All Eyes on Raffy Ladao: A Stronger and Better Leader Amid the Pandemic
loader image
All Eyes on Raffy Ladao: A Stronger and Better Leader Amid the Pandemic

All Eyes on Raffy Ladao: A Stronger and Better Leader Amid the Pandemic

Special Features | October 15, 2021
  • 2

With the hospitality industry struggling to stay afloat, Araw Chief Astounder Raffy Ladao shares all the lessons learned during the pandemic.

When the pandemic hit last year, it changed how life used to be for everyone. Face masks and sanitizers became a norm. Families and friends had to stay apart for weeks and months on end. Businesses, whatever industry they’re from, had to either shutter their doors or find ways to stay afloat.

All industries were hit by the pandemic, but it’s easy enough to surmise that the hospitality industry was one of the worst—if not the worst, hit. Borders closing meant people suddenly couldn’t travel. Airports, hotels, resorts, and tourist destinations, which were always centers of life, activity, and happy memories, were suddenly quiet and empty.

However, despite all the challenges and heartbreaks of the pandemic, life kept going. Time kept going. And so, everyone had to keep going, too.

Here’s one such tale of a man who kept going despite the hardships the hospitality industry faced. Araw Hospitality COO Raffy Ladao shares his reflections and what he has learned, as he strives to keep business going in the middle of a pandemic.

Before Entering the Hospitality Industry

Araw Hospitality COO Raffy Ladao may be working day and night these days to help achieve growth and success for the hospitality industry despite the challenges of the pandemic, but the industry isn’t exactly where his career started.

In fact, Raffy’s work experience heavily involved sales and covered different industries, including the finance, tech, and medical industries. “This meant [that] I had the penchant for pleasing and providing a solution to a need or problem,” he shares. “Having spent many years in the medical industry, this revolved around caring for people to improve and/or save lives.”

Raffy describes the transition into the hospitality industry as a “parallel move from a service and care perspective.” He adds that the move was more of an accident than an actual decision to start a career in the industry

Growing a Business During the Pandemic

It might surprise some people, but Araw Hospitality actually “truly began” in the midst of the pandemic, according to Raffy. Some people may find it puzzling, but Raffy says there is actually not much of a difference between running a business pre-pandemic and during the pandemic.

“Business goes on, goals need to be accomplished and revenue and profit targets have to be achieved,” he points out. “What changes,” he says, “are mindset and paradigm to handle and accept the local and global situation.”

Still, many people will probably think it’s a very brave choice to manage a hospitality business during a time when the whole industry is down. But for Raffy, Araw Hospitality is an “experience group” that aims to spread happiness through experiences. Even with a pandemic looming above everyone’s heads, guests of Araw’s properties can count on this.

A stunning beachfront view at Lihim, El Nido Palawan
Lush greens, sunny skies, and a picturesque view at Lihim, El Nido Palawan
Sun, pool, and fun over at One Hagdan Villas, Boracay

What’s more, the pandemic allowed Araw Hospitality to form a stronger sense of empathy towards its guests. “We understand that there is this constant sense of fear when leaving one’s home. [But] Araw ensures that every single time you visit any of our property, you will feel safe—from our welcoming front liners to putting together food that soothes the soul and of course, to guaranteeing practice of hygiene and sanitation.”

After all, Araw’s mission, according to him, “is to ensure our guests receive an experiential, a fulfilling, and a memorable hospitality experience.”

The Ups and the Downs

The pandemic has been a roller coaster ride for Raffy Ladao and Araw Hospitality, to say the least. When asked about his proudest moment as the COO of Araw, Raffy says that his proudest moment is “seeing that big smile from our first guest when we opened the first UNWND Luxury Hostel in Poblacion, Makati.”

Although some might consider as bad timing altogether, UNWND Luxury Hostel in Poblacion opened in the middle of the pandemic. But for Raffy, seeing the big smile from the hostel’s first guest was “momentous.”

Guests can enjoy cocktails, bar chow, and more in WYP, Poblacion Makati
A tropical-themed space in One Hagdan Villas, Boracay
A luxurious living space, set in UNWND Flats, Poblacion Makati

Raffy is also always proud whenever he sees happy guests. Hearing all the “thank you’s” and “wow’s” told him that Araw Hospitality has done something right. And that is music to his ears, as it also tells him that the company’s “why” is exactly where it should be.

Still, he acknowledges that managing a hospitality business through a pandemic is both a blessing and a curse. “The pandemic may be a blessing since I really don’t have the so-called ‘good times’ to speak about, [but this] can weigh you down when a situation is dire,” Raffy explains.

It’s during these times, he believes that “being able to react, adapt and restart quickly while faced with a constantly changing environment is key.”

Neon lights, good food, and fun at WYP, Poblacion Makati

Raffy On and Off Work

These days, Raffy spends most of his time in Araw’s Lihim Resort, which is located in El Nido, Palawan—whether he’s on or off work. While he’s working, he considers his burning desire and passion as his motivators at work. “Having the burning desire to accomplish the vision I have and the passion to stand by that desire until realized,” he says.

He keeps his off work-life exciting, thanks to variety and frequency. This means that Raffy does different activities on a regular basis to keep his days from becoming idle and dull.

According to Raffy, “These can vary from going to the gym, kickboxing, enjoying an afternoon with friends, food, and wine, taking in the sunset on a Sunday afternoon at the UNWND Rooftop and reading, and exploring new places to eat—well when we’re allowed to dine in—to name a few.”

This setup wasn’t always the case for Raffy, especially during the first couple of months of the pandemic. He spent the first few months working from home, as the majority of the population, but that eventually changed. “Since UNWND was nearing completion and we had a restaurant, WYP Dining, to keep afloat, I had to be in the field,” he explains.

While the work-from-home situation lasted only a few months for him, Raffy has picked up a few lessons from it. “Don’t freak out and drink all your wine at one go,” he advises before adding, “Just kidding.”

In all seriousness, however, he recommends creating “a space that differentiates your work area from the rest of your home.” He also says that you should make a good cup of coffee to start your every day. Lastly, he reminds everyone to just “breathe, breathe, breathe.”

Where Raffy Ladao and Araw Hospitality Will Go From Here

Some people might think that the pandemic is still raging on, despite the availability of vaccines. Others think that there is actually light at the end of the tunnel. But according to Raffy, “I’d like to believe this pandemic will end in due time. Being malleable, agile, and adding think out-of-the-box ideas will help in overcoming challenges.”

Life really does go in even in the midst of a pandemic and so shall Raffy Ladao and Araw Hospitality. In fact, the next six months are very exciting times for him and the company. Lihim, Araw’s luxury boutique resort in El Nido, Palawan is set to open within this time period.

Along with Lihim, One Hagdan Villas and Kommons in Boracay, and UNWND Luxury Hostels in El Nido, Caticlan, Calatagan, Dumaguete, Mati, and Siargao are also set to open their doors to their guests in the coming six months.

With travel restrictions slowly but surely being eased, Raffy hopes that tourists can come to any of Araw Hospitality’s properties, which cater to a variety of experiences and needs. “Give us the opportunity to put a smile on your face,” he invites.

Photos from Araw Hospitality

RELATED ARTICLES:

All Eyes on Tommanny Tan: Being Your Own Boss

ICYMI: You Can Now Travel Virtually and Stay Fit… While Staying at Home!

Backpacking in the Philippines? UNWND and Chill in this Luxury Hostel

OneMega.com is your all-in-one access pass to exclusive content from a wide variety of lifestyle experts, thought leaders, influencers and leading content creators here in the Philippines and around the world. OneMega.com is a prestige media brand of One Mega Group, Inc.

ONEMEGA EDITORIAL TEAM

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Marga Medrano-Tupaz
JR ASSOCIATE EDITOR Diane Nicole Go
GROUP CREATIVE DIRECTOR Jann Pascua
GROUP ART DIRECTOR Marc Pagdilao
MULTIMEDIA ARTIST Denielle Carag
GROUP PUBLISHER Janine Recto

CONTRIBUTORS

FASHION Amina Arañaz-Alunan Jojie Lloren Robby Carmona Patty Ang Candy Dizon Francis Libiran | BEAUTY Dr. Vicky Belo Kim Reyes-Palanca Marie Lozano Firas Abboud Jude Hipolito and Rose Velasco (JuRo) Jigs Mayuga | LUXURY Bianca Salonga JP Tuason Jeanette Ipapo-Tuason Marlon Stöckinger | TRAVEL Vern Enciso Ferdi Salvador Marie Field-Faith | TECH & GADGETS Carlo Ople Enrique Miranda Gerry Sy | HOME & DESIGN Geewel Fuster Kitty Bunag Tessa Alindogan Vianca Favila | BUSINESS & CAREER Franco Saycon Venus Navalta Eric Dee Dr. Z Teo Pinky Tobiano Atty. Connie Aquino | ENTERTAINMENT Girlie Rodis MJ Marfori G3 San Diego Georcelle Dapat Sy / G-Force | FOOD & ENTERTAINING Aüa Chino Hernandez Happy Ongpauco-Tiu Nina Daza-Puyat Robby Goco JJ Yulo | PARENTING Cat Arambulo-Antonio Paulyne Fermin Michelle Aventajado Jerika Ejercito Aguilar Celine Gabriel Lim | FITNESS & WELLNESS Nadine Tengco Harvie de Baron Sara Black Arnold Aninion Teresa Herrera Anthon Tanya Aguila Simon Greatwich | WEDDINGS Marbee Shing-Go Amanda Tirol Charisse Tinio Jason Magbanua Gideon Hermosa Robert Blancaflor | YOUTH Chris Nick Milka Romero Miko Tiu Laurel Janeena Chan

ADVERTISING

SALES DIRECTOR Maureen Alexis Busto
ACCOUNT MANAGERS Paulin Mata,
Chloe Tapucar, Jasmine Co Leng, Ivan Panganiban,
Anna Chua, Lexi Malongga

MARKETING AND ADVERTISING SERVICES

Marketing Communication Manager Pam Rodriguez
Ad & Promo Manager Brent James Castro
Copywriter / Social Media Associate Rowan Palomares
Social Media AssociateKyla Nicole Taal
Multimedia Artist Agatha Romero
Producer Elishua Balinton
Video Editor Andrew Ciudad

VIDEO & EVENTS

Sr Video Editor Jasper Bermejo
Video Editors Kenneth Dimaano
Video Editor / Producer Regina Aceron
Audio Visual & Technical Assistant
Andrew Ciudad

CREATIVE SERVICES

Creative Services Supervisor Kristoff Sison
Multimedia Artists Gari Rivera, Elmer Pereira,
Niel Jhed Ibay
Copywriters Peaches Garcia, Althea Villanueva,
Roanna Alonzo,
Chad Losanta, Christina Zabat

PRODUCTION & LOGISTICS

Production & Logistics Manager ERICA LUNA
Booking Associate Mae Talaid, KZ Francisco
Pull Out Coordinator & Production & Logistics AssistantMJ Almero

STUDIO & IMAGING

Production and Studio Manager Ed Simon
Photographer Kieran Punay, Excel Panlaque
Final Artists Eric Gallego
Cameraman JR Ramirez

SOUND AND MOTION

Sr Video Editor Jasper Bermejo
Video Editor / Producer Regina Aceron

EXECUTIVE OFFICE

AVP for MARKETING & PUBLISHING Marga Medrano-Tupaz
VP for CONTENT Peewee Isidro
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER Archie Carrasco

ONE MEGA GROUP, INC.

PRESIDENT Suki Salvador
CHAIRMAN Archie Carrasco
FOUNDING CREATIVE DIRECTOR Lorraine Belmonte
FOUNDER Sari Yap

SALES

AVP - Business Development Carmelli Daet

CONSUMER MARKETING AND CIRCULATION

Head of Consumer Marketing and Circulations Arriane Sanchez
Consumer Marketing Associate Champ Bersales
Multimedia Artist Hilrey Batolan

HUMAN RESOURCES

HR Manager Mairen Buan
Organizational Development and HR Tech Supervisor Lorenzon Miguel Barbeyto
HR Supervisor Vanessa Orpilla
Sr Payroll Associate Angielica Baril
Recruitment Associate Michelle Grace Flores

MIS / IT

Web Development Manager and MIS OIC  Carlo Tumaliuan
Web Developer Supervisor  King Villarta
Jr Web Designer  Jen-Lyn Dumlao
Senior IT Associate  Jomer Calleja

ADMINISTRATION & PURCHASING

Admin & Purchasing Manager Avy Lagarto
Office Support Associate Jorean Ann Flores
Company Driver Bernard Dela Cruz

LEGAL

Legal Counsel Atty.   Homer Alinsug
OIC-Corporate Legal   Avy Lagarto

FINANCE

Finance Manager Rachel Cabagua
Finance Supervisor Janin Tabora
Credit & Collection Supervisor Nainine Buenaobra
Senior Treasury Associate Maileen Capilitan
Senior Accounting Associate John Dela Torre
General Accounting Associate Ruffa Dela Pena
Accounting Associate Zarah Mira

CORPORATE AFFAIRS and BUSINESS EXPANSION

Head of Corporate Affairs and Business Expansion Rodolfo Palanca Jr.
Copy Chief Andrea Eliza Santos
Corporate Affairs Associate Margaux Pua
Creatives Associate Alecs Beltran

EXECUTIVE OFFICE

Chief Operating Officer Ma. Cecilia Ngo
Executive Assistant to the COO Thea Pamela So

AGC POWER HOLDINGS CORP.

Chairman & President Archie Carrasco