Seven women who followed their dreams

We all have a dream that's too beautiful too touch. "Someday..." we tell ourselves. Someday we will give it a try, work hard, give it everything we have. But life happens and things don't quite work out the way we expect. Often we we are too afraid to fail before even attempting that ultimate goal, because surely, just longing for it deep in our heart is better than putting it out there for all the world to see and judge. It's not right though. Chasing our dreams can be a risky cliche, but it is our best chance at happiness and fulfillment.

No matter how impossible or discouraging ("hindi ka kikita diyan") your dream is, it's still worth a try. We talked to seven women about their passions and how they're able to build their lives around their greatest love. Hopefully their diverse backgrounds will help you realize that you can do it too!

Photo by Kurt Copon

Photo by Kurt Copon

Sarah Anne Alejandro, doctor and ballet dancer at Ballet Philippines

My lola wanted me to become a ballerina so I took ballet lessons at a young age at the Locsin Dance Workshop. I always thought of it as an extra-curricular activity, and it wasn't until my third year of studies at the Philippine High School for Arts that I started to really take ballet seriously. When the time came for me to go to college though, my doctor parents encouraged me to go into medicine and I decided to go for it.

While I was in med school, I did my best to continue dancing in any small way possible. I missed ballet a lot but I wanted to complete my medical degree. After I passed the Physician Licensure Exam in 2012, I felt that it was my chance to go back to dance. I started dancing seriously again, got an apprenticeship, and eventually became a company member of Ballet Philippines. Last June, I was officially made company physician, too! I am fortunate to be at a position where I am able to be both a ballerina and a doctor in the same company.

I get asked why, after going through all the hardships of med school, I still decided to go back to ballet. The answer is that it is my dream to be a ballerina. I feel like I have the talent for it and talents should be shared. I know that I can't dance forever but I really want to see where it takes me.

Roxy Modesto, baritone saxophonist

I think I came into music as a chance passenger. I didn't expect it to be this much fun, and I didn't expect it to last this long. It isn't rocket science; I just like to play and I keep working at it. Music is a lifetime study of experience and sharing through performance and listening, and that's probably why I'm still at it. It connects people and makes the world a better place, really.

I came to the Philippines playing an instrument I didn't think of as that unique, but I was eager to learn and earn, playing. I didn't expect the demand to be this high either - baritone saxophone is not something just anybody, much less a petite lady, chooses to play. I'm still doing what I do because I know now that it is a unique and wonderful thing, and the inspiration behind that is interesting. If the intention is good, why aren't you doing it? That 's a valid question I still ask myself from time to time.

Music is just something so much bigger than myself, and of course I want to participate in the creation of something beautiful. Being part of that creative spark that's going to align an audience in a room, that's going to make people smile, dance, groove... that's the best sort of motivation. I'm elated music loves me as much as I love it. And it's always been music first, and all I had to do was do it for real to keep at it.

Twinkle Hipolito Ochanine and Kristine Lucas

Twinkle Hipolito Ochanine and Kristine Lucas

Twinkle Hipolito Ochanine, education manager at La Prairie Philippines

I have this weird obsession about skin care. Growing up, I would always put lotion on my skin and bathe in oil and salt. I enjoyed looking for natural methods to keep my skin healthy because I have an auto immune disorder that limits my options. I also dabbled a bit in makeup and took classes in makeup artistry. With my job, I conduct product and sales training, host events, and conduct workshops to create awareness about luxury beauty. I am also passionate about teaching so my career is a perfect marriage of the two things I really love - teaching and beauty!

Kristine Lucas, marketing manager and makeup artist

I’ve had an interest in makeup ever since I was in college. I was in a band and had to my own makeup, so I would always research and practice. It would be years after before I decided to pursue it professionally. I had a family and a full-time job but I enrolled in a pro makeup course because I wanted to do something that was just for me. I still maintain a day job on weekdays and do makeup artistry on weekends.

I’ve also started offering eyebrow embroidery. Doing makeup for older women who face challenges with their brows inspired me to provide a more permanent solution. It saves them so much time when getting ready in the morning! I see eyebrow embroidery and permanent makeup as a natural transition when you want to move up as a makeup artist because I believe in continuous learning and upgrading my skills.

Sheenly Vee Gener and Bernie Ngwe

Sheenly Vee Gener and Bernie Ngwe

Sheenly Vee Gener, actress, acting coach and assistant director

I graduated as Theater Arts scholar from the Philippine High School for the Arts in 2002. During my first year as an Arts Management scholar at the College of Saint Benilde, I got my first lead role for a professional production with Tanghalang Pilipino at CCP. I was casted as Insiang, besting 80 other hopefuls, and it was followed by a touring production with PETA. The next year, I got pregnant and had to stop schooling during my third trimester. When I went back to school, I was introduced to film and TV production and events/stage management by my beloved "tropa" teachers. Soon after, I was given Assistant Director projects for indie films and offered a position to teach theater to kids and teens.

My life is a balance act of acting, teaching, production work, and mommy duties. I teach acting because I was inspired by my teachers who kept on giving. I continue to be an actor because I love telling stories about different aspects of life. I want to understand people’s different experiences and perspectives. I want to discover how to use my body to transform into another character. Through acting, I feel like I have a better understanding of life.

Bernie Ngwe, fashion designer

People in their different forms and colors have always interested me. I believe that fashion is not confined to shapely women in glossy magazines. It is for everybody! Fashion is a language and it is another way of expressing ourselves. It is our second skin. I have always dreamed of relating and catering to women of all ages and making them more confident and comfortable with their bodies. Seeing people more confident in my clothing motivates me to grow as a fashion designer. I draw inspiration in just about everything I see and experience in life to experiment with my designs. My goal is to create a brand name where anyone’s imagination can meet expression.

Anna Achacoso-Graham, jazz singer at Baihana and owner of Mrs. Graham’s Macaron Café

Both my careers of being a jazz singer and an aspiring pastry chef happened unexpectedly. When I formed Baihana back in college, I never expected it to become a full-time job but we found ourselves continuously booking gigs; it's been eight wonderful and exciting years so far. I absolutely love singing with Baihana and love the kind of music we do. My macaron business happened by accident as well, but my passion for pastry just kept growing and I'm just so excited to become a certified pastry chef someday. Even though it gets tiring and stressful at times, I love doing both and can't give either one up.

I have a day job from Monday to Saturday as a backup singer for Tawag ng Tanghalan, a segment on ABS-CBN’s Showtime. I schedule my baking time two to three nights a week, and spend all the time I can get with family. Being a mom, on top of everything, makes time management crucial. I balance everything by making a clear schedule, saying no when I have to, and making sure I have enough time to rest and relax as well. I find that these small pockets of "me" time are important to gather inspiration, plan, strategize, and get the energy to keep going. It's important that my husband is a great partner who manages our businesses and takes care of our daughter when I'm at work. I think we make a great team, which is why our setup is effective.


We hope you are inspired by these women and never, even when it feels like its impossible, give up on your dream.

Header photo by Kurt Copon