LIFE RE­FINED

MANNY OS­MEÑA IS SUC­CESS­FUL IN OP­ER­AT­ING A HAND­FUL OF BUSI­NESSES. BUT THE LIFE­STYLE HE OF­FERS IS HIS MOST LU­CRA­TIVE AND RE­WARD­ING WORK TO DATE

F&B World - - SPECIAL FEATURE - Text by JA­CLYN CLEMENTE- KOPPE Pho­tos by RG MEDESTOMAS

As Manny Os­meña nav­i­gates his photo shoot, you wouldn’t have guessed that just 10 min­utes ago he had got­ten out of his car to brisk walk through Boni­fa­cio Global City (BGC) grid­lock with his blazer on a hanger to get to our in­ter­view. Af­ter warm greet­ings and apolo­gies for his tar­di­ness, he quickly dis­ap­pears to change and freshen up.

My first im­pres­sion based on his cropped hair, trim physique, and low-key man­ner (he walked in with­out an en­tourage, car­ry­ing his own things) is that he’s sim­ple, self-as­sured, and mat­ter-of-fact. He emerges don­ning said blazer—a well-con­structed, breezy, beige linen num­ber he bought dur­ing a trip to Spain—and he calmly and ex­pertly poses for the cam­era, wine glass in hand, giv­ing the pho­tog­ra­pher an abun­dance of op­tions as I ca­su­ally chat him up about his past in­fat­u­a­tion with the medium.

His back­drop is the newly opened Ibiza Beach Club at the W City Cen­tre, a mas­sive restau­rant with an enor­mous din­ing area, mul­ti­level stage for nightly per­for­mances, pri­vate sa­lon, out­door decks with sub­merged ban­quets, and a jacuzzi. Like Os­meña, it makes quite a first im­pres­sion. Look­ing closely at the fin­ish­ings of the 3,000-square-me­ter es­tab­lish­ment, ev­ery­thing is well-ex­e­cuted; from the bolts on the floorto-ceil­ing wooden planks, which are sup­posed to mimic the bow­els of a ship, to the por­ous stone floor­ing of the deck, which is an el­e­gant con­trast to the clear pools sur­round­ing the re­cessed sitting ar­eas, and even to the pod-like cu­bi­cles in the bath­rooms, which, to the or­di­nary per­son, are per­fect as is. Not to Os­meña. “It’s sup­posed to have the sheen of an As­ton Martin,” he opines. “Well, we’re al­ready open so I don’t know how they can fix that.”

The same fo­cus on well-crafted min­i­mal­ism ex­tends to the menu. Ibiza of­fers fa­mil­iar Con­ti­nen­tal dishes in var­i­ous lan­guages. “We have burg­ers, bar­be­cues, paella,” he enu­mer­ates. “It’s com­fort food from all over the world. Sim­ple food but good. For me, it’s all about con­sis­tency over show­man­ship.” The piéce de ré­sis­tance is their Balearic grill (very sim­i­lar to the Brazil­ian chur­rasco Filipinos are more fa­mil­iar with), which is the theme of their 15-course set menu. It is abun­dant and uti­lizes pre­mium in­gre­di­ents such as lamb chops, An­gus rib-eye, and fresh prawns, but it is quite straight­for­ward in its prepa­ra­tion method. Sim­ple but per­fectly grilled, and fla­vored with di­verse Mediter­ranean mari­nades and Asian sauces.

RUNS IN THE FAM­ILY

“I’m a per­fec­tion­ist,” Os­meña can­didly ad­mits, and it res­onates in how he lives and what he does. He op­er­ates a hand­ful of busi­nesses, each as grand as the next; from ho­tels and a wine brand to air­line cater­ing, air­port man­age­ment and lo­gis­tics.

Though no­to­ri­ously noc­tur­nal, he spends his late hours work­ing, think­ing up new con­cepts and mak­ing what al­ready ex­ists even bet­ter. His staff has a habit of check­ing their e-mails first thing in the morn­ing be­cause they can be sure Os­meña will have fresh in­struc­tions for them be­fore he turns in at the break of dawn.

While he ad­mits to al­ways hav­ing had a cre­ative bent, his en­tre­pre­neur­ial skill is some­thing he honed from a young age. As the el­dest of 11 sib­lings in a FilipinoChi­nese fam­ily, he sur­mises that a life in busi­ness was in­evitable. How­ever, he also grew up in a fam­ily that be­lieved in living it up. “We were al­ways eat­ing out, whether in Cebu or Manila. Our fam­ily loved to eat and some of us drink,” he re­calls with a smile. “We’re such a big fam­ily, so we can re­ally fill up a restau­rant. We can be loud, but we also or­der well.”

A self-con­fessed “nerd,” his vice of choice grow­ing up was trav­el­ing. How­ever, it was not the he­do­nis­tic life­style you would imag­ine from the scion of a well-todo Tsi­noy fam­ily. Os­meña would al­ways bring Filipino­made prod­ucts with him on his trav­els to Europe, sell­ing any­thing from flip-flops to women’s sleep­wear. “I used that money to fi­nance my trav­els,” he says.

“While these paint a pic­ture of a life sup­ple­mented by solid val­ues and work ethics, Os­meña never claimed per­fec­tion. In an in­ter­view with En­tre­pre­neur, he was just as cun­ning and ruth­less as the best of them, ad­mit­ting that he used to be “too money-ori­ented when he was younger that even his chil­dren openly call him a mon­ey­mak­ing mon­ster who pri­or­i­tized noth­ing but wealth.” In the same ar­ti­cle he ad­mit­ted to be­ing an athe­ist, “a per­se­cu­tor of the church,” more than 30 years ago. It took some per­sonal catas­tro­phes—his wife’s pass­ing due to cancer, fi­nan­cial trou­bles dur­ing the Asian fi­nan­cial

That’s a sign that you are do­ing

it right. It’s about ig­nit­ing a feel­ing. You have a sip of wine or walk into a room

and you are trans­ported.

cri­sis--to turn his life around and make him the spir­i­tual and gen­er­ous man he is to­day.”

HIGH STAN­DARDS

Os­meña knows ex­actly what he wants. He is very par­tic­u­lar about his artistry and in­sists only on the most re­fined crafts­man­ship. Ibiza Beach Club, from the ground up, is his vi­sion and de­sign. With a P300 mil­lion price tag, he was un­re­lent­ing in his vi­sion and re­fused to com­pro­mise. In re­gard to his part­ners in the BGC branch, he claims, “I had to make sure that they were on board with my vi­sion.” Talks with a Malaysian part­ner broke down be­cause the other party had con­flict­ing in­put re­gard­ing the aes­thet­ics as well as other cre­ative dif­fer­ences. How­ever, he is bullish when it comes to his cre­ations. The chairs alone went through sev­eral pro­to­types be­fore he deemed them ac­cept­able for re­pro­duc­tion. And it’s these de­signs for the fur­nish­ings and in­te­ri­ors that act as Ibiza Beach Club’s DNA for pos­si­ble fu­ture fran­chises.

His ef­forts are not for naught, as he shares the re­ac­tion of the Swiss am­bas­sador, a good friend of his, when she walked into the cav­ernous BGC es­tab­lish­ment. “I feel like I’m on a hol­i­day,” she said. It’s this kind of re­ac­tion that Os­meña is al­ways aim­ing for in his ven­tures. “It’s about hav­ing an emo­tional con­nec­tion,” he ex­cit­edly says. “That’s a sign that you are do­ing it right, whether it’s your mar­riage or with wine­mak­ing or with the Beach Club. It’s about ig­nit­ing a feel­ing. You have a sip of wine or walk into a room and you are trans­ported.”

Manny Os­meña and his lat­est ven­ture

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