Everybody loves Tim Yap. All right, maybe not everybody, but it sure seems that way as he takes me on a tour of his “palace” on what has turned out to be one extremely wet evening. As we make our way in and out of interlocked buildings, covering our heads and dodging puddles, we are greeted every few steps with pleasantries—hi’s and hellos, ma’ams and sirs, smiles and waves. And, not surprisingly, since I am with a personality like Tim, we are stopped a few times, by both friends and strangers, asking for a quick photo that they can immediately post on their social media platform of choice. Smartphones are raised in the air and Tim assumes position. No classic smile here, but with his eyes fully engaged, and a little bit of a pout going on, he looks straight into the camera. He is clearly a pro.
The “palace” I’m referring to is not Tim’s new home, but The Palace Manila, his venture with longtime partners Erik Cua and Fernando Aracama. This vast nighttime entertainment complex in Bonifacio Global City houses the popular Valkyrie, a dance club that can hold 2,000 people. Next door is The Pool Club, a pool bar and lounge, and next to that is Revel, a lounge for the more sophisticated crowd, along with a number of other watering holes and eateries. Tonight, despite the weather, there is a well-known DJ playing, so they anticipate 4,000 guests will walk through the doors. When the complex is fully operational it will be ready to welcome 10,000. “We are onto something country-changing,” he continues, as he shows me the expanse of Valkyrie’s now empty, but not for long, interior. “What we have created is a tourist attraction where visitors can experience the Filipino people. We make sure people have the best time. Because of this, Manila becomes part of their list of favorite cities. I really feel we are doing our part to help promote the country and we are unsung heroes when it comes to tourism.”
After our tour, we find ourselves on the deck of Café Naya. I enjoy a cocktail topped with egg foam, and Tim nurses a glass of red wine. Our table has an excellent vantage point from which to survey all that the Palace really is, and Tim continues to speak about the project with much fervor. “My partners and I have always felt that our generation needed its rightful dance floor, because at the time we started there were only bars but no exciting clubs, so Embassy was born. We could have just given up everything after that, with all the headaches and heartaches we went through there with the government of Taguig during its latter years. I understand that they were really under a lot of pressure at the time. When Megaworld approached us to be their pioneer tenants in Resorts World Manila, we accepted and opened both Republiq and then Opus. We brought in the people and it was all good. We made it seem so easy that others followed suit and opened other clubs with claims that they were bigger or better. So we opened this, end of argument.”
All throughout the evening, people are still approaching him and he manages to speak to everyone—each of us thinking that we all have his undivided attention. The man is that good.
That Tim has 1.4 million Twitter followers and 294,000 Instagram devotees should come as no surprise to anyone. He certainly has packed a lot into his 20-year career, counting actor, producer, editor, television and radio host, public relations professional, and eventologist (a word of his own creation) as his many occupations. His power to shape cultural trends through his visual narrative and commentary has also made him a sought after endorser for several companies. “My media work is what I enjoy most and the club a strong second,” he says. “I enjoy interacting with my guests on my TV show and find it very enriching, but I think I’m ready to change it up a bit.” I take the cue and ask if there is something new on the horizon, but he just smiles, so I take that as a yes.
The many who know Tim personally probably know what I discovered over our six-course dinner. Tim is a perfect gentleman, who stands up when I do, pulls and pushes in my seat, holds the door, and makes sure that when dining I am served first. On several occasions I have also witnessed how he is the ultimate diplomat who has a remarkable facility for managing what could be potentially awkward situations. He is not one to fan the flames, but can be counted on to put out the fire. It is also clear that he has an innate talent for recognizing “what comes next.” We discuss this in detail and I convince him that not only is it a talent but a valuable business skill—not everyone can see what he sees, let alone act on it. “When I analyze what I’ve done over them years, I see that things have synergized on their own. My role in the club scene, media, public relations—they are all about bringing people together. People I know are from different subcultures—yuppies, artists, celebrities—and we all come together."
Does he ever get tired? “I know it’s a cliché, but I don’t feel like I’m working and I don’t need much sleep either. When I go to a party, I don’t feel like it’s work because I’m doing something that I love. I’m always energized,” he says.
With all of his accomplishments, Tim remains set on fulfilling more ambitions. For a man like him, success is an addiction. “I have this dream journal, a scrapbook where I cut and paste images and words of all my dreams and goals. I was on my way to Cannes with a good friend and she was skimming through the pages when she pointed out, ‘Tim, you have accomplished all of these things already!’”
“Have you added to that journal recently?” I ask.
“No, but I need to.”