Community Spotlight

Charmel Dela Cruz – Striking the Right Balance

  • Social Entrepreneur, Visionary & Strategist, Event Marketing Specialist, and Fundraising Guru
  • Businesses: LARAS Media International, DESIGNERS DISCOUNT Furniture & Flooring, MANILA Sunrise Sari-Sari Store, MR BOBA by Manila’s Best International, LARAS Satellite Directv
  • Education & Training: Mass Communications Major in Broadcasting & TV Production, Video Editing, Scriptwriting & Directing, Advertising & Marketing
  • Awards & Affiliations: Centennial President 2016 – 2017 Phoenix Barangay Lions Club, National Vice-President for Conference of the Federation of Philippine American Chambers of Commerce (FPACC), Director at Large & PR Director for the AZ Asian American Association (AAAA), Vice President for Community Outreach of the Filipino American Business Chamber of Commerce (FABCCA), and AZ State Chair for National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA)

Tell us about yourself. What kinds of hobbies and activities do you enjoy? First and foremost, I am a God-fearing, loving and caring mom and grandma. I raised my family with the love of our Lord Jesus Christ. I would do anything in the world to spend more quality time with my children and grandson. Now that 2 of my kids are married, I realized that I want to create beautiful and special memories with my family especially with my grandson Jedidiah, before my kids really go on their own and travel the world.

I enjoy travelling and going to places that I have never been to…since Jakarta & Bali Indonesia were my home base for 15 years, I was very blessed to travel around the ASEAN countries and experience diverse culture. I love to cook for my family and friends my own version of Filipino and Asian dishes, I still remember the recipes of Ibu Lami, my Indonesian cook who spoiled my kids with her tasty Indonesian cooking. I love movie nights with my family and enjoy eating outside. Since we’re so busy most of the time, I would combine business travel with pleasure, but I learned to work smarter so I hope to have a big residual income in the near future so I can bless my family, my church and my community.

Why did you join the Lions Club? What do you enjoy most about being a member? I joined the Lions Club because I believe in their mission to help and alleviate the plight of the poor and needy. Lions Club International is the largest service organization in the world. This year, we are celebrating our Centennial Anniversary and we are promoting four areas of service: Sharing the Vision, Feeding the Hungry, Engaging the Youth & Protecting the Environment.

What excites you most about serving in a leadership role. Describe some of your short and long term goals. I’m the current President of the Phoenix Barangay Lions Club and my daughter Jemimah is the President of our LEO Club. The fact that we are a mother-daughter team – it’s a unique situation that brings out the best of our abilities to serve our community. On our Club’s 20th year Anniversary, my goal is to increase membership and participation in all of our Club’s service activities. We chartered the LEO Club that Jemimah is leading with her cousin Jardine as Vice-President. We also formed our own Cubs Club headed by Jessica with kids membership from 6 to 12 years. We are so proud of what these young people are doing to help out and serve the community through our monthly service projects. Mentorship is the key to continue the life and success of our Club. We plan to charter another Lions Club where I will have the role as Guiding Lion, hopefully before my term ends this year.

As mother and entrepreneur, how long did it take you to find a way to manage your lifestyle to successfully balance your work and taking care of your family? What kinds of adjustments did you have to make? It takes a lot of skill to juggle my time as a mother and entrepreneur, especially now that I’m a grandma. It was difficult at first because I had an international business that made me travel every week to different Asian countries when Jakarta, Indonesia was our home base then. We were blessed to have trustworthy office staff, helpers and a nanny that takes care of my young kids when I’m away on business trips. Sometimes, I would take my family with me on these overseas trips so I could treat them to a short vacation which allowed me to do my business and at the same time spend some quality vacation time with them. My normal day would be something like this: take Jemimah to school in the morning, spend some time with my grandson Jedidiah, cook our meal for the day and do some house chores….then off I go to visit and check on our 3 retail stores, then some evenings would be spent on our chamber & non-profit organization’s activities. The beautiful thing is, I engaged my children to run these businesses with me. I just love the concept of a family business where you work and grow the business together and I get the opportunity to help and train my kids to become successful entrepreneurs like me. My eldest son Joshua manages our newly-opened MR BOBA Coffee Shop and my daughter Jazmine helps me with running DESIGNERS DISCOUNT, our furniture and flooring store. My business partner Marie Villareal is in charge of MANILA SUNRISE Sari-Sari Store, a small grocery store that sells almost anything Pinoy and we also ship Balikbayan boxes to the Philippines.


What are the most important life lessons and/or words of wisdom you want to pass on to your children? My kids grew up in a Christian home, we all love and serve our Lord Jesus Christ. I tell my kids all the time…health is wealth! If you’re healthy in mind, body, soul and spirit, you can create and achieve almost anything! It’s true that hard work pays the bills, but working smart is the key to financial freedom. I also remind my kids to be thankful at all times and appreciate every blessing that come their way so they can pay it forward and be a blessing to others.

What recent achievement(s) are you most proud of? In the 1st quarter of this year, Marie & I purchased and acquired MANILA SUNRISE Sari-Sari Store. In the 2nd quarter, my partners and I were able to open and operate MR BOBA at Korea Plaza, a franchise model coffee and boba shop.

How do you prioritize what gets attention at any given moment? Have you ever had to turn down a business opportunity because it interfered with family time? I believe in “strike anytime…anywhere!” Opportunity knocks only once so we have to grab it while we can. I have so many different things on my plate so I make a To-Do-List everyday that helps me prioritize my tasks. If I’m overloaded with important tasks, I start delegating these tasks to my kids or to my other business partners.

Describe an obstacle you have faced and how you overcame it. You need funds to start a brick and mortar retail store. I started my first furniture store with my sister Joy in Chandler in 2008 with very little capital and cash flow. Then we got hit by the economic crisis the same year so we had to close down the store in less than 12 months. Sometimes you learn your lessons the hard way, but you have to stand up and start all over again. I started concentrating on my event production business LARAS Media right after I closed the store which to this day is producing successful Asian ethnic events monthly for Casino Arizona & Talking Stick Resort.

What’s something people would be surprised to know about you? I lived in Indonesia for almost 15 years so I learned their language (Bahasa Indonesia) and I speak it fluently. I have been an Arizona court interpreter for Tagalog & Indonesian languages for the past 9 years.

What is your personal philosophy and source of motivation? Do you have a motto that you live by? We were born into this life to serve a mighty God and so I declared my life verse to be “Have faith in God…” Mark 11:22. I have always relied on the Holy Spirit of God to guide me in all my decision making. My beautiful family is my greatest motivation… to mold my children to become responsible adults and parents…to promote and keep happiness, peace, love, and joy in our family, our church and our community.

Michael Lewis

Michael is joined at the hip with the Filipino American community through family, friends, and his love for the food. Over the past 15 years+, he has been an active "behind the scenes" contributor to a variety of Filipino community groups, events, and activities. Michael is also ringleader of the FilAm FamBam crew and in his free time enjoys RV'ing and anything tech.

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