MANILA, PHILIPPINES — Some of the best conversations happen over breakfast—and in sparking a rousing discussion over women in creative, some of the most influential Filipinas in their creative industries shared their thoughts and experiences at “What Women Do: an adobo SheCreative 2021 Virtual Breakfast”, a morning conversation on what it takes to lead their respective fields.
Conversing with a cup of coffee in hand, it was a memorable event to close International Women’s Month. The SheCreative 2021 Virtual Breakfast was the first event under the adobo SheCreative Network, a platform that celebrates the power and innate talents of women, as well as their ability to create a positive impact on culture, creative industries, business, and communities. The Virtual Breakfast is one of many steps in exploring the possibilities of an all-women network, towards shaping a strong community of female leaders in Asia.
adobo Magazine’s EIC Angel Guerrero moderated the 2021 Virtual Breakfast, which shone the spotlight on six speakers from the field of Marketing, Art, Design, Business, and Advertising: Keynote speaker Margot Torres, McDonalds Philippines Managing Director; Isa Lorenzo, Gallery Director of Silverlens; Rita Nazareno, Creative Director of Zacarias 1925; Raxenne Maniquiz, Graphic Designer & Illustrator; Rosario Juan, Social Media Strategist, Cafe Owner, Coffee Roaster, Cat Lover, and founder of Commune Café + Bar; and Merlee Jayme, Global President of DentsuMcGarrybowen.
McDonalds Philippines Managing Director Margot Torres led the session, as she shared “McNuggets” of wisdom when it comes to women leadership. According to Torres, there is no secret sauce to leadership, only key traits that every leader should have––integrity, conviction, consistency, and empathy are some of them. Yet the one trait that trumps everything is humility, as it allows you to embrace failure. Torres shared that as a leader, you are not the most important person; the most important one is the next leader who has yet to emerge.
Torres also touched on women leadership, and called to “retype the stereotype”. This means embracing all the stereotypes women are associated with and not see them as weaknesses, but rather, traits that define them as a leader. These include a high level of empathy, being innately intuitive, and having a keen attention to detail.
Finally, the McDonalds managing director also talked about her third nugget of wisdom: “No leaders, no labels.” Torres discussed inclusivity and diversity in the workplace, adding that diversity comes in many forms, and can include different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. She shared that she has learned that the best idea can sometimes come from the youngest, the quietest, and the least experienced member of the team.
Silverlens Gallery Director Isa Lorenzo talked about her extraordinary journey to becoming a gallery director, having gone not to art school, but to medical school at the University of the Philippines and even passed the boards. She then retired from the medical field, trying all sorts of creative pursuits before she founded Silverlens Galleries in 2004. Today, Silverlens oversees an active program of artist representation, exhibitions, collaborations, art fairs and commissions in the Philippines and southeast Asia.
Lorenzo shared that even after 17 years, every day is still a day of learning, and that “we learn by doing.” Experience is the best teacher, which also entails engaging a strong community to propel the local art scene forward. “The visual arts is a field that has a lot of moving parts. It really takes a village to get an artwork seen. So, this constant collaboration and networking––You also have to hold hands and make things happen.”
The art scene has grown leaps and bounds since 2004, as Lorenzo mentioned enjoying a “healthy” local audience, as well as a growing regional and international audience. Even through these breakthroughs, the gallerist continues to be passionate about Filipino artists. “The money might come from Singapore or Taiwan, but the talent is definitely from the Philippines, and it’s clear that people will know this more and more, for as long as we become more and more professional.
A former Emmy Award-winning television producer, Rita Nazareno left TV to come home to the Philippines and take the helm of her family’s business SC Vizcarra, the long-standing workshop who once wove a fine table set made of piña cloth that was gifted to then-Princess Elizabeth during her wedding to Prince Philip. Today, Nazareno is the creative director of ZACARIAS 1925, a contemporary bag and accessories brand that merges the classic weaving techniques of SC Vizcarra’s artisans, with new and progressive designs.
ZACARIAS1925 has worked with other second-generation makers to come up with more current and up-to-date collections, including JB Woodcraft and E. Murio. The brand has also collaborated with Garapata by Dex Fernandez, which showcased simplicity in its intricacy.
Graphic designer and illustrator Raxenne Maniquiz shared her journey with endemic flora that has made her work so renowned, from the vibrant designs of Theo and Philo chocolate bars to an immense opportunity to design for Nike Philippines’ first Jordan store in Manila. Maniquiz grew up on the outskirts of Manila in Bulacan, where nature and flowers are in abundance. From being born in a family with a green thumb, she later explored her own background in local flowers and foliage with her work at Plus63 Design Co, where she was assigned to do a brand refresh on local chocolate brand Theo and Philo. From their minimalist origins, they were tasked to reflect the diversity and richness of Philippine culture, which resulted in their colorful and botanical designs today. This started Maniquiz’s love affair with local and native flora. This led to other projects such as Uniqlo, as well as a drawing of the Philippine map with the native flowers that can be found in each region.
Going against the grain of large coffee chains and Western menus, Rosario Juan created a space for local coffee lovers to gather and learn more about Philippine coffee through Commune, one of the first independent third wave cafés in Metro Manila. Juan shared her story about how she got started in coffee––from her first taste of espresso at 13 during a trip to Italy, to an opportunity to intern for her aunt at a coffee company until she worked her way up to corporate communications, operations, until she became Area Manager assigned to a branch in Shanghai.
While Juan initially had no plans to return to the F&B scene once she came home to the Philippines, as she says, “There’s no perfect time for entrepreneurship, except the day you decide to do it.” Aside from coffee, Commune is also all about conversations. Juan wanted a place where people could come in as strangers and leave as friends and collaborators. She wanted to welcome different groups and provide a space for them.
Through the years, Commune has grown into a vibrant community of coffee lovers, and the café and roastery has done its part in helping bring Philippine coffee to the forefront and save it from near-extinction. During the pandemic, as most businesses were forced to pivot, Commune saw this as an opportunity to bring life to Commune Online, where they can continue to support their community by not only providing their well-loved products, but by introducing others that specifically address their needs during these times. Juan launched the Coffee Therapy Collection, introducing original blends that are suited for different moods, creating a therapeutic effect.
As Commune was all about interpersonal conversations and gathering together, Juan also sought to recreate the dynamic online as she launched Coffee Home Brewers on Facebook, now with over 26,000 members, which became a safe space for both the coffee newbie and the connoisseur learning about brewing techniques, as well as local coffee, with support for Philippine coffee now at an all-time high. As Juan says, “As an entrepreneur, no day is the same. Everyday is a challenge. So why do we keep doing what we do? Because of the community and for the community.”
“Nobody said entrepreneurship was easy, but if you love what you’re doing and you know your purpose, then you’re just going to keep at it. And hopefully, there are better days ahead.”
Former DentsuJaymeSyfu “Chairmom” Merlee Jayme may have illustrated her success as a career woman in the advertising world, but the Global President of DentsuMcGarrybowen is passionate about the unique role women play in the workplace and at home. Now that the pandemic has forced workplaces to enter a remote scheme, this special role cannot be any more emphasized: from having to juggle meetings and project management, to managing the household and caring for children.
Jayme believes that women are capable of doing much more, without having to choose between career or family. But the various roles take a toll a toll on women’s daily lives, even much more so during the pandemic. Jayme helped lead the Dentsu international team to come up with solutions on how they can help lighten the load for their women employees.
Jayme shared, “How can we rise up in our multiple roles as mothers, daughters, sisters, wives – and still succeed in our careers? Dentsu international brainstormed for the answer, and decided to come up with solutions.” Some of these include implementing zero meetings before and after meals, to allow mothers enough time to prepare meals for their children and families; and TheyCare (daycare) babysitting hours, where Dentsu employees’ children gather virtually, entertained by a colleague with story time or an activity, giving their mothers a chance to kick up their feet and indulge in me time. Another idea was to provide free breakfast for moms on Saturday mornings so they can sleep in a little longer, one day a week.
As Jayme shared, “The question becomes: how do we take care of our careers? It’s important to ask the women in our life how they are, and really listen to what they have to say. The film shows you a woman’s sacrifice. Their personal and professional lives have had to intersect because of the pandemic, with their homes becoming their workplaces as well. Women who work from home are strong – but they need a little bit of help too. It’s time to transform work from home to wellness at home.”
About the adobo SheCreative Network
adobo SheCreative Network is a social enterprise, that champions women in Creative, in Business, and in Society. The organization supports and empowers women by recognizing their creative talent, enhancing their creative capabilities, as well as, celebrating their achievements. A network of talented women, creative entrepreneurs, both in leadership roles and aspirants. Women with the passion, skills, and influence to impact positively on the creative industries, culture, business, communities, and on future generations.
Uplifting Women in Creativity the world over. #adoboSheCreative
#WhatWomenDo logo designed by Villarica Manuel.