Though the sky was cloudy when the Lifestyle Asia team arrived at the sprawling grounds of Nuvali, the morning light eventually shone as the cover personalities came. Budding businesswoman Milka Romero was the first to arrive and later followed by the CNN Philippines anchor, PBA coach, and sports analyst Charles Tiu. The two young and athletic society figures greeted the team with warm smiles. Everyone was thrilled, knowing the day will be filled with spirited conversations. The team prepared the set including the luxurious BMW cars for the shoot outdoors, a reflection of the dynamic and luxe yet meaningful lives of Charles and Milka.
The sports enthusiasts
At an early age, both Charles and Milka were exposed to the world of sports. Watching their families play different sports encouraged them to try their hands in the games as well. Through outdoor play, they learned discipline and hard work, two values that greatly shaped their character.
Charles watched his older brother Chris Tiu play basketball since they were young. Charles fell in love with it and began playing for his school team. It became his career yet I wondered why he took up a business-oriented discipline in college. He explains, “I always love playing [and] watching basketball; it kind of just happened. But at the same time, I’m just trying to do some business and I still work for my family.” He continues, “It became a blessing and everything came [unexpectedly].”
For Milka, her father was a huge influence on her passion for sports, especially football. She cheerfully recounted her first game when she was 12. She simply wanted to enjoy playing football for her school team yet she was able to score her first goal. “Those moments when you just don’t expect yet you enjoy [is] the most memorable because it’s not planned like my first game,” she says. It has been 15 years since then yet the enthusiasm is still apparent in the eyes of the young restaurateur.
A vision of the entrepreneur
The team first shot Milka whose bright aura made the atmosphere livelier. Apart from sports, Milka has always been enthusiastic about building concepts. “When I was younger, my dream was just to create things, something that’s not yet in the Philippines,” she explains. Her parents had molded her to have this entrepreneurial mindset. Now with a chain of restaurants under her belt, she is learning to be a good leader in a highly competitive industry. She knows the value of upholding patience, effective communication, and the ability to adapt. “You can’t be sensitive,” she says with a laugh. “[You have to be] quickly changing, quickly evolving, and not taking things personally that they don’t like your brand… [it] is an extension of yourself since it’s your vision. In the beginning, I’m always so hurt, [asking myself] why don’t [customers] like [a menu]. But in the end, it’s just a business so you have to understand.”
As an entrepreneur, she has to deal with different people. “That’s really something I still struggle to do because sometimes I have a vision and I just want them to follow it,” she admits. Being a leader also proves challenging when she is the youngest in the company. Like any fresh-faced team member, there was always an underlying hesitation in her decisions. Yet with five to six years of experience in the industry, she learned to properly deal with it. “I already have this confidence in what’s right and wrong. I already know what the company needs. Age won’t define it,” she firmly states.
When she became a judge in the third season of The Final Pitch, it was a new and fulfilling experience. “I’m not the entrepreneur who’s creating these businesses,” she explains. “Being the one to give advice and mentoring these entrepreneurs was very humbling because I get their struggles… Being in that position or currently as a young entrepreneur, it was good to share ideas with them and see the potential in different ventures.” With this experience, Milka will certainly develop herself as a person, a leader, and restaurateur.
Passion for the game
Taking in the roles of a PBA Analyst, a Basketball Coach, and a CNN Philippines Anchor, Charles has quite a busy schedule. Despite the many shoes he has to wear, he truly enjoys his work. What motivates him the most are his players. “It motivates me to help the kids to be better people, better basketball players, maybe help them in life, [and] teach them some values to help them get where they really want to go,” he says. He gets fulfillment in seeing them improve and grow through the lessons he imparts—among of which are discipline, respect, the value of hard work and doing one’s best.
Apart from the players, I still wondered how else Charles gets motivation. With his hectic schedule, how does he get the energy to keep going? Charles answers, “No matter how many days you keep thinking, ‘you know what, I don’t want to work. I just want to stay home and enjoy, and go out’ but you know, you have to be disciplined. You’re blessed to be given a chance to work, to help other people. It’s an opportunity not a lot of people have so I just want to make the most out of it. I just force myself and tell myself ‘I gotta work.'”
With impressive achievements of being part of the national team at a young age and recent wins in the D-league championship and William Jones Cup, Charles still receives criticisms. He confidently comments, “Why would you let these people who probably have no idea what you’re talking about, who have no experience doing what you’re doing affect you?” He simply lets criticisms slide. Yet he admits he is his own harsh critic. “For me, I still want to get better, I still want to push, to be more successful,” he says. “I’m very hard on myself especially when it takes me a while to get over things. Even when we win, sometimes I’m not happy because I always believe in playing the game the right way, giving your best.” This highlights how Charles has a strong sense of discipline, courage, and conviction in pursuit of his goals.
Leading a healthy lifestyle
Charles and Milka have busy schedules yet they find the time to bond with their loved ones or unwind by themselves. Recently, Milka has been going to different places by herself. “It gives me a sense of humbleness. It makes you more responsible and it makes you see traveling from a different perspective because it’s [about] being more observant,” she says. In her last trip to Japan, she even studied for a short time at Tokyo Sushi Academy. “Every time I travel, I want it to be a learning experience, especially with the business I’m in. You have to be relevant and know the trends, and bring new things to the Philippines for the food industry.” It was an important experience as it gave her ideas on growing her restaurants like Sushi Nori.
When asked about how she takes care of herself, Milka openly admits her dislike at complicating things. “Basically, keep it simple. Eat well, take care of your skin, wash your face. That’s it,” she says. She stresses beauty is all about understanding yourself and elevating your strengths. “From there, the confidence really shines and that’s something that you can’t buy,” she explains.
Charles echoes the similar sentiment of leading a healthy and active lifestyle. “One thing I do is really believe in the importance of naps,” he says. He also sneaks in a 20-30 minute-jog or goes to the gym once or twice a week. Though he loves different cuisines and eating seafood like oysters and lobsters, he puts limitations on what he eats. “I really avoid [junk food] as much as I can unless it’s really good and I make exceptions. But for the most part, I eat healthily,” he adds, a bit bashful on admitting the exceptions. When asked about any advice for people wanting to be healthy, he shares, “I think it’s important to not stress yourself out. Stress is such a big cause of sickness and poor health. Find a balance between work and enjoying life a bit.”
The ultimate question
To end the interviews, I asked them Lifestyle Asia’s ultimate question of defining a meaningful life. With her simple and straightforward attitude, Milka answers, “A meaningful life is doing what you want to do with no restraints. [The] passion is 100% there; your gut feeling is there… you do you.”
Charles gives an equally compelling answer: “A meaningful life is knowing that you can impact other people, help make their lives better in any way.” He adds, “You can have all the money [and] whatever you want in the world but if it’s all for yourself, then that’s not exactly how we were taught to live this life, right? We’re here to be with other people.”
Photos: ERWIN CANLAS of NEW MONARCH MANAGEMENT
Art Direction: PAU DE MESA
Stylist: DANIEL REYES
Makeup: XENG ZULUETA
Hair: PATTY INOJALES
Shoot Coordination: ALY TIMOG
Luxury cars featured: BMW X1
Special Thanks: MARC PAGDILAO, SARAH SIGUION-REYNA, and YSMAEL SUAREZ
Shot on location at EVO-LIVING CENTER, NUVALI, LAGUNA