I find it fascinating trying to get to know someone by asking the person who she is. And the kind of answer one gives right at the top of her head tells you one’s persona and what her priorities are.
For Tess, her answer to my question was "a housewife, a daughter, a sister, a mother (not necessarily in that order) – my everyday role". Clearly, Tess prioritizes her family over her job. Although having come to know Tess over the last few years, I know she takes her job and her career very seriously. Tess says she is a fun loving, happy person who always finds things to do whether at the home front or at work. Yet she also takes time to seek a quiet place to relax and unwind after a stressful day. A lot of her quiet time though is spent on the computer, seeking and storing all sorts of interesting information that will help her in her continuing pursuit of self development and improvement.
A self-starter, she doesn’t need much help in the motivation department as she feels she has the same kind of energy today as she had 20 years ago, when she was working as a tutor at a day care center in Singapore. Her career history included stints in a resort hotel in Boracay as well as with a travel agency in Manila, where her degree in Foreign Service from the Lyceum University served her in good stead. In the last 14 years, she has been working as Assistant to the Commercial Counsellor at the Austrian Embassy, where she finds a lot of opportunity to practice speaking in German.
Born Ma. Teresa O. Francisco to a family of two brothers and two sisters, Tess was a source of pride to her family, having graduated salutatorian in elementary, and being in the top 10 of her high school graduating class. Tess worked her way through college, where she was likewise a resident scholar. No doubt her scholastic record jump-started her career, and things looked even brighter when she fell in love. Sadly though, she felt her world fall apart when she discovered she was deceived into believing that anything will come out of the relationship she was in. Being the strong woman that she was, Tess turned her back and walked away, ready to pick up the pieces, and found solace in the loving arms of her family.
Having found solid footing once again, Tess immersed herself in her work and dedicated her time and effort to providing a good home for her son and raising him on her own. Being the optimistic person that she was, she fell in love anew, confident that everything will work out in her favor that time around. However, fate threw Tess another curve. She had an argument with her boyfriend before he left for his province; shortly after, he fell into a coma and died of brain tumor. Tess found out about it long after the funeral, and all she could do was pray at his grave.
A woman of lesser substance would have succumbed to despair. Despite the cards she was dealt with, Tess once again picked up the pieces and forged ahead. After a few other relationships, Tess found the love of her life, Bernie Floedl. Having been together for 15 years, the last six as Mrs. Floedl, Tess found in Bernie the perfect life partner. Coming from different cultures, they continue to discover new things about each other, which makes for an interesting partnership, and further draws them closer to each other. Bernie considers her 21-year old son as his own and has a great relationship with him; he readily agreed to her decision to settle in the Philippines, and is very understanding of Tess’s continued support of her family. Tess sends to school her twin nieces, whom Bernie fondly refers to as his little angels, and she intends to send them through to college, an undertaking Bernie fully supports. Looking back, she says all the struggles she went through were what brought her to where she is now, and she said it was all worth it.
All’s well with her now; still, Tess feels she has a lot more to do, "My one burning ambition now is to be a trainer." To this end, she is focusing her efforts in improving her knowledge, developing herself and getting involved in activities that will help her fulfill this new goal. Being the tough lady that she is, she will surely realize her dream.
By Frances Peria