At the heart of Huma
(The Philippine Star) - August 15, 2015 - 10:00am

In the clear, blue waters of Busuanga in Palawan lies a haven called Huma Island Resort and Spa. A semblance of paradise is mimicked in Huma’s 81 contemporary, well-appointed over-water and beach villas. At the resort, blue skies stand witness to the revelry of the palm trees that dance to the tropical breeze. Bliss is found in its every nook and cranny.

Behind Huma is a humane heart — a heart that has known what gratitude is all about.

The first time Dr. Hamad Ibrahim E A O Al Tuwaijri, a Kuwaiti businessman, saw the island, he fell in love with it. A construction mogul, he envisioned an exotic, exciting paradise rising from this 12-hectare haven.

The first time he set foot on this island in Busuanga (once called Dicilingan) one summer day of 2007, a warm feeling of excitement and joy enveloped him. His joy brought him back to the joys of seeing his young boy Ibrahim, nicknamed Huma by his twin sister Noura when they were only two. Huma, his son, is joyful, naïve, full of potential and promise. And being at Huma, the resort, is like being “home away from home” for him because “I feel relaxed and safe here.”

It was love at first sight, so to speak, for Dr. Hamad and the island. He had travelled the world via his own jet, for Dr. Hamad is also into aviation industry, but he told himself upon his arrival at Dicilingan: “This is paradise. I have never seen a place like this. It has its own soul, its own heart.”

Drawn to the island’s serenity, simplicity and mystique, he picked up a wooden stick that lay astray on the beach. He immediately drew his floor plans using that stick and the white sand as his paper. A visionary, he knew exactly where to situate the pool, the reception area, the Lebanese restaurant, among other features of the resort. He drew the villas and continued to draw his dreams for the island. Everything came true.

“But Huma is also a story of great friendship — between a Kuwaiti and a Filipino,” said Sheila Macadangdang, the beautiful Filipina who is the vice president for administration of Dr. Hamad’s International Trade Holding Company in Kuwait. Engineer Rodolfo “Rudy” Maghirang arrived in Kuwait in the late ‘70s and became one of the trusted engineers of the huge cement factory owned by Dr. Hamad’s family. Rudy, who originally came from Quezon province before settling down in San Pedro, Laguna, was to become factory supervisor when Dr. Hamad took over the business. Because Rudy had an encompassing knowledge about the cement factory’s operation and construction, Dr. Hamad “relied” on his expertise. The Filipino engineer was given utmost trust by his Kuwaiti employer. Soon, their tandem had become formidable and the two became the best of friends. In every construction site that Dr. Hamad would go to around the world, Rudy would always be there. (Dr. Hamad, who once served in the Kuwaiti Parliament, also owns five-star hotels in Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman and the Maldives. He has also diversified into luxury fashion and gelato businesses around the world.)    

“Rudy was very good. He helped me a lot,” said Dr. Hamad. “In fact, it was Rudy who broached the idea to me to invest in the Philippines.”

In July 2008 while celebrating the transfer of the land title of Dicilingan to Dr. Hamad’s holding company, Rudy suffered a fatal heart attack. Dr. Hamad felt the blow — he lost “a trusted engineer, a best friend of about 30 years, a brother.”

But his grateful heart did not forget to honor Rudy at Huma Island Resort and Spa. The finishing touches in the planning of the resort came when Dr. Hamad decided to add an outlet at the resort called “Rudy’s Bar,” which is a small air-conditioned bar floored by white sand and walled by bamboo poles. This bar maybe small in size but it surely is big in spirit, for in it lie the unseen symbols of friendship between Rudy and Dr. Hamad.

To this day, he has never forgotten to get in touch with Rudy’s family in the Philippines. Truth is, ever since he first fell in love with Huma, he has never forgotten to extend a helping hand to many Filipinos. For instance, Dr. Hamad, a Muslim, does not think twice to help build churches and other places of worship for people of different faith in Palawan and other neighboring provinces. “People need faith to go on with their lives,” he said. He also helps in sending many children to school. “Education is important to survive,” said Dr. Hamad who took his doctorate in Political Science at Glasgow University in Scotland after he finished his Associate in Science at Humphreys College in California and an Economics degree at San Jose State University in California.

Sheila added, “Dr. Hamad and his wife Louisa sponsor a charity organization in Dumaguete that helps educate less fortunate children. The couple makes sure to visit them yearly to ensure that they don’t only get financial support but also they receive love and moral support.”

“I would have not achieved many things in my life if I did not have Louisa, my wife. She is open-minded, she is behind me, she supports me,” he said.

Their four children — twins Noura and Ibrahim (20), Rakan (18) and Houda (13) — are also exposed to the business and humanitarian engagements of their parents. Noura is taking up Architecture at the Regent University in London while twin brother Huma is majoring in Business Entrepreneurship at Westminster University also in London. Rakan is granted by the Kuwaiti government a full scholarship to take up Economics and Law in Nice University in France. Houda is in her 7th grade at the American School of Kuwait. “We treat our children like our friends. But we do not spoil them.”

When Yolanda wrought havoc in the Philippines and also affected Palawan, Huma, which had just soft opened around that time, was badly damaged. Reconstruction in the resort began as soon as Dr. Hamad had made sure that his Palaweño staff had been extended the necessary help.

His first instruction to his staff in Manila was to bring out all the sacks of rice and food in the kitchen of Huma resort for the residents of Busuanga. When he realized that the provision was not enough, he had more supplies sent to Busuanga and other affected areas as well.

What Dr. Hamad’s wealth has taught him is to be more generous to others. “I’m grateful for what I have. I’m grateful that I am able to help,” he said.

Indeed, Dr. Hamad is at the heart of Huma. He comes to his resort often because it brings him “joy, peace and serenity.” He roams around Huma with a stick at hand, the same stick that he used when he drew on the sand the first floor plans of this sliver of paradise.

At Huma, Dr. Hamad is home.

 

 

(For more information on Huma, call 553-0119 or visit www.humaisland.com.)

(E-mail the author at bumbaki@yahoo.com. I’m also on Instagram @bumtenorio. Have a blessed Sunday.)

ACIRC BUSUANGA COM DR. HAMAD HAMAD HUMA KUWAITI PALAWAN QUOT RESORT RUDY
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