What do you do for a living, and what are the things that make you feel more alive?
I’m an entrepreneur, I’m the founder of Nina Inabel. Inabel means handwoven in Ilocano. We are a social enterprise that makes clothes from handwoven fabric to support the farmers and weavers of Ilocos Norte, my hometown. We also support weavers in nearby provinces like Ilocos Sur, Abra and La Union.
I’m a host for an online health show, Hashtag Healthy Naman and I host online events.
What makes me feel more alive — at the moment, I would say these three things: the joy of creation, the gift of family and making a difference.
The creative process is a roller coaster ride, it can be frustrating and stressful at times but I realized I thrive under pressure. It’s very similar to the adrenaline rush I experienced as a reporter for years. Whether I’m making a story, doing an interview or designing clothes, when I’m able to see my ideas come to life, it’s so exciting, inspiring and fulfilling!
Spending time with my family and seeing
my kids grow up make me realize what matters most – them. I get so kilig and giddy when we kiss and hug each other and when they tell me they love me. I feel like my heart is about to burst out of my chest!
We were “forced” to spend all this time together at home, and this made us closer than ever. There were of course challenges just like any family but there were extraordinary special moments that would never have happened if not for this lockdown. This pandemic will end one day and for sure I will look back and say, when will I ever get to spend this much time with my kids. Was that all a dream? Again, despite the challenges, in some ways, it was magical.
When I started Nina Inabel, it was never about business. What kind of business owner would tell her customers not to buy a lot? Our tagline, “buy few, live purposely”, is meant to encourage people to live a sustainable lifestyle, and this way of life will naturally help the people around you. What I said earlier about my heart bursting out of my chest is the same feeling I get when I’m around our weavers — when they tell me they are inspired to create more because it also puts food on the table. When we become part of this movement that promotes tradition, makes young people proud of their heritage and promotes livelihood, life is more meaningful.
Even with my health advocacies, when people tell me they learned a lot from my interview with a particular doctor and they are sharing this information with their loved ones — I’m so thankful to be part of a solution.
How old are you?
What do you think is the biggest challenge, and the best thing, about being your age?
The biggest challenge about my age is..aging, running out of time. I feel it physically and mentally. Personally, there’s the anxiety of whether or not I’ll still be there when my kids have their own families? I wish I had them earlier in life so I could have more time with them, but because I was in broadcasting, I married late and had kids late. I feel there is still so much to do, I hope and pray I can still do all of that with them.
The best thing about this age is very cliche but very true — I am older and wiser.
My desires are less complicated, less selfish.
I’m at that age where I have the ability and influence to make a difference. I hope to continue doing that even when I’m older and grayer.
How have you grown wiser in the past two years?
Everyone has been affected, lost a job, lost someone, lost oneself — I went through all of that in the past 2 years, more or less.
I realized how important it is to spend time, even virtually, with the people I love. It’s the who not the what that matters.
I learned you can survive on just enough with the support of family and friends.
I now focus on the things that make me feel alive — my passion, my family and what I can do for others.
What are the best pieces of life advice you have ever received?
“Don’t take pictures of sunsets, remember them.” I’ll never forget this quote from art patron and philanthropist Dr. Joven Cuanang while we talked and agreed that the most beautiful sunset is in Sitio Remedios, Currimao, Ilocos Norte. Unfortunately, I already took lots of pictures by then haha! This really struck a chord because I am in social media and this reminded me to slow down and make memories instead of taking so many photos. Once in a while, I put my phone down and bask in these golden moments with my family.
This pandemic has taught us to hold our loved ones close, and reminds me how fragile life is and that it can be taken away in an instant.
Surround yourself with people that inspire you, whether they are leaders that set by example or everyday heroes that act at the moment to make someone’s life better one person or one community at a time.
My mom always told me ever since I was a child, paulit ulit: be generous. When you give, you get more in return. She showed us how this was done — it starts at home and with the people around you. My mom, a lawyer-businesswoman, her employees stayed with her, 20, 30, 40 years, since I was born, they are still with us!
How has empowering/supporting other women helped you in your own journey?
There’s this saying that, women hold up half the sky. But I personally think we do more than that.
I really admire the hard work and dedication our weavers and sewers put themselves through to help their own families. Pag-uwi nila sila rin ang magluluto, maglalaba at mag tututor sa mga anak nila. These women work to get paid and work even harder to run an entire household without pay.
It’s very humbling to see that and it motivates me to work harder so that we can help them more. Earning your own money is very empowering. Raising a family at home is heroic. Whatever a woman chooses, one or the other or both — all of us women should band together, stand together on a pedestal and shower each other with unending praise.
When we empower, support, lift each other, we make the world a better place for women.
She Talks Generations celebrates wisdom-sharing among women; and highlights the different perspectives and unique strengths that we bring to the table at every life stage.