Chris Tiu Plays It Forward

By Ruth Manimtim-Floresca

 There’s a good reason this popular basketball player is a role model for the youth: he is talented, thankful, and true

Chris Tiu wears many hats. Aside from being a basketball player for Smart Gilas, he is also a TV show host, a businessman, and a public servant, among other things. Here, he shares how he gets to juggle all his responsibilities while enjoying everything that’s going on in his life now.

“Our team trains together all year round. My teammates are college standouts. We compete abroad and consider those experiences very beneficial for us. Our ultimate goal is to qualify in the Olympics and play against different international teams,” he says. Chris plays shooting forward for Smart Gilas, which was formed in early 2009 to instill a long term program for the Philippines men’s national basketball team, sponsored by Smart Communications and the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas or SBP.

Chris’ dedication to his sport is evident in the way he devotes time to basketball practice. “We train for two and a half hours in the court every day and spend one and a half hours in the gym three times a week.” When asked how tall he is, he candidly replies, “I’m five-eleven; but with shoes, six feet [tall].”

Managing Time

This young man admits that basketball is his main focus at the moment. “All my activities revolve around [the sport] so I have to plan out everything. There’s lots of discipline involved and I have to prioritize,” he explains. “I’m fortunate to have a great manager who helps me with my schedule.”

Currently, Chris hosts three TV shows: Hanep Buhay, a show about business and entrepreneurship; Ripley’s Believe It or Not, which he’s doing for the past three years; and Man vs. Beast, a recently launched show in GMA7. “I can do several shows in one taping day. This is usually done in the mornings because afternoons are dedicated to basketball practice. Every now and then, I also have shoots for print and TV advertisements.”

Unknown to many, Chris started civil servant hood as a Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Chairman in 2004. “I was 17. An uncle convinced me to run and I won because I was the sole candidate,” he recalls with a smile. Now that he’s a Councilor in Barangay Urdaneta in Makati City, he wants to continue making the most of his position. “As a kagawad, I’m in charge of education, culture, and sports. I want to develop programs such as sports clinics for the youth.”

Despite his packed schedule, Chris reveals that he does find time to unwind. “Besides basketball, I also play golf and I love eating good food. When it comes to shopping, I’m more practical but I don’t mind splurging on concerts or music because it’s my therapy.” He confides that one of his favorite singers is Jay Chou, the Taiwanese celebrity who played Kato in the latest Green Hornet movie, “His songs have values and he’s a good role model.”

Saving For The Future

“I started earning when I was 17. My very first salary was P6,000 when I was still an SK Chairman. I am kuripot and I save my own earnings,” Chris reveals. “I was still in high school at the time so may allowance pa ako. I’m very disciplined with [my finances] so I only spend if it’s really necessary like trips abroad or paying for tickets to concerts that I’d really like to watch. Besides, much of what I use is sponsored already. I only spend around 10 percent of my earnings and save or invest the rest.”

Although he has an accountant, Chris has his mom to help him with the bookkeeping. As to investing, he shares that he does his own research when it comes to stocks, bonds, etc. “Sure, I get advice from other people but I make the final decisions and then tell my banker what financial vehicles I’d like to invest in.” Chris adds that he already has a life insurance plan but intends to get a health plan soon because “I see some of my team mates and friends spending a lot of money when their kids get sick.” When he does have children of his own, he says he will also get them educational and health plans.

One of the recent investments he made though is to partner with four friends from Xavier and Ateneo. They took out a China milk tea franchise called Happy Lemon and set up shop in Greenhills Promenade last November 2010. Chris reports that sales have been picking up as milk tea becomes more popular. He says he does not have to visit the store every day because he’s in the business development side. “There are other people involved in the day to day operations.”

Of course, with saving and spending, Chris knows that he also has to share his blessings. “But not really dole outs,” he was quick to add. “Mostly you want the people you help to become self-sustaining.” Some of the charities he advocates for include World Vision, Habitat for Humanity, Ako Mismo, Go Negosyo, and several others more.

A Good Example

In 2008, Chris was named Favorite Athlete in the first-ever Nickelodeon Philippines Kids’ Choice Awards. “I don’t know how it happened because Manny Pacquiao was my fellow nominee!” he admits. Chris also won “Favorite Youth Personality” alongside Sarah Geronimo last December in the first Lingkod TV Awards given by the National Council for Children’s Television and the Department of Education.

“More people than we think recognize what we’re doing,” he concedes. “So we have to set a good example to those kids because they’re listening.” Because of those awards, Chris acknowledges that he’s very thankful and challenged to do better.

Chris is the second of five siblings. He shares that almost everything he knows, he learned from his parents. “My Dad is very hardworking but he makes time for us and ensures that we eat meals together as a family. I learned time management from him,” portrays Chris. “My mom is very religious. She goes to church and prays the rosary every day. From her, I learned modesty, honesty, integrity, and how to stay grounded. She always reminds us to pray and thank God for all our blessings.”

The Tiu family remains close even as the siblings grow older. “I share a room with my brother Charles who’s actually crazier about basketball than me,” confides Chris who also remembers how his family and relatives would play sports together on Sundays when he was younger. “In our family, I’m the only one who pursued sports. My mom was hesitant about it initially because my grades might be affected but she gave in later when she saw that I can do both.”

Chris finished a BS Management Engineering course and later took some subjects in BS Applied Math and Finance, and a Minor on Chinese Language. “I did an internship with a bank in my senior year but I want to be on the client side now. Kasi the hours [in banking] are crazy.”

“I’m not the typical Chinese who goes to work in the family business. God placed me here for a reason and it is my goal to be able to influence people,” affirms Chris who hopes that five years from now, he’ll be having his own family and doing business with a social advocacy. “[Endorsements and TV hosting] are not going to last forever. Ten years from now, hands on na ako sa business.”

He declares that, at the moment, “I just want to enjoy what I’m doing, be happy, and affect others. I continue to pray for signs because I also want to know what else God wants me to do.” As for his advice to young people like him, he says, “Learn and educate yourself so you can go to the next level. Build a brand for yourself and discover what will make you stand out from other people. Know what you want to do. Save and invest wisely.”

While some people might think he is enjoying easy success, training in basketball professionally while juggling his other responsibilities is no mean feat. He explains, “I don’t believe in instant gratification. Success needs time and perseverance.”

But for his most important advice, Chris says, “Spend time with people you love because life is all about relationships. Look forward and have foresight, but also live for the moment.”

Chris Tiu’s Facebook Page

Make-up artist & Stylist: Ernie Antiquin
Clothes: Levi’s and Dockers
Photos By Pancho Escaler
Cover and editorial shoot and interview coordinated by Edlen Vanezza Bayaton, ebayaton@moneysense.com.ph.

2 thoughts on “Chris Tiu Plays It Forward

  • Trelmarie Calipayan

    His ONE of a KIND…

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