Ma. Suzette F. Abela (Suzie)
Isang Lakbay Corporation / Sinag Hostel Siargao
Three things you make sure you focus on in your work: My responsibility has given me countless opportunities to sell our vision, with my own team and my investors, to the community and organizations. But it goes beyond just speaking and selling. Three of the most important things I focus on are:
Working with integrity: This is very basic but found it very important. When you work honestly and deeply rooted to your purpose, it’s very easy to build trust and partnership with people.
Continuously seeking feedback: Simply put, consciously spending more time listening to people who I consider as mentors/consultants, and also to travelers I meet along the way. Setting up a start up business is like a running in a maze. It is very important for me to seek help from people who can guide and support me! They are always a source of sanity and I always find feedback a big big blessing.
Treating people with kindness and respect: My job requires me to be assertive most of the time, especially when faced with hard decisions. But it is important for me to stay conscious on how I treat people and the words I use when I communicate, even when I don’t agree with their views.
Top tip for your Hospitality colleagues: Listen to feedback- it’s always a goldmine for ideas and improvement.
Your activities: The construction of Sinag Hostel is still on-going but we are now less than 3 months away from opening! (sea you on 1 October 2018) But the background work on solidifying and working on our vision (promoting sustainability, responsible traveling and local advancement) has long been started. The idea of this hostel and the way it will operate in the future is grounded on that vision. While we are currently busy preparing for the operations, we take into consideration the advocacy every step of the way. We started promoting first on social media and now gradually involving the Siargao community and now working on partnership with brands that support our cause. Everything on its own timing.
From the choice of materials in construction, we already discussed that we wanted to make it last a lifetime so we veer away from a lot of wood and stick to concrete. We also designed a very minimalist finish to the rooms, with the use of old materials we can find on the island like old wood, ropes, etc for highlights. That will come up on finishing.
Upon booking with us, we already start setting the expectations with the guests by sending the house rules (see photo gallery). Some of the other initiatives we’re planning to implement are below.
- We will give incentives for guests bringing their own tumblers.
- Open the hostel for refilling water and not sell bottled water
- Strictly implement waste segregation in the hostel
- We’re looking at doing our own compost bins
- Partner up with local organizations in Siargao for clean up initiatives and up-cycling sessions
- Sell shampoo bars and soaps, menstrual cups and other products which promote a zero-waste lifestyle
Inspirations: Most of it from traveling and conversing with friends/travelers who share the same values. I’ve always been a probinsyana who loves nature and outdoors. If you constantly converse with this group, you’ll find that there are many opportunities outside the big city that will allow you to be sustainable while enjoying the slow life- only if you have the courage to seek it or create it yourself. Always wanted to have my own business and one that creates impact to a community (let’s blame the UP education for that! haha). When I traveled to Siargao, it felt like home and I knew I had to execute this idea on my mind- with the help of A LOT OF PEOPLE. Will always be grateful for that. The big move from being a corporate lady to an island girl comes with a price- but it is a slow but fulfilling journey.
What’s in your Future? I want Sinag to stand and thrive on its own- to be profitable (of course! haha) and to make a statement that a business like this can be a venue for change through educating people and leading by example. Personally, I also want a simple and slow life while enjoying the things I do on the environment I want to be in. It’s not necessarily a downgrade in lifestyle vs working in the city. Just finding success on a different perspective- like building connections from people around the world, witnessing a beautiful sunrise, or walking dogs after a long day or having a peace of mind while watching the waves. I guess I’m a hopeless romantic like that. 🙂