Dionisio J. Salme
Back in the 1970s, BFI President Dionisio J. Salme or Nong Diony as he is fondly called by friends and community members was working on what he thought would just be a temporary assignment for the Elizalde Group of Companies, managing several of its properties in Boracay Island.
Diony was born and raised in Pontevedra, Negros Occidental. He pursued his studies at the University of the East where he took up Business Administration. He recalls working for the research department and as a working student; life was indeed tough back then. By circumstance, he found himself in what he describes as an empty paradise.
Boracay was a virgin island; it was a paradise waiting to be discovered. A few years after his assignment, his girlfriend Dionisia, now his wife, moved to Boracay where they started their humble business. There were only a few European backpackers back then and most of them would look for refreshing drinks, which were not offered in the island as ice and some of the fruits were quite rare. Diony had to spend an entire day to travel to Kalibo to purchase their ingredients for their modest fruit shake stand.
Fortuitously, an Austrian backpacker gave him the idea to sell shakes to meet the increasing demand of the tourists. The same Austrian sold his battery-powered blender to Diony, and that was the beginning of everything. Tourists were soon lining up for their famous banana, papaya, mango and pineapple shakes. They also started to sell Mexican food on tables and umbrellas set up along the beach.
By 1979, Diony and his friend put up two huts made of coconut and nipa, which they rented out to tourists. A few years after, he was able to acquire the land, where the present resort now stands. In the late 90s, Diony was able to secure a loan which he used to improve his resort and to build more structures. Remarkably, he was able to repay his loan three years earlier than what was indicated in the terms of payment.
Nowadays, his children are more involved in the family business with his only daughter, Ging, taking care of marketing and reservations, his eldest Frederick being in charge of maintenance, and the youngest Junjun as the head food developer of his renowned restaurant, dubbed as Maya’s Filipino and Mexican cuisine.
This humble man never dreamt of owning a resort in this island paradise. In retrospect, he was simply happy and satisfied just owning a car. Three children and nine grandchildren later, Jony’s Beach Resort (a misspelled version of his name) proudly stands amongst the numerous hotels in the booming tourism industry of the island. What once were two simple nipa huts and a simple fruit shake stand, is now a famed family-run hotel with 21 rooms. The famous shakes are still available with 40 different flavors, selling 200 bottles of shakes a day. In a few months, the second branch of Jony’s Beach Resort is also set to open its doors to more tourists.
Diony is all thanks and praise for all the blessings he has been given; in return, he shares his time and blessings by actively serving the community. Looking back, what he thought was just a temporary assignment, turned into a simple island life filled with success and happiness. A lot has changed in the island paradise of Boracay, but Diony remains the same. He remains to be that same humble, generous, and dignified island servant, well-loved by the Boracay community.