Former UAAP swimming heartthrob Mike Advincula now working his magic in business
Barry Viloria on Feb 22, 2017 04:09 PM
Out go the trunks and in goes the polo, slacks, and dress shoes combo—the ex-DLSU Green Tankers captain and national water polo player keeps busy now as a legit yuppie. (Photos by Vyn Radovan)
The day was Valentine’s Day, and competitive swimmer and polo player Mike Advincula had an entire table to himself. He was inside no fancy restaurant to celebrate the occasion, but at a “co-working” studio or this fairly new concept that allows professionals without a physical office to stay and use the space for a price. Sprawled before him—his phone, his MacBook, a notebook parted with a pen, a calculator, and a cup of coffee aka another working day for the working athlete.
But Advincula wasn’t loveless either—trust us, the former UAAP heartthrob still looked damn good that he wouldn’t encounter any girl problems whatsoever anytime soon. In fact, he was looking to take his date out elsewhere that night.
“Oh boy, keeping fit has been so hard nowadays! Tumaba nga ako, eh!” the almost-28-year-old countered our compliments with a laugh, referring to how the recent holidays have spoiled him. “I think nasa 200 lbs. na ‘ko.”
It can be the time factor, though. Advincula, who captained the DLSU Green Tankers from 2009-2011, hasn’t engaged himself in daily training as intense as what the collegiate league had required him to undergo way back then. He didn’t look entirely out of shape in his crisp button-up, jeans, and boat shoes—in fact, the he still knows how to work his style. True, it’s been almost six years since he got by with just sporting a cap and a pair of trunks. But while the 6’1”-tall hunk still participates in competitive swimming and water polo tilts every now and then, he has now learned to clean up well for his new and exciting persona as an entrepreneur.
It wasn’t totally unexpected for Advincula to land in business after finishing his undergraduate and postgraduate studies. He graduated with Industrial Management Engineering, Minor in Service Management for college, later pursuing Entrepreneurship also at Taft. He has always been business-minded, that after we finished our interview, he went on to conceptualize an app that transcribes interviews and voice memos. (He thought of selling the idea to a developer only to learn that one already exists.)
Advincula is the co-founder and president of Tbe Office Project (TOP) on Bautista St. in Salcedo Village in Makati, where we did the interview. His friend and eventual partner Shumate Royo introduced Advincula to the idea of shared office spaces two years ago, and seeing the potential of creating one because of proliferating startups that need a cheaper but just as neat and secure space, the former swimmer “dove” into the idea and invested. Advincula’s main job as president is to make corporate decisions and create activities to draw sales to the company.
TOP takes in individuals and groups with hourly, daily, and monthly rental rates as cheap as P100/rate. It doesn’t just offer anyone coming in with a cool workspace comparable to a less noisy coffee shop—while there are electric plugs and a wifi connection plus a coffee shop adjacent to it, TOP also has lockers, a pantry, and meeting areas and little nooks for special events or activities. That time fit for Valentine’s, for example, an online flower shop rented out a corner at TOP for the entire day where they can sell their stuff.
Yet, heading TOP is jus one of the many things on Advincula’s plate right now.
“There are three things that I juggle nowadays. Apart from TOP, I also am a Registered Financial Consultant (RFC) with Manulife. Basically, I handle the finances of individuals and small businesses and provide them different forms of investments and insurances to help the achieve and protect their financial goals.”
Working in insurance sets Advincula out everyday, and this is why you can never spot him at one place for a long time.
And then, “I am also starting my own fitness school, which I’d call TOPFitness for now. The main difference between my school compared to others is that instead of the students going to a physical gym, I send the coaches to the student's residence or local gym.”
A Tanker’s #throwback
This image of Advincula looking all serious and white-collar may be something his fans back when he was a UAAP dreamboat would want to see now. He loved the admiration then, true, but in no conceited manner. Let’s just say he “felt good to be admired,” but other than that, he said, “I really don’t what to say.” In fact, getting him to talk about it would almost always crack him up.
“I was a real hit back then with the Ate’s and feeling Ate’s at Agno Food Court in La Salle,” he remembered with a laugh. “The craziest fan moment was when one of the ’feeling Ate’s’ wanted to have my trunks! Whenever I visit La Salle and I see her, the request still stands.”
Still, the discipline and the impressive skill to balance a lot of things he acquired as a student-athlete are still perfectly showcased now that he’s earning his own keep. Advincula felt his heaviest load on his fifth year at La Salle, as he also started working around that time. Finding his place in showbiz thanks to his heartthrob status, he recalled, “It was very special because I was not only studying but working for MYX as well. We won the championship that year and nothing is better than finishing your career on a high note.”
Advincula admitted missing his DLSU teammates and “all the hardships that we had to endure as a student-athlete. If I would be given a chance to train with them with one goal in mind I would take that chance in a heartbeat.”
As swimming events weren’t as stretched out as say basketball or volleyball, competing only had little dent on any athlete’s memory. At least that was for Advincula.
Asked about his best days in the UAAP, he said, “We go up the diving board, dive into the pool, sprint, and then that's it. At this point, I can't really differentiate one year from another. It's all one big blur. For me, it is not the race that's memorable, but the long training journey leading up to the race. Ask any DLSU Green Tanker and the answer will be the same. We remember the training, not the race. It is during training where true bonds are created within the team. We all pour our blood, sweat, and tears into the pool and as they say, people create true bonds wherein they endure hardships together.”
Advincula especially relished the memories of not his winning years 2009 or 2011 but 2010, his second year as captain.
“I already knew then what it took to be a leader, which was to lead by example. It really stuck with me because the swimming team was closer than ever and we all gave our best come UAAP race day. Though we got fourth place that year, the team was really strong in terms of character. And, for me, character outweighs any UAAP medal, record, or trophy.”
The athlete in him
Advincula headed the DLSU swimming team to a championship in 2009 and 2011, the last one he conquered on his last playing year. He didn’t leave (competitive) water sports in general after graduation, as he joined the national polo team a year later and beyond. He helped the Philippines bag a bronze medal in the Phuti Anan Water Polo Cup in Thailand 2012 and 2014. Advincula last competed in water polo in November 2015, winning silver in the Hong Kong Beach Water Polo Tournament.
While he only got into water polo after witnessing a live interschool tournament of which back in college, Advincula has always been athletic growing up. He was the typical basketball-playing Filipino, who later got into long distance running and developed a “slight obsession” with martial arts.
Advincula tries to keep himself pumped up by regularly hitting the gym and doing laps.
“Due to my age and metabolism, my body is far from my competitive prime,” he laughed. “But I still prioritize exercise in my daily routine. I make sure that I get to exercise everyday. MWF, I run and hit the gym. Tuesday and Thursday morning I swim laps. And Saturday, I play water polo.”
“I never let go of swimming! I make sure that I swim twice a week—a minimum of 3.5k per swim. But as of now, I'm slowly increasing my mileage because I recently signed up for SwimJunkie's Open Water swim challenge, which would be held in Batangas, El Nido, and Caramoan. That’s 5k, 8k, and 10k, respectively.”
“Once my bike is ready, I’ll probably be doing long rides on Sunday. Hopefully, with a disciplined diet, I’ll get my competitive body back!”
More dreams to make real
An expert in multitasking familiar with pressure coming from everywhere, the extremely busy Advincula hasn’t completely left competitive swimming or water polo just yet. Right now, for example, he is preparing for the Open Water Swim Challenge.
“I still get to play water polo with my teammates every sat morning just to maintain the skill. If there are any masters competitions here or abroad for polo, I'll definitely sign up and train for that,” he added.
Triathlon is also becoming a new sport to conquer for Advincula. Last November, he and former teammates and close friends Kito Zialcita and Nikko Huelgas competed as a relay team at the Ironman 70.3 Xiamen in China. Advincula took on the swim segment, and won a silver together with the team. He is now planning to finish his very first individual triathlon event soon—“and if I still have the energy, probably finish a full marathon, too!”
Past expanding as a businessman or growing as an athlete, is the guy stopping anytime soon?
“As of the moment, I have no plans of settling down. There's still so much to do and my girlfriend knows that, too. We both want to achieve a lot of things while were still young! Settling down is the easy part, it's making our dreams become reality that's hard.”
“Since I have been doing well as an RFC, my priority now is to grow and stabilize TOP and the fitness school. Once that is done, I will probably be investing in new business ventures.”
As we publish this, Advincula might just be thinking of what brilliant business idea to come up with next.