More Than Meets the Eye: Actor David Licauco on Keeping Things Natural

Lifestyle

David Licauco is a man on-the-move. Celebrating his 25th birthday amid the community quarantine, the model-turned-actor and now young entrepreneur behind a slew of business pursuits shares, in a Zoom interview, some honest realizations that led to the birth of his recently-launched online health-commerce portal, As Nature Intended Philippines (ANI).

He said, “From the get-go, it was really all about filling the gaps. I was brought up in a family that encouraged me to pursue things that I am really interested in. And among the things I am deeply passionate about is health and fitness, and so creating and building ANI and to venture into this as a new business endeavor came naturally to me. It’s a big ‘why not?’ moment for me that I am just so proud that my partner and I managed to pull off.”

Now, more than ever, in the face of the unprecedented health crisis, Licauco ascertains his stance on a holistic approach on wellness, anchored on his personal journey. Looking at him now, toned and fit with a disarming smile and charm that gets supporters on social media swooning in his every post, it is inspiring to see that the television and film actor has come a long way from a childhood struggling with his weight. It is his commitment to the game of basketball and his unrelenting knack for getting into a more active lifestyle that allowed him to transform into a health enthusiast prior to getting into show business.

Identifying pain points on maintaining a healthy lifestyle then and while faced by the restrictions of the community quarantine, the actor built the concept with high school friend Alec Chua.

Photo by Patrick Diokno for Rank Magazine, PUSH Issue, 2018

He opens up, “In essence, ANI is designed to be a one-stop-shop for all things healthy. We had this big ambition of debunking notions on health and what it means to live a healthy lifestyle and we want to reintroduce it as a simple and fuss-free concept, as it should be. It should not intimidate anyone, especially those who are just thinking about starting his or her own fitness journey, because I believe that is the biggest hurdle for anyone. That’s why we wanted to create a gateway for those people who are looking to find what they need to start and those who wish to sustain their health needs. It should be as simple and fun as looking as adding items to your cart for your next online purchase. Going healthy should be easy.”

ANI’s ecosystem of products hails from merchants whom Licauco handpicked and coordinated with himself, serving as the face and the voice of the brand. In heading the marketing efforts of ANI, his vision relied heavily on his observation on the evolving consumer habits, especially millennials like himself. Right now, the brand carries items from guilt-free food that caters to a wide array of diets, skincare products, nutraceuticals, sports supplements, workout/athletic gear, wine, and even baked goods.

Upon it’s digital launch last July 29, the brand has promoted same-day deliveries and contactless transactions straight from its Quezon City warehouse, in response to the continuing risks of the COVID-19 situation. As of this writing, ANI is developing its mobile app, along with improved features on its online store, including provincial shipping.

“We want to give focus to convenience and safety. That’s why we built and designed ANI for contactless delivery through our online page and the mobile app we are presently developing. Right now, our main headquarters and warehouse is situated in Quezon City, which is just minutes away from where I live,” the young entrepreneur expounds.

Far from his beginnings in the industry three years ago, Licauco has undoubtedly grown leaps and bounds in not just in improving and harnessing his love for acting but in his continuing education in shaping and maximizing his platform–a far cry from when he was still straddling back and forth with the idea of leaving show business to study abroad and taking over their family business.

In an interview with Rank in 2018, the then 23-year-old celebrity shares, “It is all about continuous learning for me. Dati, di ko iniisip na kaya ko. I am such an introvert that I sometimes become just a wallflower, but now, I see myself improving slowly but steadily. There’s nowhere to go but up from here. That keeps me excited.”

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More than his career in front of the camera, his business acumen and proclivity towards managing his own entrepreneurial endeavors has been put to the test the past few years. As of now, Licauco has already put up an impressive portfolio of businesses from three fastfood franchises, a logistics company, a GPS provider, a milk tea and a food stall, and a boxing and fitness gym in Taft.

In fact, in the same week of the launch of ANI, he has also broken ground to a mouth-watering culinary adventure, called Sóbra Comfort Filipino Food, which is a collaboration with known Chef Mike Victorioso.

Starting something in a time of crisis sounds like a tall order but Licauco believes that taking the risk will eventually and ultimately pay off. “I think now is the time to recalibrate and just see what works. Of course, the harsh conditions these days affected my gym but with these new ventures based largely online, I think now is a time to take that leap.”

Built and bred during the lockdown period, Licauco’s businesses, particularly ANO, stand in the face of trials as the economic repercussions of the pandemic continue to be felt around the globe. However, its the bigger picture that he foresees that pushed the GMA Artist Center talent to move forward.

When asked how he seeks to be of help to people in this time of need, the Because I Love You actor shared, “There is always that conscious effort to help because I understand that we are all having a hard at this time of need–with or without ANI. No one is spared by the pandemic–the degree of the struggles just differ from one another. That is something that I have learned during quarantine, that I cannot expect my reality to be the same as another person. All I can say now is that I am very fortunate to be in this position to start something. As we evolve to become a more sustainable brand, we would want to take on that responsibility to give assistance to those impacted by the crisis.”

Photo by Jan Mayo for Rank Magazine, PUSH Issue, 2018

For now, ANI stands tall in creating a platform that bridges the gap between individuals who are looking for their health and fitness needs, to small to medium-scale enterprises who are seeking to keep their business afloat in these challenging times.

“One thing that I have realized is that our main goal is not just to sell goods and services. We want to promote a concept—that being healthy is not as taxing and stressing as it sounds. It should be something that you enjoy and not feel overwhelmed by. And to do that, we need to build a community. And this starts from connecting consumers to providers and suppliers that they feel have the same vision as them. I think it starts from there. Ultimately, if we develop that perspective through even just one consumer, we know we did a good job.”

For more information on how to get your health and wellness needs delivered from the palm of your hands right to your doorsteps, visit asnatureintended.ph and follow their social media pages on Facebook and Instagram @asnatureintendedph.

Story updated on Aug. 5, 2020