By Joyce Reyes-Aguila
For all the grief and bad press that so-called Millennials (or people born anywhere from the ’80s to early 2000s) get, Millennial women are more likely to “interrupt their career for family,” according to a Harvard Business School alumni survey shared by New York Times columnist Claire Cain Miller in “More Than Their Mothers, Young Women Plan Career Pauses. ” In it, she wrote that “37 percent of Millennial women and 42 percent of those already married planned to interrupt their career for family…compared with 28 percent of Generation X women and 17 percent of baby boomers.”
These days, young mothers who have demanding careers will not think twice about scaling back work for the sake of their families. Millennial moms are finding ways to integrate their home life with their professional life, as Panorama learns from three busy mothers who have careers in the fields of public service, entertainment, and television/movie production.
So, how do Millennial moms get through the expectations and demands of all their roles?
Rep. Emmeline Aglipay-Villar
DIWA Party List Representative
A demanding legislative role used to take precedence for Democratic Independent Workers’ Association (DIWA) Party-list representative Emmeline “Em” Aglipay-Villar. She would attend every single affair she was invited to, travel around the country to visit projects, conduct activities for her organization, and speak with its members even during weekends. “I am a workaholic, and work has been a priority in my life,” she admits. “But I always knew that once I have a family of my own, it would have to be the priority.”
So when she and her husband, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar, welcomed daughter Emma Therese in September 2015, the youngster became the center of their lives. “Mark and I are hands-on parents,” the lawyer and member of the University of the Philippines Order of the Purple Feather Honors Society shared. “I am a co-sleeping, breast-feeding, cloth-diapering kind of mom. I try to personally prepare Emma’s food (and) educational activities for her at home, bring her to play school, read her books…” Free time during the day is also spent with their child.
The first-time parents are learning to integrate family time with their work that, at times, requires attention even on weekends. Often, Emma joins her parents on work trips and enjoys the sights via an extra day. When the congresswoman is scheduled to visit DIWA bailiwick province Bohol, for example, the cabinet secretary would schedule infrastructure inspections in the area to get some work done at the same time.
“Emma and I have not slept apart since she was born,” the 10 Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) of 2012 for Public Service awardee said. “If I have to stay overnight somewhere, I would bring her with me (and) find a suitable place for her to stay.”
After each session day at the Lower House, Em gets home when their baby is about to sleep or is already asleep. “If she is awake, we shower together and do our nightly rituals like reading books and praying,” she says. “Mark also usually arrives when Emma is asleep already. In the middle of the night, he helps me change diapers.” To make up for his busy schedule, the secretary makes sure he spends the weekend with his family. And if work entails him to be away, Emma sees a lot of her dad through numerous video calls a day.
“These are just minor adjustments,” the legislator said. At present, she juggles her time with her congressional duties for DIWA and Las Piñas—Mark’s elective district where she is the designated caretaker, and her responsibilities when she was the chair of the Committee on Women and Gender Equality. Em is also currently busy with her Masters in Law studies, and advocacies such as the Hope for Lupus Foundation. Being a mom, she said, has not allowed her to work out daily or go to the salon regularly to get a manicure-pedicure. “Now, I am only able to cut my hair when people already bug me to cut it.”
“I do not feel bad about this. I choose to do all these things. I just face the challenges with a lot of positive vibes—always facing each day with a strong spirit and passion for my work, all the love in the world for my family, and a grateful heart. I’m just brimming with excitement for all these. Having love for what you do is the best way to get through the challenges, since you are able to bear the hardships that go with achieving your goals, whether personal or professional,” she added.
Recently, stress took its toll on Em, and she experienced a lupus flare. She had first manifested the symptoms of the autoimmune disease in 2007. She has had to cut down on her work, adding that she wants “to live long and be healthy for Emma and for Mark.” Her Hope for Lupus Foundation was founded to help patients who cannot afford treatment, and effectively diagnose those suspected to have the malaise. The congresswoman initially had second thoughts about establishing the foundation, scared that her illness would make people judge her unfit to be a public servant. But when she experienced complications in 2015 that almost made her lose her battle to the illness, Em decided to “lose no time in doing what (she had) always wanted to do.” She established the foundation, is writing a book, applied into her dream school, and continues to do everything possible to be a good wife and mom. For her, family always comes first. Villar believes in setting priorities in order, and training people so one can delegate tasks at work instead of “delegating your task as a mother to someone else.”
“Though I have always dreamed of becoming a mother, I only understood what it truly meant when I became one,” says Em. “I am still able to reach my general career goals while at the same time being physically present for Emma. I want to be the best mother that I can be and, if I should be forced to choose between my career and my child/children, I would always choose the latter. Nothing could be more important than them.”
Television host, actress
Camille Prats first graced Philippine television as a contestant in Little Miss Philippines on noontime show Eat Bulaga! She then appeared in television commercials, eventually landing a spot in the hit ’90s youth afternoon show Ang TV. The cherubim-faced young talent grew up before her audience, project after project. In the comedy series Oki Doki Doc, Camille endeared audiences as she played the niece of actor Aga Muchlach. When she stepped into the shoes of Princess Sarah in Sarah…Ang Munting Prinsesa, the Filipino movie adaptation of the popular animated series, Camille’s star shone even brighter.
A few decades after she first found herself in front of a television camera, the actress continues to be active in the industry. Although the little girl has now grown into a seasoned actress, wife, and mom. She is currently expecting her second child.
Motherhood changed Camille the day her firstborn Nathaniel Caesar arrived, she shared with this writer in a previous interview. Camille’s priorities changed and everything came second—including her own needs. This also entailed working doubly hard to earn a living for her son, especially after her first husband passed away due to an illness in 2011.
“Since I became a single mom, I’ve valued and loved my work more than ever,” she said. “It’s my bread and butter.” On GMA News TV, Camille has been sharing hosting duties on the daily talk show, Mars, with Suzi Entrata-Abrera since 2012. Her schedule in the past years has been busier with other television projects for the network.
“Having Nathan made me realize how blessed I am that I am able to do what I’ve always loved to do since I was young,” she continued. To adjust, Camille started accepting more projects when she became a single mom. “That means I work from Monday to Friday until the wee hours of the morning.” Her family’s strong support system enabled her to work without worrying about her son too much.
“I’m grateful I have my parents who look after Nathan every time I’m at work,” she said. “Our yaya has also been with us for seven years now. And really, I am grateful for her. I wouldn’t be able to do my job properly if it wasn’t for her. Knowing that my son is in good hands makes me do my job more effectively.”
Aside from the entertainment industry, several business ventures also demand time from Camille, including her duties as the head of operations of the Prats-owned Divine Angels Montessori in Cainta, Rizal. Through technology, she is able to get things done and communicate with people who help them manage the school.
Like any parent, Camille has also had to enlighten Nathan on the nature of her occupation. “I always explain to him why Mommy needs to work,” she says. “(I tell him it’s) so we can pay for our needs, the things we want, and for his school. Whenever he asks for toys, I tell him I work hard for the money we spend. I never spoiled him with a lot of toys. He knows he also has to earn it if he really wants it. The value of money is something we always talk about.” She will eventually instill the same lessons to her yet unborn child.
A chance encounter after 20 years with childhood friend VJ Yambao opened Camille to love again. The two were classmates in Grade 2 before they had lost touch. When Camille saw VJ during a reunion with grade-school friends, she approached him. She reminded him that they had been classmates. The two then kept in touch through Facebook, even when VJ was in the United States.
After ensuring that Nathan was comfortable with VJ, a businessman, it all went swiftly and smoothly for the pair. A surprise engagement proposal in front of family and friends led them to the altar last January. A month after, they announced that they were expecting. And just last April, they revealed that they are to welcome a baby girl.
As with Nathan, Camille vows to never spoil their new baby with everything she may want. “Not spoiling (Nathan) made him learn the value of money, and also to appreciate things even more because he doesn’t get things easily. He says heartfelt thank yous with little things. And it means the world to me. It means I’m somehow doing a great job in teaching him important values in life.”
As a family person, her weekends are sacred. She does not accept work as much as possible. “It’s my only time for Nathan,” Camille insists. “I make sure that even if I’m busy with work almost all the time, I also have enough time to spend with (him). To make sure that it’s pure quality time, creating memories through bonding and other activities. I want him to know and feel that everything I do is for him and, if at the end of the day, I don’t have a relationship with him, then it makes no sense.”
With their family growing soon, Camille is sticking firmly to the rules she has stood by as a mom all these years. “My family will always be my top priority. Making sure that we have a really good relationship with one another is all that matters. Work will always be there, but relationships need to be nurtured to grow,” she says.
President and CEO, Marnie Manicad Productions International (Team MMPI)
She wears myriad career hats as a producer, filmmaker, and director, among others. Marnie Manicad helms her own production company that airs local and international programs tackling the most relevant of issues.
In 2015, she produced Dingdong Dantes 2: Panahon Na to show viewers the effects of climate change and how it was related to the devastating Typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan) to the country. Last 2012, no less than the National Geographic Channel aired her feature Inside Malacañang, an exclusive look into the residence of the country’s chief executive.
Her favorite among her many roles is being wife to television news reporter and producer Jiggy Manicad and mom to their daughters. “Family has always been my priority,” the Turbo Zone motoring show producer tells Panorama. “No matter what happens, the family will get the most of my time.”
If she and Jiggy were asked to choose, it would be family over work. “Sometimes there are compromises, but being the hands-on mom that I am, work and family has a clear delineation.” Marnie works from home as much as she can, and adjusts when there are meetings or out-of-town shoots where her presence is needed.
As long hours and trips away from home are part of her profession, Marnie makes it a point to have conversations with their children—three girls ages seven, six, and two–about her (and Jiggy’s) schedule “We explain to them that we have a shoot well in advance, para di mahirap magpaalam (so it will not be as hard when we say goodbye),” says the movie co-director of the 2013 action drama film Dance of the Steel Bars. “We make sure that we explain the kind of work we do. If I can, I take them to shoots and tapings. We also do previews of finished material for airing together. For school requirements or test reviews, I sometimes do them in advance. I make sure that I spend time with the family before I leave. It is fun to juggle and balance time also.”
The key is organization, says the University of London Film School masters degree holder. “I make sure that I meet deadlines and deliver them with 100 percent love and passion. I always say, ‘I am never stressed.’ I guess when you enjoy what you do and you know how blessed you are, you will never have to work a day in your life. I try to be very positive also and I encourage this type of atmosphere at work and at home.”
Weekly date nights with her equally busy husband and spending time with the family at home helps the MMPI head relax. They also love to travel as they get to grow together and bond more with new experiences.
And what’s here advice to fellow moms? “There is really no one rule, tip, or technique on motherhood,” she says. “It is a continuous process, and you get to respond to (challenges) every day as kids grow. But priorities should be clear, and that is taking care of the family. For me, God should always be the center of it all, be it work or family.”