The New Normal Champions

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A year of *gestures wildly* all this has more than once felt like a catch-22, bringing us to our wits’ end as everyone tried to navigate a new world where the rules are made up along the way.

The pandemic may have turned our lives upside down, tested our strength, and brought our patience close to the limits, but it is also a show of resilience. You reading this means that somehow, you survived — perhaps a changed person shaped by the losses you endured or the things you discovered about yourself — but otherwise, you’re here and you’re in the now, and that counts a lot.

This month, gathered six incredible women — on Zoom, no less — to capture them in their element, and also to celebrate both the struggles and the triumphs they sustained last year. Along with everyone else, they continue to adapt to the new normal, but we hope their anecdotes inspire you to look back and appreciate how far you’ve come, no matter where you are on your own journey right now.

For now, we introduce you to our new normal champions as they share the ‘quarantrends’ they picked up and what surprised them the most about themselves in the past year. Watch out for their individual stories to be rolled out throughout the month.

Photography: Rae Cabradilla-Padin | @raecabradilla

“I binge-watched two toddlers while working-from-home part-time as a doctor and full-time as a stay-at-home-mom and housewife during quarantine.”

Maan Briones-Ting

General Practitioner at MyPocketDoctor, Co-Founder of The 7 PH, Creative Director of See Things Eyewear, Corporate Linkages at Current Events Cebu, Full-Time Mom to David and Ethan | @maanbrionesting

Quarantrends I picked up: Home or Youtube exercises, cooking and baking, enrolling in online courses, and enlisting in the BTS Army!

Something that surprised me about myself: That I could stay home for this long and survive not going out! I get really bad cabin fever. Also, I keep saying I hate it (haha), but I think I’m actually enjoying homeschooling David. Although I still can’t wait until face-to-face classes can safely resume.

Something I’m looking forward to when it’s safer: Bringing the kids outside safely and having playdates with my friends’ kids! I didn’t really have a nanny for David before so I used to bring him around all the time. I want Ethan to experience the outside world as David did at his age. And I want both of them to see and experience as much of the outside world as they can. 

Wise words for fellow stay-at-home working moms: The best thing you can give your kids is really a happy mom, so don’t be guilty of blocking off “me time” for yourself. A year in the pandemic and my kids now know to leave mom alone when she exercises… well, most of the time!  

On Maan: Loungewear set from Let’s Stylize

“I lost the job that I like because of the pandemic, but it redirected me to my dream startup.”

Mikee Canaman

COO & Co-Founder of Sowenscale | @mikeecanaman

A typical day in my life: Skincare. Power dress. Coffee. Quiet time. To-do list. 

Quarantrends I picked up: Backyard gardening. DIY Woodworks. I still do Dalgona on weekends, or when I have extra time lol

Something that surprised me about myself: I become more effective and productive when I’m taking extra care of myself. There are self-care habits that I didn’t make time for because I thought they stole time intended for more important things, only to realize that I can give more if I am full and sure of myself.  Giving myself enough time to rest allows me to show up at my best, and not give people the burnt-out version of myself. 

Something I’m looking forward to when it’s safer: Being present to my friends and loved ones’ important days. I missed three weddings of my good friends this year! 

Wise words for people who want to start something new in these times: To start is the most difficult part, they say. Well, it is. I’d say write down the reasons that hold you back from starting. Whether it’s the capital, the people to do it with, or the skills you lack, knowing these first will allow you to respond accordingly and start breaking barriers. Build good habits, an empowering work culture, and lasting relationships whether it’s with a client, supplier, or colleague. Be your brand’s chief storyteller.  Find your tribe, your genuine cheerleaders. You need them on difficult days. 

“I chose to make opportunities happen despite the unprecedented realities of a pandemic.”

Rissa Julene Go

Chief Finance Officer of Prince Retail Group of Companies | @reeeessa

Quarantrends I picked up: A lot! It started with finally finding time to cook dishes I wanted to try cooking. Then I went into running despite hating it for the longest time since it was the only ‘outdoor’ thing we could do within the village that didn’t require investments. Plants — my friends always used to make fun of me that I couldn’t take care of any living thing especially because I didn’t grow up with pets, but it’s different now! I even have a small veggie/herb garden. Just about any other sport/exercise that would make me sweat: Spinning, yoga, badminton, biking (learned this just recently after years also of telling myself I needed to learn this practical skill), weights. I also started a small business selling pesto.

Something that surprised me about myself: Slowing down was something I needed so badly but I never thought I needed. I’m the type of girl who always loved being out, extrovert na extrovert! I was dreading home quarantine for the first few months. I’ve never been in my house this much. But I actually loved it — I was able to do a lot of reflection, self-discovery, and self-healing with the downtime.

Something I’m looking forward to when it’s safer: Travel with friends, definitely. Even if it’s local, okay ra jud kaayo.  

Wise words for people who want to start their fitness journey: Know why you want to do it. What’s your objective? What specific change do you want for yourself? Then start small — meaning, don’t do it all at once then get tired. Remember, this is a marathon and not a sprint. Measure! Like, if you lack sleep, start putting targets and measure how long you were able to sustain your target. At least you know when you failed and when you succeeded. This really helps subconsciously. Be consistent in measuring. It doesn’t make a difference until you are consistent with something.  Lastly, whatever inspires you to continue, DO IT! If it’s taking selfies, do it. If it’s journaling, do it. If it’s posting stories, do it.  

“I turned my passion into a thriving business amidst a global pandemic.”

Chyrel Gomez

Founder and Creative Director of Dried Flowers & Lifestyle Store | @chyreloftheislands

Quarantrends I picked up: I cannot deny that dried flowers are considered a quarantrend, but to be honest, they have always been around, and they are going through a styling resurgence. I’m also a cyclist, so Sunday rides are always a good idea. It helps clear out the mind.

Something that surprised me about myself: The ability to take the high road and be the better person in a situation. I am so selfless man diay and I’m able to consider the greater good over my own interest. It surprises me how much I’ve matured in over a year. 

Something I’m looking forward to when it’s safer: I would really love to travel again. Or spend a month at the beach and not think about a quarantine or travel pass. 

Wise words for people who want to do more with their hobbies: Love what you do and why you are doing it, and the rest will follow. I know it may sound generic but it’s really important to give it your all for it to work. It’s not going to be easy, and there is so much work, and it can even get lonely sometimes. That’s why you also need to have a solid support system. And take your breaks seriously.  

On Chyrel: Tony Linen Puff Top from Let’s Stylize

“I found myself in a position to help steer my mom’s business through ECQ.”

Chiara Martinez

Partner at Jojo Martinez Shop | @misschiara

Quarantrends I picked up: Delivery! It has to stop, hahaha! I love getting food or stuff via delivery because it feels like I got a present even if I paid for it. Haha, is that sad? It sounds sad! [editor’s note: It does not.] Dalgona coffee has to be one of my favorites. Also TikTok — I don’t make videos but I scroll through that thing quite often.

Something that surprised me about myself: I was always a homebody, but I did not know the extent of it until it was tested by quarantine. I was also amazed at how people truly mean to me. More than anything, I missed being with people the most, Church, family, students, workout buddies… so I’m a homebody pero clingy haha. Maybe I found out that I contradict myself sometimes, too!

Something I’m looking forward to when it’s safer: For the shop, events! We love making clothes for these and we love doing capsule outfits for our clients who travel. For me, being in a classroom again. I miss this the most. 

Wise words for people who want to pivot their business and adapt to the new normal: Not claiming any sort of expertise in this area, because, man, this rocked boat is still rocking, but I guess thinking about our experience in Jojo Martinez, I can say sometimes boats are rocked to eliminate excess baggage. So, don’t worry too much when this happens. After the storm, what you’re left it may just be exactly what you need. 

On Chiara: Bunny suit with pockets by Jojo Martinez

“I decided to marry the love of my life in the middle of a global pandemic.” 

Shane Yapcoy Ybañez

Marketing Director of Videohub Audio Visual Sales and Rentals, Chief Financial Officer of Yapsambin Motor Trading Inc., New Bride | @shaneyapcoy

Realizations from planning a wedding in the pandemic: To just be grateful for all the blessings we have, and not dwell on what we do not have. I think I have always been like this… but the pandemic made me realize it more. Regardless of the many inconveniences and the troubleshooting that we had to do the past year only to survive, we still have more compared to most, and with that alone, I couldn’t complain. There are so much more people having it harder than we are. 

Something that surprised me about myself: Right now, I’m confident in saying that there are so many things I have yet to discover about myself, but I’m sure that whatever it is that I want to do moving forward, I could make it happen. 

Something I’m looking forward to when it’s safer: Our honeymoon…? Lol! Being able to travel and to finally celebrate our love the way we hoped and initially prepared with all our friends and family. Our wedding last year was wonderful. I can’t even explain how amazingly loved we felt. But we’re still looking forward to sharing that moment with a bigger audience soon.

Wise words for people who want to pursue something even with all the restrictions: It helps when you have a strong support system, so don’t be afraid to ask for help or to reach out to anyone you could trust. Most of the time, it’s our fear of asking or being rejected that’s keeping us from doing so, but the right people in our lives will always be there to reach back. I’m honestly not the strongest, neither am I the most gifted person of all… but it is with the right help and the clear vision of what I wanted at the time that made me power through. Right now, I keep thinking that if I could get married in the darkest time of the year, what can’t I do?

On Shane: Calista Coordinates from Let’s Stylize

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