A former overseas Filipino worker (OFW) has gained recognition for his efforts to generate income for employees during the pandemic although his gym business had to stop operation to comply with government restrictions.
Mr. Alvin Arnibal, entrepreneur and managing partner of California Fitness Gym, has received the Most Outstanding Entrepreneur and Accountant of the Year during the Dangal ng Lahi Awards 2022 held on October 27, 2022 at the Garden Pavilion, Waterfront Insular Hotel in Davao City.
Mr. Arnibal is a co-owner and managing partner of the NeriLucila Group of Company which operates the California Fitness Gym, Cali Salon/Calix Barbers and California Graphics. He was among the Dangal ng Lahi 2022 awardees, who included Vice President Sarah Duterte.
The Dangal ng Lahi is a national award-giving body that recognizes individuals who showcase exemplary performance in their various fields of expertise.
The 39-year-old entrepreneur had wide experience in the field of accountancy and auditing when he worked for companies here and in Singapore.
After a two-year stint as an auditor in a hospital in Singapore, he returned to the Philippines and worked as a consultant for a hospital for a while. “My friend who is based in the United States convinced me to go into business.
Mr. Arnibal agreed to a partnership with his friend who is based in California, USA and in 2018, they acquired an existing fitness gym already operating in Barangay Balamban, Cebu City at P1.7-million.
While it was a little bit pricey, he saw it was a viable business venture because it was located across the University of San Carlos where the students are its primary market.
The California Fitness Gym was doing well until the pandemic occurred. Since fitness gyms were among the businesses that were suspended by government from operations, the gym and its employees lost income opportunities.
Mr. Arnibal knew his employees would have a difficult time with the suspension of the gym operation. He talked with them and they agreed to shift to a food business to sustain the needs of the gym employees to help their families.
They used the gym as the venue for their food business, which include fried rice and other food stuffs for takeout.
“Although the fitness gym operations had been suspended, I had obligations to my employees and I still had to pay for the rent although the owner had given a 50 percent discount,” he said. Mr. Arnibal considered his employees as friends and he was already acquainted with their family.
While many businesses had permanently stopped operations, Mr. Arnibal decided to hold on and wait for the adverse effects of the pandemic to finally end and the recovery of the economy.
He explained that his award may have been due to his efforts to help his employees. He was informed by the Dangal ng Lahi group that he was nominated by a gym who was not identified. He was interviewed by the screening committee and later he was informed about his selection as one of the awardees.
With the country’s economy starting to recovery, he decided to reopen the California Fitness Gym in Talamban, Cebu City. He also branched out to downtown Cebu City. California Fitness Gym’s second branch is located at Sanciangco Street, Cebu City, just across the back of the University of the Visayas.
Mr. Arnibal is also opening two more businesses, the Cali Salon/Calix Barbers and the California Graphics, also located beside the fitness gym branch in Sanciangco St.
Going into business was already part of his long-term plan since he did not want to stay employed, he explained. With his savings from his earnings, Mr. Arnibal went into business with his friend.
Aside from his businesses, the former OFW has also been involved in charitable activities. Every December, he selects 100 families who will be given groceries and packed meals.
“Sharing blessings has always been my advocacy since I started working,” Mr. Arnibal said.
He decided to venture into the salon and printing business as a way to spread out investments rather than concentrate just one business. “It’s better to have multi-sources of income.”
For those who wanted to go into business, he encouraged them to save money to serve as initial investment. One has to be ready financially before going into business and would be willing to work hard and should be hands-on management so problems and concerns could be addressed as soon as possible.
Mr. Arnibal is also among the awardees in the Asian Modern Hero Awards (AMHA) 2023. He is set to be awarded under the “Heroes Renowned Business Leader in Fitness and Health” category.
AMHA 2023-Modern Hero Category aims to provide an avenue to commemorate and honor selfless individuals and achievers.
Arnibal, who was a Business Excellence Awardee as well as an Academic excellence and Organizational Leadership awardee, is now kept busy managing these enterprises.