BLUEWATER Maribago Beach Resort, which started out as beach house, marks its 30th anniversary this July 21. It was also, once, the playground of Domiku Ugarte. From a tiny tot frolicking its shores to slowly being immersed in the hospitality industry, he has grown with the resort and is now its general manager.
It seemed like it was just yesterday when he was learning the ropes from his mentors like his aunt Julie Alegrado-Vergara, president of the Bluewater Resorts Group; and former general manager Rhyz O. Buac, who is currently vice president of finance and operations overseeing all Bluewater properties (Maribago, Sumilon and Panglao) as well as Almont properties found in Butuan and Surigao. Now, Domiku is the one in charge—and he is pumped.
“I’m energetic, happy and curious about everything,” he shared as he recalled shadowing Buac the whole time after college. He described his mentor as a “numbers guy.”
“He’s the finance guru. I graduated with a finance degree (he took up finance and wealth management at Enderun Colleges) but whatever he’s teaching me about finance is way better than the books,” he said. Domiku is a pretty laid-back guy but it also helped that his mentor was just as easygoing. “I think I got that vibe from him too. He doesn’t get mad, also.” When asked how—given the demand of the job, Domiku said about Buac: “He is a runner. He got me into running.”
Domiku is a triathlete and has joined the city’s Ironman Triathlon for the past five years, determined to break his personal record and see progress each year. He’s not only in it just to finish but also to perform well. More than the challenge—based on the three disciplines: cycling, swimming and running—it teaches one to be organized. This helps him in his position, given the tasks that come with the job from administration work, analytics—there’s a lot of information overload—and spending quality time with family as he and his wife Evangeline Hayco Ugarte (whom he calls a supermom) recently had a baby named Xanti who’s now five months old. All in all, it’s been an exciting couple of months.
He’s thankful for his team who have been with the business longer than he’s assumed the role. Though a bond has been forged since he was younger having known most of the staff for a long time, he maintains that balance of friend and boss. He remembers the advice of his grandfather Arcadio Alegrado: You have to be stern yet fair.
“They see me as a friend but if I want something done, they’ll do it to the best of their abilities. The key word for us is to empower them and even though they make mistakes, it’s a learning experience. I say, if you think you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room,” he said.
In the end, all he wants is for the staff to feel a love for the job and most of all, that sense of family which he got from his mother June Alegrado. He described her as selfless as he grew up watching her put her family above everything else—family comes first.
“Here, I hope they get the sense of happiness and loyalty. I think they actually do, so that’s a good thing,” he said. “I hope people come to work here happy and it translates. If the employees are happy then everyone will be happy. I just want everyone to be happy.” (S)