In my life, I have been blessed with friends who are creative artists and entrepreneurs – and this has always been an inspiration to me.

My mother loved travel. When we were growing up, she always said, “Go on all the field trips and educational tours. Go on any out of town trips. They may be expensive and maybe we can not always afford it, and we may not be able to give you a lot of money, but the experience will be a gift and a treasure for you.”

Or at least something like that.

So we grew up traveling with her and even with our father, who for his part hated traveling, but was, at first, being a lawyer for agrarian reform cases in the provinces of Camarines Sur and Camarines Norte, and then later on assigned as a member of the Department of Agrarian Reform‘s Adjudication Board in the provinces of Aurora, Laguna, Marinduque, and Romblon. Later on, my mother would let me arrange all her trips with her group of friends, always at least four of them, sometimes as many as twelve, to El Nido, Boracay, Batanes, and other places. I was her personal travel agent. I booked the tickets, arranged the rooms, the boats, the guides, and everything else in between. Her friends started to tell me that I should start a travel agency. I laughed, but they said it would have made my mother happy and proud if I did.

As a daughter, especially after my mother’s passing, I have tried, in my little ways, to make her proud, or at least make something out of the inheritance that she left me. I lost all of it in Naga City when I had Wharf Galley in Avenue Square, but in exchange, I learned a lot, and somehow think earned a masters in business administration or something along that line because of that experience. So I let go of the bar and went back to travel. These days, when I help people out with their travel plans and arrangements, I do so as I would my mother and her friends. It is in her memory that I put up Outventure – because it would have made her happy and proud.

Outventure started out online BUT it did not feel that I am a legitimate business if I did not have a physical location. I worked hard to put up an office. When I was looking for a space to lease, I was looking for one for Outventure. So I could not afford spaces that leased out at Php25,000 to Php35,000 per month.

I love milk tea. I have been a fan of Nai Cha since my days in the university when the fast food chain Chow King came out with it. I was always going to Bubble Town for my milk tea fix when I was still in Naga City. El Nido did not have milk tea and it sounded like a sound business idea to put up one.

So I worked on the idea that my space should be big enough to hold a milk tea shop or booth at the very least, and be the Outventure office. The boutique was a side story. It was not meant to be a priority. I was just told that if I had Outventure as a booking and travel services office, it would also be a good idea to have some souvenirs or other items to sell in the space, because that’s what everybody else did. I did have some stocks from Kikayism and Thriftista Shop – my online shops, so I thought, yes, that could work. On the side.

We started working on the logos.

Folding 8 did the Outventure logos and sent me these studies.

And this is the final logo:

I am a fan of the work of the husband of a friend of mine from university who does doodle artwork and asked him to work on a logo for the milk tea shop. I gave Aian Rosales of Doodle Lab Creatives some inspirations and he sent me these studies. I eventually sent him a colour palette to work with and we finalized the logo.

The color palette

This is the final logo:

The boutique has its own name, Bella Lia Boutique, named after my daughter of course, and these were the logo studies, also done by Folding 8. Though we have not finalized the logo and I haven’t been using one the past months.

While the logos were being finalized, I and another friend of mine, Radj, whom I really met over Twitter and for the first time in person when he went to Moalboal with me in the summer of 2013, worked on the Outventure website. Radj is from Cebu City and we work online together. My forte is WordPress and his is Drupal. He did these sites (1), (2), and (3). We are doing the Teatro Pilipinas and Inngo Tourist Inn websites together as well.

As the logos, websites, Facebook pages and other social media sites were being worked on, the floor plan and store design were also being finalized. I worked with my friend Karla Ponce on these, over beers (for her) and cocktails (for me), when we happened to be at the same location at the same time at least, but more often, online. 

At Fred’s Revolution, Cubao Expo, Quezon City

With Karla at Fred’s Revolution, Cubao Expo, Quezon City. August 2013

We were sending emails and Facebook private messages back and forth for months. We went through a lot of pegs.

These were the final plans.


Though we had these plans, the outcome was due to whatever materials we could find, and whatever the workers could do. What one see in the shop now is a result of hours of looking through materials available in Puerto Princesa and Manila. I went around the stores in Market! Market! in Taguig, and Robinsons Palawan and Citi Hardware in Puerto Princesa, being helped by the staff with what I need and what I can buy. There were some materials that were cheaper in Manila but required me to ship them to El Nido either via plane or via truck to the port then by cargo boat. There were some materials that I bought in Puerto Princesa and were brought to El Nido via buses. It was months of work. The last trip from Manila, with nearly all the materials, including container baskets, had me and my daughter taking the 2Go Ferry because we could not take the plane because of the heavy luggage, traveling for 30 hours on the ferry, and renting a van to take us from the Puerto Princesa port to El Nido. Lia and I took many trips to Puerto Princesa to buy materials that were not available in El Nido, like LED lights, gallons of paint, and pre-made shelves. Even the furniture were bought in Puerto Princesa, carried by Cherry and Ro-ro buses, and then by tricycle, first to my house in Corong-Corong for storage, then to the shop after painting was completed. My daughter and I did all these all on our own – just the two of us. So, you can understand how proud I am of this shop. Because a lot of hard work was put into it. It may seem like a very simple space, but everything in it equates to countless hours of hard work by numerous people spread through eleven months. I am very proud of this shop – and very grateful for all the people who made the shop possible – lessors, carpenters, painters, electricians, shop keepers, hardware store staff, bus drivers, bus conductors, tricycle drivers, van drivers, porters, logo/graphic designers, web developers, architect/interior designer, friends, and neighbors.

To lower capitalization costs, I used whatever I already had, like the baskets, containers, and other display materials that I have bought through the years, especially the ones I kept buying at the Dapitan Arcade when I was always going there a few years ago. Some chairs and tables that I had since college, and books and magazines that I kept with me through my countless changes of addresses. I refrained from buying anything as much as I could. When I opened, what the boutique had were things I already had from my other shops, and other things that I just borrowed from my many entrepreneur friends like Bambag Canvas Bags and Palamuti by PJ Valenciano. This shop was totally a team effort, that, I will always say, again and again. I have been very lucky with my friends. Lucky, happy, and very much grateful.

Stay tuned for Part 3.