Chabeng and AiAi Garcia: Passion and compassion

Isabel “Chabeng” Garcia and daughter AiAi are lady achievers. Each has done well in their respective endeavors, Chabeng as an architect and a leading club woman and civic worker, and AiAi as an entrepreneur.

AiAi is the founder and owner of Nala Woman, a woman’s health company that sells and distributes biodegradable feminine care products. The brand offers a range of options to women, from sanitary pads to tampons. The company was the first in the country to actually bring a sustainable, organic, hypoallergenic option in the Philippines.

Theirs is the epitome of an ideal mother-daughter relationship founded on mutual affection, respect and admiration, and further enhanced by their commitment to serving humanity through their own fields. They learn from each other, inspire each other, and are the best critics and best friends to each other.

Chabeng is the wife of former GSIS president Winston Garcia. While being a dedicated housewife, her husband’s inspiration and devoted partner, she has made a name for herself as a leading Zontian and an active officer of the Philippine Institute of Architects.

The mother of five successful children, Chabeng has identified her priorities in life. She shares, “First and foremost, God. That’s why I became a consultant of the church because it’s for the Lord. Then my husband and then my kids as second and third. My profession is the fourth, my community services is the fifth.”

In a live interview with Chabeng and AiAi who were guests in a recent mother-and-daughter episode of Spotlight, an online lifestyle show of the Daily Tribune, they shared how they have supported each other in their respective endeavors, all the time that they have devotedly admired each other.

When asked if her parents had been a tough act to follow, AiAi said that “it is not about living up to anybody’s expectations given that my parents have accomplished much in life. Instead, I have seen in them good role models. My mother has guided me in the steps that I should take. So if we’re all high achieving among my siblings, it’s not because of a competitive spirit within us. It’s more because we know exactly what steps to take next because we have great role models. I have a great support in my mom.”

Chabeng admits to being a strict mother, “because I have always insisted on the practice of Catholic values as I was raised strictly by my parents who emphasized religious values.”

AiAi points out, “The discipline instilled in us was definitely important, although I didn’t understand it then while I was growing up. I may have deviated from it, but as I look back, I’m glad I was introduced to that basic moral and ethical foundation very early on.”

On her part, Chabeng says of AiAi: “She’s independent, very independent and even refuses financial help. Because that’s how independent she is. And she’s concerned with the environment. Very concerned. Even before she got into the business of Nala.

“And she’s what you call people-oriented. She cares about people because we are a political family, and she just wants what is best for the community.

“I am also proud of the fact that she earns her own income. She’s conscious about money and she counts every cent. She’s so thrifty compared to my other kids. She’s quite different when it comes to money matters.

AiAi, in turn, describes her mom “as the woman with the biggest heart. And she always puts her family first. Out of all their family members, she’s the most reliable.”

Referring to her life as a parent, Chabeng says, “Oh, it’s very hard. Because today’s young generation is not like our generation, one who follows parents blindly. We don’t answer them back and we are the generation that gets the belt and gets the stick.”

She is fortunate, she says, “because AiAi has never given me any headache. Besides, she’s so smart. I don’t get any reason to get mad at her. She’s so smart she can get away with things.”

To Chabeng, though, the most rewarding thing about raising her children is “their becoming successful in their careers. I am so proud of her because she’s in the right track. But the most rewarding is she and her siblings believe in God.”

Other than raising her to have a strong faith, AiAi shares, “My mom always said to find myself first and then be secure in my singleness before I commit myself to anyone because that’s for life. And that influenced me to focus on myself first before I take the next step.”

AiAi admires her mom because “she was able to balance her career with raising us, her children, at the same time.”

She has thus adopted some of her mother’s working habits. She shares, “I think I learned my multitasking from my mom. She is always on the phone, talking to people and delegating, although I think it’s different now because we’re always just texting.”

AiAi has a simple advice for her mom: “Relax and live your life. You have worked all your life for the benefit of other people. This time, be happy for yourself.” To which Chabeng replies, “I am happy with the person that I am and I am happy to belong to my loving and caring family.”

Chabeng’s advice to AiAi: “Live your life and not to get stuck on something that you don’t want. Always find your passion.”

Her wish for AiAi: “To have a great marriage because when you have a great marriage, you have a great life.”

AiAi’s wish for her mom Chabeng: “I want you to travel, experience the world and just enjoy your full retirement while you still have the energy. And finally fulfill your dream to do the Camino pilgrimage.”