Because you loved our story on Jof Sering, who moved to Siargao Island, this time we talk to another creative soul who made the move from city to country.
- Name: Ophanie Siatan
- Age: 39
- Occupation: homeschooling mom, entrepreneur
- Motto in life : My lifelong goal is to create more than I consume.
- Life partner: Karl Aguila
- Offspring: Rafa (9), Ando (4) + currently expecting
- Present address: Tambobo Bay, Negros Oriental
Hi, Ophanie! Tell us about your life in the city before.
I was living independently and working as a training consultant and instructional designer for a global hospitality company. I was travelling a lot for work, spending most of my time in hotels and on cruise ships. The rest of time I was working remotely creating modules. I also dabbled in fashion- and design-related projects.
What made you decide to move?
Love life. Lol. Karl and I were in a long-distance relationship for a long time, and we wanted to be together. I moved here in 2010.
What are the special difficulties you encounter living there, and what makes you stay despite these?
We live four towns away from the main city. That meant that I had to organize and plan ahead. I had to learn how to stack up on grocery, plan banking days, delivery, hardware shopping. At first, I would forget to buy salt or kulang ang rice, all because I was used to the conveniences of Manila. There were also no internet lines back then, so I had to buy prepaid load internet cards.
It was most challenging when we had our first child. The hospital was an hour away, so imagine when we had medical emergencies!
During that time, I was also trying to go back to work. The company I used to work with gave me remote projects. I tried to travel again. I was assigned for a few weeks in Italy and another month in China, then around Indonesia. But I kept thinking of Rafa. I was still breastfeeding then. It took two years of trying to work out this physically and mentally draining arrangement before I really decided to accept my new life. From then on, I embraced my role and evolved into what I am now.
Why do you love where you live?
We surround ourselves with things and people we love! We are blessed to live in and around nature, overlooking Tambobo Bay, a marina which houses around three dozen small boats and pleasure crafts. When you live in an environment like this, parang you have no choice but to be humbled and productive.
Both Karl and I love to travel, and we are both collectors of art, crafts, and objects. We fill our home with our creations and collections. Through Atelier Aguila, a furniture company which Karl built in 2005, we get to share it with other people, so our satisfaction is multiplied.
We are now building a lifestyle space with a café and a gallery for his furniture and the artisanal ice cream I make (Ando's ice cream), along with some curated arts, crafts, fashion, and wellness brands we will carry.
So are you homeschooling now? How is it going?
Yes! Since Rafa turned three years old, I do a lot of play-based and Reggio Emilia activities with him. When he turned six, I formally enrolled him in a school based in the US and I would do the modules with him. When he turned seven, he transferred to a traditional school in Dumaguete, while I homeschool Ando. Due to the pandemic, we went back to homeschooling. We went back to the same US school, but since he is in a higher grade level now, it is more demanding. We both can't wait for school to go back to normal. Lol. But the two boys have gotten closer, and in a way I'm happy to spend more time with my eldest before he reaches the teenage years!