DISRUPT 2.0. FILIPINA WOMEN: DARING TO LEAD

table of Contents

BECOMING STRATEGISTS 

20- Isabelita Abele
Going Against the Grain

21- Sonia L. Aranza
Transformational Leadership Begins Within

22- Judy Arteche-Carr
Leading by Example

23- Elizabeth Bautista
Synergistic Change

24- Gloria T. Caoile
Beyond Our Dreams

25- Evelyn Dilsaver
Leadership. Power. Influence

26- Josephine Romero
15 to 51

27- Myrna Tang Yao
Leading One to Many

LEADERSHIP FOR SUSTAINABILITY 

28- Emma Imperial
Leading for Sustainable Solar Powered Housing Community

29- Janice Lao-Noche
Disrupting the Stereotype: Being You

30- Vina Lustado
Dream Big; Live Tiny

ACROSS-GENERATIONS: MOTHERS AND DAUGHTERS 

31- Maria Africa Beebe, Ph.D. 
Developing a Leadership Repertoire

32- Elena Mangahas
Elena Mangahas and Daughters

33- Ma. Alcestis “Thetis” Abrera Mangahas
A World Citizen

34- Marie Claire Lim Moore
Positively Filipina

35- Gizelle Covarrubias Robinson
Roots and Wings

Synopsis

Maria A. Beebe, Ph. D.

Acknowledgements

Appendices

Appendix A: References 

Appendix B: Additional Web-based Resources 

Appendix C: FWN Award Categories 

Appendix D: List of FWN Awardees (2007-2016)

About the Editors

About the Contributors

 “Becoming A Global Pinay Powerhouse”

Francine Maigue

District Director, California State Assembly
International Friendship Commissioner, City of Chula Vista President
CEO, Filipino American Chamber of Commerce of San Diego County
FWN100™ GLOBAL 2015 – “THE GLOBAL FACE OF PINAY POWER”

What does your leadership look like on your best day? How about on your worst?

As the “Face of Global Pinay Power, ” I share a candid account of my leadership journey—how, in empowering others, I grew disenfranchised; how, in constant connectivity, I began to feel distant; and how, in mentoring, I finally learned to take my own advice.

Does your cell phone accompany you to the restroom because your inbox is a black hole you can’t seem to get to the bottom of? Have you ever taken a phone call in the middle of a shower?

Are you missing from family photos because you somehow managed to overbook yourself…again? Has your home started to look like the chaos in your mind?

Have you ignored basic human needs all in the name of (too) hard work? Have you started to ignore mirrors because you don’t recognize your own reflection anymore?

I share how I have helped women leaders find their way back to a joyful, satisfying professional and service journey, including the importance of being unwilling to compromise certain values and personality traits when developing one’s personal leadership style; the relativity of childhood chores and its impact on future leadership superpowers; and the meeting pet peeve I think more people ought to have.

Learn why I high five the men who dare to put their hands in my face (It’s not what you think.), why I hate “reply-to-alls” and why I decline certain awards.

In addition, I share what seat I believe more women, especially Filipinas, need to take at the boardroom table; the details of my unique 12 Step Recovery Program for serVICE, the dangerous addiction to sacrificing one’s physical, mental and emotional wellness in the name of helping others; and why I’m OK with being compared to a Disney Princess, unicorns and Harry Potter characters.

“Surviving San Francisco: How I Landed My Dream Job at 28”

Trish Quema La Chica

Policy and Advocacy Director for the Hawaii Public Health Institute (HIPHI)
FWN100™ Global 2015

My chapter focuses on my early experiences after migrating to San Francisco from the Philippines. This was in 2010, a time when the city was still reeling from the effects of the financial crisis. Jobs were scarce and I was trying to shift my career from journalism to the public sector. This chapter highlights the challenges and barriers I experienced job-hunting for the first time in the U. S. My experiences as a journalist with ABS-CBN ignited my desire to work in public policy, implementing positive change. In the U. S. I applied to numerous jobs for which I was qualified and after almost 20 rejections considered applying for retail jobs. Finally I got a job as an administrative/program assistant based on my story and resiliency. Now, almost six years later, I am the Policy and Advocacy Director for a key public health organization working with the state legislators of Hawaii to pass bills into law. This chapter identifies key lessons and best practices that I hope others, particularly the youth, may find useful as they search for meaning and purpose in their jobs. Some key lessons include the importance of stepping outside of your comfort zone, having courageous conversations, and allowing yourself to be vulnerable and creative in achieving your goals. Finally, this chapter includes details from my personal experiences to help illustrate each key lesson.

“Rocio, a Morning Dew”

Rocio Nuyda

Former Chairman, FilAm Arts
Owner, Grace Events
FWN100™ Global 2016 & U.S. 2012

Disruption has characterized my life. Born in a small city of the Philippines, I was raised by a mother who was widowed at age 29. My early educated was in the city’s foremost private Catholic school run by Benedictine nuns, I earned my college degree from a university for women, I got married, had five children, and immigrated to the United States. I was widowed at age 42, and raised 5 children single handedly. Professionally, I rose from the ranks to the highest paid position of the largest credit card company in the U. S. I am now retired with a motto to enjoy life while paying it forward. I was the subject of disruption. I was an agent of disruption that catapulted me to a high level of financial comfort and professional status. Through the years, I experienced an evolution of strength and independence and came to realize that I possessed innate leadership abilities. I developed tangibles and intangibles from the ground up. My experiences in leadership revolved around styles that encouraged inclusiveness, some learned from the school of hard knocks and others from theory, but most prominent of all was leadership by inspiration and empowerment. My story is one of involvement in local organizations, board memberships, community service, politics, religion, and family. My story is about a minority woman conquering the boy’s club of a male dominated work place, breaking the glass ceiling without the consequence of being cut by the broken glass, and surmounting the odds despite. My story chronicles the paths that I tread to survive, to provide, to fulfill, and to succeed. It is leadership by a woman in a male dominated norm of business, a legacy that I hope to bequeath to my children and their children.

“Learning Management from the Most Unlikely”

Maria Santos-Greaves

President, Surrey Hearing Care Inc.
FWN100™ Global 2015

In business seminars, MBA programs, case studies of entrepreneurs, organizational practices, past and present, are used to inculcate better practices, reduce risks, mitigate missteps, and pave the way for success. But Maria Santos-Greaves had no resources, time or option to go back to school or enroll in workshops. All she had was guts and a burning desire to start up her own clinic. Learning Management from the Most Unlikely recounts how Ms. Santos-Greaves started and is nurturing her business by learning management wisdom from her life experiences including that of her marriage, her parents and her son, to name a few. The lesson: we don’t have to go far, nor search high and low. For all you know, the keys to accomplishments are right in your doorsteps.

“A Life That Matters”

Benel Se-Liban, CPA with Cris B. Liban

Partner, Vasquez and Company, LLP
FWN100™ 2011

My leadership is centered in faith, powered by my will and determination to follow God’s plan for me. Although I have been a reluctant leader, I became the first Filipino-American partner of Vasquez and Company LLP. I am also the Founder and first President of the International Society of Filipinos in Finance and Accounting (ISSFA). My activism is the results of realizing that the Filipino-American needs to be empowered and emboldened to succeed in their adopted land. Going against the perceived norms, I have challenged everyone I make contact with through my workplace, ISFFA, and my local and global community to make a difference in society by effecting change in oneself through their discovery of spirituality and purpose. This chapter will provide insight into family and school influences on my upbringing, my college and career choices, and my brave move to America to seek independence, identity, and career. Marrying the man of my dreams, Cris and raising a loving and smart son, JP are significant in my life. I will share how I discovered my purpose and passion to choose a life that matters. The chapter ends with leadership snippets based on my life experience.

“ROCK THE BOAT BUT STAY ON COURSE”

Vivian Zalvidea Araullo

Executive Director, West Bay Pilipino Multi Service Center
FWN100™ U. S. 2012

As a new executive director of a community organization, I have learned many new lessons concerning leadership, and have had the opportunity to practice the ones I have learned as a television news executive. The Filipina Women’s Network has been a strong pillars of support; and I am writing this because I want to give back to this organization, and to share some the valuable lessons I have learned. Here are the ten key leadership lessons I have learned: (1) Reach Out, Reach Out, Reach Out. Even if They Do Not Agree with You. (2) What do You Guys Think? (3) No Personal Attacks. But Keep Fighting. (4) Rock the Boat, but Stay on Course. (5) Everyone’s the Same, from the Homeless Guy to the Mayor. (6) Build Permeable Boundaries. (7) Collaborate; but only if it Feels Right. (8) Follow your Gut. Do not Second Guess Your Instincts. (9) Introduce Everyone to Each Other. (10) Progress not Perfection. Celebrate Victories.

“Pinay Legacy in the Academe: Integrated Activism for Social Justice”

Glenda Tibe Bonifacio, Ph.D.

Associate Professor at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada
FWN100™ Global 2015

“Pinay Legacy in the Academe: Integrated Activism for Social Justice” The lives of Filipino women in the diaspora have attracted much attention since the 1990s. However, the general narrative of Filipino women remains that of a “servant of globalization” whose lives are directly intertwined with the clutches of colonialism and imperialism, thus making them “at home in the world” as caregivers, nannies, domestic workers, hotel cleaners, and nurses. But this narrative, both in scholarly works and popular media, does not present a holistic understanding about Filipino women as immigrants and migrant workers in host countries around the world.

In this chapter, I share insights into the dynamics and complexities of Filipina lives in Australia and Canada and expand the narrative to include their continued negotiations within unequal structures and hierarchies using values shaped from home, alternative practices of civic engagement in different spaces, and the valuable teachings of human connectedness towards peace, harmony, and social justice. Arguably, research on Filipina lives has the potential to bring inspiration for a more nuanced scholarship that embeds cultural specificity in global or transnational interactions.

“From My Two Mothers: A Legacy Borne”

Thelma Boac

San Jose Berryessa Union School District Board of Trustees
Filipina Women’s Network Board Member

“From My Two Mothers: A Legacy Borne” One would think growing up on a strawberry farm was boring and uneventful. On the contrary, I found life with my adopted parents in a small town along California’s central coast as generally idyllic. Attending community meetings with my mother or my father, even attending parties and fundraising events, were routine. Papa had been a World War II veteran who was very active in the American Legion, and Mama had been president of the Filipina Women’s Club of San Luis Obispo County since the 1950’s. Both were active in civic organizations, as they were deeply committed to volunteerism, especially helping build a vibrant community of Filipinos in San Luis Obispo County. My mother and father were key players, and benefactors as well, in the building of a Filipino Community Center in 1969 in what is now known as Grover Beach, California. The Center is still very much alive and thriving. At the age of ten, I was already absorbing lessons on community building and decision making. This early training would prove to be valuable years later when I became involved in community organizations in my own city of San Jose, even more so when I became a school teacher and administrator, and eventually became a principal in the largest high school district in Northern California. I was the only Filipina high school principal at the time, and to date no Filipino has followed me. I believe we are destined to have a purpose. My mother taught me humility and compassion, to have faith in God and devotion to service. These values became my “Bible” for life. My mother gave me the essential tools for a life beyond my chosen profession. Could it be that Mother truly knows best? In my leadership roles today as educator, professional leadership coach for the Santa Clara County Office of Education, and elected governing board member of a San Jose school district; someone may question how was this possible that I became a sought after educator and a respected member of the community? Arrogance has no place in education, or anywhere else. Throughout my professional life, I have been cognizant of the kind of reputation I would leave behind as I went through the journey of being a leader. I believe my reputation of bringing out the best in people, respecting them, being inclusive and collaborative, having the skills at relating to many different types of people, displaying warmth and having a sense of humor, and, most of all, knowing the competencies of the different facets of trust, (benevolence, honesty, openness, reliability, competence) have played a critical role throughout my professional career and have propelled me to the leadership positions I am holding today. Destiny and legacy indeed! And what a journey; from a life of obscurity in a village in the Philippines to being an elected official in America.

“To Dream the Impossible, Begin to Make it Possible”

Salve Vargas Edelman

President, Rising Asian American Pacific Coalition (RAPACD)
FWN100™ Global 2015

My 17-year dream of producing “Isla Vegas, the Ninth Island” became a reality because of my passion for the cultural and performing arts which lie at the heart of how I continue to utilize my God-given talents in various leadership roles. This chapter explains how this dream came true. The dream had begun with a commitment to a vision and with engaging the local Las Vegas communities to buy into the vision of a Rising Asian American Pacific Coalition (RAPACD). I drew on the performance skills I learned as an international crooner, the management and organizational competencies while working for the corporate world in insurance and financial services, in real estate, and with the Bureau of Census. Responding to a call for duty to care for my mother meant immigrating to the U. S. and giving up my career as a crooner. It was a blessing in disguise because by doing my duty willingly, I learned other functional skills, including being a successful real estate agent while continuing to pursue my passion for the cultural and performing arts. The move to Las Vegas presented an opportunity to achieve a seemingly impossible dream. How that dream became a reality also shows how I grew my capacity as a leader. Leadership for me is the ability to care passionately and communicate that passion by inspiring and motivating others to take action. My leadership philosophy is best summed up by John Quincy Adams. “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a Leader. ”

"The Old Rules No Longer Apply"

Michelle Florendo

Founder & Principal, What if You Could
FWN100™ Global 2015

In this chapter, I recount the internal conflicts and lessons learned as I left behind the traditional roles assumed by my MBA classmates in order to build my own career consulting company. As the first-born child of Philippine immigrants, I initially took a traditional approach to my career and did “everything I was supposed to do. ” I studied hard in school, attended Stanford University, and earned a degree in Engineering, took a lucrative job in management consulting, worked in the corporate sector, and returned to school to earn my MBA from UC Berkeley. However, after spending years working alongside others who had also taken the traditional approach to career success, I realized that the old model of career advancement had become outdated in relation to the new, dynamic, and fast-paced nature of the business world today. For those seeking both fulfillment and financial security, the old rules no longer apply. I walk through a series of vignettes where I learned some of the lessons I now walk my career coaching clients through, including the importance of articulating a vision, seeking new insights, embracing flexibility, and having the courage to take risks. All of the lessons I share from my personal experience tie into a key principle I have integrated into my leadership style today: Successfully leading people to manage their own path in a dynamic world (where the old rules may no longer apply) is not about telling people what to do, but rather, it is about inspiring people to see differently and make good decisions accordingly.

“GOING AGAINST THE GRAIN”

Isabelita Abele

President & CEO, US Lumber Inc.
FWN100™ U.S. 2009

As an Asian American leader in what I consider the second part of my life, I recognized that what I am today has been determined in no small way by the “first part” of my life. I began facing serious challenges in my home town of San Pablo City where as a young adult I had become a teacher. Even though I had a university education, my salary as a teacher was inadequate to meet the needs of my family. I knew I HAD to make a better life and a better future for us. With relentless tenacity I applied again and again to every recruiting agency that came into my small town. I finally landed my ticket to the Big Apple and moved there with nothing but hopes and dreams in my pocket. I was sadly disappointed with the circumstances I found myself in. Upon arrival in America I became a mistreated domestic worker and was held against my will by my first employer. It took months of planning and praying, but eventually I literally fled one afternoon, while the employer was out, and sought the assistance of a friend who allowed me to hide in her home. My memory of these events is still vivid, even though that was many, many years ago. I would reflect on those days with sadness until I remember that I triumphed in the end. There were many bends along the road; some of them joyful, some of them painful, but all of them provided me with important lessons. Meeting my husband Merrill profoundly changed my life. With him came gifts of love and confidence in my abilities, perhaps more confidence than I had in myself at the time. Now, after nearly 36 years of living in the United States, I reflect on how far I have come. I needed strength, drive, and determination to realize my dreams. Changes in my life did not come easily. I made major adjustments that created major positive outcomes.

“TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP BEGINS WITHIN”

Sonia L Aranza.jpg

Sonia L. Aranza

Aranza Cross-Cultural Strategies & Global Leadership Development
FWN100™ Global 2015 & U.S. 2007

Even the ambitious among us settle. Whether we admit it or not, we say “Pwede na” or “that will do” to many aspects of our lives. To confront this, we must be willing to transform. Transformation requires change. Change is disruptive. Inconvenient. Frightening. We are born and we die. In between, we have this adventure called life. One would think that the impermanence of life would motivate us to live with gusto and seek to continuously evolve. The sad truth is that many of us don’t. Transformation is hard work and no one can do the work for you. Transformational leadership begins within.

Sonia Aranza’s journey examines lessons learned from disrupting a comfortable life, confronting inconvenient truths and facing fear in order to transform. Born in the Philippines and immigrated to the United States at eight years old, she was ridiculed for how she spoke English. Today, corporate giants and global organizations pay Sonia Aranza to speak. She designs, develops and delivers innovative keynotes and seminars to top Fortune 500 companies and organizations around the world on the subjects of global leadership, cross-cultural communications and diversity & inclusion strategies. She has been able to sustain the success of her enterprise for 20 years, a feat many fledgling entrepreneurs do not accomplish. Her global leadership development work has taken her from China to Costa Rica. She is paid to do what she loves! Never in her wildest dream as an immigrant little girl from the Philippines did she imagine doing this.

How did the transformation happen? Why did she risk leaving a comfortable job on Capitol Hill as Director of Constituent Relations for a member of the United States Congress? Why dive into a life of uncertainty as an entrepreneur? In her inspiring essay, she answers these questions and reveals important leadership competencies that others can adopt to have their own transformation. She describes four specific leadership competencies and provides examples from her own journey to make the competencies easy to understand. Her aim is to inspire readers to disrupt their safe way of thinking and continue to evolve! Sonia Aranza firmly believes that you are never too old and it is never too late to transform. Her essay is a call to action to say “No!” to the “Pwede na” mentality and challenges us to confront self-imposed fears in order to live the life we prefer. Transformational leadership truly begins within!

“Leadership. Power. Influence” 

Evelyn Dilsaver

Independent Board Director, multiple companies
FWN100™ U. S. 2011

Issues explored in this chapter include: What is a leader? Is one born a leader or can you learn to be a leader? Is a leader the one who has power because of their position, or because of their ability to influence others? My own understanding of leadership is close to what John Quincy Adams observed, “If your actions inspire other to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. ” There are many definitions, with some believing a leader has to have charisma, a huge personality that fills the room. Others believe a leader is one who serves their people. My definition of leadership is best captured by Mark Mactas (2009), Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of global professional services firm Towers Perrin, who wrote that “Management is power by position. Leadership is power by influence. ” In other words, a leader is effective in that they gather groups of people together to achieve a common goal, with a sense of urgency, fun, and excitement. Leaders build sustainable enterprises, that do not depend on just the individual for survival. This chapter is about my path to leadership and the lessons I learned along the way.

“Leading for Sustainable Solar Powered Housing Community”

Emma Imperial

President, Imperial Homes Corporation
FWN100™ Global 2015

I will discuss what it means for my company, Imperial Homes Corporation (IHC), to be shortlisted for the 2016 Financial Times/IFC Transformational Business Award, not only on a personal level, but for the Philippines as well. I will share the beginnings of the IHC business and how it progressed in the past 30 years as my vocation to make housing accessible to every Filipino. Fueled by my firm belief in housing being a basic human right, what began as a desire to improve the quality of life for homeowners and addressing the country’s housing backlog evolved into a movement to mitigate climate change through the widespread use of solar power. I will also reflect on the leadership qualities I possess guiding my actions that have defined the growth and success of IHC. The various recognition the company has been receiving is a validation of the value of our work and how we are headed in the right direction. The leadership attributes I will outline are also qualities that I seek to develop in others as I wish for them the same success and to be partners in the movement. With this in mind, I end the chapter with an invitation, especially to those in the real estate industry, to adopt my transformational business model to contribute to the vision of making the Philippines the Solar Capital of Asia and on a larger scale, to be stewards of the environment.

“Disrupting the Stereotype: Being You”

Janice Lao-Noche

Senior Manager, Sustainability at MTR Corporation Ltd
FWN100™ Global 2015

The purpose of this chapter is to inspire young Filipinas that they can succeed by doing whatever they are passionate about. They do not necessarily have to marry a foreigner, or enter an occupation that is a priority of the country to which they want to immigrate. My story demonstrates to young Filipinas that if they stay true to who they are, if they do what they love, and do it very well: they will succeed. I will reflect on my early years as a second generation Filipino-Chinese, how I dreamed of working internationally, my early dreams of making a difference in people’s lives, and how I remain committed to that dream. My first setback happened when I decided to apply for college in the US hoping to get a full scholarship. I received a half scholarship and because of the financial crisis in the Philippines. I was very disappointed and wanted to give up on my dream. Instead I picked myself up and graduated with honors. From Ateneo, I applied to the University of Oxford, got a full scholarship, and became the first Filipino to attend their Masters on Environmental Change and Management. Since then, I have encouraged and supported the applications of other Filipinos to attend the program at Oxford. Still aiming high, I became the first Filipino to reach senior levels in the sustainability field in Cathay Pacific, Swire Group, and the MTR Corporation. I have broken the glass ceiling and changed perceptions of what Filipinos and Filipinas can do, especially in Hong Kong where the stereotype has always been that Filipinas are domestic helpers or wives of rich foreigners. I am neither. As a mom, I want to inspire my own children to never give up and never believe the stereotypes others have of them. I am sharing my story because I want to be an inspiration to the younger generation. My message is that they can dream big, that the world is theirs for the taking. I also want the readers to realize that they cannot expect success without some failure, that they will need to ask help from others, and that they should give back to other Filipinas who need a helping hand.

“Dream Big; Live Tiny”

Vina Lustado

Founder of Sol Haus Design
FWN100™ Global 2015

In this chapter, I recount my childhood in the Philippines and what led me to the path towards architecture, sustainability, and living tiny. I look back at the days from the linang and how it has shaped my worldview as an adult: from immigrating to the US to climbing the corporate ladder in architecture, and then starting my own business, Sol Haus Design. I will discuss how I was determined to make a BIG difference in the world, and unintentionally realized it through the building of my own tiny house. With a belief that tiny houses can address critical issues in the world today - such as in affordable housing, environmental impact and economic disparity – I became a passionate advocate for legalizing tiny houses on wheels. Further in the chapter, I will recount my efforts working with public officials to change public policy. I will also discuss how I was able to collaborate with public officials to support the concept of a tiny house community, which is my bigger vision to help solve many of the world issues we face today.

“Developing a Leadership Repertoire” 

Maria Africa Beebe

President, Global Networks
Filipina Women’s Network (FWN) Board Member 2014-2016
FWN100™Global 2013 & US 2011

I explore the critical role in the development of my leadership repertoire of the almost two decades of my work-life from the time I completed most of the requirements for my Ph.D. from Stanford and the beginning of my consulting experience on IT in Africa (see Beebe et al. 2003), followed by work in Afghanistan (see Beebe 2015), and work with Portland State University. For most of this time I was accompanying my husband, James during his U.S. Foreign Service career while I juggled motherhood with establishing a career. I reflect on the elements that enhanced my leadership repertoire while working as a consultant with the United States International Development Agency (USAID) in the Sudan, Philippines, Liberia, and South Africa, with interludes in Corvallis, OR and Washington, DC. A leadership repertoire can be thought of as a toolkit; a set of resources, abilities, skills, or competencies that provides options for specific leadership actions. Work-life challenges revolved around raising our children, David and Ligaya, while living and working as expatriates in complex, oftentimes violent environments. I examine the link between informed decisions my husband and I made about child-rearing practices and the implications for raising children to develop global competence. I will highlight vignettes that helped my children to actively engage with the world. Finally, the chapter ends with my daughter’s reflection on what in her socialization makes her a global citizen.

“Positively Filipina”

Marie Claire Lim Moore

Development Director, The Women’s Foundation
FWN100™ Global 2014

If there is one thing I have learned as a Filipino-Canadian-American working mother is that the right attitude, combined with an appreciation of one’s own roots and values, is a winning formula in leading a successful and positive life. No doubt, this has been engrained in me by my positively Filipino parents and upbringing.

Three years ago, I wrote my first book to try to capture some of their story. Don’t Forget the Soap is a collection of anecdotes from my family’s global journey starting with my parents’ migration from the Philippines to my current experiences living abroad with my husband and our then two children. It has been coined everything from a “happy family handbook” to a “great big hug in a book” but I wasn’t purposely going for that. There are a number of books like The Happiness Project or Stumbling on Happiness that methodically try to measure and dissect happiness. I just wanted to share stories about my family while recounting lessons from my mother. I guess I could have anticipated the result. For as long as I can remember, someone was always commenting on our happy disposition.

In general, Filipinos are a happy bunch. Survey after survey and year after year, the Philippines comes up on top of every happiness index from The Economist to Instagram. This is one of the reasons why the country’s recent tourism tagline, “It’s more fun in the Philippines,” couldn’t be more perfect. Launched in 2012 to attract visitors to the country, this campaign has been incredibly successful in creating positive buzz. In fact, marketing intelligence service Warc released its annual Warc 100 list of the world’s top marketing campaigns and ranked the campaign as third, behind only Vodafone’s Fakka (Egypt) and American Express’ Small Business Saturday (USA). Using Filipinos themselves as the inspiration for the campaign and slogan was pure genius.

Beyond the seemingly inherent Filipino trait, however, I attribute our happiness to my parents from whom I’ve learned nearly everything. My mother has taught me how to stock a pantry so you’re always visitor ready, how to perfectly wrap a gift, and how to properly greet my elders. My father has taught me how to drive a stick shift on the hills of Sao Paulo, how to talk to anyone about anything, and how to efficiently pack a balikbayan box. Both of them have taught me how to be kind, thankful, and patient. But, the most important lesson I’ve learned from them is this: the happiest people don’t have the best of everything—they make the best of everything.

“Making the best of everything” encapsulates what I love most about my parents. It also summarizes their immigrant experience as well as our family existence. It has been so engrained in me that I subconsciously apply it to all aspects of my own life. I would like to submit a chapter about how my parents lived out this mantra and the impact it has had on me personally and professionally with a particular focus on my leadership style.

“Roots and Wings”

Gizelle Covarrubias Robinson

Managing Director, IT (Software Application Development and Strategic Engineering), Charles Schwab & Co
FWN100™ Keeper of the Flame 2014

In this chapter, I share with you stories and insights about my mom and how she shaped the kind of leader I am today. As I read through my mom’s notebook of affirmations I see how they helped her deal with life and ultimately form the type of person and leader she wanted to be. She always wanted to better herself for others and amongst all the things I learned from her this is probably the one thing I aspire for most. She gave me roots. A foundation to establish the kind of person I could be. Throughout my life she planted seeds of knowledge to help me be the person I am. I would like to share these affirmations with the quotes from my Mom’s notebook, highlight the relevance of these quotes to my Mom’s life, and my reflections as to how those life lessons developed into my leadership competencies. My mom gave me wings so I can seek opportunities, take risks, make a difference, and motivate others while my roots keep me grounded in my traditional Filipino values of respecting your elders, my moral compass, and my purpose in life.

The different disruptions in her life and how she dealt with them helped me deal with mine. The final disruption of her life provided a great test of our faith. My hope for all that read my chapter is that you are inspired to persevere and believe.