs who have saved and are ready for retirement; OFWs who are still in the process of saving and looking for investments and OFWs who are still fulfilling family obligations like college education, etc.
As soon as I came home, I got a call from a former employee at Tavern on the Square (a music lounge for those who have not heard of it) more than 20 years ago. Tom was our bartender who made original recipes of Sangria, Iced Tea and other drinks when concentrates and ready-to-drink choices were not even there yet. We recalled making drinks form scratch, making fruit juices from real fruits and iced tea brewed from teabags and seasoned with Tom’s magic formula.
Tom had been working in Dubai for almost 24 years now, and had already sent three children through college and would see me every two or three years to catch up and bring me a stash of nuts and chocolates. This time, he said he is home for good. So I asked him to see me as I was wondering what a 49-year old would be doing here after many years abroad.
One hundred pounds and 24 years later, Tom had grown sideways and heavier in weight. I was so worried to see him looking so unfit, sweating profusely after a short walk and I wasted no time in calling my physician to give him a check up. Off we went to the hospital and right away scheduled a blood test and a weight reduction program. So my doctor called me Tom’s “health coach” and made me listen to her plan to make him healthy.
He was shocked to find that I was serious about getting him back into tiptop shape. We will go for a blood test, and after that, we will see my dentist. My doctor’s assistant could not help but say “wow, a real makeover!”
Tom is a good man and has many more productive years ahead of him. I told him stories of common friends and former customers at Tavern who had already gone ahead in the next life because they did not mind their health issues. So I hope I got through to him.
Besides health, we talked about investments and savings because the London seminar I attended and lectured in was still so fresh in my mind. I want him to be like a Rommel Abellar, who had since bought condominium units and has regular rental income. Or be like Inie Palacios who has sent her kids to school but still works and now lives for herself, her own life, her own plans. These OFWs shared their investment and savings strategies with us.
Tom has no such plan yet. And though he is only 50, unless he improves his health and becomes physically fit, he may spend his remaining years worrying and paying dearly for it. This is the middle age period for him. Now he has to plan for himself and his partner, and for the rest of their lives here in the country. (His partner has also come home already from many years abroad, too). But he has to be healthy physically to be able to weather the next few years and then to become productive again.
Well, just moving back home has brought many positive changes already. He has dropped 10 pounds because he now eats regularly (no more heavy dinners and zero breakfasts). He has seen my doctor, later my dentist and maybe I would suggest that he gets some fresh air near the water or in the mountains. Some kind of a health overhaul.
So, here we are. Tom is on a health program with me as his coach. Already, he now knows that “lipitor” does not work when you take it only after having a fatty meal. Already he knows that 140/92 means he probably ate much salt or sodium. And soon he will know if his sugar is on the right level.
Meanwhile, we hope our plan works. He gets back into physical shape, starts a new career and takes it easy while earning—this time, earning for HIMSELF and for his partner for life.
There may be many Toms out there. If coached at the right time, they can be healthier and productive and live happily ever after.
Chit Juan is a founder and owner of ECHOStore sustainable lifestyle, ECHOmarket sustainable farms and ECHOcafe in Serendra , Podium and Centris QC malls. She also is President of the Women’s Business Council of the Philippines and President of the Philippine Coffee Board Inc., two non-profits close to her heart. She often speaks to corporates, youth and NGOs on social entrepreneurship, women empowerment, and coffee. You can follow her on twitter.com/chitjuan or find her on facebook:Pacita “Chit” Juan. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.