We call her Tita Annabel. She’s in her early 50s, and on normal schooldays, you will find her rolling down the window of her gray Land Rover to greet the campus guards on duty as she catches her afternoon classes at STI.
No, she’s neither a professor nor an admin of the college. She’s a Hospitality Management irregular sophomore.
I first met her when she enrolled my Communication Arts class back in 2014. It was my first year in the college, and literally young as I was just in my early 20s, I would normally hang out with my college students after school and binge on San Mig Light and stories. She would always be the host of our Friday nights out, and she got a lot of stories to tell us — her children.
She didn’t enroll anymore after that semester. Later I found that she was prevented by some serious business and family struggles which she needed to prioritize over her studies.
Pandemic came, and as I was manning the college enrollment early last year, she approached me unexpectedly and inquired about the online classes. Of course, I still remembered her as she never changed, still classy and dignified.
She re-enrolled that school year opening and availed the full distance learning program. She was really that determined to get the degree, or at least 72 units so she could take the exam for real estate sales agents.
We live in the neighboring villages (technically both called Karangalan Village, only Cainta and Pasig sides), and whenever she would need some technical help with her online classes, I would be at the rescue. Well, I have always been at the rescue of my students.
We have developed a friendship over time. During the many nights of serious exchange of what life has offered and still to offer, she generously shared many of her precious money and business lessons she has learned over the course of being a professional entertainer in Japan, real-estate businesswoman, mother, and grandmother.
 God always provides. He knows your needs. You’ve got to trust Him. She told me that during her worst moments, whenever she feels really down, she visits any church and pray. She’s a catholic, and although not a devout, she finds refuge in the hands of her God.
She gains strength and mental peace whenever she makes such visits. It may be something really spiritual, but she only said, “we all need such something and somebody to lean on, a force we need when things get wrong, and we feel we can no longer handle situations as we are just fragile and imperfect beings.”
During the pandemic when the operations of her construction company were not spared by the restrictions, she had to run tight on her finances, but she was still able to pay off her business loans, something she could attribute to God’s grace.
 Don’t be selfish. Share your blessings. That’s part of the natural flow of wealth. She is indeed generous. For her, wealth does not need a hand with a strong grip; it needs a hand that knows how to take control and share to others in need.
She believes, just like most of us, that we can gain money as much as we want in due diligence. “When we share blessings, we respect the natural flow of wealth. As such, we become even more blessed,” she explained.
 You don’t know how to do it. You don’t have the skills. You don’t have time for it. You better outsource. She does not have any degree in engineering nor in architecture. She does not have a degree in business. Everything comes from experience, and a strong determination to get things accomplished.
Whenever she’s out of the country, she hires an engineer to supervise her company’s construction projects. It’s business as usual despite her absence. She cannot teacher her daughter math, so she hires a tutor.
She adds that everyone has their own skills sets, and if we don’t have one needed for a particular task, better outsource before making things complicated and exhaust unreasonable resources by doing on our own.
 It’s in your 40s that you start to realize the true value of money. She says she once lived a one-day-millionaire life. That was when she would come back to the Philippines after each six-month contract being an entertainer in Japan. She would throw a party and invite friends almost every day, but it’s her husband who would remind her about the lifestyle.
When she turned 40s and still making a daily grind for her family, she started to realize how to value money. Apart from her thriving business, she got serious with her acquisition of properties, mostly not for herself but for her children.
 You may always demand better service, and make generous tips. She has worked for such a long time in the entertainment industry for the Japanese, people we know have remarkable discipline and high service standards. She shares a lot about the Japanese people and their culture.
In restaurants she dines in, it’s okay to call the attention of the attendants whenever something is not right, or you have a suggestion to make. She considers it an obligation as a customer.
She stresses, however, not to forget giving compliments as well for a satisfactory service. These compliments better come with generous tips. And you might want to ask if there is a tip sharing. That helps you decide about how much you should give.
 You want it. Then, set it as a goal, and work for it. Before she became an entertainer and successful businesswoman, she also worked many jobs. These were the small pieces of goals that she seriously worked out.
When the big door for her to work abroad finally opened, she grabbed the opportunity and took her application and trainings seriously, as in seriously.
She already got the talents in entertainment — singing and dancing — but she knew she equally needed her Japanese language and culture classes. So, she had an equal dedication to learning them all.
 If you have a business, you need a hands-on approach to managing it. Her line of business is construction, a field dominated by men, but she has developed the necessary skills to manage it and keep it thriving. She drafts the initial plans by herself during consultations with clients, and completes them via outsourced architectural and engineering services.
On construction days of concrete foundation for the ongoing projects, she normally skips her classes and ensures that concrete mix and other materials are at par with the standards and engineering plans. She needs a close supervision for she cannot afford to have the sub-standards.
 You can always have it as pure business, but friendship built in it makes a big difference. She considers her clients as friends. On the bigger side, there goes business, but on the other side, she keeps a lasting friendship through connection and communication even after the completion of the projects. She takes it seriously. She invests in it.
Her years of experience in the construction industry have brought her concrete definitions, not just of quality service, but also of trust. She would share about her long-term clients whom she believes have long been indebted to her for generous loans and trust she once willingly gave out.
 You cannot afford having the worst headache. Make every aspect of your business legal and ethical. She knows really well the legalities of her business operations, from permits to contracts and employees salaries. She gets hands-on approach to all of these. On weekends, she will tell you that she’s a bit busy managing the week’s payroll of his employees, or in December, the 13th month pay.
She also shares about her experience winning a bid for a government project which she told herself would be the first and last because of too much bureaucracy and red tapes. She rather focuses on contracts with private individuals, even on smaller scale construction projects.
More than the fancy car she drives or the high-end restaurants she dines in, Tita Annabel’s real success reflects on her always-positive aura and generous stories of struggles and life lessons that every young soul will surely love listening to. “Blessed more are the humble and the generous,” she would normally say.