By Josie Moralidad Ziman
Special to Manila Mail
ARLINGTON, Va. Abandoned by his American father, Richard Holsman struggled to eke a living and support his mother in Southern Leyte, a backwater eastern province that lies along the Philippine’s “typhoon highway”.
From that humble beginning, Holsman, now 41, is the CEO and President of Holsman Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Centers that operates in New Jersey and New York.
To this day, he is at a loss on how his biological father, a businessman from Hawaii, met his mother in the Philippines. “My biological father didn’t even know if I was born. I grew up not getting any support from him. I have not known or seen him,” he said sadly in an interview with the Manila Mail.
Holsman grew up independent and mostly in the care of a grandmother in Southern Leyte and his Aunt Josephine in Makati, part of the Metro Manila capital region. His mom remarried and he has one sister and two brothers.
“After graduating from high school and up to my third year in college, I was selling vegetables at a wet market (palengke) in Alabang and Muntinlupa selling onions, tomatoes, cabbage and etc. The values of hard work, fear of God and the determination to succeed were instilled in me at a young age by my grandmother. I was able to experience seeing her barbecue fish or do the “tinapa’ in the wee hours of the morning and sell it during the day,” he said.
For Holsman, coming to America was not an easy journey. The path for him was the US Physical Therapy Examination in 1998, facilitated by a New York-based employer, after graduating with Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy degree from the University of Perpetual Help in Rizal. This was quickly followed by a Masters of Arts in Teaching Major and Health Education.
He was lucky to be one of the applicants selected out of 250. He got his US work on September 28, 2001 and arrived in a traumatized America, and a devastated New York City.
He was assigned to three different worksites in New York City days after he arrived. He would work for four days a week as a School Physical Therapist in the morning and then work in an out-patient setting in the afternoon and the evening in Manhattan; and one day a week in Queens. After six months, he was transferred to New Jersey in a Sub-Acute Rehab Nursing Facility (Forest Hill Healthcare Center) where he worked for 11 years as a Staff Physical Therapist, Assistant Director of Rehab, Director of Rehab and Director of Quality Assurance. While working at Forest Hill five days a week, he managed to earn a specialty certification in Geriatric Physical Therapy.
In 2004, he started building the Holsman Healthcare, LLC, a healthcare staffing and consulting company. The following year, he started building the Home Therapy LLC that provides Physical Therapy services to patients in their homes. Finally in 2011, he founded the Holsman Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation PC- a clinic group practice manned by physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech therapists as well as chiropractors and massage therapists. The Holsman group of companies currently employs over 75 employees; and owns and operates 15 outpatient Rehabilitation Centers in New Jersey and New York City.
In addition, he was able to finish a degree at Boston University Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences in 2013.
“I always dreamed of opening a company in the United States even when I was in the Philippines, so it was just a matter of time and capital that I would eventually put up my own business,” he averred.
“When I first started working in the US, I was working 12 hours a day, seven days a week when a typical PT would work only eight hours a day, 5 days a week. I was working in the hospitals, nursing homes and home care agencies after my full-time job. I had so much work available that I had to start hiring therapists to fill the needs of the employers that wanted my services. I was able to help my patients and at the same time able to help our countrymen by petitioning Physical and Occupational Therapists on a green card or on a working visa at Holsman Healthcare’s expense without any cost from the employee,” he explained.
“If other people can do it, I certainly can do it,” Holsman declared.
“Never give up and don’t be afraid to ask for help when needed. Always put God and people first,” he beamed with the quiet aura of a man who’s crossed an ocean and found success on the other side.