Some people enter college or exit it knowing exactly what they want in life. Others go through what’s often called a quarter-life crisis, when 20-somethings find themselves straying from the paths they’ve set from themselves in order to pursue other interests. But just because you’ve hit the big 3-0 doesn’t have to mean you’re doomed to stay stuck in a job you’re bored with or, worse, hate. Just ask the four Cebuanas below who found the courage to follow their hearts when it came to the things they were passionate about doing.
The Fabulous Sociopreneur: Anya Lim, 32
ANTHILL Fabric Gallery is a social and cultural enterprise that works to preserve and promote Philippine weaves through contemporary design, with the goal of supporting sustainable livelihood. But co-founder and managing and creative director Anya Lim did not always spend her days among bolts of cloth or working with designers to make beautiful, wearable art that speaks of our heritage, even if she’d had prior experience doing advocacy communications for an international nonprofit organization. She had her epiphany while she was working a corporate job she says felt “dry and limiting.”
She realized she had to do something she cared about, and she wanted something that would let her work with children. But setting up her business wasn’t easy. “Social entrepreneurship is a very novel idea in Cebu and when we started we really did not know if we could capture a market. It's (still) a constant challenge to manage financial resources and people.” But the support she has gotten has helped her along. “Slowly, we were able to gain a genuine customer base that championed our brand and became our storytellers.”
Anya’s Hard-Won Wisdom: “(1) Trust the process—it’s important to have a plan/ but it's equally important not to be too attached to it as well. You have to leave room for things to organically happen. Most often than not, when you let go, that's when the magic begins. (2) Have a sense of purpose—your ‘why’ will be the compass that will direct you towards a strong vision. It's the constant pull that will align you or keep you balanced. It'll not be all rainbows and butterflies so it's always good to be reminded of something greater than you to ground you. (3) Be genuine with your intentions—when your actions are based on your truths, good and real things also gravitate towards you.”
The Courageous Filmmaker: Danielle Aballe-de los Reyes, 32
Danielle is a museum shop manager on weekdays, but the rest of the time, she’s become a core component of Cebuano cinema. She works as the producer, script writer, accounts executive, and marketing officer for a local video production company and is a proponent of the BINISAYA Film Festival, among other film-related projects. While this may be a fledgling endeavor, she and her colleagues are already making themselves known in the artistic and cinematic community.
This is a far cry from her work laying out book interiors and designing covers for a publishing company, she says. “When I stepped out of my comfort zone after five long years, I never imagined myself to be where I am now and that courage to step out of that space made all the difference.” And while her projects may not bring all the financial success she hopes for just yet, she says, “I can definitely say I’m doing something that I love and that I’m passionate about. I can see myself taking on different projects and bigger tasks because the drive to move forward is there.”
Danielle’s Hard-Won Wisdom: “I learned, from the moment I took the first step out of my old job, that there is no limit to what you can do, as long as you find the courage to step out of the small, familiar space that you are used to. Do not be limited.”
The Joyful Yogi: Bernadette Pacaña, 36
Berns Pacaña started practicing yoga in 2010, but she only became a regular practitioner a year later, when she found it helped keep her relaxed and calm, despite the high-stress situations she encountered on a day-to-day basis as a Six Sigma Black Belt for a BPO company. Because there was a shortage of good yoga teachers in Cebu at the time, she eventually decided to take the teacher training course herself in 2012, wanting to deepen her practice and understanding of yoga. She soon found herself teaching classes and loving it, so much so that when she quit her job the following year, she decided to pursue it full-time.
She went to Vancouver to study restorative yoga and then to New York City to complete a 300-hour certification course before returning to Cebu to share what she had learned. This became a pattern for her: travel to learn, come home to share. “I love teaching as much as I love learning,” she says, and while she admits her current occupation doesn’t pay as much as the job she left behind, she enjoys her life much more and is no danger of burning out as she did with her BPO work.
Berns’s Hard-Won Wisdom: “Follow your heart, that’s where happiness lies. When you give love, you receive love. When you share, nothing is taken away from you. It just multiplies. Stay true to yourself, keep the faith, always be grateful.”
The Book Lady: Atty. Chappy Piramide, 32
A lawyer by trade, Chappy has long been an avid reader. She joined and became one of the leaders of a local Toastmasters group, which gave her the impetus to start working on her personal advocacy—to encourage reading among young people. So she and two friends started Book Swap Cebu, Inc., in December 2015. But rather than approaching it from the standpoint of making non-readers read, she says, “We looked at it as an opportunity to get young people excited about sharing their favorite books.”
BSCI are now looking to expand their events to more than just book swaps, she says, speaking of “book-raising” drives to help put books in the hands of “those who can only dream of holding, sniffing, reading a book” by “planting libraries in different communities.” She mentions that the reading community in Cebu has been both receptive and responsive to their activities.
Chappy’s Hard-Won Wisdom: “Always know the ‘why’ of your advocacy. If you cannot answer the ‘why,’ you cannot answer the ‘how’ and the ‘who,’ ‘what,’ ‘when,’ ‘where’ of what you are trying to introduce, build, or foster in the community.”