Over twenty-five years ago, Rachel Harrison received devastating news: Julyan, her two-year-old son, was diagnosed with autism.
At that time, she was living in Switzerland, so it was easy to find wide open spaces to raise him.
Things changed, however, after she relocated to Singapore with her husband and three children.
The crowded and fast-paced city-state was not conducive to Julyan’s condition, so in 2010, Harrison started developing a 26ha estate in San Narciso, Zambales, where her son could live by the beach and keep himself busy growing vegetables.
The beginning of Zambawood
On that Zambales property now stands a hotel called Zambawood Boutique House and a cottage for surfers named Julyan’s Surf BnB. Harrison also runs a café called Julyan Coffee Spot in the town center of San Narcisco.
The common thread of these establishments is that they also serve as skills training venues for people with different abilities.
In 2019, Harrison added another feather to her social entrepreneur cap: a Julyan Coffee Spot in Makati City’s Poblacion district. “We branched out to Manila because we felt there are more beneficiaries here,” Harrison says.
Extending her advocacy
Julyan Coffee Spot initially had five baristas – four of them were deaf-mute, while one was deaf. Guests had to order in sign language, with instructions printed on a board.