Call it serendipity, luck, fate, or the alignment of the universe, but things certainly fell into place for Slice pastry chef and staff to Senator Pia Cayetano Michiko Vivo. After all, how many people can say that they’re exactly where they want to be doing exactly what they want to do? Until now, she finds the whole thing quite surreal. “I think very few people get the chance,” she says. “I was so lucky lang na from this, from like a dream, it actually came true!”

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Michiko’s passion for baking started very early on. Her grandmother (her grandfather’s sister), a kitchen wonder, taught her and her brother how to bake, and at the age of four or five, which spurred Michiko's interest for baking. She would frequently bake cookies (her lola's specialty) or fudgy brownies (her favorite), but she never thought of turning it into a business. Baking was simply something she wanted to do. “When I started studying, it became my de-stresser, so every time I have exams or too much on my plate, I just had to bake, and then 'yun, it continued on until I was working…” she says.

In college, however, Michiko took up PolSci in UP Manila instead of culinary arts. Although she loved to bake, she had no intention of baking commercially, because at that time, she felt that “it would hamper her creativity.” And so she turned her attention to another passion.

“When I was studying PolSci, I really had fun kasi it was different and it was geared toward public service, and the thing is, with me, parang I want naman a fulfilling life,” Michiko shares. “I don't want to be just working for money; I want to do something that I'm passionate about, and then in high school, I was very active naman sa student government. It was my thing.”

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(Photos by Mike Dee)Six months after graduation, Michiko found herself working for Senator Pia Cayetano. In time and over countless conversations about desserts, she and the senator grew close. One day, the senator told Michiko about her dream to build a café and asked her if she would be willing to be part of it. It was the opportunity Michiko didn’t know she was waiting for. Baking had always been her long-term plan, but she had no idea that a window would open so soon. “It was really surreal! I had to ask her like a few days after if serious ba 'yung conversation namin…”

After that, everything happened quickly enough. Michiko flew to New York to take a few short courses, and when she returned to the Philippines, she spent her free time developing what would become Slice’s amazing pastries. So, yes, to a certain extent, Michiko believes in serendipity. “You can be as hardworking as you want pero I guess if it's not at the right time, or you're not in the right place, it's not gonna come into place,” she says. But then again, that's not all you need to pursue your passion. Here, she shares a few tips on how you can create your own opportunities.

1. It’s never too late to chase after a dream. Whether you’re in your 20s, 30s, or 40s and above, it’s never too late to pursue your passion. Michiko had been working for the senator for a few years before the opportunity to bake presented itself.

2. Surround yourself with the right people. “You have to surround yourself with people who believe that you can do it, those who [won't] stop you, discourage you na, 'that's too risky, or you have too much on your plate.'”

3. Don’t be afraid to make that leap. “Don't be scared because you're just limited by your fears. What do you have to lose?" Michiko advises. "Sige, you might fail, but then at least you tried 'di ba? If I was afraid na sabi ko what if I don't, what if I'm not as good as I thought, [but then I'd think] I have my whole lifetime to try another dream if in case hindi mag-work out 'to diba?”

(All photos by Mike Dee)

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