Entrepreneurial Athletes: How the pandemic shaped the business minds of PH athletes

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 26) – The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all athletes in the world who rely on their well-built bodies and gameface attitude to emerge victorious in their respective sporting disciplines, and to some extent in supporting their families financially.

Just like capitalizing their playing abilities inside the court to win a game, some Filipino athletes took advantage of the quarantine to unleash their hidden entrepreneurial skills which continuously help them cope and survive during these trying times.

Worrying over the unseen enemy

Basketball, the most beloved sport in the country, is one of those who got sidelined by the pandemic. Professional, amateur, and barangay leagues in the four corners of this basketball-crazy nation are nowhere to be seen in a time when the sport is usually busy during summer time.

The strict stay-at-home orders by the government left Philippine Basketball Association players like Blackwater Elite forward Carl Bryan Cruz worrying about what to do during the quarantine period.

“It was so boring. I am doing nothing in my house,” said Cruz.

Ronnie Matias, who now plays for the Manila Stars in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League, also faced the same dilemma.

“I always pray for this virus to be gone. But I thought that even if there’s no basketball, it doesn’t mean our lives will stop so we have to find means to survive in this pandemic,” said Matias.

Other athletes like volleyball stalwart Jayvee Sumagaysay echoed the same sentiments of the individual economic implications of the pandemic.

“Of course, longer period of staying at home means more expenses. But we have no income because we don’t have a tournament now,” said Sumagaysay, who plays for PLDT in the Spikers’ Turf.

Ana Nualla, who bagged three golds in the 30th Southeast Asian Games last year, raised the health concerns of the now over 100 days of quarantine which can take a toll in their athletic shape.

“We felt that this lockdown will get longer, so it means less physical activities and we need to watch out for our diet because now we are super prone to get bigger weight,” said the country’s female dancesport star.

Coming up with the right business concept

As most people are stuck in their homes to lessen their chances of catching the virus, Cruz realized the quarantine setting can be a useful time to start a business.

“Since the people are in quarantine, they have more time to clean and disinfect their houses. It is very timely that we have this business now,” the former Gilas Pilipinas member said.

Cruz and his girlfriend established CBC Enterprises, named after his initials, which sells cleaning and disinfectant tools like alcohol, dishwashing liquid, soap, pressure washers, knapsack sprayers, and disinfectant mats.

Bambam Gamalinda, the newest addition to the PBA’s winningest franchise San Miguel Beermen, said he took advantage of being a big fan of Sinugba on his new business. Sinugba are dishes cooked on a grill over charcoal.

Fellow PBA players like Arwind Santos, Marc Pingris, Junemar Fajardo, Rome Dela Rosa, and Jio Jalalon are some of those who patronized the former San Beda Red Lion’s BlackBAMbasGrill viands.

Matias decided to extend his bagoong business this quarantine for more income, adding the longganisa and tapa variants from Taal town in Batangas province.

Meanwhile, 2016 Rio Olympian Mary Joy Tabal made into business her love for baking.

“This lockdown gave me more time to bake, once a lost passion when I focused on my running career. I’m dreaming to own a coffee shop where I will sell my muffins and other desserts,” said Tabal on her Queen Mary’s Kitchen.

Prioritizing healthy living in a time of health crisis

Despite the many temptations brought by the pandemic in their health and nutrition, these athletes focused their small online enterprises in promoting a healthy lifestyle.

“Since we have been staying at home for a long time now, we thought everyone will be more focused on their health because of what is happening in our world now. As an athlete and beauty queen, we must maintain a good weight and a healthy body,” said Philippine women’s netball team captain Thea Cenarosa.

Cenarosa opened her Dear Emily enterprise, which sells healthy food ingredients and hygienic products. Some of the products for sale are chia seeds, pure honey, Himalayan salt, and hygienic kits.

While Nualla and her boyfriend and dancesport partner Sean Aranar introduced Healthy Appetite, offering different kinds of low-carb, sugar-free, and gluten-free foods every week.

“Our bestseller is the Cauliflower Fried Rice, which has very low net carbs than a normal rice. We also have Chicken Broccoli, Pesto Chicken Asparagus, Tuna Salad, Zucchini Taco Boat, Bacon-wrapped Green Beans, and sugar free sweet treats like Keto Cheese Cake Bites and Vegan Chocolate Ganache Tart,” said Nualla.

Business for a greater purpose

Former University of Santo Tomas middle blocker Sumagaysay said opening up a business in this time of uncertainty is both a blessing and an opportunity to help other people.

His Sherep business, concentrating on chicken wings and Silog meals, stemmed from his desire to assist his chef-brother. Sumagaysay’s brother is supposed to leave to work in other country, but the pandemic derailed his plans.

Little did he know that Sumagaysay’s business would also pave the way to honor pandemic frontliners. His friends initially bought meals from him, then he distribute those foods to the hardworking men and women of the pandemic.

Filipina marathon runner Tabal is also lending a hand to the frontliners in Cebu City.

Meanwhile, Gamalinda said employed his own workers from his gym to help him in the operations of his Sinugba meals business.

Values learned to be a better person

Being stuck at home never stopped these athletes in training to be a better person in life and make ends meet despite the uncertain times.

“I appreciated more the value of money, even the five-peso or one-peso value. Having a business made me more productive in this lockdown and I learned how to properly allocate my finances,” said Cruz.

“My motto in life is “something is better than nothing.” Same in sports, doing something everyday is better than doing nothing at all,” said Tabal, who is vying for another Olympic slot in Tokyo next year.

“Hardwork and perseverance are what you need to make your small business successful,” advised Matias.

“I learned to have this new skill of cooking, better time management, and how to handle exhaustive situations in the business,” Nualla shared.

“Even though times are tough now, we should think of new things that we don’t know we can excel in and enjoy doing it with your family,” Sumagaysay said.

“It was very helpful not to be anxious of what is happening to our world,” said the athlete and beauty queen Cenarosa.

“Keep on trying until we have the perfect results and it is also important to keep on praying that we can overcome this pandemic because the Lord is always on our side,” said Gamalinda.