A Personal Testimony of Bro. Doy Nunag, BCBP Tagbilaran North, BCBP Corp. Secretary
Welcome to Bohol! While I spent all my professional life in Manila, I regularly came home to my roots and my taste for things Boholano has never faded. As they say, “You can take the man out of Bohol but you can’t take Bohol out of the man.”
I was born and raised here in Bohol, the third of 10 children. I went to Manila for college and law school and stayed on as I joined a multinational law firm, where I did quite well in the specialty fields of corporate law and inbound foreign investments. At a relatively young age, I became an international partner of what was then the biggest law firm in the world. Later in my career, I became the managing partner of our Manila office. I married a pretty law school classmate, Ludichi, from Cagayan de Oro, and we have three children; two months ago our first apo was born.
My sharing, however, is not about my career as a lawyer, but about what happened to me after I left the practice. Much of my story is about the power of prayer, about how faithful a guide, provider and friend the Lord is, His dramatic timing and how He uses the Brotherhood as His instrument.
Our life in the BCBP began in 1992 in the Alabang Chapter. In 2000, we moved residence to Quezon City and were endorsed to the Quezon City chapter. When I retired and started to spend more time in Bohol in 2004, I was adopted by the Tagbilaran North Chapter. My multiple chapter transfers, plus my involvement with the Mancom as Corporate Secretary, have given me the chance to meet and make a lot of friends in many places in the country.
Why did I retire early? About 5 years ago as I approached my 55th birthday, I started to seriously daydream about retiring early from our law firm where I had been working for thirty years. My wife, our children, our action group members joined me in praying for discernment. Although my family was supportive of the move to retire, still I was hesitant in letting go of the substantial perks that came with my job … worldwide travel, the security and prestige of the job, plus its substantial income.
Then, along came an emphatic sign. My closest friend in the office, a very hardworking partner, suffered a massive stroke and died after 4 days in the ICU, a few months before his 50th birthday, leaving behind his wife and three very young children. My wife asked me: “O ano, do you still have doubts about retiring?” The message was very clear: “Life is short. Don’t spend it all in the office.” And so I promptly handed in my early retirement papers!
Within a month after retiring I came home to Bohol to start a new project completely unrelated to the legal profession. I had no business plan, no experience as an entrepreneur, no previous business experience. I began to build, what I initially thought would be a small beach resort but which eventually evolved into a serious commercial operation.
From the very start the Brotherhood was involved in the project in many significant ways: the architect and the structural engineer came from the Alabang Chapter, heavy equipment, gardening supplies, most construction supplies, fruits and vegetables, and even laundry services came from Tagbilaran North brothers. My pick-up truck was serviced by a brother from Tagbilaran South. Early on, I sought the counsel of the business and financial gurus in the BCBP in Metro Manila just to assure my self that my project was not completely crazy. And every now and then, I consult a brother from the Pasay-Villamor chapter who is a veteran in the hospitality industry. Some of our printed materials are done by a Quezon City brother. And the list goes on and continues to grow.
Indeed the Brotherhood is an amazingly rich resource. You can call on it, as I have, for help in many varied fields. You name it, chances are the BCBP has it. And, most importantly, the spiritual support, the prayers of caring brothers and sisters in the BCBP, have helped me stay on course as I ventured into unfamiliar waters. The power of community prayer should never be underestimated.
In the course of doing this project, we went through some tough times, a lot of them, mostly because of funds running low. During these times, as in times of plenty, we prayed as a family and submitted everything to God. And always, the Lord comes to the rescue, just in time. There were so many close calls which have led us to believe that if the Lord did not want this project to be complete, it would have been stopped long ago. Nahum 1:7 is particularly reassuring: “The Lord is good; He protects his people in times of trouble; He takes care of those who turn to Him.”
For me, one big bonus from retirement and the resort project is that it has pulled our family closer together. When I was still in law practice, my children did not know much about my job. All they knew was that I was always in a barong or a suit, I had a nice office, did complicated stressful work and came home late.
Now we do a lot of things together — we have long discussions about resort operations, and here in Bohol, we even wear the same outfit – shorts, shirt and sandals or slippers. My second son, who is the most cost conscious, calls my attention when he thinks I give too much discounts. My eldest son, who works in the U.S., regularly emails his suggestions. My daughter, who is into the arts, argues with me about the color of the drapes, the size of the signage, the type of shampoo and soap we use in the bathrooms, the choice of items to sell in the boutique, and so many little details. My wife checks if we have fresh flowers at the reception counter, if we still have barako coffee, or if her cleaning instructions to housekeeping were strictly followed.
I don’t know if this is the most efficient way to run a business, but it certainly is an enjoyable and fulfilling way of doing it. I could not have planned for a better, more pleasant, healthier, and more profitable bonding activity for the family than this resort project.
Now, after about two years of operation, we are proud to report that our family project, the Amarela resort, is making a positive impact in the marketplace. We have demonstrated that our own local style in architecture, furniture and décor is well appreciated by domestic and foreign guests. We have received favorable comments for showcasing traditional manifestations of the Boholano’s faith in God and veneration of the saints, such as antique crucifixes, santos, the Christmas locally crafted Filipino belen. And in every room there is a Catholic bible, not the ones distributed for free by other denominations.
Beyond physical appearance, we try hard to protect and project traditional Filipino values of hospitality, integrity and good morals. We caution guests against display of indecent behavior, and discipline employees on issues of integrity and questionable moral behavior.
The Lord has truly blessed us and guided us throughout, from urging my early retirement, to providing for my family with this project. He has faithfully sustained us in planning, building, organizing, operating, marketing, and especially in funding Amarela. He got us started, He keeps us going, and He knows best where to take us. If we did it on our own, we would not get anywhere.
Psalm 127:1 says it all: “Unless the Lord builds the house, in vain do its builders labor.”
Check out the Amarela Resort in Panglao, Bohol, at www.amarelaresort.com to view how wonderfully the Lord led Bro Doy to his own lovely piece of paradise here on earth.