The women behind SPA Riviera

By: Anja Yap Rivera

October 24, my second day in manila, I woke up with a peaceful ambiance and my friend was serving me breakfast. I looked out the window appreciating the city skyline and thought to myself that it would be a peaceful day. But suddenly, one of our staff from the spa called me and said that my mom was being rushed to the hospital. I wasn’t worried because she said she only had a headache. But I felt something was off. A few moments later, I received another message from my staff informing me that my mom had bleeding in her brain from an inborn aneurism.  I suddenly felt like I was carrying this huge weight on my shoulders that I couldn’t lift. I was 95% sure that my mom was going to die. My uncle then texted me that we needed a large amount so that my mom could proceed with the operation. The doctors said that she is in a critical stage and she needs this surgery ASAP and the specialist needs to fly to Iloilo the next day. There are only 4 doctors in the Philippines who can do this type of operation; I was told that the director of The Medical City asked him for a favor to come ASAP and save my mom. I was thankful but a bit worried because I know our funds were tied up with our newest branch, Spa Riviera Prime in SM and a construction project. I wondered where I was going to get the money. My family managed to help me with some amount but it wasn’t enough. We proceeded with the surgery anyway, not knowing where I would get the rest of the amount required. The next day was our flight back to Iloilo and that was also the day my mom was scheduled to have the operation. Unfortunately that day we also missed our flight. My mom had her surgery at 6:30 pm and they said it would take approximately 2 to 3 hours so I waited until 8:30 pm hoping that her surgery was successful. Deep down inside me someone was telling me that she was going to be ok. 8:30 pm came and I felt relief as she came out of the operating room 100% okay, later I found out that 90% of people who undergo this surgery die, 9% wake up with a paralysis or in a coma, and only 1% survive. My mom was neither paralyzed nor in a coma, she was 100% okay.

The next day we flew to Iloilo and I rushed to the hospital. I went inside the ICU calm and at peace, when I faced my mom I controlled my tears I wanted to show my mom I was strong for her. My mom was confined in the hospital for 1 week and within that period I was taking care of her while looking for funds and making sure our businesses were intact. I was also overseeing the construction of our branch in SM but I was unable to consult my mom about anything because the doctor said she could not be stressed out for the next 10 days since she is still in a critical stage, I have no idea how I was able to handle everything but I know God’s strength was within me making sure I would not collapse.

When it was time for my mom to be sent home, we needed to pay for the hospital bill in full so she can go out, at that time my mom was so excited to go home and see her dogs, she didn’t like the hospital very much. But I asked myself, “How can we go home?” I still did not have the funds to pay for our bill, so I went out of my mom’s hospital room and sat down and prayed. I called my mom’s sister-in-law to ask a favor from the hospital director since they were cousins. She managed to persuade him to allow us to leave post-dated checks and I negotiated with their accountant but they only gave us a maximum of 3-15 days to settle everything. I knew deep inside that we couldn’t pay for everything but I agreed just so my mom could go home. When I called my accountant to come to the hospital with the checkbooks, she was crying because our money in the bank was not enough. I remember my accountant gasping for air as she arrived at the hospital because she was so worried. Our other staff members who were present at the hospital were worried as well. I don’t know why but amidst all the chaos that time, I was at peace knowing that God was in control. I managed to settle the bill, I went upstairs to my mom’s room and I said, “Let’s go home.”

After a week of confinement, my mom was finally home. But for 2 weeks I had to take care of her because she was in pain almost every night. Most days I was alone taking care of her and at the same time, I had to make sure our branch in SM would be completed on schedule. It was hard for me because I had no idea what her vision was for this spa and I couldn’t ask her questions because she couldn’t be stressed out. One day I remember I fell on the floor when my mom was calling me to assist her I hit my head on the floor and my lip was bleeding. I had to pretend I was okay in front of her but my face was already swollen. I was so tired during those days because I had to work the whole day, running errands for the business, making sure checks were paid, looking for funds for the hospital and at the same time take care of her, this led me to sleepless nights.

3 days after the first postdated check was due, I had to go back to the hospital to negotiate the other checks. The accountant said I had to talk to the director again with my request. I went up to his clinic and begged if we can pay it in installments. I was relieved when he agreed. Days passed by and mom got better. Things got better. The spa in SM is standing. I can finally breathe. Looking at everything, I don’t know how I managed to do it but God’s word came to life after all that had happened. He said “Nothing is impossible with me” and that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. Adding, “Your trials are never bigger than your blessings. Whatever you are going through is an indication of the blessing that’s coming to you”. To whoever is reading this, I hope you find strength in my story and had found hope.

SPA Riviera goes PRIME: We had our grand opening in SM City Iloilo on Dec 7, 2019. The program started with a free massage for all the guests, followed by a native performance dance, a testimonial message from Babes Rivera, ending with cocktails and conversations.

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