MANILA - Former actress Paula Peralejo, who is best known for her role in the youth-oriented series "Tabing Ilog," is now busy running a travel agency with her husband, Charlie Fernandez.
A sister to actress-host Rica, the younger Peralejo started her showbiz career in 1992 as one of the cast members of the kiddie gag show "Ang TV."
She went on to star in a number of ABS-CBN series, including "Gimik," before taking on her most recognizable role as Anne in "Tabing Ilog," which ran for four years until 2003.
However, in 2005, Peralejo decided to take a break from acting to focus on her studies.
She graduated magna cum laude in 2008 from University of the Philippines in Diliman with a bachelor's degree in philosophy and a minor in tourism.
Her studies in tourism, Peralejo said, are of good use as she opened in November last year her travel agency with Fernandez.
Speaking on ABS-CBN's "My Puhunan," the 29-year-old Peralejo said the four-month-old business, the online-based "Our Restless Feet Travel And Tours," is a natural fit for her and her husband as they are passionate about traveling.
They have so far visited 73 out of the 81 provinces in the Philippines, and traveled to 22 countries in the years they have been together.
"Actually, when we started the business, we were thinking, 'Naku, uso pa ba 'yung travel agency?' I was proven wrong," Peralejo said. "Actually, a lot of people, as long as your price point is good, [they do business with you]."
What they do
Our Restless Feet, which the couple put up with a P100,000 capital, is run solely by Peralejo and Fernandez and offers to arrange details of a customer's travel, including flights, tour packages, itinerary, accommodations or cruises, and insurance.
On average, Peralejo said she receives 300 e-mails per day in dealing with clients and coordinating with other businesses to complete a travel package.
Fernandez said it helps that over the years he and Peralejo have been traveling, they managed to gather a large list of contacts to tap when organizing a trip for clients.
"Malaking tulong din ang social media, kasi tuwing pumpunta kami sa isang lugar, siyempre may nakikilala kayong mga kaibigan, nakikilala mo 'yung mga drivers, mga hotels, at minsan, karaniwan ina-add kayo nila roon," he said.
Admittedly, barely a year into running Our Restless Feet, Peralejo said she is still learning new things when it comes to handling unique demands of her clients.
"Up to now, we're still in the learning process. Hindi ko forte ang mag-plan for groups, because I also don't travel with groups. Usually, I like traveling alone, or kasama siya, or small group. So for me, biglang challenge 'yun pag may bata. Iba pala 'yung presyo ng bata. I never considered that, because I never traveled that way."
One aspect of her business she is unlikey to change, Peralejo said, is her "personalized" interaction with her clients. As they have no employees, Peralejo and Fernandez personally attend to customers' requests and inquiries.
"They really appreciate it," the former actress said. "A lot of people e-mail me at nagugulat sila na, 'Ay, ikaw pala talaga 'yung nag-i-e-mail! Parang akala nila, may mga tao-tao ako diyan. Hindi, wala. Kaming dalawa lang talaga."
As of March this year, Peralejo said she and Fernandez have managed to break even with their P100,000 capital in putting up Our Restless Feet. She credited this in part to their shared passion for traveling and how this has kept them in tune with different aspects of the business.
"I'm glad na I resigned from show business and then I went back to school and then I started traveling. And that's when I discovered what I really want to do," she said.
Asked for her advice to anyone planning to put up a business, Peralejo said, "I would say don't go into a business you don't know anything about."