Quest for a better Cebu

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Fiona Jade Lim merges commerce with advocacy

Fiona Jade Lim divides her week into three. Some days are spent running her spa business, some as a financial advisor, and the rest she devotes as a crusader for a better Cebu. All these pursuits seem different, yet at the root lies her passion to help individuals become the best that they can be in various ways, whether in physical wellness, financial know-how, or, the closest to her heart, developing each person’s ability to contribute to a better community.

As a community crusader, she pursues activities of the local organization she co-founded in 2012, Youth for Livable Cebu. Together with students and fellow young professionals, Fiona dreams of a better community through cultural preservation, good governance, urban revitalization, socially responsible businesses, and personal and community well-being.

A livable community, Fiona believes, is where residents stand up for what they believe in because it is only then that remarkable changes and improvements will be realized.

She introduced and spearheaded YLC’s vertical farming project, which was driven by her passion to bring back nature into the urban jungle. Then today, in partnership with Mission Cebu, they are co-creating a new community outreach project coined as Percy.

“It’s short for Pedagogical Emergency Response for Children and the Youth,” she said.

A neighborhood group for trauma, Percy seeks to attend to communities that have been affected by calamities or abuse, complementing the material assistance that other organizations already do.

“(We believe) trauma is a wound of the soul. It’s something deeper,” Fiona said.

“Right now we want to bring in more people who have studied psychology and social workers. We’re holding workshops and we ourselves, as partners, need to study this as well.”

Zeal for movement

Fiona’s zeal for community work was ignited during her stay in Silliman University.

Following 16 years of a sheltered upbringing in Cebu, she was exposed to certain realities in the university and was taught that there are things she can do in small ways to help, with whatever resources available. Among the organizations she joined was Greenpeace Southeast Asia where she served as youth campaigner for two years.

“We opened the group in Dumaguete,” she said. Focusing on climate change at that time, they launched a movement that aimed to educate people about responsible energy use.

Fiona said, “It was called “Simple Lang” and we advised people of the easy ways of curbing climate change like simply unpluging whatever they don’t need to use. We talked to youth groups and we also supported the renewable energy bill, which was eventually passed.”

Fiona said that starting anew in a different city for college was refreshing. “I felt like a new canvas. Nobody knew me or my family’s business, and my classmates communicated to me the way I was at that time,” she said.

A fusion of ideas

She studied entrepreneurship in college, and at present one of her jobs includes an advisory post for an international finance and insurance firm. “I teach people to set aside money for something they really want to do. If they don’t know how to handle finances, they will forever be in the rat race,” Fiona said. “I want to break that cycle.”

Fiona also helps out with her dad in managing their family-owned chain of spas in the country. Reconciling business and social conscience, often mistakenly perceived as two opposing aspects, she took inspiration from Anita Roddick of The Body Shop, and said, “Her idea was to combine business with principle, to funnel our advocacy through our business.”

This month, Fiona said they are starting the renovation of some of their branches from being spas into therapeutic and holistic wellness centers, and putting in environmentally sustainable aspects such as vertical gardens, as one of her ways in living out her beliefs. Fiona said, “As young entrepreneurs, we should be part of the solution.”

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