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Having fun after retirement

By: Marge C. Enriquez, April 20th, 2013 07:07 PM

ARTHUR “Chito” Bautista with son Jed, COO of Savoy watches. Photo by Nelson Matawaran

The New York Times calls it “my second act” or “my what’s next.” People who work after retirement simply see it as a new stage in their lives.

When Arthur “Chito” Bautista  retired as senior officer (the equivalent of  vice president)  of the Preferred Banking at Bank of the Philippine Islands, he  immersed himself in his other calling—entrepreneurship.  He juggles his time at his restaurants, Kuya’s at The Fort/Jed & Julian’s, and his import/export firm, Timebound Trading. As if these weren’t enough, he was  appointed director at the United Coconut Planter’s Bank.

“You can multitask after retirement. It’s a matter of following your passions,” says Bautista.

Growing up in a family of foodies, he was known for sharp taste buds and for his knack of enhancing flavors in recipes. His mother, Magdalena, set up a restaurant in Sta. Mesa Market.  He also looked up to his older brother, the late Reynaldo Bautista, who was a prominent personality in the social scene. The older Bautista founded famous restaurant such as Tito Rey,  Ang Hang and partnered with the late Larry Cruz in Bistro Remedios.

From 1986 to 1996, the younger Bautista worked in Los Angeles at the JMC Mortgage Company and managed the Tito Rey branch near Beverly Hills. Food critics gave Tito Rey higher ratings than Asian-inspired celebrity chef-driven restaurants. It was also featured in magazines and local television shows.

After a decade in L.A., Bautista was given an offer to  establish a mortgage service industry in the Philippines. He was subsequently pirated to work for Citytrust as the head of the mortgage department.  With the merger of BPI, he was tasked to head the Preferred Banking Department.

Meanwhile, he continued to pursue his enthusiasm for restaurants. He set up   a coffee shop which was named after his sons. Jed & Julian’s specialized in quality comfort foods and Spanish cuisine. It operated successfully in Malate for seven years.

Both the banking and restaurant jobs had a common denominator. They were customer-oriented.  At BPI, he introduced the preferred banking lane.  At the restaurant, he produced new recipes that lured diners back. The joy of seeing clients satisfied with the product and service was immeasurable, says Bautista.

As he was approaching retirement in 2010, Bautista set up Kuya’s at the Fort/Jed & Julian along Bayani Road in Bonifacio Global City. They are famous for the crispy binagoongan, crispy pata al ajillo, paella and Fatburgers. On Saturdays, the restaurants introduce new dishes and play retro music.

He then opened Bote Bar as an homage to his late brother and father, Tomas. “The Bautistas were called bote (bottle),” he says. The bar invites customers to bring bottles which it could sell. The proceeds of which will go to culinary scholarships.

“You can help the country by opening businesses and creating jobs. I put up the restaurant so I could help enhance professional and personal skills,” says Bautista.

Yet, he still believes that one should maintain his core competence even after retirement. There’s still a lot to learn.  As a UCPB board member involved in the audit and risk management committees, Bautista has been doing a lot of reading.

“I approve loans so you learn more about moribund industries,” he says.

Although Bautista keeps a full schedule, retirement affords him more time to travel and discover new possibilities.

“I’m very creative. I develop products for what customers need like recipes for new burgers and pizzas. I travel around the world to do my research,” he says.

While on a cruise in the Mediterranean, Bautista was attracted to a display of cutting-edge but fashionable Swiss watches called Savoy. The designs were unique and the leather straps had changeable inserts.

By coincidence, he met the owner of the brand Pascal Savoy who was planning to expand his brand in Asia. Bautista expressed his interest in becoming an exclusive distributor in the Philippines. After the trip, Bautista and his son Jed flew to Switzerland to visit the Savoy head office in Wallbach and the factory in Mendrisio and attend the Geneva Time exhibition.

Likewise, Savoy came to check out the watch stores in Manila. He knew that the Savoy brand would have its niche.  The Savoy store will open at the New World Hotel in May. Bautista explains that for a sophisticated watch, the price range is affordable at P60,000 to P100,000, especially to the aspirational market.

He recalls that while working in BPI,  he learned that in market segmentation, there was a bigger population in the B and C markets.  “The B market has equity buildup. They need to buy a home and car. They save and invest to acquire more equity. The C market or the mass affluent is composed of professionals, the self-employed and the professional OFWs. These are aspirational markets. Both markets tend to upgrade the possessions.”

Asked the risk of going into lifestyle retail, Bautista replies, “It’s timely. The Philippines hit the investment grade. It’s an opportunity to set up a business.”

When his wife, Carmen, a travel executive, retires, she’ll be joining him in his ventures.

The New York Times cites a research as saying that people who take on jobs after retirement, show better health.  “Among those who kept working, the retirees who found work related to their previous careers had the best mental health.”

Bautista adds, “Laughter and learning new things are my secret to being young at heart.”

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