Hey Dink readers! You’re in for a real treat with this Pickleball Q &A with George Aquino!
Where did you grow up and what is that area known for?
I spent my childhood and early teen years in Manila. The Philippines is known for its friendly and hospitable people. Also, Filipino food, a cornucopia of Spanish, Chinese and American influences, is one of the most underrated cuisines in the world.
I grew up during the Martial Law years of the ’70s, though I was too young and was shielded from the impact of those tumultuous years in our country. I will always cherish those years in Manila. I was fortunate to have been surrounded by a loving and supportive family. I went to an all-boys, Jesuit school. I enjoyed sports, especially squash and tennis and was big into jazz music and photography.
After high school did you go to college, travel the world, volunteer, start working right away, something else?
I traveled quite a bit when I was a child. At 10, I embarked on my first international trip by myself from Los Angeles back to Manila (my grandmother did find two Catholic nuns to sit with me on that 16-hour flight!) I went to the University of Iowa to pursue writing, then moved to Chicago and out of desperation to support myself, I took on a job as a busboy in a hotel restaurant. I had no idea it was the top French fine dining restaurant in the city. I found my calling in hospitality with that job.
What is or was your career and what's been satisfying about it?
You must fully immerse yourself in your career if you want to succeed in the hospitality business. This meant spending every dime that you have on travel and dining experiences, which I did. My business card says “I eat and drink for a living. Ask me how that’s working out…” Going to work never feels like work for me.
Other hobbies or interests besides pickleball?
I love photographing my experiences during my travels. Some of my favorite destinations are Paris, Tokyo and Switzerland. I also was a food critic and travel columnist for MLive Media and Lake Magazine.
What is your dream group of three other players to play with and what court are you playing on?
I would love to play underneath the Eiffel Tower with Ben Johns, Simone Jardim and Andrea Koop. How cool would that be?