The visionary behind Subo Boracay, Boyet is at the helm of what he envisions to be a new Boracay experience, a flagship for Filipino and Asian dining in the Philippines.
A low-profile businessman-turned-designer and creative collaborator, an entrepreneur with a passion for travel, an antiques collector and the champion behind the successful Happy Planet chain of boutiques (formerly a bespoke furniture and home accessory chain called Lonely Planet) Boyet Sacdalan is a master of reinvention and a simple and hardworking man who thrives on new challenges.
A longtime Boracay Island resident, he hailed from Manila and moved to the island in 1990. Back then, he asked himself the same question he did before the inception of Subo, “What can I offer Boracay that it doesn’t have yet that’s different, new and relevant?”
Previously a garments wholesaler with a factory in his parents’ hometown of Bulacan, he struggled for a year, living in a fifty peso per night nipa hut to keep his tee shirt business afloat until a big break came in 2,000 when he was offered a space at what was then the very first shopping mall on Boracay Island, D’Mall. Suddenly he had the opportunity to reinvent himself. Tired of doing the same thing, he was looking for something new that could make an impact on the island.
Back then it was all nipa huts and bamboo so he figured, “why not open a shop that would showcase Filipino craftsmanship and talent?” No stranger to business, the Marketing graduate from the Far Eastern University challenged himself “to put up something that I could offer the island that was different.” That challenge forced him out of his comfort zone and led him to explore his creative side, consulting with interior designers, and researching at furniture export shows such as the Department of Trade and Industry’s CITEM (Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions).
With the export-quality products ready to sell, he shifted from wholesale to retail and opened his very first Lonely Planet shop. Prior to opening however, in order to properly showcase these ingenious accessories that ranged from lamps and lampshades to vases and throw pillows, he traveled through each and every town up North to Baguio City, stopping to buy wood, old jars, antique Filipino furniture and anything of interest that would help dress-up the shop. He then worked tirelessly with his carpenters to up-cycle and refurbish each piece that served as a backdrop to showcase his products.
People wanted something different and Lonely Planet offered a totally new and sophisticated concept on the island. In no time, he had four very successful branches.
The trips around the country to collect furniture, windows, décor, and hard-to-find pieces, and the whole creative process of refurbishing and decorating became his life, as the demand not only for the products themselves but also for his furniture collections soared (customers didn’t just want the pillowcase but the entire bed, and not just the lamp but the entire showcase). In one swipe of a card, months of hard work vanished and it eventually became tedious. By 2006, he decided to go mainstream and the furniture accessory shop evolved into the fashion and retail boutique chain now called Happy Planet.
It was in 2014 when another opportunity arose to open something new, and he was once again faced with the question, “What can I offer Boracay that it doesn’t have yet that’s different, new and relevant?”
Initially at a loss and daunted by the space, he took his time to introspect. After much soul-searching, he knew that it was the right time and the right place to revive his collections in a totally new context, which was to showcase Filipino ingenuity through exciting new experiences. Inspired and motivated to do something extraordinary, he also wanted to be able to give back to the island.
“Subo was built because I wanted to bring something new that hasn’t been done on the island, and also to collaborate with people I believe in.” Finding the right partner, Chef Sunny was integral, and was as easy (and destined) as “Are you ready?” “Let’s do it!”
With a renewed passion, driven by a shared project with a unified vision, Boyet is indeed in his “Happy Planet” and back in his element as if he never left – doing and enjoying what he loves, but this time traveling as far as Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Ilocos, and even Thailand, looking for pieces, plates, even bulbs! The judicious collector does not merely amass, he takes the time to know every artisan he encounters, and with every piece of furniture, window, fixture, tile, stone and sculpture, there is a story waiting to be told.
A visual storyteller, Boyet not only shares tales of his travels and exploits through the Subo Boracay. The place unfolds with a historical perspective and scenes reminiscent of bygone eras, romanticized in a modern language for all to digest, with every gastronomic mouthful. Boyet went as far as bringing back a 1900’s heritage home “to showcase the heart of the place which is Chef Sunny’s kitchen.”
What a trip indeed!
Although Subo Boracay is his first venture as a restaurateur, for the impassioned innovator, it is with great pride and joy that he humbly welcomes all to the collaborative masterpiece, Subo Boracay.
As Boyet puts it, “It’s more than just a dining place, it’s a new experience.”