Saturday, August 23, 2014


Roger Pe
Philippine Daily Inquirer
August 24, 2014 issue

Who says public schools can't breed good English communicators? She does it like her second language. She, too, was like a chameleon. She adapted easily,

Evlin Fuentes-Jankoff practically lived out of a suitcase for several years. Her international jobs took her to different countries in Europe, Asia, US and Australia. Her last job before migrating down under in 2003 was as Asia-Pacific Regional Manager for a British multinational company.

Her migration to Australia was a drastic transition. From an independent, single, career-focused woman living alone in her own Manila flat (with a maid and driver), she became a mum in a new country, with a non-Filipino husband, without her own income, relatives, and no external support network. Tough start.

But she is now a Professional Lecturer at prestigious Victoria University in Melbourne, reaping the fruits of her hardships.

In her early 20s, when several of her high school and college friends were leaving one after the other to either work or migrate overseas, she said: “I want to travel but I do not want to pay for it. I want to work overseas but I refuse to apply for it.”
Her friends thought she was nuts. But she always thought that it was good to have a dream because it won’t cost anyone anything.

Jankoff grew up in Project 8, Quezon City with her eight siblings. Being the eldest, she learnt to be independent very early, a good foundation for her future travels. Going through public school her whole life (GSIS Village Elementary School, Quezon City Science High School and the University of the Philippines) perhaps toughened her up a bit.

As a little girl, she wanted to be a brain surgeon and a fashion model. Her dream to become a surgeon got quickly nipped in the bud by her father who reminded her that they do not have unlimited funds to send them all to college.

“My having a boyfriend then did not help as Tatay was scared I may end up eloping before I even finish my studies,” she says. As for modeling, she did not grow tall and skinny enough, (she was too voluptuous) to be one.

Jankoff initially got into accountancy course at UP Diliman though her first love was economics. She decided to shift to Hotel and Restaurant Administration. “Why HRA? My friends in engineering asked. I said “it’s the only degree in campus where you are legally allowed to organize parties and drink alcohol, and get marks for it.”

Jankoff’s first taste of travel and independence was her internships at the then Hyatt Terraces Baguio. “There were five of us students from UP. When we met at the bus station in Baguio, little did we know that we all gave our parents the same assurance – yes, we have a place to stay, all organized. We looked at each other and realized we all told a lie,” she happily remembers.

Starting a career

Jankoff was among those in the pioneer team when the West Villa chain of restaurants opened. She then worked at Cebu Plaza Hotel where she said: “there was never really a dull moment in the hospitality industry. There was always something happening. I met a lot of fantastic people but did not like the work hours.” She moved out of the industry and worked at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) after.

She got along well with her boss while working at AIM but the latter would soon receive an offer to work in Jakarta. “I was sad that she left. What to do? I enrolled in the MBA program at Ateneo. As I was about to start the course, my former boss convinced me to come over for a holiday and stay with her.” Jankoff withdrew from the MBA program, got her money and packed her bags.

Little that she know, she would be staying for five years at the AIM representative office in the Indonesian capital. It was one big adventure for her where she met wonderful people and great friends. The job also took her travelling on a regular basis and did not have to pay for it.

“My first year living as an expat came with dose of culture shock. I was lucky to quickly learn to speak Bahasa Indonesia within three months. Good enough to convince a taxi driver to take me to Tanah Abang (like our Divisoria) from my landlady’s place in Menteng (like our Forbes) and get to practice my haggling skills in time. My adventure scared the wits out of my landlady who discouraged me from doing it again.

Life as an expat can be as easy or difficult depending on how one wants it to be, according to Jankoff. “The most punishing part for me was learning to eat spicy food. I was able to get over it with a lot of bravery and tears,” she says.

Learning the local language was the best thing that worked for Jankoff. It helped her better understand the local culture and how the locals think. “I was curious about why the Indonesians do things the way they do them. I respected the difference and made it work for me in my dealings with the locals. Having great support from my fellow expat Filipino friends was extremely helpful especially when we share our day-to-day experiences and learn from each other’s mistakes and wins. I was lucky that my job allowed me to regularly visit my family in Manila,” she reminisces.

Goodbye, Jakarta

Before Jankoff left Jakarta for good, she went on a holiday to Sydney and Melbourne with two Indonesian female friends. “We all stayed with a classmate of mine from UP who was based in Sydney. I did not realize that my friend had plans of breast enlargement surgery while I was there, so I ended up looking after her, which I did not mind. I did not expect the shock in her mother’s and brother’s eyes when they got home from a holiday: I looked like the accomplice in crime!”

Other than her brief ‘nursing’ stint, Jankoff found Australia a place that she could live. “I love the culture and art scene of Melbourne than Sydney that I actually declared to my friend “I would like to live in Melbourne” while we were staying at her brother’s place in Yarraville.”

Jankoff then tried to check all immigration possibilities to move to Melbourne but couldn’t get to pass the required ‘points test’ to migrate. Back in Manila, she started to focus back on balancing career and single life. “I was happy to be back home. My stint as an expat opened doors for me to get roles that required frequent international travel.”

In one of her work assignments, she was sent to her company’s regionall office in New York for a few meetings. On her first stop was a meeting in Albany before she headed off to her World Trade Centre office on 12 September 2001.

“That was a close call. It was scary being in New York watching the 11 September disaster unfold and our office building collapsing. I felt so alone, shaken and did not know where to go. That was my first US trip and had not been there since,” she remembers.

Hello, Australia

Through work, Jankoff met her future husband Cyril. They were both working with the same British multinational company. He was based in Melbourne but was sent to Jankoff’s office in Manila for training and orientation. “It was a long distance office romance. We finally spent more time together after he left the company. On my first visit to see him in Melbourne, I felt it was surreal that Cyril actually lived in Yarraville, a few blocks away from where I declared I wanted to live in Melbourne a couple of years back!” Goosebumps.

“Cyril loved Manila and he did not mind settling down in the Philippines. After long and thorough decision process, we decided to move to Melbourne where his elderly mum is based. We got married in Melbourne and we now have two children, Carl and Erika,” Jankoff says.

Jankoff said she did not expect being a new mum in Australia could be tough and challenging. She arrived in Melbourne with her five-month old Erika. “One day I had a full-time nanny looking after her and the support of my family, the next day I was on my own looking after a baby in a new country. I felt alone. I thought being an English speaker, having worked internationally and been an expat would have given me an advantage in having an easier transition to my new life in Australia. Wrong. Being a migrant mother in Australia requires a different skill set – driver, nanny, cleaner, housekeeper, gardener, etc.”

Australians love their English slang. “When baby Erika cried, Cyril said: “give her the dummy”. I wondered, “what dummy he was talking about. He could not figure out why I gave him a blank stare when he asked me to “put the jumper in the boot”. I also did not quickly get it when the nurse said: “Your baby’s cot looked like a dog’s breakfast”. When I asked an Aussie friend how she manages to juggle work and motherhood, she says she usually just “chuck a sickie” whenever she has to attend school events.

Jankoff’s impressive credentials did not fail her. She was very lucky to land a job within five months of migrating to Melbourne. “I got a sessional lecturing job at a local university teaching international students. It was great to get the mind working again after singing too much nursery songs and watching an overload of the Wiggles, Playschool and Sesame Street.”

But work and motherhood do not come easy in Australia. As her mother said when she came to help her out when her youngest was born, “the quality of life of the poor people in the Philippines is better that yours here’. “Ouch. She was right. I barely had time to scratch myself. Even my maid in Manila before who had her young children staying with her in my household had time to rest and relax.”

With all demands on working moms and minimal support compared to what they get in the Philippines, many women experience post-natal depression, according to Jankoff. It is not uncommon for new migrant mums to just want to go back home with their babies. “You have to reach out for help and support at a time when you feel alone and may not want to reach out.”

Australian culture

How does she describe Australians? Australians are very individualistic in contrast to Filipinos and other Asians whose culture is very enmeshed, according to Jankoff.

“People are polite and are happy to extend a hand. But life is just so busy that you have to make it a point to reach out and connect, otherwise it can feel so isolating especially if you do not have your relatives around,” she says.

Multitasking in Australia is common and the people take on other roles all the time, at work and at home, she observes. “You can be left out if you do not reach out. My family regularly attends the St. Albans Filipino Uniting Church. It feels good to be connected to fellow Filipinos and for our children to learn more about the Filipino culture. The congregation has also been very supportive to newly arrived migrants,” Jankoff says.

How is it like living far from home? Jankoff says raising children in a different country with a non-Filipino partner has its own challenges. “Erika and Carl (her young daughter and son) have a good understanding of the difference between their Filipino and Australian heritage. Cyril and I agreed that we should raise the children by taking the best out of the Filipino and Australian culture, keeping in mind the children will grow up in a very multicultural world.”

In recent years, there are more skilled Filipino migrants arriving in Australia, mostly in the healthcare and aged-care industries. “I think generally, Filipinos are very adaptable which makes it easy for us to blend in with other cultures. Having the Spanish, American and Asian mix in us makes us very western at the same time eastern in our mindsets.”

Jankoff has also not heard of many negative remarks among locals now that their calls are handled by Filipino call center operators, compared to all the angry complaints when the calls were handled in another country prior.

When she first arrived in Melbourne, Jankoff wished that she could work at the Victoria University, which was walking distance from her home. She went over to one of their offices and asked if she can apply to be a sessional lecturer.

“I got the job and I now work as a full time lecturer in Supply Chain and Logistics at the university. I am lucky to be working in a very multicultural environment that embraces diversity. Like in any country in the world, discrimination can happen in Australian workplaces. It is up to us how we handle it. The best lesson that we Filipinos may have to learn is to be assertive, learn how to say no and stand our ground in a nice way,” she says.

Planning to migrate or work overseas? Jankoff gives some valuable advice: “Be adaptable. Be open to learn about the local culture and connect with the locals. There is nothing like establishing friendships with the locals who can be able to guide you around local practices, and where and how to get support. Understand the thinking behind why they do certain things. Lastly, being adaptable does not mean that you have to compromise your own belief system. It is about establishing mutual respect.”

Saturday, August 16, 2014


By Roger Pe
Philippine Daily Inquirer
August 17, 2014 issue

Even before the war broke out, Palawan was largely known as a dumping ground for lepers (Culion) and prisoners (Iwahig). After the liberation and throughout the 50s, nothing much has changed. The image of Palawan remained the same, sleepy, far-flung, and rather isolated from the rest of the country, aside from the fact that it was one of the Philippines’ most undeveloped and sparsely populated provinces.

Back then, only a single propeller Fokker plane visited the capital town. When the 70s came, things began to change. Puerto Princesa, the capital, became a city and towards the new millennium, an envy to many. Palawan wakes up every day to the sound of progress, and today, almost 20 airbus flights from Manila fly back and forth to the province once known as the Last Frontier.

Palawan’s rich flora and fauna, abundant marine life, stunning white beaches, incredible geographical formations, and vast hectares of oil fields under its seabed are magnets to businessmen and tourists alike.

Like El Nido town. In this paradise by the bay, hidden among limestone cliffs live gatherers of “white gold”, most commonly known as Nido Bird’s nests (hardened saliva of Swiftlets), highly prized by the Chinese as a delicacy and aphrodisiac.

Traders from Manila and as far as Hongkong frequent the place for the bounty local foragers collect from mountains jotting out straight from the sea. Gatherers earn quite a sum. The demand would always outweigh the supply and the burgeoning business made enterprising families.

From one of these families emerged a shy little girl who dreamt of being successful some day and came back exactly what she wanted to be. She is Emilie Palanca Pe-Shi, great granddaughter of Don Juan Palanca Pe Tuan of Coron Palawan.

“I always dreamt of becoming a very successful businesswoman,” Shi says from an overseas chat with the Inquirer. Indeed, she did. She was able to travel the world, own a real estate chain abroad, given the honor to become an honorary Consul General for the Philippine embassy in New Zealand, and finally, exporter of premium bottled-water to several countries.

Shi could retire today and live happily ever after. But that’s getting ahead of the story.

She was born in El Nido, Palawan and moved to Puerto Princesa where she attended grade and high school at Holy Trinity College (now university). She thought of being a lawyer and did not want to get stuck in a desolate town almost forgotten by time. “I needed to be in the city so I packed my bags, took up entrance exams and went to a business school.” Shi enrolled in the University of the East and majored in finance, marketing and sales.

“If I can focus on what I really wanted, I knew I would make it, she says. While on her senior year in college, Shi was taken in as an intern at the White House Automotive Supply, then Manila’s largest importer of auto parts from Japan and the U.S. While trying to attend night school to finish college, she took charge of the import department of the company.

Being active in university activities gave her rewards and just like what she wanted after graduation, her entrepreneurial spirit gave her passport to bigger things. Shi joined a travel agency named Travel and Tours, stayed for over three years and given the privilege of flying to several cities in Europe, the US and most of Asia.

The travel business became Shi’s bread and butter, hitting the jackpot soon enough and bagging the biggest travel account her company ever handled - a Chicago tour group for which she organized tours in Manila and other Philippine cities.

“We did not have much competition back in the 60s and 70s,” Shi recollects. “Customers were very loyal and they left everything to us to arrange their itinerary and hotel accommodations. I truly enjoyed that part of my career, including my stint with the Philippine Travel Bureau,” she says.

She left the country in 1969 right after getting married to a Hongkong Chinese citizen who studied dental medicine at the University of the Philippines. The couple settled in Hongkong, her husband opened a clinic to practice dentistry while she worked for a Japanese government entity.

About to give birth to her first child, Shi migrated to New Zealand initially doing property business, buying land and developing them. In a span of 10 years until 2007, she has built more 750 homes with single housing and townhouses in Albany, New Zealand worth over $100 million in development.

A year after, His Excellency Ambassador Bienvenido Tejano invited her to be the Philippine Honorary Consul General in New Zealand.

Auckland, NZ’s largest city had no Philippine consular office for 4 years. The Philippine government had long wanted to appoint a representative to help the growing population of Filipino immigrants. As the Filipino population grew to almost 50,000, Shi took office in July 2008.

On her first year as Consul General, Sh said: “It was like going back to school. It was hard for me to understand all the ropes of the business. I was lucky the embassy had a lot of Attaches I could call on to ask for help. The full diplomatic manual was so thick, I fell asleep reading it chapter by chapter.”

She, too, got a lot of support from older colleagues at the 65-member country Consular Corps of Auckland. She needed to learn as quickly as she could while attending to a lot of functions and from the host country government. “My time was not enough. I devoted 4 hours of consular time in the morning, the rest of the afternoon, for my own private business,” she recalls.

Love for country

The reason why Shi accepted the job as an Honorary Consul was “my love for the country and the Filipino people, “ she says. It was not a easy job, you have to be a people-person or you will lost your patience when people start complaining about consular service.”

The voluntary job for Shi was a sacrifice. “Not many people know we do not receive salaries. I accepted it so that the government can start a consular office for Filipinos who do not need to spend large sum of money to go and fly to Wellington to get a visa, passport, etc. Today, I believe we have simplified a lot of things.”

What has she observed about Filipinos living in New Zealand? “Filipinos in NZ are quite regional and clannish, very much family-oriented. During my five-year term, I have not heard of bad press about Filipinos. I received a lot of commendations for our nurses, IT engineers, architects, doctors and dentists. The most number of comments she got: “Filipinos are hardworking, and they took care of their families.”

After her tenure, Shi ventured on an ambitious water production business. She tried making the best water in the whole of Antartica available in bottles. After several months and many name studies after, Shih’s KVella brand was born and got the Ministy of Primary Industries’ approval.

Shi’s KVella premium bottled water is sourced from the Southern Alps of New Zealand, pure water with essential minerals from vapours of ice shelves and drawn from natural artesian system.

The word “KVella” means fantastic in Italian, but actually an acronym of two of her companies joined together (Kesco/Vision) with an added nice sounding word: Ella. The trademark is registered in the Philippines, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Hongkong, Taiwan and the United States.

She currently ships to 4 countries and will soon add India and France to the growing list. “We are hoping that we should be able to export more as our prices become very competitive,” she says.

Asked what advice she would give to her kababayans who wish to live in NZ or anywhere in the world: Shi says: “Prepare yourself, and ask yourself this question with sincerity: “Will this be better for my country and my family? Will I be able to pursue all my dreams? Shih says one must work hard, take some insults sometimes. Though language could be a problem to some, it could all be overcome. “If you have confidence, you’ll be able to better yourself.”

Lastly, Shih says the government has helped many Filipinos in NZ, allowing them to enter with very little money. ”Filipino immigrants could apply for housing and job opportunities are plenty. There are so much work at the moment but our kababayans must have qualifications and should be willing to learn,” she says.

Sunday, August 10, 2014


by Roger Pe
Philippine Daily Inquirer
August 10, 2014 issue

Many Filipinos have made their mark in professional leadership roles in Southeast Asia. A number have also reached top management positions in the region. Some have gone further, achieving juicy careers in the tough and bigger China market. But as an Executive Planning Director for one of the world’s most prestigious ad networks in the world’s biggest economy?

The answer is absolutely yes.

Like in China’s education, media, public relations, engineering, hotel and restaurant industries, a Filipino walks shoulder to shoulder with the best expatriates working in that side of the world. He is a UP Mass Communications graduate and his name is Hans Lopez-Vito, also a former tv commercial model.

For the uninitiated, the Executive Planning Director is advertising’s most important role along with that of the Chief Creative Officer’s. It is a frontliner’s job and the output, the backbone of an effective advertising campaign.

Brand Planning gives marketers an edge in an increasingly competitive market because it gives the communication plan focus. In a nutshell, the Planner gives the brand the vision, aim and overall brandscape, the how, what, where, when and to whom the plan is communicating the messages.

Lopez-Vito began his career as a market research analyst at San Miguel Corporation in 1994. During a lightning overseas interview, he tells Inquirer that a marketing department colleague put him on a TV commercial that was about to be shot because his ad agency could not find a suitable talent.

That was his first taste of the advertising business. After that, he appeared in countless tv and print ads and on back-sides of cereal boxes.
Twenty years later, his involvement with ads remains. But largely from behind the scenes.

At BBDO Proximity Greater China Beijing office, Lopez-Vito works on some of the world’s blue chip accounts. He also champions BBDO Voices, the agency’s proprietary insights program aimed at tracking socio-cultural trends in one of the world’s most dynamic consumer markets.

Prior to his BBDO China post, he led a pan-Asian strategy for Unilever’s Take-Home Ice Cream brands & Coca-Cola’s ‘Coke-with-Food’ campaigns. In 2006, he was cross-posted to McCann Worldgroup offices in Toronto and New York and eventually became Vice President and Head of Planning at McCann Worldgroup in Manila. He is married, has a four-year old daughter and another one on the way.

Lopez-Vito’s daily grind is to lead a team of branding experts, engagement planners and strategic creative thinkers develop strategies that form the basis for the campaigns they develop for some of the world’s most loved brands.

As a young boy, Lopez-Vito’s only connection with the big world of business were the ads he saw on TV. He thought that the only way to make money in the corporate world was through the advertising agency business. He entered the field of marketing research upon graduation primarily because of his desire to help create and shape how companies and their brands communicated with people.

“I am your typical “prom-di” (from the province). I was born in Bacolod, studied at the local La Salle school there, but left for Manila to study at UP Diliman. Up until I took off for the “big city,” the life I knew was very simple. It revolved around the home, my family, my classmates, and the local Boy Scout troop that I was actively involved in. To this day, my Ilonggo accent still sometimes betrays me. My wife Ruby thinks it’s adorable.”

Asked if he ever dreamt of pursuing working abroad, Lopez-Vito says: “Frankly, I never did until much later in my career. That’s because life was good to me in Manila. I was working at a great agency which took good care of me and my career (I was already VP for Strategic Planning at McCann at the time).

Lopez-Vito said he had “a great boss who inspired and stretched me.” He enjoyed working with his clients but eventually felt a new curiosity, a new urge emerged in him that he craved to find out how far his talent could take him. He wondered if he could truly compete on the global stage.

“I figured that the only way to find out was to see if I can replicate the career successes I had in Manila in a market that had larger global prominence.” That’s how he ended up in China, a country of 1.3 billion consumers.

On the similarities, dissimilarities and idiosyncrasies of doing advertising in China, Vito-Lopez says: “The best way to describe China is that it is one country but with multiple markets.”

In the major cities like Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou as well as the big provincial capitals, Vito-Lopez says the consumers are just as wealthy and sophisticated as anywhere else in the world. “In some small cities and towns, China is still very under-developed, and the big task for brands is to educate people about the basics of what a product is and how to use it,” he says. “The Philippine market has its own complexity, but I think China takes this to a whole new level.”

He observes that the pace in China is very fast, the market is growing, people’s lifestyles and values are changing very quickly. As a foreigner, Lopez-Vito depends on a lot of market research as well as the perspectives of his local staff to truly be on top of the local pulse.

What makes Filipino expats shine abroad? Lopez-Vito says the easy answer is the Pinoy’s strong command of the English language. He, however, thinks there is more to the Pinoy that foreign employers like.

“I think the real and unspoken factor to the success of Expat Pinoys is our “cultural resilience.” We are truly the best of East and West. Because of the strong Spanish and American influence on our culture, we know how to deal with clients and colleagues from western countries. But, because we’re also Asian, it’s much easier for us to understand the cultural sensitivities of other Asians in our staff or client-base.”

Lopez-Vito says the Pinoy can do well, regardless of where his job assignment takes him. “I can’t think of any other nationality that has this quality, “he says.

Pinoy diaspora

The global Pinoy has redefined traditional notions of nation-hood, according to Lopez-Vito. Though millions of Pinoys are living abroad and are even becoming citizens of other nations, their love and allegiance remains with the country of their birth, he says.

“One no longer needs to fly to 7,100 islands to find the Philippines. They can easily find it in the values, the smiles, the warmth, and cultural resilience of millions of Filipinos scattered around the world,” he says.

Lopez-Vito has been in China for quite some time. It is interesting to know what makes him stay there. For him, advertising is a highly competitive industry and it is also very global. “How far can a Pinoy prom-di like me go in a playing field that is truly global? How high will I reach? I don’t know the answer yet, but I would like to find out.”

Like millions of Pinoys working abroad, he realizes that he will need to miss out being in the Philippines during important family moments.

“While in China, I have missed my nephews and nieces’ dance recitals. I have missed their graduations. I was also absent when my mom died. I was in Manila just the day before, but was back in Shanghai when she left us.”

What advice would he give to Pinoys who would like to work in China or elsewhere in the world? “Pinoys have the right to really aim high but, sadly, many don’t.” He says many want to go abroad to work but, how many of those who want to go abroad want to lead?

Lopez-Vito thinks there are only a few who do. “For instance, our Asian brethren (e.g., from India, Singapore, etc.) outnumber us Filipinos in the highest ranks of companies around the world. Certainly, the Pinoy can do better. I believe many of us still suffer from “colonial syndrome.”

Lopez-Vito says, Filipinos need to be confident and can be world-class. “We can be not just good workers but also good leaders that people from countries that once colonized us are willing to follow,” he says.

What is his job like? His role at BBDO is to make sure that the brand campaigns the agency develops for its clients are rooted on solid strategies. As such, his regular day is spent in a lot of meetings, be it with his team, other agency folks, or clients: on how a brand can grow more optimally, what interesting human truth or insight they can tap into when developing a campaign, or what interesting technology can be leveraged to get their messages out.

“I also spend a lot of time putting together, reviewing, or delivering strategy presentations. I put a lot of energy having conversations about how our clients are performing, trying to figure out what worked in our last campaign, what didn’t, and how we can do better next time,” he says.

Although he spends most of his time in Shanghai where he is based, he has also come to know China’s major airports quite well. “We have offices and clients in Beijing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Vito-Lopez travels about once every two weeks on average. During the peak strategic planning season, he travels more often than that.

Because China is such an important market for all Lopez-Vito’s global clients, he spends an inordinate amount of time doing conference calls with global hubs in the US or Europe whose clients usually set their calls either really early in the morning or late at night due to time differences.

“I usually do these calls at home. These calls are not always easy, not with an over-active and very noisy four year old at home! And, every so often, I have to fly there to personally meet and present strategy to clients. In this role, he has logged a lot of airline and hotel miles. He is not complaining though. “I think being able to travel (and travel well) even if it’s for business is both an honor and a privilege.”

What would he be like if he were a brand and what are his thoughts on seeing the Philippines from out of home?

“I can relate a lot more to Pinoy brands – brands like Jollibee and Chippy. These brand have grown so much over the last 20-30 years but, they mean the same thing to a 41-year old like me as to a Pinoy child or teenager. I suppose that’s me. I have experienced much, the world has changed, and the world may have changed many aspects of who I am, how I dress, how I speak but I will remain a prom-di, a ‘malambing Ilonggo’ (with an Ilonggo accent) forever. I have also recently re-discovered something from my younger years that I lost – my faith in my God! They can take the boy out of Bacolod, but they can’t take Bacolod out of the boy.

On what makes a truly global Pinoy, Lopez-Vito puts it succinctly: “I think the Pinoy expat is like a bowl of halo-halo. He is a mix of different cultures all at once. That makes him or her the quintessential global citizen.”

Vito-Lopez was one of the seven Most Outstanding Alumni awardees of the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication (UP CMC) centennial alumni homecoming celebration in 2008.