We might have heard a lot of business success stories in the past and most probably a couple of them – if not all – have inspired us one way or the other to dream better and work harder. And some, like the story of a former Factory Worker in Taiwan who ends up owning her own “Bleisure” hotel in Subic, can leave us totally dumbfounded.
JOSEPHINE FLORESCA or “Jho” to her friends and colleagues is the managing director and owner of the newest and hottest staycation destination in Subic Bay Freeport – LE CHARME SUITES SUBIC.
Located at Palm Street and just beside the Royal Duty Free shops, Le Charme Suites Subic offers a one-stop business and leisure environment for families or individuals and even those who are dreaming of a weekend haven that supports their active lifestyles.
Le Charme Suites could easily become one of the many go-to attractions in Subic Bay in the coming years – and the reason behind all these is the creative and out-of-the-box team led by their super hands-on manager Ms. Jho Floresca.
During our stay at Le Charme Suites Subic a couple of weeks ago, we had a chance to an intimate lunch with this remarkable woman who by happenstance is celebrating her 40th birthday at that time.
I would like to emphasize on the age, because not many people who reached the age of 40 are as successful as her and when you learn about her story and the inspiration behind everything that she had accomplished, you’ll be more amazed.
Here’s our Q&A Notes with Ms Jho during Lunch at one of the hotel’s prime restaurant, Teppan 101.
Q: You have how many kids?
J: I have four
Q: How old is your youngest?
Q: Mixed na?
J: All girls
Q: Paano ba nagsimula ang journey na ito?
J: I was born in Manila. Taga Paranaque ako originally… nung college, working student ako. Yung mom ko, she really worked hard for me to be in an exclusive school for girls, from Elementary to College.
Q: Which school was this?
J: St. Paul from Elementary to High School and then St. Scholastica’s College. Then I saw the true extremes of life, because we were not really rich. However my mom makes it a point that we eat good, sabi n’ya “di baling pangit ang bahay mo, basta masarap ang kinakain mo yun ang importante.”
Q: You mentioned that you were a working student?
J: I worked at Jollibee for 2 years and then nag-seserve din ako sa youth council ng Paranaque, so medyo close ako sa mga politicians. Dun ko nakita na may CHARM pala talaga ako kasi nakaka-solicit ako sa kahit sinong mga barangay captains, councilor, even sa mayor and yun ang naging function ko – taga-kuha ng sponsors.
Q: How did you end up in Taiwan?
J: I was working in a bank, yun mga Chinese blood antataas ng sweldo pero ako naman ang gumagawa ng mga trabaho nila, pero ang sweldo ko half lang ng salary na binibigay sa kanila. Tapos yung isang cousin ko nagtatrabaho siya sa Taiwan, DH (Domestic helper) sya dun. Sabi ng nanay ko “yung pinsan mo di naman pinag-aral ng nanay n’ya yun, nagpapadala ng 30 – 40 thousand a year, ikaw ni 300 pesos di ka makapag-ambag sa kuryente at tubig.” So I tried applying for a DH position in Taiwan para mapaligaya ko lang ang nanay ko. It’s really more on making my mom happy. And so I went to Taiwan, DH lang rin inapplyan ko, kaya lang yung agency ko, sabi ‘wag, maganda daw ako at baka ma-rape lang ng amo ko. So I end up taking a job as a factory worker instead.
Q: How old are you that time?
J: 19 turning 20
Q: If ever, kayo ang magiging first DH ng St. Scho?
J: Probably, oo, although hindi ko sinabi na galing ako sa St. Scho. And then I fell in love in Taiwan, I met my ex-husband there.
J: No, Filipino-Chinese. Tapos I tried to learn their language, so naging well-versed ako when it comes to Chinese. Yung ex-husband ko kasi is from Olongapo, then nung natapos na yung kontrata nya sa Taiwan, sumama na ko umuwi.
Q: Dito na kayo nag-settle?
J: We settled in Olongapo. It was unfortunate kasi andun sa Taiwan yun ambition ko, na-stop lang.
Q: What is that?
J: Gusto ko talaga maging somebody kasi ambisyosa talaga ako. I wanted to be rich. Yung life that I had before, gusto ko na mas better for my children. It’s unfortunate that my ex-husband cannot support me with that.
Q: So what happened?
J: My ex-husband, ayaw n’ya na nag-wowork ako. Sa traditional Chinoy culture kasi, the wife has to stay in the house. Nung mag grade 1 na yung eldest ko, sabi ko I want her to go to a Chinese school, kaso sabi ng ex-husband ko, hindi n’ya kaya so that made me decide to go to work.
Q: Where did you work?
J: I worked in a hotel and that’s how I learned the basics of managing one. I always work the graveyard shift, so during the day I can still take care of my three kids. And I’m also taking care of my father-in-law who is already bed-ridden. Mahaba yung oras sa hotel, 12 to 16 hours ang shift and that became unhealthy for my children, so I had to give up my full time job.
Q: What did you do then?
J: So after that I ended up cleaning the houses of rich Taiwanese entrepreneurs in Subic instead and then I also tutor English on the side and even learn to do foot massages for additional income. And that’s how it all started.
Q: Ano tawag sa inyo nun?
J: Curatcha talaga. Pag naglilinis ako ng house, sinasama ko kids ko, para ma-experience ng mga anak ko yun itsura ng mga big houses tapos sabi ko titira kami sa ganitong bahay one day. I tried to stay positive lang, and then everytime na may hardships, nagdadasal lang ako sa Dyos. It’s actually the faith that brought me here, probably.
Q: What year was this?
J: This was in 2003 to 2004. At the same time I also found a job as an executive assistant in SBMA. But it was while cleaning houses and tutoring that I met my investor and partner. I was teaching his son English then and nakita n’ya yun capacity ko towards managing all these houses so he started trusting me with projects and sales, he’s into real estate development. We started with 101 units for lease and sale in Kalayaan also here in Subic.
Q: How were you able to do sales?
J: The Taiwanese kasi, they have their own circle, so pag nahuli mo yung tiwala nila, full trust talaga. So yun yung naging advantage ko. Tapos my investor, he fell in love with subic, so pagka-pumupunta sya dito, sabi nya, “Ah Jo, next development natin, commercial naman.” So I bought two commercial properties and one of them is the La Terraza Building where Le Charme Suites Subic is standing today.
Q: The other property, it’s going to be Le Charme din?
J: Yes, we’re creating the brand right now.
Q: When did you start accepting guests?
J: Since march, this year lang. Tinry ko lang ma-hit yung Holy Week, and then yung whole building, last year ko lang ni-launch.
Q: Can you tell us more about the Le Charme concept?
J: I captured the European concept, para magkaroon siya ng elegance, pero yung service, is still very much Pinoy – Filipino hospitality is still the best.
Q: Why the big rooms?
J: We couldn’t make a room na mas maliit na walang bintana. Sabi ko di healthy yun, hindi maganda kapag walang ventilation at natural light, so we made the rooms big enough. Three years ago, we were the only building here who uses free fabricated steel, so all of it were shipped in Subic. 85% of the materials, are all imported from Taiwan, China and Indonesia.
Q: Kailan yung ground breaking nung area?
J: It was 2013, ka-age sya nung youngest ko, so parang anak ko na din itong building na to.
Q: And her name is?
J: Charm, hence the name of the hotel (laughs)
Q: So what stage na sya ng construction?
J: We just opened last March, but the building is actually 4 years old. The hotel area is now 70% complete.
Q: What makes it different from the other hotels in the area?
J: We have created a lot of in-hotel activities for our guests, kasi gusto namin yung idea ng staycation is that you won’t ever have a need to go out of the hotel to do all the things that you need to do. We’re also the only hotel facility that uses LED light, and then soon we will be installing a solar panel to power our common areas. We use a unique rain water tank system here that we use to water our plants and flush the toilets. We’re doing all we can using various technological innovations to help conserve both water and energy, our way of helping the environment.
Ms. Jho Floresca’s success story is a true inspiration to all who dreamed of a better life for themselves and their families. While she was, as she said in the interview, gifted with a certain degree of CHARM that makes people trusts her wholeheartedly, It was hard work, perseverance and her dedication to a dream that really made all the difference.
A person without these qualities, no matter how charming they are, could never endure all the hardships that life will bring, but Ms. Jho Floresca pushes through and pushed forward – and that’s why at the age of 40, she’s already a proud hotel owner while others her age are still searching for meaning and a worthwhile endeavor.
LE CHARME SUITES SUBIC
1131 Palm Street, Subic Bay Freeport Zone, Philippines
For Reservations: firstname.lastname@example.org / +6347-2503333 / +6347-2503846