Filipinos always tend to shine wherever they go. Like a beautiful flower, Hazel Elizabeth bloomed, blossomed where she was planted. Her being an expatriate in a cosmopolite Arab country for a number of years exposed her to a cross-cultural environment, where myriads of values, fused with the eclectic lifestyle of the elite Emirati, and locals have rubbed its influence on her persona. “But in a positive way, I believe,” Hazel Elizabeth adds. She’s witty, down-to-earth and gracious, despite the privileged life that she now enjoys.
In a foreign country, as many Filipinos have shared, one must learn to survive, blend, yet be assertive while remaining respectful, Hazel begins.
Throwback. A young ingenue grows up.
Hazel recalls with fondness her growing up years in the breathtaking and beckoning island of Camiguin. “We didn’t grow up with a golden spoon, not even a silver spoon. We lived a simple, laid-back life in our hometown. I have two other siblings. My mother is a pharmacist while my father, now deceased, was a farmer- businessman. I attribute to my dad the tough side in me. I give him credit for that. I consider myself a simple, provincial lass back then but full of big dreams and ambition.”
Smiling, Hazel reveals she dreamt of one day becoming a flight attendant or a model. “I was very close to becoming a stewardess. But I think fate wanted me to take a different path.”
Tall, svelte and statuesque, Hazel Elizabeth’s smooth, fair, flawless skin and classic, finely chiselled features is hard not to notice. She easily won the discriminating judges’ favor at their school’s beauty pageant when she was in college and was thus crowned the enviable Miss STI - Visayas and Mindanao. Hazel graduated from STI with a course in Computer Science.
Later, through the prompting of her mentor- friend Jojo Magaro, who encouraged and pushed her to audition, she was able to fulfill her other aspiration. Cal Carrie’s, a premiere modelling agency in Asia held a nationwide search for Ford supermodel. After breezing through the entire stringent screening process, Cal Carrie’s top management was clearly impressed and signed up Hazel Elizabeth to be part of its roster of runway fashion models in the country.
Education is important for Hazel Elizabeth and so aside from the crash courses undertaken, in 2013, she had successfully hurdled a degree in Bachelor of Science in Business Administration major in Management (BSBA) from CAP College.
Her favorite color is blue-green. “Like the calming, soothing aquamarine color of the sea. . . on the outside I am like that. Within me however, is an unfathomable depth – a deep-seated determined quest for excellence each time, no less than the best, as I never settle for the mediocre.”
No time for regrets. Move forward.
“Although I have a few regrets, I will not elaborate nor revisit. Like any human being, I’ve made a lot of mistakes in life - who doesn’t? But I believe that’s part of improving and developing one’s self to become a better person, so I am not afraid of making mistakes. I don’t dwell on the negative things. I brace myself and avoid the blame game. Taught myself instead to move forward even as I learned valuable lessons from those sad or bad experiences that hurt me or caused me to fail. . . I counted those as blessings in disguise, too.”
Unfazed. Persevering. She welcomes criticisms for obvious reasons. “It’s the best way to learn and grow from whatever it is that is being criticized. One learns what mistake not to repeat too. I am my own critic too.”
Hazel Elizabeth also bares that “when something has gone wrong, especially if that hit me hard – I’d feel the impact of course, and would naturally react as a human being. But later, the beauty comes out from the undesirable situation as lessons are learned. When realization strikes, it humbles my heart to the core. . . because whatever it was that happened, most of the time it can be attributed by our decision making.”
On to a new adventure. The ever optimist who never backed down on worthwhile challenges, Hazel Elizabeth considers obstacles and setbacks as stepping stones to moving on to much better opportunities. So, when a new and lucrative opportunity to work abroad opened, she embraced her journey with enthusiasm and optimism, and traveled to the Middle East, in Kuwait where she worked as a marketing associate then for a huge contracting company supporting the U.S. Coalition Forces.
Smart as she is hardworking, Hazel Elizabeth has gained the trust and confidence of her foreign employers. “I am not afraid of working hard, as long as I am compensated fairly for my hard work.”
Work and leisure was an empowering mix, as Hazel Elizabeth was often invited to grace exclusive corporate functions and even became one of the judges in a prestigious teen modelling contest while in Kuwait.
Career growth beckoned. In a few years, Hazel Elizabeth flew to Dubai, an open city in the Emirates where she further honed her skills in real estate sales and garnered a lucrative, satisfying career as the sales and marketing manager for Savannah Properties in Dubai U.A.E.
Her niche is now clearly established. A quick glance at Hazel Elizabeth and one can observe that the lady has panache, is confident, charming, and obviously a fluent, persuasive communicator, which is why she successfully closed a lot of real property negotiations in Dubai.
Serendipity and the stars. It was while Hazel was working in Dubai that she later met her Lebanese/British husband. “He was one of my clients from Kuwait who had invested in Dubai real properties. Jamal is a contractor for the energy sector with solid experience in building power plants, and now focusing on renewable energy. “Our union is a colorful discovery. . . and we are blessed with a lovely daughter – Heba, an Arabic word that means gift.
And now, as a diligent and determined student taking up her masters degree in Business Administration at the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies (AIIAS). “My studies now is definitely part of my preparation for a new venture.” And quoting Seneca, a renowned Roman philosopher, Hazel Elizabeth always reminded herself that “luck happens when preparation meets opportunity”. The loving mother in her has been sharing this nugget of wisdom to their child Heba because “. . . the world does not owe us anything and therefore we create our own luck”
Rising from her humble beginnings, Hazel Elizabeth is clearly now a master of her trade. She is the proprietor of HH Real Property Lessor, based in Camiguin. This, while she successfully juggles her manifold roles: a devoted mom to their only child Heba, a caring wife to her husband Jamal, even as she is helping quietly in several community programs that are geared to helping improve the lot of the less fortunate. She had encouraged her house help, and workers avail of it to uplift their lives.
In a bit of emotional moment, Hazel Elizabeth recalls a heart-wrenching experience when she personally visited to give assistance at the site where the Sendong typhoon victims were temporarily staying. “. . . my heart was touched, seeing their most beautiful smiles!” Her philanthropic efforts continued, wherein, “I gave a modest aid during the Yolanda typhoon, to have the badly hit roofs for a group of residents repaired. The update I got were beautiful pictures with the big smiles and huge thank you with my name on it. I was very, very touched! I may be flawed but truly, my heart goes out to the needy.”
Hazel Elizabeth concludes, “My heart is forever grateful to our Creator. I’ve learned too, to be appreciative of everything - the good and the not so good things. I perceive life with beautiful colors and I let it govern my perspective as it is a mental impression on how we understand and interpret a given situation.”
On being who and what she is today, one thing is undeniable, Hazel Elizabeth is a woman of substance and grace. “I am who I am and I have no need to show off. How I see and know myself is definitely not the same as how others perceive me.”
With her principles in life uncompromised, Hazel Elizabeth has achieved and accomplished truly a lot in life.
Make no mistake. This well-heeled, jet-setting, attractive, sophisticated and cosmopolitan woman has her sights beyond our shores even as she is well-grounded. She is determined and unstoppable.
She is Hazel Elizabeth Chan Paglinawan-Chaaraoui. Every bit a Filipina, an empowered achiever, still humble, is empowering others with her as well, with her engaging positive outlook in life.
Official Photographer: Jovel L.A. Images
Hair & Make Up Artist: Japhet Navarro
Venue: Chavez Estate
Fashion Designer: Roel Rosal
Creative Styling: Denise D. Saludo