Tina uses her talents in communication and community building to uplift and empower the residents of San Juan, La Union. By forging meaningful partnerships with key stakeholders and leading creative and effective campaigns, Tina continues to make sustainable tourism in San Juan a reality.
Briefly describe your areas of expertise or advocacies. How long have you been doing these?
I have been working with the tourism sector as well as multiple environmental conservation civil service organizations since 2015. I did work in corporate for Globe Telecom, a PR Agency (GeiserMaclang), and even a BPO firm specializing in data analytics while I was in Manila for 2010-2015. Here I became trained in Corporate Branding, Social Media Marketing, Public Relations, Crisis Communications, and Data Analysis. While working in Manila, I have actively been a volunteer of Tweetup Manila - a group that focuses on using social media channels for social good.
Currently, I’m the elected President (2021-2023) for the San Juan Resort Restaurant Hotel Association (SJRRHASS), a Regional Ambassador for Fostering Education Environmental Development (Feed Inc), a volunteer of CURMA (Coastal Underwater Research Management Actions), ex-officio president of La Union Conventions and Visitors Bureau (LuCVB). These are among the few CSOs I’ve worked with. It took me five years of consistent work to be trusted by my community to lead.
Among your interests, which one has been your driving force?
Community building and information dissemination through media channels. We’ve created efficient ways to make sustainable tourism fun for tourists, manageable for establishments, and actionable by both our civil service organizations (NGOs) and Local Government Partners.
To what would you attribute your achievement/s?
My mentors and teachers in all stages of my life. At 33, I’m still learning the ropes for a lot of things. The manongs, manangs, ates, kuyas, even the teens and children that I observe, listen to, and work with are among the best life mentors.
In what ways did your Maryknoll/Miriam education impact your life and profession?
Miriam has always played a huge part in my basic interest in learning. Our curriculum has always emphasized teamwork. Until now, collaboration is one of the core principles of our projects here in La Union.
Our classes especially English and History, were among my favorite subjects because of our exposure to human experiences at such a young age. The Science and Math courses (while I had challenges with these) taught me how to be patient. We even had remedial classes by our teachers, a big chunk of their time just trying to help us understand how to get from point A to point B. Music, Arts, and PE, Home Economics, Health, and Religion gave me some of the underrated life skills that I still use to this day.
Filipino is very important as a subject. Its very essence - communication – is the most essential skill that we need to be able to serve our community, and ultimately or countrymen.
I was also part of the Personhood Club. The club activities taught me event coordination and life skills (reproductive health) at an early age.
The classmates (now good friends) that I learned from, did projects and competed with during the annual inter-batch chorale and choir competition are part of my favorite memories, as well as watching the student performers in theatre, dance, and choir.
Miriam gave me a wholistic high school experience that had contributed in shaping me and my peers to who we are today.
Can you share a memorable experience during your years in Maryknoll/Miriam College?
What made me open my eyes to our reality at a young age ultimately was our exposure trips to underprivileged areas where we had tutored elementary students in various subjects. The CAT Officers training taught me a lot of self-discipline. If not for Miriam, I would probably still be living in an ignorantly privileged bubble.
What career or life accomplishment makes you most proud?
We started a campaign to promote San Juan, La Union as a pawikan (sea turtle) nesting site. It took us a while to be able to collaborate with the community since I had recently moved in 2015. With consistent projects, by 2018 everyone was involved in the shift from Green Tourism to Sustainable Tourism.
Being able to push the community to stand up against a coal fired power plant here in La Union, was also among the wins that we were able to achieve despite the challenges and threats.
What advice would you give our students who wish to pursue the same path?
In real life, honors, titles, and achievements are something to celebrate. But let it not be a barrier for us to discriminate against others. Even after we graduate from high school, college or university, enjoy the learning experience from the menial tasks like making your team coffee or even photocopying for your colleagues.
Every day, I read the Desiderata, a prose poem by Max Ehrmann that has been introduced to me since I was 8 years old by my dad. It took me my whole lifetime to appreciate it. If there is one piece that has continuously grounded me among the years of disappointments, failures, victory, and achievements this would be it. (https://youtu.be/C9iwKW6bal8)
Before you start a project, the first step is knowing who your community is, who you will be working with. Remember that you can’t do everything alone. Get to know your neighbors, your barangay, all the possible stakeholders. This is often an ignored step, but it is the most essential. Understand the language you need to communicate with. Listen. Learn. Act.
And lastly, take rest, be kind to yourself, and take those moments to stop and look at the beauty around you, whether it is watching the moon, sunsets, take that moment to smell the flowers.
In one sentence, how would you describe a Maryknoll/Miriam graduate?
Empowered individuals who lead in service for the good of all.