Last year, I took on a very important role. To those who don’t know, my family runs Eco Choices – a social enterprise based in Cotabato City. Eco Choices aims to promote healthy living (we sell organic products like brown rice and herbal tea) and create opportunities for the communities living beside the river by making handmade products made from water hyacinth. It all sounds easy, but it’s not. Especially when you’re a librarian/freelance photographer who ditched jobs that had anything to do with business. When I assumed the managerial position, I literally didn’t know what to do. My goals were clear. I just didn’t know what steps to take, who to talk to, etc.
Now the question is, do you stop just because you’re clueless? Or, do you turn things around by accepting the fact that you don’t know anything and then do something about the situation? It was very humbling for me to go back to reading books and looking up articles on the internet that showed tips on how to run a social enterprise. I didn’t even know what “social enterprise” meant. I attended seminars, asked questions, and consulted mentors because I really wanted things to work. Fast forward to seven months later, I can honestly say that I am seeing improvements. It was quite a ride and we still have a long way to go. We’ve only just begun after all.
My days are spent making products, coming up with new design concepts for Eco Choices, running Eco Choices, social media marketing, and handling finance. Some days I cross over to being the founder of Kids for Peace Foundation and attend meetings that are related to our projects. Some days, I’m just by myself, playing the guitar and singing like there’s no tomorrow. I do admit that there are days when I feel like I’m going insane and I think that’s a good thing. That right there is signal that I need to rest.
I’ve been asked about my theme for this year and all I can say is “balance”. I’m trying to create a balance between my personal life and my professional life. There’s a hairline that separates the two and that’s perfectly normal but I still want to give equal attention to both.
You’re probably asking, “okay what about surfing?” and I’ll ask you the same thing. The last time my skin tasted salt water was in October and if you compare that to 2012-2013’s surf statistics, that’s pretty sad. I was surfing almost every weekend last year. I was at my darkest, too. Is it difficult not being able to surf when I want to? Yes. See, Mindanao is a lot different from Luzon in the sense that I can’t just board a bus at 12 MN and expect to arrive safely the next day. Surf spots take at least 8 hours from where I live too, so I can’t just go on a weekend trip because when the waves are pumping, there’s no way that I’ll be okay with just surfing for two days. When I miss the feeling, I skate. I’ve kissed the concrete pavement for a couple of times now, I’m just lucky I haven’t landed on dog poop yet. When I feel like I’m going crazy because I can no longer deal with being away from the ocean, I make arrangements with my mom. I try to make things work as much as possible.
So… there. Here’s to creating a balance between work, family, and self.