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Outstanding women

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Sheila B. Ambray

A wonder woman up-front

BY RENE S. BISQUERA

“The idea that people could tell stories, touch lives, and inspire others through the entertainment media has always made me curious about how it is done. So, I worked towards that goal – to become a contributor to this industry that I love,” talent manager Sheila Ambray emphasizes, even as she recalls having spent countless sleepless nights with her team to making sure that their first-ever concert production in 2010 would be a success.

That it was, indeed, a smashing success was also reason why she a bit later put up Front Media Entertainment (FME): “Through that concert, I was able to meet more people in the industry who saw the potential, and opened doors for my business. It marked the beginning of my career, which led me to where I am now.”

And right now, Ambray is, like any other woman dreaming of a good family and professional life, where she’s luckily good at: wife to lawyer husband and mother to three lovely daughters; and manager to hundreds of showbiz wannabes.

In her own words, “The best thing about my life today is my family and business.   This has given me the privilege to work on projects I am passionate about, attend events I never imagined I would go to, and meet people I admire. Now, I use this privilege to contribute to the Philippine entertainment industry. Also, my family inspires me to be the best person that I can be. They are my rock. I am blessed that I have a supportive family: my husband Atty. Aquino F. Ambray not only guides me but inspires me to be the best I can be. My three daughters, Aliya, Diana and Alexis, also enjoy what I am doing and they also even aspire to be models.”

Even if work and family sounds like a hard balancing act, Ambray tells her secret – time management – which, she clarifies, is really “difficult but possible.  For instance, I always make sure that I am home from work at a time that my kids are still awake. We also make sure that we get at least one full-day bonding session per week. My family comes before anything else. I want them to know that I am always there for them even with my hectic schedule.”

The same motherly and loving technique works for her when it comes to managing her households – she loves to entertain at home – which are in a posh village in Alabang and in vacation paradise that is Laiya, Batangas. “Every year, we have around five or more parties in our house. The most important thing for me is that I treat my guests like family. All of my and my children’s friends are always welcome in our home. During parties or visits, I like to make sure that everyone is comfortable and happy. I want my home to be a place where my guests feel at home and relaxed,” she notes with a smile.

“Our beach house in Batangas is a getaway place where I can relax and spend time with my family and close friends. Sometimes, I also go there by myself when I am in some serious need of de-stressing,” she hastily adds.

Obviously, it is the same loving principle she seriously applies when it comes to the current – and, more importantly, future – people-oriented activities of her agency. “Right now, I am focused on three things: finding new talents, honing the skills of our current talents, and exposing my business to the international scene. First, FME holds on-going VTRs for potential TV commercials and print ads, providing an avenue for talents to become noticed by TV networks, film makers, record labels, etc. Adding valuable contributors to the entertainment industry is crucial. Second, we are helping our current roster of talents become the influencers of the future. For instance, our company holds workshops where people from the industry work with them to be better in their craft. Third, I am involving myself in international events as there so many creative forces in the independent scene that should be given the chance to showcase their work.
   
While hard work and dedication to her profession have brought Ambray a fair share of rewards – she was an  NCCA’s “Ani ng Dangal” awardee for producing in 2014 Sundalong Kanin, the “Best Feature Film Global” in the International Film Festival Manhattan; also a featured film in the recent Cannes Film Festival – she is collectively setting up her goals to a passionate level, pointing out that,  “It is the industry that fires up my passion. Seeing our projects and talents gain recognition in the entertainment industry motivates me to work harder to produce the best output.”

Ambray is equally passionate about education. “I am very passionate about education. Currently, I am sponsoring the education of three children through an organization called the Children’s Ministry. But, given the chance, I would definitely work with more organizations that aim to educate those who do not have the means for it.”

Thus, with the way things are going for her, Sheila Ambray who is clearly at the helm of both her family and business careers can be called a wonder woman of some, yes, pleasing sort. And that is because she is totally an empowering woman up-front – honest, candid, straightforward, and fair.

Mary Angeli Legarda

Pursuing dreams to a higher level

“If you have passion, strength, courage, determination and confidence, you can accomplish anything.”

It came to no surprise that Mary Angeli Pike Legarda, has achieved anything she set her mind to.

From getting a BS degree in medical technology to graduating from fashion designing to establishing her own family owned Kokuryu Facial Spa and Café Ben-A Bien, Mary Angeli is thankful for the blessings and the person she’d become.

“My husband Benito is the owner of Cherry Laboratory Incorporated, manufacturer of the iconic 52-year old cosmetics line from Japan.  He is my number one supporter to every endeavor I make. He has a relentless desire for enterprise and is always by my side to guide me all these years. He’s a loving and caring husband and a father who discipline our kids. He always places God in the center of our family,” says the contented entrepreneur. 

“Our parents taught us to be happy and content with what we have though they motivated us to pursue our dreams to a higher level. They taught us to be generous and helpful with one another and to love with a steadfast heart, never unwavering in our faith that God is our Rewarder.  They raised us to be a God-fearing people and faith, love and prayer bonded us together as a family.”
   
“Because of our unwavering Faith in God, we always practice what we preach and help people – and that is how we succeed in family and in business.  ––JET D. ANTOLIN

Andrea D. Domingo

No ordinary woman

LONG before women empowerment became an advocacy of many organizations, Andrea D. Domingo – PAGCOR’s new Chairman and Chief Executive Officer – was already blazing her own trail and creating her unique brand of leadership.

Known for being a “tough yet gentle” manager, CEO Domingo believes that in order for an organization to succeed, she had to practice the fine art of tough love. “I am able to balance being tough and being gentle by knowing what is right and what is wrong. If I want to get things done competently and on time, I am very tough because I do not demand from anybody what I do not demand from myself,” she says.

The former Immigration Commissioner, Philippine Reclamation Authority General Manager and Pampanga Representative attributes her leadership skills to her training at the University of the Philippines, where she earned her B.A. Journalism degree (Minor in Communication Research).

Also, her managerial stints in both private and public organizations further honed her management style. “From there, it’s wanting to learn, applying what you learned and improving yourself. I think, as manager and as a leader, you have to continuously improve. If you don’t learn a new thing in a few months, you are stagnant,” CEO Domingo explains.

When she joined PAGCOR last July 2016, she didn’t expect that her new post would be taking most of her time. “But I’m spending an average of eight to ten hours a day in the office and I am on call after office hours or on Saturdays and Sundays if there are problems,” she adds.

The new PAGCOR chief says unlike the other organizations that she helmed, PAGCOR is different because its product is money. “The way to obtain that money is through gaming—which is a volatile business. You have to be constantly monitoring which casinos are losing or winning. You have to learn how to manage the volatility so that the government can maximize its revenues,” she shares.

But the 67-year old chief executive has no plans of slowing down. “Since this is my last job before retirement, I would like PAGCOR employees to remember that this management brought in the best organizational structure, the best management practice in an organization, the best compensation and in return, the best revenue for the government.” 

Outside PAGCOR, CEO Domingo is a doting wife, grandmother and mother to her three accomplished children — Rolando Enrique, an Ophthalmologist who is also an Associate Professor at the UP College of Medicine; Karl, an entrepreneur and Pampanga Board Member; and Karen, an Immigration Officer. “On weekends, after reading all the wins and losses of casinos, I have time to relax. Usually, I cook for my family,” she smiles.

A painter and a certified dance enthusiast, CEO Domingo had launched solo exhibits and had competed in several Latin dancesports abroad. “I still dance but it’s more of social dancing. I no longer join competitive dance sports because I don’t have the time to rehearse.”

Now, CEO Domingo has set aside her dancing shoes to scale new heights as PAGCOR’s top executive. With PAGCOR’s 11,000 strong workforce, she is confident that the state-run gaming firm will continue to be instrumental in helping the government build a stronger nation. 

Mary Ann Gonzales

Empowering the community through

multipurpose cooperative

MARY Ann Gonzales the co- founder and president of the KAPANDESAL Multipurpose Cooperative, a financial Institution  Cooperative. She  was inspired by Mel Tadeo  because of the integrity and dedication to her chosen field as her business partner. The KAPANDESAL Multipurpose Cooperative is dedicated to the  integrity and their communities 4L’s- Life, Style, Love and Livelihood. With its Lifeblood motto, “Pray. Work, Serve.” It is operated  by F.A.I.T.H values which means Faith, Altruism, Integrity, Transparency, and Humility.

Though, busy with her work, Mary Ann says Sundays are reserved for family bonding. “Every Sunday, we have breakfast, sport activities. We go to church and have dinner together.” This 48-year-old mom of grown-up kids believes that having a successful life and business is being passionate about the things you wish to do.” 

Katherine “Kat” de Castro

Fit to a T at DoT

If given a chance to promote the Philippines to other countries, how will you do it?

It sounds like a question to a Ms. Universe candidate, but Tourism Undersecretary for Office of Public Affairs, Communications and Special Projects (OPACSP) and concurrent officer in charge of the Philippine Commission on Sports Scuba Diving (PCSSD), Katherine ‘Kat’ de Castro answers the question with flying colors in an interview at her Makati office.

“It’s more fun in the Philippines, but telling other people why it is MORE fun in the Philippines is a different thing. We tell people in other countries that if they’re in the country, it’s like you are with your family. All other countries in Asia have a lot of good food, beaches but, our’s is the best because of our hospitality. We treat foreigners as our family,” Kat says.

“Tourists will experience that hospitality and I’m sure they will not find it elsewhere, but here in the Philippines, only here,” she adds.

This single mom starts her day at five in the morning preparing things for her 12-year-old daughter and ends at eight in the evening. “I bring her to school and after that I go straight to my work.

A hands-on mom, Kat plans the meals for her daughter and makes it a point she has at least an hour every night to talk with her. “A simple how was your day conversation with her makes a difference. Raising a kid on your own is a challenging task. I try not to bring my work home. I finish my work here and all the paper works end here. My Sunday is free for my daughter. We go to Subic, Clark or anywhere near my place or northern part,” says Kat when asked about how she bonds with her only child. “I support everything she does. Before, she’s into basketball and I watched her games. She’s now a football player and preparing to join the national team pretty soon, Kat says proudly.

The self-confessed favorite daughter of former vice president and radio/TV broadcaster Noli de Castro is a proud daddy’s girl. “I live with my parents in Quezon City and it gives me satisfaction seeing them every day. My dad is my biggest influence. He’s very logical and sya ang kakampi ko. He always reminds me to be cautious, especially on signing documents. Now that I’m a public servant, he gives me pieces of advice and even criticizes the way I talked in interviews or the dresses I wore on TV,” she said laughing.

A Communication Arts graduate of Miriam College, Kat who used to host a travel show on ABS-CBN is so excited about the plans of the tourism department. “We have a lot of projects. We’re coming up with a new tv show with the DoT. We’ll be doing international documentaries. We’re getting a lot of sponsorships requesting for us to do a travel show and since my background is a travel show, why not come with a travel show.”

The department also has an upcoming event where all rock star chefs will come to the country for the flavors of the Philippines and feature all the good food of the country. “We’ll also be launching a star cruise from Manila, Laoag, Taiwan, Hong Kong and back in Manila. A talk with the French Embassy to promote Fort Santiago is also in the offing and the launch of sports tourism.” Recently, the Philippine dive spots was showcased in Italy.

“The old DoT is known for promoting the traditional tourism and now, we’re thinking of launching projects out of the box. We’re upgrading the way we market the country to the rest of the world,” says the bubbly official whose advocacy is to put the Philippines in the best light by creating positivity and good views coming from the tourism department under Secretary Wanda Corazon Teo.

Geraldine Desiderio-Garcia

CBIG: Insuring Filipinos for over 50 years

BY JET D. ANTOLIN

GERALDINE Desiderio-Garcia, both senior vice president and general manager of Country Bankers Life Insurance Corporation (CBLIC) and Country Bankers Insurance Corporation (CBIC) lives up to the legacy her founder lolo and father started: That Country Bankers be the Filipinos’ Partner for Life’.

After more than five decades, the Country Bankers Insurance Group (CBIG) is still on top, as Garcia is committed to continuing to make insurance accessible to Filipinos in the low-income bracket by offering insurance coverage that is both relevant and affordable.

“My lolo and his friends founded CBIC in 1960 and CBLIC in 1965 when the local insurance sector focused on high-end customers. That was the time they decided to offer non-life and life insurance products for low income Pinoys and that includes farmers, fishermen, teachers, small-medium entrepreneurs and residents of rural areas. These people can then use their insurance coverage to protect their livelihood or as collateral for loans.”

A mother to three grown up kids, Garcia is an only child of his late father and an

octogenarian banker mom who is now ill and needs all the love and care. “I usually wake up at 5am and I’m at the office by 8am. We’re all busy, but a weekend means staying at my mom’s condo in Makati where we bond together,” says the 45-year-old executive.

Though occupied with everything around her, Garcia still manages the two corporations and diligently visits them every day. “Since my mother is sick, I usually check on her rural bank in Caloocan to see what’s going on there and go back here in my office in Manila, to also manage the two companies, CBLIC &  CBIC, which both fall under Country Bankers Insurance Group (CBIG). I still have a beauty salon in Greenhills, so I really need a clone to do things for me, but I’m not complaining,” adds Garcia, who jokes that ‘me time’ doesn’t exist in her dictionary anymore.

“I go out with my best friends for coffee and a little chit chat,” says Garcia about how she copes with stress. The witty executive, an occasional wedding singer and once dreamed of becoming a commercial jingle singer, says she doesn’t make life complicated and that also applies to the way she handles the Country Bankers Insurance Group. “I came from the ranks (purchasing department). I didn’t come here and get this position right away. I worked hard for this. My late father trained me to do things in the office from the bottom and that’s how I started,” says the independent woman, who drives her own car and wishes to commute via LRT to shun the monstrous traffic jam in the metro.

Garcia is also thankful to her father, her biggest influence, for teaching her the things she can’t find in the books. “He taught me how to deal with people and how to communicate with the people in the countryside. There are different kinds of communicating and it’s so hard to convince people in the province to get an insurance plan. But after they get one, they feel empowered.”

Up to this point, Garcia treats her employees with motherly love like how her father treated them with love and care. “We’re all like a big family here in the office and I guess that’s the secret to the success of the company,” quips Garcia, who also wishes to attend a mass with the Pope in Vatican or join the pilgrimage where Jesus Christ had been to.

With the rising of  insurance companies and as the competition gets tighter, Garcia is not allowing other companies to let her down. “I personally go to the countryside and meet people there. We have agents, but seeing me there personally is a big deal to these people.” “Being number one doesn’t mean we just sit there and relax. We don’t have to be complacent.

“Also, we let our clients feel that we’re true to our promise. If something bad happened to them, the Country Bankers Insurance Group (CBIG) immediately releases money for them. We make it a point that the CBIG can be trusted. That way, other people who are skeptical about insurance are getting plans for their family because they know the Country Bankers Insurance Group is not a scam, a fraud or something. CBIG goes by the slogan, Kapag Sigurado, Hindi Kabado.”

The Country Bankers Insurance Group, according to Garcia, will continue the

legacy of her late lolo and father who dreamt the marginalized people be insured and that insurance policies are not only for the rich people but also for them, the CBLIC’s niche.

“Now, I’m into educating countryside people or poor people on getting an insurance plan and I’m hoping that if they think about insurance, the Country Bankers Insurance Group would be on top of their head,” Garcia said.

Dr. Joyce Penas Pilarsky

No other way but up

BY JET D. ANTOLIN

HER love for fashion and jewelry go  a long way.

As a child, Dr. Joyce Penas Pilarsky loved to draw and cut paper dolls and had them dress up like models complete with blings or other accessories. As she grew older, Joyce started making clothes first for her family and friends then gradually, to people who noticed her unique cut and style. They started asking  her if she could also make clothes for them.

A very private person, Joyce was happy enough that her clientele were satisfied with her work and doing so were dreams came true. But there’s no other way for her but up. More than five years ago, with the prodding of her well-meaning friends and clients, she joined the Philippine Fashion Week in May for the first time to showcase her talent and exceptional designs.

“It was surreal and can’t grasp a word when I first saw my creations in an event like that,” said Joyce. She was still in euphoria of success that all she wanted was to level up her work of art when she got an invitation in July to join a summer fashion show at the Seine River in Paris.

“Again, I can’t believe that it was happening. I joined the fashion show and it was done in a huge transparent cruise ship. The show was one of a kind. We were having a show while cruising through one of the enchanting rivers and seeing the majestic views were spectacular. There were only six designers chosen and I was lucky enough to be one of them,” said Joyce.

It seemed like her fairy godmother was so munificent that after the first show in Paris, another invitation followed and this time, a show at Brenners Park Hotel in Baden, Baden Germany. And to complete the showcase, another show in Brooklyn New York in September was done together with known and aspiring designers from different countries.

The rest is history as Joyce received awards one after the other like a bronze award in 2016 International Design and a has been proclaimed Grand Champion at Los Angeles Fashion Week Design Competition last October 17, 2015   Tagged as “Design Warz” by Los Angeles Fashion Week Design Competition, the event is a platform for fashion designers, makeup artists and hair stylists. Twelve artists competed in three design categories — hair design, makeup artistry and fashion design on the runway during Los Angeles Fashion Week. She’s been attending prestigious fashion shows all over the globe for the past years and putting her name in the fashion world map.

Currently the president of Filipino German Club (Kalsruhe Germany) and international director of the Rotary Club, this lady is also a singer who once wished to be a jazz or opera singer.  She does pilates, yoga and meditation whenever stress strikes.

At the moment, Joyce is busy doing her collection for the Coastal Fashion Week this year.

A God-fearing lady, she can’t thank God enough for the blessings. “The experience opens the gate to lots of opportunities to share what God has given me.”

Above all the success, Joyce finds solace in her family and children. “I always find time for my family no matter how busy I am. Saturday is a family day. “I cook for them and have lunch together then we would play in the garden. Sometimes we watch movies or play tennis or golf.” They are my precious possessions that no other awards or recognition can come closer.”

Zonito Torrevillas-Tamase

Zonito’s leafy journey to malunngay business

BY JET D. ANTOLIN

SHE herself is a living proof of the efficacy of her own malunggay concoction after she took an alternative path to deal with her maladies.

Fifty something Zonito Torrevillas-Tamase, an entrepreneur, president of NaturEarth Corporation, admits that when she was younger, she has had unhealthy foods eaten and followed an unhealthy lifestyle until her health suffered.  All the ‘garbage’ she put into her body take its toll on her well being.

Zonito had hypertension and diabetes that had affected her physically. After doing away with a cocktail of pills that didn’t totally control her high blood pressure and elevated blood sugar, she took an alternative path to solve her health crisis

“It was late when I realized and felt the effects of what I’ve been doing with my overall health.  Slowly, I changed my lifestyle and started eating healthy. Had I not changed my lifestyle, I’m sure I’m already dead by now,“ Zonito shares.

“I exercised daily, controlled my food intake and slept eight hours a day,” says Zonito. “But, what finally normalized my blood pressure and blood sugar level was I took malunggay powder or flakes, as hot tea, and lately, M2 iced tea, now a popular refreshment and herbal remedy as well.

But, how did Zonito discover the efficacy of her M2 malunggay concoction. How did it start?

NaturEarth Corporation’s humble beginnings started when Zonito and husband Franz Josef “Jojo” Tamase baked the first malunggay pan de sal in the Philippines in 2004 under the Moringa Power Foods Corporation. Since then, this popular malunggay-spiked bun have been copied my other bakeries in Metro Manila. In 2010, the business-minded couple then sold malunggay powder-coated peanuts under the name PowerNut.  From selling sweet nuts, they decided to step up higher and went into malunggay-based healthy snack items and drinks under its present name NaturEarth Corporation, whose slogan is “Providing real foods with adequate nutritional content and promote better eating habits for everyone as well as empowering Filipino farmers.”

“It was a great journey of restoring my health,” avers Zonito, “My endocrinologist, upon learning about the beneficial effects of malunggay in getting rid of my diabetes and lowering my blood pressure, suggested to me to go into malunggay food business so many people would also benefit from it.”

With that vital insight, Zonito had her malunggay formula for M2 Vegetable Iced Tea patented at the IPO and applied for business permit and complied with FDA requirements. She also got the help of the people of the Department of Science and Technology (DoST) who provided her the machine and equipment needed.

Zonito’s leafy journey into the malunggay food business led her to Dr. Monica Marcu, an American pharmacologist whom she met last year during the Moringaling Foundation Philippines International Congress held in Manila. In her book Miracle Tree, Dr. Marcu states that moringa contains all the essential amino acids our body needs, and it is rich in macroelements, including anti-oxidants and powerful anti-aging factor—Zeatin.    

NaturEarth’s best-seller now is its M2, a mixture of organically grown farm fresh malunggay, okra and ginger, all harvested on a farm far from pollutants, and sweetened with mascuvado sugar.

“I highly recommend that parents should teach their children to drink M2,  emphasizes Zonito during the well-attended launching of M2 at Robinson’s Supermarket beverage section nationwide . “It is delicious and refreshing nutritious drink. Most of all, taking malunggay makes lactating mothers produce more breast milk.”

To meet the clamor of health-conscious customers who have to order M2 online thru shopmasy.com, Naturearth and Kaleza.ph, this vegetable iced tea is now available in Robinson’s Supermarkets nationwide. To know more about its products, visit naturearthphilippines. com- contact: Natureearth 09177982887. For a free taste- M2 will be conducting a product tasting in Robinsons Supermarkets in the following cities- Tagaytay City on August 5 and 6, Angeles City- August 12-13, Baguio-August 19-20, Dumaguete City.

Cong. Florida Peres Robes

Finding joy in helping people

BY JET D. ANTOLIN

SHE finds joy and fulfillment in helping people and it’s not surprising this lady ended up as a well-loved congresswoman of the lone district of San Jose del Monte, Bulacan.

Cong. Florida Perez Robes or simply Ate Rida to her constituents was raised by her parents – Ricardo and Linda in Bustos, Bulacan. “When I was growing up, I became curious on seeking for solutions to the problems of inequality, poverty and injustice and this further ignited my passion for public service.”

After seeing positive change in society, Cong. Robes says her passion for public service becomes stronger, especially now that she’s helping to uplift the people’s standard of living. “It is undeniable that I feel the happiness and fulfillment every time I see development in society. It is and will always be my pleasure and honor to represent the San Josenos through legislating law and implementing programs towards the common good.”

Married to her husband, current Mayor Arthur of San Jose del Monte , who is also inclined in serving the people, the mega couple who are both compassionate in serving the people, believe that their talents, skills and knowledge can be best used and applied in the field of politics.

In spite of being busy attending to the needs of her constituents, Cong. Robes would make it a point her family comes first among other things. It was her parents, especially her late mother who instilled the importance of having a solid family. “Despite the busy schedule of being a legislator, I still find the time to bond with my family during weekends by having simple lunch together. On weekdays, I ensure that I wake up my son and daughter for school,” says the doting mom.

Her parents were her biggest influence in life for they always remind Cong. Robes to pray during bad and good times. It was also them who believed in her when no one else did. “They reminded me to be strong at all times.”

Though her life is considered as blessed for having good people around while serving the people, the legislator says that her biggest regret in life is not spending more time with her mother when she was alive.”I must admit that I was too focused on my career and I took for granted the things I should have spent more time on such as sharing most of my time with my mother.”

If she could only bring back time, she could have attended her mom’s last birthday celebration “because no amount of success can compare the joy my mom brings me.”

A fit and healthy body equates to having healthy constituents and Cong. Robes makes sure she eats a balanced diet daily and exercise. “Whenever we conduct Zumba programs, I also join my people to promote a healthy lifestyle and encourage them to read as part of relaxing.”

This 45-year-old legislator who wants to revisit the St. Peter’s Basilica believes in what Pope Benedict XVI once said: “The economy needs ethics to function correctly – not any ethics whatsoever, but an ethics which is people-centered.”   

Dra. Risa de Leon

Making people feel good about themselves

BY JET D. ANTOLIN

PEOPLE who feel good about themselves make this skin care physician feel good about  herself.

Sounds like a mantra, but, aesthetic dermatologist Dra. Risa de Leon believes so.

As a child, what De Leon really wanted was to be a doctor, but after she graduated in medicine, she has outgrown her dream after realizing that she’ll be spending time in a hospital surrounded by sick people. This dermatologist had a change of heart and switched her desire to make people good about themselves. And for her, aesthetic dermatology was the answer.

Fast forward. After she finished her residency training as a skin care physician, de Leon and a colleague put up their first Vanity Skin Aesthetics, Dermatology Clinic in One Ecom Center, Mall of Asia in 2010. Seven years after, de Leon now solely owns all VSA branches (Alabang Hills and 1426 Centuria, Medical Makati) and a partner in Skin Perfection by Vanity in Resorts World Manila, and Eveway by Vanity in Binan, Laguna.

“I love being a skin care physician in aesthetics simply because I love beauty. When a patient looks good, it makes me feel good. Standard beauty at any age is attainable – clear skin, healthy weight and a glossy hair. It takes discipline and yes, — a help from your doctors,” says de Leon.

On staying fit and beautiful, this dermatologist is a walking billboard to her clients. “I walk my talk. I always tell my patients that beauty is a mindset, and the best investment. I eat what I want to eat, in moderation. I sleep a lot and avoid staying out late (I am Cinderella, home by 12). I have a rigid daily skin regimen – a whitening soap, toner, serum, moisturizer, oral glutathione and a sunblock. I have regular photofacials, chemical peels, laser hair removal, anti-wrinkle injections, and stem cell injections. I’d want a lipo and eyebag removal surgery done but I don’t have the time yet. I rarely wear make-up, only when I have to. For me, a good clear skin is the best foundation,” she explains.

At home, de Leon makes it a point to be with the kids at 6pm to help her two high schoolers with their projects and other homework. “Sunday is a family day. We go to church at noon and a lunch out after. Travelling for me is one of the best gifts I can give to my children, so we travel regularly,” de Leon adds, who is also a 2017 ambassadress for the Mrs. International World.

A mother of three boys and a beautiful lola to a cute baby girl, de Leon says she is fulfilled with her life now and seeing them shine in their own journeys as a responsible and caring adults are priceless.

Asked about that one person who has been the biggest influence in her life, de Leon, answered: her late lola, Mommy Vinda. “My lola was the one who I grew up with. We slept on one bed until I was 18 years old. She spoiled me to bits, instilled in me a love of reading, of crosswords and jigsaw puzzles. She regularly ‘dragged’ me to her hometown in San Juan, La Union. She taught me how to eat pandesal dipped in coffee, and talangka, to sing Novena songs, and to crochet, which I never learned. She was my travel buddy, going after “durian” in any country. She gave me my “meme,” a small pillow she personally hand stitched that up to now; I can’t sleep (and live) without. She is and always will be the love of my life,” she recalled vividly.

De Leon believes in letting go of things you can’t control. “What you can control, though are your reactions and choices. If something stresses, me, I ask myself if it would matter five years from now – and most don’t.”

Dr. Helen Mano

Like a fine wine

BY JET D. ANTOLIN

LIKE a fine wine, she gets better with age.
Another pride of the country, Mrs. Philippines Dr. Helen Abayon-Mano will be the representative in the upcoming Mrs. Asia International pageant in May to be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Helen, a pediatrician from Pagadian City, Zamboanga de Sur, was crowned in October last year during the Royal Emerald ball held at the Makati Sports Club. The event was organized by the Lizaso House of Style based in Hollywood, USA.
She was also conferred as a Pamana awardee being an outstanding woman of style and community service and one of Manila’s best dressed of 2016. Aside from being a beauty queen, Helen is also a champion in a dance sport competition for the Philippine Medical Association in 2008. “As we age, we find what our life’s purpose and we make life easier for other people by helping them. As a doctor by profession, I extend my help to less fortunate people through the civic organization JCI Philippines and the Philippine foundation of the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals (BCBP)
Helen is busy preparing for the big event and believes that you are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. “It’s just a matter of prioritizing what you want and stay driven to it. Stay focused, believe in yourself and hold on to your dream,” says the beauty queen who is grateful to her supporters especially to her husband Dr. Nick Mano and their children.

Dursula Ito

Every woman is beautiful

BY JET D. ANTOLIN

WITH her passion for beauty, make-up and skin care products and everything that prettifies a woman would land on her beauty list.” I’ve always been fascinated with things that make women beautiful and attractive. I believe being a woman is almost always synonyms to gorgeousness. Every woman is beautiful and enhancing one’s features with the right beauty products would come a long way,” says Dursula Ito.

Beauty Guru Dursula Ito, founder of Swan Dance International Trading Corp, the leading distributor of high-end cosmetics in South East Asia, is no exemption. Her children come first in whatever plans she’ll and be a good mom to her four lovely children. This young- looking mom to grow-up kids migrated to Japan at age 16 to continue her grandparents in Ichikawa, Japan. She studied Bachelor of Tourism in Japan, but ended up as a dental assistant to her dentist husband who owns four dental clinics (Takumikai Dental Clinic) in Tokyo, Japan. Ito followed the direction of putting up her own beauty and skin care products company.

Established five years ago, Swan Dance International Trading Corp. started as retailer and distributor of appreciative high quality Chacott for Professionals products like ballet shoes, ballroom, jazz, yoga attires, stage accessories and cosmetics and organic skin care.

Dursula Ito has been sponsoring stage make-up to Ballet Philippines and International Beauty pageants just recently the Ms.Earth 2016.

Also she is a distributor of Girlactick beauty products. In 2008, she discovered an elegant shimmering and a matte brand of connections that can be used by all ages. And now together with actress–turned –aesthetician Ms. Patricia Javier and CEO/President Dursula Ito of  Swandance Int’l Trading Corp. will mark the official partnership to empower Girlactik Philippines to be the leading shimmering and matte cosmetic brand in the country. Five years in the beauty industry, Dursula Ito also started another venture March 2015 she signed a contract with Meishoku Corporation as exclusive distributor of skin care products with organic rose, Placenta whitening, BB Essence Cream, Bigan acne-preventing soaps and medicated lotions,skin cream with micro collagen, Porerina for pore clear face cleansing. DetClear 

Peeling Jelly with AHA and plant BHA.             

Imelda Pechera

A backbone made of steel, a heart made of gold

BY JET D. ANTOLIN

A model mom with a heart.

This is what tough mama Imelda Pechera wants to be remembered by people who loved her most. Pechera lost her husband leaving her with three young kids and a budding business, Iship Logipack, a manufacturing company of reusable corrugated plastic boxes and pipes and joints assembly system. Though she knew she will be dealing with lots of obstacles, she still pursued to continue her husband’s legacy.

“With lots of prayers, I learned the ropes of running the business slowly with the help of trusted staff, she said.

Pechera believes that if you want to live longer and be with your young children, a clean and healthy living goes hand in hand to attain this goal. “I go to my doctor for regular checkup. I play golf, run, climb mountains and eat healthy food.

“I already climbed Mt. Apo, Mt. Pulag, Malarayat, Pico de Loro and there are other mountains I wish to climb. I also joined a 21K marathon and that experience made me prouder of my self,” she said. She also hits the gym at least three times a week making her a gym rat and does boxing to maintain her slim figure.

She goes to work everyday but still manages to instruct her team at home for the things to be cleaned or repaired. Like a loving mother to her kiddos, she still finds time to hang out with them. “I still go with them at the mall and make ‘lambing’ and ‘kulit’. They are my precious and as much as possible I spend time with them in my free time. Now that she’s well adjusted and had accepted the fact that she will be a single mom to her kids, Pechera is never been closer to them.

Now that her dreams are fulfilled, another undertaking is in full swing as Pechera and her team is providing a comprehensive education to less fortunate children who wish to continue their education.

“In out simple way, we have adopted a school in Laguna to be a beneficiary of my company by providing help. Dubbed ‘Tulong Aral Charity Donation’, this is our way of giving back the blessings we received from God to cash-deprived youths,” Pechera says.

Dark moments happen to the best of us but that doesn’t mean the world would collapse and stop spinning. From the dark moments, the sun really shines on this simple, sweet, generous and God-fearing lady. Truly, this single mom has a backbone made of steel and a heart made of gold.

Janelle Mae Frayna First Filipina Chess Grandmaster

At the 42nd World Chess Olympiad Baku, Azerbajian, held in September 2016, twenty-year-old Frayna became the first  Filipina to hold the Woman Grandmaster FIDE title. This Legazpi City native is a Psychology Student, Far Eastern University (FEU), a candidate for the cum laude honors.

Hidilyn Diaz

First Female athlete to win Olympic (Silver) Medal-Weighlifting

Diaz, a native of Zamboanga City, is the first Filipino to medal in weightlifting, and the first non-boxer to medal from the Philippines since 1936. Last February, Diaz was awarded as the Athlete of the Year of the Philippine Sportswriters Association.

After her stint in the 2016 Olympics, Diaz continued her tertiary education at the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde in Manila. She is now an Airwoman First Class (Air Force Special Service Group, PAF Personnel Management Center, 710th Special Operations Wing).

Ian Lariba 

First Filipino Olympic Qualifier in Table Tennis

During the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, twenty-two year old Ian Lariba from Cagayan de Oro City became the first and only Filipino athlete to qualify for the Olympic sport of Table Tennis or Ping Pong since its introduction in 1988.  Her achievement was very unusual considering that only very few Filipinos are engaged in the sport of Ping Pong. She is currently taking up Management in Financial Institution at the De La Salle University (DLSU) Management in Financial Institution student.

Megan Young  First Filipina Miss World

In 2013, Megan Young, became the first Filipina to win the Ms.World crown, besting 126 candidates from all over the globe in the 63-year history of the London-based pageant. The closest the Philippines came to win the Miss World title before were in 1973 with Evangeline Pascual and in 2011 with Gwendoline Ruais.  Both finished first runner-up.

Young is moving full speed ahead with her international career---the actress and TV host recently signed up with Innovative Artists agency in New York.

Jamie Herrel, and Angelia Ong,

Ms. Earth’s Back to Back Winners

When Angelia Ong was crowned Miss Earth 2015 by Miss Earth 2014 Jamie Herrell, at the Marx Halle in Vienna, Austria, the whole nation rejoiced because it was the first time that two Filipinas won the title in a row, and that  back-to-back win marked the first time in the Miss Earth’s nearly 15-year history. 

Herrell was recently bestowed the Outstanding Individual Award during the 80th Cebu City Charter Day awarding ceremony for her work in Sustainable Environment and Good Livelihood for the community, while Ong became a media and environmental activist and continued her advocacy she started "Restoration, Reforestation, minimizing carbon footprints and taking 5R (Rethink, Reuse, Reduce, Recycle, Respect) #WEWILLBECAUSEWECAN."

Pia Wurtzback, Ms. Universe 2015

Pia Wurtzback is the third Filipina to win the title of Miss Universe after 42 years after after Gloria Diaz in 1969, and Margarita Moran in 1973. She is a Professional Model, Actress, Host and TV Personality. When she took her final walk as Miss Universe 2015, she thank  Steve Harvey for inadvertently making her the most popular titleholder due to his awkward blunder at her  coronation last year. Wurtzbach confirmed that she signed with IMG recently and will be working with IMG Universe.

Kylie Versoza, Ms. International 2016

Kylie Versoza is a teacher, model and the beauty queen who brought home the 6th Miss International crown for the Philippines, the latest being Bea Rose Santiago in 2013. She is a teacher and advocate against depression and suicide awareness. Kylie volunteered for the Nathasha Goulborn Foundation, and her aims to educate people about depression and suicide. She is Professional Model Association of the Philippines.

Leah Salonga,  Music Icon

Since her breakthrough role as Kim in the original West End production of Miss Saigon in 1989,  Lea Salonga’s career has taken her around the world and seen her perform in many different places with different cultures, and has worked to connect with audiences no matter where they are. She recently performed at the Sydney Opera House and at Melbourne’s Hamer Hall last February.

As an Asian actor, she was one of the pioneers of “color-blind casting” on Broadway, having played Eponine in the Broadway production of Les Miserables in 1993, and later playing Fantine.

Lisa Macuja,  Ballerina of the People

Lisa Macuja became the first Filipina prima ballerina, and the first foreign soloist to ever join the Kirov Ballet. She is currently the Artistic Director of Ballet Manila and Vice-Chairman of the Philippine UNESCO National Commission. Macuja-Elizalde is also Directress and faculty member of the Ballet Manila School – a training center for ballet professionals who are steeped in the Russian Vaganova method.

Jaclyn Jose,  Cannes Best Actress

For her effortless acting in Brillante Mendoza's Palme d'Or-nominated film Ma' Rosa, Jaclyn Jose won the 2016 Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actress --- the first Southeast Asian and proudly a Filipina at that, to be conferred with the award. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaclyn_Jose - cite_note-3Mary Jane Santa Ana Guck, better known by her stage name Jaclyn Jose, is also known for her memorable roles in the films, Salome, White Slavery, and Santa Juana.

Hon. Vilma Santos, Actress-turned-Politician

Vilma Santos-Recto  or Ate Vi, is known as the Star for all Seasonshttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vilma_Santos - cite_note-2 for her various roles in different genres of her movies.  She was hailed as the Enduring Grand Dame of the Philippine Film Industry by a legitimate foreign critic at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, the first Filipina actress to ever be bestowed with such a title.

But Santos has proven to her detractors that showbiz people can also be an effective public servant.  She went on to become as Governor of Batangas for three consecutive terms, as mayor of Lipa City for also three consecutive terms, and currently the  Representative of the Lone District of Lipa, Batangas in the 2016 elections. Santos is the first female representative of Batangas province.

Candy Establecida-Oanes, Momtrepreneur

Candy Oanes started out as a baby wearing enthusiast, and founded CEO Emporium, a mommy-owned business focused on baby-wearing products and accessories and to spread awareness about the benefits of baby-wearing as well as safe baby-wearing practices. Now, she is the licensed distributor of Tula and retailer of other SSC brands like Lillebaby, Lennylamb, and Emeibaby.

Last year, Tula launched Oanes’ exclusive Baby Tula design for the Philippines,  known as Sea of Dreams — a marine-inspired print featuring ethereal sailboats reminiscent of boats lined up along Manila Bay and a color scheme characteristic of the Philippine flag.

Margarita Fores Asia’s Best Female Chef

Asia's Best Female Chef for 2016 and the first Filipino chef to win the award, Fores is the chef behind popular local restaurants like Cibo, Grace Park, and Lusso. She also prepared the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit welcome dinner for APEC leaders, together with Via Mare founder Glenda Barretto when it was held  in Manila in November 2015.

Aisa Mijeno Inventor and Entrepreneur

Mijeno, a faculty member of Engineering at De La Salle University — Lipa, and a member of Greenpeace Philippines, pursued her dream  of lighting up the rest of the Philippines with her innovated Sustainable Alternative Lighting (SALt) lamp—an environment-friendly and sustainable alternative light source that runs on saltwater. Because of its inspiring vision and ground-breaking innovation, the SALt lamp has received various awards and recognition from organizations in the Philippines, Singapore, Japan, and South Korea. It has also won in several competitions here and abroad.

Hon. Rachel Arenas, MTRCB Chairperson

Rachel Arenas is the new chairperson of the new Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte. Although surprised by her appointment, the former Pangasinan Congresswoman welcomed the privilege to work with the President and vowed to continue the strides gained by her predecessors and would check on what more she can improve as head of the MTRCB.

Hon. Risa Hontiveros, Senator

Hontiveros is currently a Senator of the Philippines after winning in 2016. She is Chair of the Philippine Senate Women, Family Relations and Gender Equality Committee, Chair of the Philippine Senate Health and Demography Committee, and was the representative of AKBAYAN in the House of Representative of the Philippines from 2004 to 2010.

Last March 7, her bill on longer (120 days) Maternity Leave was unanimously approved by the Senate while her Anti-Hospital deposit and the Anti-Discrimination Bill are still awaiting approval.

Rhea Santos, Award-winning broadcast and newscaster

Rhea Santos is one of the host morning show Unang Hirit . Aside from being a journalist, she is also a Haribon Ambassador, Habitat for Hummanity ambassador and a book readership promoter in partnership with National Bookstore.

Santos was awarded as Best Travel Show Host  2006, Best Morning Show / Host 2001, 2002, 2008, 2013, 2015.

Gloria Cuaresma, Businesswoman

Gloria D. Cuaresma and husband Benjamin Cuaresma are the owners of the popular BluGre Coffee Shop chain, Davao’s homegrown first specialty coffee shop, which has been making waves for its signature drink, the Durian Coffeeccino, the durian-flavored coffee. The demands gave birth to seven branches of the Davao-born coffee shop BluGre in Davao, and recently has opened more in Manila to which, Cuaresma admitted, “business is doing good”.

Cuaresma’s life is not so typical story of rise to fortune. But she wants to be an inspiration to a lot of people – from the moneyed to those bereft of material possessions – so Gloria has been rubbing in the importance of discipline, hard work, honesty, good human relations and sunny disposition to achieve one’s goals.