IT WAS in 2010 when 21-year-old Cybell Roa learned of her mother's untimely death and that she would be left with taking care of her two grade school sisters, Chinua and Consuelo, at such a young age.
“I was like, 'What am I gonna do with these kids?' Like, you know, they deserve the world, they deserve everything like how my mom raised me, how they gave me the world, they let me travel and all and they sent me away to study and I also want to give that kind of life to my sisters,” the now 30-year-old Cybell said.
With no father and the death of her mother, Cybell inherited her mother's business, a printing press established in Macasandig, Cagayan de Oro City called Tri-C Printing Press.
And ever since, without asking for help from anyone, even from her relatives, Cybell looked after her sisters all on her own.
“I know from my heart that I have my relatives who we could like asked help from and all, but I don't want to knock on their doors and, you know, bother them of asking money, or asking them to help me send my sisters to school. I mean, who wants to have that kind of life di ba like to keep asking from people and bothering people, things like that,” she said.
Now in 2018, Cybell Roa is a proud owner of a tea house named Tea O'clock Bubble Tea House, a business that was created from her love for tea.
Cybell is a graduate from International Culinary Arts Academy in Cebu in 2016 with a Bachelor's Degree in Culinary Arts.
Three months after graduating, she worked as a cook in the Whales, United Kingdom (UK) and United States for four years and in 2010, she came back in the Philippines.
It was the time spent in UK that started her love of tea.
And even though she took over the printing press, Cybell decided to open up her first-owned business, a tea house, in Cebu back in 2014.
“I first started in Cebu, way back 2014, and then after that kasi (since) I'm originally from Cagayan de Oro, so I moved back here and closed my shop there. And then waited for the perfect location here to put up my own tea shop,” Cybell said.
Asked why she decided to open a tea house rather than a restaurant, despite her experience as a cook, she said: “I found my passion here in the milktea shop industry and not in the kitchen.”
“Me personally, I love milk tea and I love tea itself. And then at first naka background ko sa (I had a background on) tea when I worked in UK as a chef and I noticed there that there they won't be complete without a cup of tea,” she added.
At present, Tea O'clock Bubble Tea House has a total of three branches in Cagayan de Oro: one in Divisoria, the main branch (established in 2017); in Tagoloan (January 2018) and beside Liceo de Cagayan University (July 2018).
“I really never expected that it would be this fast ang (the) expansion but then the opportunity is there and it’s so crystal clear that God has given the go signal to do it and He has given me the blessing and the right location and the right people so why not. Strike while the iron is still hot,” Cybell said.
She also said the tea shop business is important to her and her sisters as this was something that deepens the bond between them.
“Because we have very long gap, like we have 12 years age gap, sometimes I could not relate to them. This business is the only vital things that help us bond together because we love to be here like the day would dry if we are not able to come by the shop,” Cybell said.
“I feel very proud of the three of us, that we made it. We could have been anywhere, like, we could have been in the streets or we could have been living under the roof of our relatives or anywhere else, you know. But the Lord is so good, there's none a day that passed by that I can recall that I'm not thankful of his goodness, things like that,” she added.
The 30-year-old tea shop owner also mentioned that she was also planning to put up another branch outside of Cagayan de Oro by next month.