People

A Journey to a Wonderful Redirection

There he was, leading the singing and worship during the PICC Feast, a community founded and led by Bo Sanchez.
Audee Villaraza (2)
Audee Villaraza, leading the worship during the Feast in PICC
To me, Audee Villaraza was just one of the talented guys on stage who’s good at speaking and singing until he shared his vulnerability, his broken heart and how he got healed, during his testimonial before thousands of people.

 

At that time, I had friends who were nursing their, ehem, broken hearts; and so his testimonial caught my attention. 

 

I learned that he is not just a talented guy with a pretty face, but is also a devoted servant of God, a technopreneur, a loving son, and many more!

 

I was inspired by his story and I want you to be inspired, too! And so I decided to interview him and we’re privileged he said YES!

 

SHA:  Hi Audee. Could you kindly introduce yourself to us? Who is Audee Villaraza?
 
AUDEE: I’m a self-declared technopreneur. I have a 12-year old business, which began while I was still studying Integrated Marketing Communications in UA&P. On my final year, I relinquished my degree and started doing business instead. Business was fantastic during that time and in only 2 months I experienced my first-ever ROI. My paradigm on studying quickly shifted the moment I start earning. I decided I didn’t need to pursue my degree anymore.
 
I put up a sole-proprietorship company, Signals Marketing in October 19, 2000. During its early years, my company was widely and aggressively involved in the trading of cellular phones, acting as a wholesaler and retailer in various malls that include locations in Park Square 2, Ayala Center and Makati Cinema Square. However, as a result of the inevitable market saturation due to the steady influx of bandwagon proprietors, my company ventured into after-sales services of telecommunication products. By 2004, we opened our doors to the opportunity of operating a franchise branch of one of the country’s leading telecom after-sales providers, Citylight Group of Companies.
 
Since then, my company has been an active participant in the telecom industry, widening its scope of coverage and penetrating the corporate arena. Signals Marketing has been a consistent bidder in supplying the industries of advertising, law and radio and TV networks, as well as other multinational corporations.
 
At present, my company’s product line has grown exponentially. Having been in the field of electronics for many years, the business has predictably delved into the distribution of other various electronic goods. These include: laptops, digital cameras, LCD TVs, game consoles, tablets and smartphones. Since this inception, my company has now competitively joined the field of direct-selling with our online brainchild: Gadget Grocery (www.gadgetgrocery.com). This online store not only gives boundless access to the local market on the various products they offer, but also opens the doors to the unlimited potential of global commerce. My company’s mission is to aggressively distribute on a massive scale, whether locally, provincially or globally.
 
Despite all these expansions, the company’s vision has remained intact over the years. We aim to provide up-to-date and qualified electronic products, while providing a customer-oriented service that will gratify the purchasing experience through over-all convenience and trust.
 
I turned 34 years old last August 14. Though I feel and look like I’m only 28 🙂
 
SHA: What is your mission in life? What are you passionate about?
 
AUDEE: 
1. Extravagant Worship
I’m passionate about living a life that is an act of worship.  If I put all the bad things I’ve ever done on a see-saw opposite the good deeds that I’ve done, I imagine that the seat where the good deeds are will just shoot up in the air. Yet I can declare that I am blessed, beyond belief, more than I know I deserve to be. I feel God’s hand constantly moving in all the areas of my life.
 
Audee Villaraza
That’s why service to me is not just a one-time deal that happens every sunday. Its a lifestyle that I live out everyday, out of gratitude to a loving God.
 
Our community (Light of Jesus Community) mission is to make disciples, which I’ve embraced as my very own. Since my renewal, its been an aim for me to live a life that inspires others to become more Christ-like. And to achieve this, I have to live out a lifestyle of worship from the inside out, so much so that who I am in the public sphere is just a reflection of who I am already in my private life.
 
 
 
 
2. Rich Relationships
My greatest treasure in this world would have to be my relationships (yes, not my gadgets). Though I’m far from having excellent relationships, I’m passionate about working for it. Just today, my fiance and I attended a relationship seminar to ready ourselves for marriage. We were amongst other couples who were either married or were on the road to tying the knot. The most common denominator that unified all of us was an unspoken commitment to be involved, physically and emotionally, in wanting to achieve a beautiful relationship with our God-given partners.
Audee Villaraza and friends
Audee Villaraza and friends
God has blessed me with a great family, wonderful friends and an amazing fiance. And by passionately striving to have rich relationships, I believe I am able to give back glory and honor to The Source of everything.
 
 
3. Gadget-ing
When Steve Jobs (the tech genius responsible for some of the greatest inventions of all time like the iPod, iPhone and iPad) died, the world mourned for losing a wonderful innovator. But the world also rejoiced and celebrated his life and all his contraptions. I quote from Stevie Wonder, who, despite his musical genius, was blind since birth, as he affirmed Steve’s legacy: “His (Steve Jobs) company took the challenge in making his technology accessible to everyone. In the spirit of caring and moving the world forward”. Steve’s technology single-handedly pushed the limits of how we do and see things, in the way we interact and communicate with the world.
Audee Villaraza was interviewed on GMA News TV
Audee Villaraza was interviewed on GMA News TV
 
In my own little way, I share the weight in carrying this beautiful burden. It may be seen as superficial, but I see my business as a catalyst in bringing and providing qualified gadgets that will help people improve their lives one relationship at a time. I live in the shadow of Steve, who, while earning a decent wage along the way, dreamed of connecting the world through gadgets.

 

SHA: You seem to have it all — good looks, beautiful heart, wit and talents and you could very well pass for a “crush ng bayan.”

 

Have you ever been hurt, rejected, heart broken? Can you tell us more about it and how you overcame it? What advice can you give someone who’s nursing his/her broken heart?

 

AUDEE:  I’ve had my fair share of break-ups. I’ve had 4 relationships, which I treated very seriously, but all ended in heartache. But if I was made to choose the one where I gained the most wisdom and experience,  it was the last relationship I had. 
Back in 2007, I was in a 3-year relationship with someone whom I considered at that time, “the one”. Despite all our issues, we were on the brink of jumping into the next level (marriage), but she needed to leave for the US for a year to study. I had high hopes that we would live out the long distance relationship. But 2 weeks after her departure, things suddenly began to get rocky. Emails became sporadic, instant messaging chats became very irregular. It eventually ended up with an unexpected and shocking break-up that later sent me to emotional oblivion. She realized that she wanted space to experience an independent life.

It took me 6 months to recover, and it was the longest 6 months of my life. I would wake up everyday fearful, teary-eyed and broken. And I’d force myself to get out of bed, sometimes even deferring from showering. My entire day would be in complete disarray. When your heart gets broken, its difficult to pinpoint where you should begin in order to mend it. You get lost in a cycle of pity and self-deprecating rejection. And that’s precisely what happened to me.

The only consistent thing I had at that time was work. And as though the universe was conniving entirely against me, my work at that time was also in shambles. I made one bad decision after another, which eventually led to bankruptcy and a whole lot of debt. So there I was, emotionally rejected and bankrupt, without purpose and reason.
 
Bro. Bo (Bo Sanchez) once spoke of the importance of an emotional WHY, or that ONE BIG REASON that will catapult us into abundance. My emotional why during that time was to find out ways on how to recover my business losses because I needed to settle a mountain of debts. So I started focusing all my energies into getting back on my feet (financially). The only thing I had then was still my business. So I circumnavigated around it till I found potentials. This soon led to the birth ofwww.GadgetGrocery.com, which has been the most successful venture in my career today. But it wasn’t easy. As I’ve said, I was trying to make ends meet while paying off credit cards and accumulating interest rates.
Audee Villaraza with his Mom and siblings
Audee Villaraza with his Mom and siblings

My Mom was my pillar of strength at that time. She was supporting me both emotionally and financially. But I felt that I had a bigger gaping hole in my life that needed to be filled. My spiritual life was at its messiest. What little faith I had built as a young adult was being shaken by the series of unfortunate events that surrounded me back then. I’ve always believed in God. But I didn’t know about His ways before I went through this experience. I felt then that it was just a random case of the universe conspiring to make my world unliveable.
So my heart was broken in 3 parts: spiritually, relationally and financially.
This led me to a journey of seeking for answers; to find my life purpose and definition in this world.
 
 
After 6 months, I found myself entering the Light Of Jesus community in Valle Verde Country Club. My ex-girlfriend’s (yeah, the one who left for the US) sister, threw an invitation to the community and she said that I might be able to find some answers there. Although she wasn’t an attendee, her brother was a regular member, as well as her sister-in law’s family. Without any expectations, I went to Valle Verde one Sunday with my Mom to see what it was all about. We arrived a little late. Almost instantly, we were greeted by what seemed like a group of chronically-smiling faces welcoming us in the hallways of Valle. We were ushered into a jam-packed room that quickly became boisterous with loud, unknown songs.
 
It wasn’t love at first sight. But perhaps because I was going through an emotional upheaval that somehow, I didn’t appreciate chaffing my elbows with so many people. But that didn’t stop us from attending. Soon, my Mom and I found ourselves going regularly. It took 3 months of attending when I eventually decided that I wanted to serve in the music ministry. The chorus looked to me like a spirited, bouncy force during service, reminiscent of the Gospel choirs I would see in movies. I remember telling my mom, “One day I’m gonna sing up there too!”
 
And so I entered into the world of surrender and service.
I’ve been serving for 3 1/2 years now in capacities that I am able to give. I fiercely created ways and time to serve in the worship cluster, the music ministry and the creative ministry, investing my time and talent weekly in the community. All the time, surrendering all the aspects of my life to God.
 
 
Over the years, my business has grown exponentially. I’ve managed to pay off my debts considerably with client after client just mindlessly pouring in. And at present, I’m engaged to get married to “the real one”. I finally found my life partner and fearlessly dove into the next step. So everyday now, I wake up with purpose and meaning.

So what happened?
 
Audee Villaraza, serving God with passion
Audee Villaraza, serving God with passion

Simple.
I found God.
The handyman who mended the three broken parts of my life and made them brand new.
 
I cannot explain with intricacy on how my life was fixed.
I just know that I wasn’t entirely responsible for it.
When I surrendered everything to Him, the pieces just started falling into place one by one: corporate accounts began piling up, business solutions were being built, my relationships deepened and my soon-to-be wife was delivered to my doorstep.
 
 
Little did I know that my service kept feeding my faith until my faith became bigger than all my fears (rejection, failure, disappointment)

The best and perhaps the simplest advice I can give if you’re going through the same journey is this (it’s also in chronological order):
1. Find God
2. Serve Him (in whatever capacity you can)
2. The rest will just follow
Matthew 6:33 “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added on to you”
 

I’ve learned that when you have God in your life, heartbreaks don’t have to hurt as much. When I broke my heart the last time, the most palpable feeling I had was rejection. But the truth is, knowing what I know now, what I used to perceive as rejection was really just God’s sneaky intervention to create a way for some redirection. There was purpose in getting my heart broken! It was His cosmic way of intervening to create a detour to something better.

 

SHA: Let’s talk about your God-given talents. What are these and how did you discover them? How have you been using your talents to serve God and others?

 

AUDEE: I grew up hearing all kinds of music in our household. My Dad was an aficionado so early on, I caught and developed a big love for music. But singing was never natural to me. I was always unsure of myself, insecure that I had any talent in singing. However, I’m really just the same like everyone else who knows I could sing out a tune (without hurting anyone’s eardrums) and so I would sing in the confines of my bathroom and while driving (sometimes completely oblivious that someone riding a jeepney in front was already staring at me. This would lead me to pretend that I was talking to someone using my imaginary bluetooth).

 

I believed I could sing, but not for an audience. Because believing it merely wasn’t enough. I needed someone to believe in it too. My loving community gave me constant affirmation on this. Friends would come up to me and certify that I could really sing. This played a very important role because it built a silent confidence in me. Soon after, I was singing regularly.The songs we sing speaks of God’s love, of hope, encouragement, healing. I’ve been given the honor of leading and singing worship on a regular basis in our community, which I use to bring our congregation into God’s presence.

 

Audee with his friends John Ben Rodriguez and Carlo Lorenzo
Audee with his friends John Ben Rodriguez and Carlo Lorenzo

 

 

Sometimes I get caught off-guard with attendees approaching me. They tell me how the songs ministered to them and touched their hearts. I always pray that it moves them so positively that it creates a rippling effect in all the areas of their life.

 

SHA: What keeps you grounded? What keeps you going?

AUDEE:  I prefer to answer this question not with the words “What keeps me grounded”, but rather with “Who keeps me grounded”. Being in a community keeps my feet on the ground.
 
Audee with friends and loved ones
Audee with friends and loved ones
When you’re consistently littered and surrounded by other grounded people, your eyes are opened to being grounded. It helps greatly also that I’m exposed to various people with real-life problems. This reminds me to appreciate every blessing (big or small) that I have.
But my biggest role model is and will always be Jesus. He is the epitome of what it takes to live a grounded life. Whenever I come across a situation that tempts me to take a pedestal, I try to live by the concept of “What would Jesus do?” Because everything Jesus said and did when He passed on this world was an act of humility, love and compassion. When I base my decisions on this, I increase the possibilities of making the right ones.

 

SHA: You’ve accomplished a lot already — you’ve built a name for yourself, you have a successful business, and you’ve found the woman you’ll grow old with. Can you share with us any of your success habits? 
 

 

AUDEE: My life coach is my mom. She teaches me the importance of living a simple, honest and abundant life by living it out herself. Her unconditional love is also catalyst to what I strive for in my relationships. My health mentor is my brother and sister (although they don’t know it). Their healthy, raw-food lifestyle inspires me to strive and become healthier as well.

 

My spiritual mentor is Bro. Bo Sanchez. He’s the founder of our community, Light Of Jesus. He has been at the forefront of my spiritual growth, teaching and challenging me to become more Christ-like in my everyday affairs. I also consider Steve Furtick as an indirect mentor. He’s the pastor of one of the most radical and rapidly-growing churches in the US called Elevation Church. I regularly subscribe to their podcast for his talks.

 
There is great importance in finding mentors and role-models who can guide you in the different aspects of your life. The beauty about it is that there are boundaries in finding them. They’re everywhere! You can find them in your family, your office, your school, your church or even in a podcast. Look for role models who will inspire you (and challenge you) to become a better individual. 
SHA: What else do you want to achieve?

 

AUDEE: Now that I’m on the verge of marrying the greatest girl in the world (in my world), I’m working on my husband skills and my soon-to-be parental skills. I’ve been reading up on books on how to be a great husband and father. In matters of my service life, I’m still challenging myself to become a better servant-leader. It’s a work-in-progress.

 
Audee with the love of his life Kristel
Audee Villaraza with the love of his life Kristel

 

SHA: Thank you so much for inspiring us with your stories. Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

 

AUDEE: This is a testimonial on how God maneuvers and orchestrates the universe to work for us and not against us. I pray that every person reading this will not only be inspired, but will be moved to act and find God in their life.
 
 
Audee’s journey is truly amazing! From being broken, he was led to a wonderful redirection. Today, he’s living a meaningful life, a life full of love and service.

 

Were you inspired by Audee’s journey? What struck you the most? Please share in the comments.

 

If you liked this article, please consider clicking the Facebook “like” button so your Facebook friends could also check it out.

 

 

Seminar Philippines Recommends:

 

How to Earn while on Vacation eBook – written by Sha Nacino with a Foreword by Bo Sanchez. This ebook talks about how to earn passive income, how to get paid doing what you LOVE to do, and many more. Download your copy and be part of Seminar Philippines’ growing community, it’s FREE!

Bo Sanchez’ Truly Rich Club – gain financial wealth and spiritual abundance at the same time. Receive digital copies (audio CD/eBook/eNewsletter/emails, etc) of Bo Sanchez’ Power Talks, Wealth Strategies,  eBooks, monthly Stocks Updates, daily positive inspiration, and many more!

***

Sha Nacino

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Photos courtesy of Audee Villaraza

Text by Sha Nacino. Copyright © 2012 All rights reserved.

 

 

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Sha Nacino is one of the most sought-after Filipino motivational speakers in the Philippines. She is the bestselling author of the books Money&Me, Mission Happiness, plus 7 other books. Sha is the founder of The 90-Day Book Writing Challenge where she helps first time authors write their books. She also writes for Bo Sanchez's TrulyRichClub newsletters. She regularly gives talks on Personal Finance, Happiness, Purpose, Success Principles, etc. If you wish to invite Sha to speak in your company or events, visit shanacino.com or email her at sha@seminarphilippines.com.

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Sha Nacino is one of the most sought-after Filipino motivational speakers in the Philippines. She is the bestselling author of the books Money&Me, Mission Happiness, plus 7 other books. Sha is the founder of The 90-Day Book Writing Challenge where she helps first time authors write their books. She also writes for Bo Sanchez's TrulyRichClub newsletters. She regularly gives talks on Personal Finance, Happiness, Purpose, Success Principles, etc. If you wish to invite Sha to speak in your company or events, visit shanacino.com or email her at sha@seminarphilippines.com.

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