By Mafelou C. Leagogo-Agriam
(CREAM January 2012)
A welcome addition to the increasing number of modern edifices sprouting strategically at the Smallville complex is a brand new, fully glass-cased, five-story building across the Ayala Complex. To the plain viewer, it looks like a smart commercial or office building, or even a hotel. But on close range, one is surprised to discover it is actually a medical health and wellness complex situated among bars, restaurants, coffee shops, hotels, entertainment areas and a BPO.
The whole YGQ Building is the new address of the Skinetics Wellness Center – a medical spa, skin clinic and boutique hotel. Prior to having its own imposing building, Skinetics held office and operations at the second floor of the Mars Florete owned, boat-shaped building along Gen. Luna Street.
Historically, the center is the first of its kind in Iloilo, much so outside Metro Manila, where treatments to achieve soundness of body and mind can be had under one roof. Skinetics Wellness Center is a medical tourism destination attracting clients from all over Western Visayas, Cebu, Mindanao and overseas – a big boon no doubt to the progressive image and blooming tourism industry of Iloilo City.
In Skinetics, men and women can achieve rejuvenation through stress reduction, skin care, total cleansing and detoxification, slimming and contouring of body and face through reconstructive cosmetic or non-invasive procedures. If they so wish, clients can take a rest or recover in comfort and style in the luxury of the hotel rooms of the boutique hotel located on the top floors of the building.
YGQ Building bears the acronym of its owner, Dr. Yule Garcia-Quiampang, a noted dermatologist who has been in the medical profession for the last 22 years. She runs Skinetics alongside her very engaging husband, Rommel. Here clients receive quality treatments through the center’s latest state-of-the art technology amidst elegant and sophisticated surroundings. Dr. Yule is quick to qualify that the price in Skinetics is “Ilonggo price,” meaning very reasonable despite its overall classy ambiance.
For starters, the receiving lobby is chic. clients may not know it but the bamboo-backed, long cushioned chair they sit on is a Kenneth Cobonpue Yodda Chair. The US-trained Cebuano furniture manufacturer is the Philippines’ foremost maker of modern furniture with each unusual creation bearing a distinct name and making for an excellent conversational piece.
A number of Cobonpue’s iconic chairs are also found in Dr. Yule’s office, like the Noodle Chairs and a Bloom Chair, as well as the Krokkies Vase. In the boutique hotel’s four family suite rooms are even more fascinating Cobonpue seats. Kenneth counts as clients A-List Hollywood celebrities like Lucy Liu and golden couple Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. In short, Skinetics provides nothing but the best to its clients — in terms of service, equipment, tools, fixtures, ambiance and all — and the very amiable Dr. Yule is on top of the conglomerate, managing its multifarious operations besides practicing professionally in the center.
The petite lady doctor is one of the six surviving children (out of the original seven) of the late Teodolfo and Ramonita Garcia, who have produced two lawyers, a teacher, architect, businessman, and a doctor in the family. Both very hardworking, they instilled in their children early on the importance of education. It is not surprising that three of them eventually graduated either valedictorian or salutatorian in elementary and high school, one of whom was Dr. Yule.
“We are products of public schools,” she intoned with pride. “but Daddy was my first teacher though. He used to read aloud stories from Liwayway and Hiligaynon magazines when I was three to four years old. I would be able to re-tell the stories and the dialogues as I heard them from him. He supplied us with Grimm Fairy Tale books, which whetted our imaginations. He valued education so much that he and my mother, who was a teacher, never failed to remind us that it was the only way to uplift our conditions. They pushed us to do our best.”
After acquiring a college degree in Bachelor of Arts in Pre-Med from the West Visayas State University, she entered medical school at the Iloilo Doctors College. Dr. Yule earned her medical license in 1987 after which she packed her bags and left for Japan for a two-year residency training in the field of dermatology. It was through her own initiative she successfully secured a scholarship to Nippon Medical Hospital with the help of the Japanese Embassy in the Philippines. But dermatology was not her primary choice of discipline.
“Psychiatry was my first choice. I did not pursue it because of the heavy emotional pressures you personally need to cope with. The field of dermatology, on the other hand, is not strenuous. I’ve always wanted to have a family and raise my own children. The nature of work of a dermatologist is such that emergency cases are scarce if not zero.”
Thankfully, her husband takes off from her shoulders some of the burdens of running a large health and wellness center. The husband-and-wife team enjoy doing, among others, simple activities that bring gladness to their faces: watching teleserye on television, having coffee and enjoying each other’s jokes, traveling abroad together with their children and dining out. They are a cheerful pair and their mirth is infectious it can rub on you. Clients who enter the building while looking heavily-laden later exit with renewed optimism and lively sprint on their gaits after a happy encounter with the couple.
A native of Jaro, Iloilo City, Rommel was her high school classmate and best chum. Their friendship spanned for 14 years until she realized here was a man possessing qualities of a good husband: “…very mabait and caring,” she stressed. He was then with Coca-Cola Bottling Company when they married; they have been together for 21 blissful years.
“We had a humble beginning,” confided his devoted wife, and a lot of coping to do, if one may add.. When Rommel was transferred to Kalibo, Aklan Dr. Yule held clinic hours there to attend to his needs. But she was residing in Iloilo City then. She would leave at three in the morning to ride a bus for Kalibo, and then return in the afternoon to Iloilo. That rigorous set-up and raising hands-on two children, Gel and Qyu, took a heavy toll on her that she decided on slowing down her professional pace. Only after Rommel retired as supervisor of the company her career went on full throttle.
In 2002, Skinetics—meaning skin in motion – Wellness Center was established, operating with ample success for nine years in General Luna. Like before, Dr. Yule still personally checks and trains on the use of any latest machines intended for purchase to well-equip the center at YGQ. Professionals work with her; most of her therapists are licensed physical therapists. Todate, Skinetics has 33 staffs and two plastic and cosmetic surgeons namely Dr. Doniluz Darroca and Dr. Evangeline Sison. Dr. Yule manufactures her own medicines, ointments and creams compounded by her own pharmacists and carrying the IPO-approved Skinetic brand.
Manila-based lawyer Raymond Fortun is a client of Skinetics whenever he is in Iloilo City.
When asked why clients primarily go to Skinetics, she gave a pat reply: “They want to be beautiful from inside and outside; they want to be very fair-skinned; they want to have smooth and silky skin; they want to look slim and fit. Some who come to the center for treatment have sad stories to tell. I am a willing listener and I never betray their confidences. They leave the center emotionally relieved because someone cares enough to listen and talk to them.”
What brought in the novel idea of a boutique hotel was her previous experience with balikbayan clients in her former business address. Straight from the Iloilo airport with travelling bags in tow to Skinetics they would proceed for spa or skin care treatment. “Enjoy guid sila they did not want to leave the place! They would often ask me if they could spend the night in the center. So when we planned the YGQ Building, we thought of having hotel rooms for such clients.”
The boutique hotel is on the fourth and fifth of the building. On the top level , too, is the Plastic Surgery Room. The third floor contains the spa where therapists do Thai, Balinese, Shiatsu, or Hilot massages, among others. A private couple room with jacuzzi is also available here. The second floor is where the Hydro Colonics Clinic and Skin Care Department are located, including the reception lobby and Dr. Yule’s office. Now get a load of this: On the ground floor is the Kid’s Spa where children can learn nail grooming and nail art, hair braiding, read books, play with stuff toys or indulge in a whole body massage. The upper floors , incidentally, can be reached through an elevator, or stairways visible from the street below through thick glass walls.
“We keep expanding and learning new things to be at par with our peers in Manila and abroad. Albert Martinez, the actor, is a Belo endorser and model in his 50s, but look how young and well-trimmed he is. We have the machine that Belo uses on Martinez,” she declared with a knowing smile.
Dr. Yule is one of the founding members of the Philippine Wellness Association (PWA) since 2004. Opportunities to learn about new trends and the latest technology in the health and wellness business through grants, observation tours or seminars can be availed by its members. Some Skinetics staffs were sent in the past to trade fairs and exhibits in Germany, Dubai and Thailand, where their hilot expertise was put to good use in the Philippine pavilions or trade booths. As always, monthly learning sessions in Manila from the PWA are enriching forums for exchanges of information to further enhance the country’s health and wellness industry.
A member of the American Academy of Aesthetics Medicine and a certified practitioner of Aesthetic Medicine as well, Dr. Yule organized the Health and Wellness Association of Iloilo, Inc. She is on her second term as president.
Dr. Yule together with co-awardees as Outstanding Women of Iloilo City
From the family-owned Japanese restaurant on the first floor of the YGQ Building, one can see who goes in and out of the elevator through the glass partition. The lift never rests even beyond 10 in the evening, which goes to show that health and wellness programs have become an important and integral part of modern man’s lifestyle. “As long as we are doing our job and we make our patients happy,” Dr. Yule said, “we deem ourselves successful in our mission of bringing the best and the latest medical health and wellness technology to Iloilo City.”