Office in Boracay? Millennial entrepreneur ditches Manila for island life

Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 11 2023 05:19 PM | Updated as of May 11 2023 06:41 PM

Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News
IT expert Antonio Carlos Lopez works for his remote job while managing his cafe and restaurant and his friends' resort in Boracay. Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

MALAY, AKLAN — Instead of rushing to work amid the noise of morning traffic and donning a suit and tie as many professional millennials do, fintech startup operator Antonio Carlos Lopez wakes up to the sound of waves on the beach and wears dri-fit clothes as his everyday uniform. 

Lopez had always loved Boracay but it was a trip in February 2022 that changed his life forever. That was when he decided he wanted to stay and build a life in the island paradise.

Boracay shut down for tourists during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic which resulted in the mass closure of businesses. For Lopez and his friends, it was an opportunity to build from scratch.

"Nung nagbukas na to gusto ko na pumunta dito sa Boracay so naisip ko walang tao. Ever since talaga, ito talaga ang happy place ko," Lopez told ABS-CBN News.

(When Boracay reopened, I wanted to go back. I thought there would not be a lot of people. Ever since this has been my happy place)

He just wanted to stay in some place quiet, but when he got there, he thought about staying for good. 

"Hindi na ako umuwi, nagpadala na ako ng gamit ko," Lopez said.

(I didn't go back, I arrange for my things to be sent here.)

Lopez is a Computer Science graduate, who runs a fintech startup. It is a business that he can run remotely on the island. 

Aside from this, the 40-year-old entrepreneur is also a partner and co-founder of the Love Shack Bistro and Cafe inside the Everrich Resort in Sitio Angol, which his friend owns. It's near Station 3 and just a few steps away from the beachfront. 

The cafe opened in September 2022, he said.

Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News
Lopez' friend owns the Everrich Hotel where his cafe and restaurant are located. Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Although far from the bustling center of the popular tourist spot, Lopez's business is nestled in its own lovely spot and is frequented by many European and Korean tourists, as well as scuba divers. 

On a typical working day, Lopez would be wearing his usual beach outfit and working in the bar. On breaks, he would walk to the white sand beaches to relieve stress, he said.

He and his friends set up the restaurant so that the guests inside the resort would no longer need to venture out to eat.

"Based yung menu namin sa kung ano gusto ng Koreans so doon muna nag start," he said. 

(Our menu was based on what Koreans want, that's where it started)

He said their priority then were the Korean tourists, but he was surprised that even Filipinos liked their offerings. 

"Marami rin pa lang BTS fans na Pinoy," he added.

(There were also a lot of Filipino BTS fans)

Among their bestsellers is "Army Coffee", which is dedicated to BTS fans. They also have Ube Latte and Mango Latte. 

Lopez said he is happy with his decision to move to Boracay.

"Sa Manila mauubos na oras mo sa byahe. Dito gigising lang ako ng maaga para lang mag-bike, para mag-workout. Dito in between meeting nagdagat ako, pag nastress ako, takbo ako sa dagat, lublob tapos workout," he said.

(In Manila, you waste time commuting. Here, I wake up early to bike, to workout. In between meetings, I can swim on the beach, if I'm stressed I run to the beach, swim, workout)

"Sobrang laki tulong na may friends ako dito, nakakapag frisbee ako, kite surf, swim, work, tambay, watch the sunset, sobrang work-life-balance talaga, best decision ever na lumipat ako dito," he added.

(It's a big help that I have friends here. I can play frisbee, kite surf, swim, work, chill, watch the sunset, it's work-life balance. Best decision ever that I've moved here)

When asked if there was anything he misses in the metro, Lopez said "none."

"Dito ko na talaga gustong tumanda...Masaya na ako talaga sa simple at tahimik na buhay dito," he said.

(I want to grow old here. I am happy with a simple and quiet life here)

Lopez said businesses on the island are thriving and are likely to grow more as more tourists visit. He said they're opening another coffee and pizza club soon.

When asked if he is still single, Lopez said he needs to find a partner who is willing to embrace the island life.

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Carlos Lopez and the Love Shack Bistro and Cafe inside the Everrich Hotel in Boracay. Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Carlos Lopez and the Love Shack Bistro and Cafe inside the Everrich Hotel in Boracay. Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Carlos Lopez and the Love Shack Bistro and Cafe inside the Everrich Hotel in Boracay. Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Carlos Lopez and the Love Shack Bistro and Cafe inside the Everrich Hotel in Boracay. Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

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