Work hard, play hard

Published May 7, 2021, 9:20 AM

by Dina Arroyo Tantoco

Marilene Jacinto has taught her daughter what’s important in life—how to get serious and how to have fun

MOTHER-DAUGHTER DUO Marilene Jacinto and Dina Tantoco

Anyone who has met my mom, Marilene Jacinto, will tell you that she is a character. I’ll get into some of her life escapades in a moment. But when I think of my mom, I believe her biggest strength is the way she has blended her creativity with her intelligence throughout her life. This, plus her tenacity, gives her an ultra unique personality that is unmatched by anyone I have met thus far. She is irreverent but respectful, extremely particular but also ambiguous about certain things. She has a strong personality (to say the least), a free spirit. She is one of those people who are so much fun to be around because she has no filter, which can be very funny. She has an extremely fun personality, and my wish is that I inherited a little of it.

My mom was known for throwing dinner parties in her apartment when she was in her 40s. She had a table for 12, and every weekend she would have a different set of people over. She loves to cook for people and back then, at her dinner parties, she would create meals around her theme of the night. One example of these fun nights was a party with the theme “aphrodisiac.” For this party, my mom’s dishes were oysters, mushrooms, and a salad with ginseng oil. For dessert, she served chocolate and ginseng tea.

I can imagine how hilarious that evening must have been. By dessert, this evening was thumping with music and people were howling with laugher and conversation.

As a kid she was my biggest cheerleader even if she couldn’t make it to my training or practice schedules. She always tells me how proud she is of me, which really makes me feel like I can accomplish anything.

That was her fun side. I learned even more from her hardworking side, which is what I think makes me the best I want to be today. My mom worked all her life on multiple small businesses in fashion and marketing. She distributed buttondown shirts made of piña to department stores in California. She brought the brand Phillippe Salvet to the Philippines. She started boutique restaurants. Most notably, she worked as part of the design team at Fendi where she would travel throughout Asia to source materials that would become part of the trendy IT bags of the Fendi collection for that season. Those were some of the many businesses into which she ventured.

THE TANTOCOS Dina’s family, her husband Paolo, their three kids Bela, Alana, Zach, and at the center, Dina’s mother, Marilene Jacinto

That’s why I believe that the way she has lived her life has really played a critical role in forming an important part of who I am today. She taught me that being an independent woman was important. She taught me how to work hard. She taught me that manners in all forms showed the other person who I am—the way I spoke, the way I ate, and the way I dressed. She instilled confidence in me. As a kid she was my biggest cheerleader even if she couldn’t make it to my training or practice schedules. She always tells me how proud she is of me, which really makes me feel like I can accomplish anything. Thank you, mom for being all personality, no filter, and for believing there are no limits to what you can be.

 
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