January 29, 2023

“Reach for the stars, spread your wings and fly. You’ll never know what  you can do, till you try,” says one inspirational quote.

A song reverberates, “Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket, never let it fade away!” Both remind us of the positivity of our dreams.

And lastly, my favorite Eleonor Roosevelt quote, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

And so, I am inspired by the story of two young Baguio women I met 20 years ago at the crossroads of their lives. They were  young students then, about to embark on their chosen careers and full of spark and dreams. One is now a Doctor of Philosophy  graduate of the James Cook University in Australia, a senior lecturer of the same university and holds a distinct position as the Deputy Secretary General of the ASEAN Tourism Research Association (ATRA). While the other has a master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Baguio,  is a well-respected faculty of Saint Louis University Hospitality and Tourism Management and very active in tourism events and her pandemic food business.

Both are mentors, but most of all, both are accomplished and doting mothers with very  happy families. They  are continents apart. Would they have imagined themselves in this kind of  lifestyle twenty years hence? I am just amazed at how much they have accomplished. Time stops for no one and in these years I have seen these two buds turn into beautiful orchids. Each one has their   purpose engraved in their hearts. There are no comparisons when it comes to their life goals, except for the ultimate one – God, happiness and fulfillment.

Jenny Hombrebueno-Panchal was an outstanding student. She was a multi-awarded student. She graduated magna cum laude and had numerous awards like: Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines, Presidential Leadership Awards from UB and the Nanay Rosa Journalism Award, Ten Outstanding Youth Award.

She was given a scholarship by the University of Wellington in New Zealand for her master’s degree in Tourism Management and another scholarship at the James Cook University in Townsville, Australia for her Doctor in Philosophy in Tourism.

She started her teaching career at the University of the Cordilleras and has since moved to Australia and Singapore and back to Australia.  She was speaker and panel member, adviser, conference chair to numerous symposia in Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Maldives. To play it forward and to inspire students during the pandemic, she is now conducting  a series of Zoom cast webinars for students entitled “Tourism Bytes.” She continues to bring honor not only to Baguio City but also the Philippines in general. All that in a span of almost 20 years.

“I cannot quantify the amount of blessings I received and the experiences I gained in life. I was paid to study and that included everything. I can just give back now through my voluntary services and initiatives, “ says Dr. Panchal.

“I have been motherly to my family and it’s now time to teach other children what I have learned,” she adds.

Jen is married to Dharmesh and has a teenager son named Rajiv Alfonso.

She leaves David’s Psalm 23 with us as a motivational reminder and a meditative verse or prayer and hums “So Will I” by the Hillsong, “God of creation…. as You speak A hundred billion galaxies are born; in the vapor of Your breath the planets form; if the stars were made to worship so will I, I can see Your heart in everything You’ve made, Every burning star…”

On the other hand, Maria Araceli Diaz Tambol  hums the song of Collin Raye inspired by her late father, “ Kingdoms come and go, but they don’t last, before we know, the future is the past.  In spite of what’s been lost or what’s been gained We are living proof that love remains.”

Araceli comes from a family of mentors. “Teaching is in my blood,” she says.

Her  father the late Leo Diaz was a mentor of UB, where she earned her master’s degree in Business Administration. “My greatest accomplishment is being a wife to Jonathan and a mother toVhikter Grant “Giwang”,  Vhirleen Grail Omag”,  Vhiliam Gery “Dap-oy” and Vhinson Grin “Sagid”. She named her small business venture “Sagid’s Sweet” after him. 

She is an author of a book  “Basic and Advanced Japanese” and a certified guest service professional, Most of all she loves and enjoys teaching.

“There is a big difference between regular face-to-face teaching and during the pandemic,” explains Araceli when asked about pandemic mentoring.

“With  face-to-face teaching, you can review a new topic in  15 to 30 minutes in class. Now you need at least two months to create your Google classroom, online and offline modules. You have to  ensure that you just focus on the learning competencies. It is easier  to answer questions face to face questions. Now, there are a lot of one on one questions. It’s quite challenging,” she adds.

Yes, Jenny and Araceli have both attained their dreams in 20 years guided by the Almighty.