Inspiring stories about people with a positive attitude towards Life.
By Daniel Mogato
One cannot miss out on Rosemarie Rafael. She is a woman who braved the tides of the male-dominated cargo industry, bringing with her all the courage to lead Airspeed International Corp. to continuous success. Rosemarie shares that proving herself in an industry where men are more known to lead is no walk in the park, but she says that she makes sure that she uses wisdom in all the actions she takes. Being recognized as a leader in the cargo industry makes her feel that she is well-received and respected, and this is what keeps Rosemarie moving forward.
“I did not lose faith in what I was doing and kept my integrity, no matter how tempting it can be at times.”
We may know her as one highly esteemed personality in the cargo industry, but Rosemarie’s childhood dream was actually quite different from where she is now. “I always wanted to be an ambassador or a diplomat,” she shares. Playtime with her friends who role-played dignitaries from all over the world was the usual set-up for young Rosemarie. To this day, she still believes that she is an ambassador in her own right in the industry where she is planted by the Lord; something to remind us that life goes on even when you don’t get you what you want at first. Expect that better days are in store for you.
Rosemarie used to work for an airline company after she graduated from college, until a significant event led her to join Airspeed International Corp. After taking an urgent phone call from her desk that was from a huge account, her boss sent her out of the conference room as she was late for the meeting. What happened next appeared as an opportunity in the middle of an adversity for her; she went back to her desk and received a phone call asking her if she was interested to come for an interview for a cargo agency. “Of course I said yes, and that started my career in the cargo industry!” she says.
In everything she does, Rosemarie seeks the guidance of the Lord; a trait which makes her even more admirable.
“I need a lot of wisdom from the Lord to know what to do when faced with a particular challenge. I just remind myself that I’m not alone in this, and I am accountable for all the people with me at this particular time.”
Her achievements include being the first female president and director of the Aircargo Forwarders Association of the Philippines from 1996-1998. In January 2010, she was given the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Global Cargo Carriers Incorporated for her outstanding efforts in the industry.
Airspeed International Corp. is involved in distribution, both locally and internationally, forwarding of cargoes in an out, brokerage and warehousing. “We are involved in anything that needs movement,” Rosemarie shares. In the beginning of her career with the company, she says that one of the challenges was having to stretch whatever funds you have and using them on what matters most to the business.
When asked about how the Airspeed International has evolved through the years, she says that change was not easy, but it’s important for a company to be attuned with what’s happening in the industry and adapt accordingly. She adds that it is important to embrace change and do what is needed so that you won’t get left behind. The cheerful CEO proudly shares that “Airspeed International Corp. is now going on its 30th year and is a healthy company.”
After all she has been through in her career life, how then, has leading Airspeed International Corp brought out the “Bring it on!” attitude in Rosemarie Rafael? The answer is quite striking.
“There are moments when I want to stay the way we are, as going to the next level means another level of challenges and pressures, but what comes with it is another level of excellence, victories and expertise. We do not rest on our last laurel, as we definitely don’t want it to be our last!”
Aside from conquering what seemed to be an uncharted industry for women, the inspiring entrepreneur is also an iconic personality in the field of finance. She has held talks forvarious crowds all over the country; from business and church organizations, she also went to provinces to impart her knowledge about financial literacy to fishermen. Rosemarie started studying and reading about finance because she believes that having knowledge about this matter is a God-given tool, and that we are merely stewards so that we may take care of God’s possessions. She shares that when she goes through financial challenges herself, she is able to cope up with these and is able to gain more learnings. Rosemarie says that financial literacy is knowing what matters most, and allocating what is important not only now, but years later.
“It is like a compass that helps one allocate his or her finances to the right direction.”
Being a career woman has never hindered Rosemarie to be a nurturing mother to her children. She shares that by knowing her priorities—God first, family, and then work—she is able to know what is important at the moment. In life, there will always be seasons wherein we will have to focus on work, but Rosemarie reminds us that we should come back to what matters most. She shares that her favorite thing about being a mother is seeing her children be who God wants them to become. She is forever thankful for the gifts He has bestowed upon them, and being a mother to her wonderful children makes her praise God even more.
During her free time, Rosemarie likes exploring places and reading books, one of which is the bible, which she also deems inspiring. “It is the guide I use in decisions I make. We all make mistakes, but when we refer to the bible, we can be re-directed to the right path,” she says.
With this, Rosemarie adds that we should not fear, instead, trust the Lord with all our heart. Courage is not the absence of fear, it is Bringing it on even when you fear.
By Daniel Mogato
Shaira Luna defines life step by step on her own. From being the child wonder who mesmerized the whole nation to being one of the most sought-after photographers of today’s generation, Shaira Luna reveals her fair share of life’s ups and downs up to pursuing her true passion.
Shaira Luna was among the “gifted children” who became a household name in the Philippines during the 90’s when she was featured in a popular milk brand’s TV commercials. Topping her elementary class at 2 years old, she was instrumental in inspiring kids and parents that very young children could learn and excel in academics beyond their biological years. Under normal circumstances, the situation could have affected the young Shaira negatively. Fortunately, her mother meticulously guided and instilled in Shaira a resilience that later on shielded the young woman from a lot of pressures that came her way.
Growing up, Shaira always pictured herself pursuing a career in medicine, admitting she’d “watch actual operations when I was 9 years old.” She reminisced observing how Hysterectomy and C section operations are done and noted it was “fun and exciting” back then. This inspired the extraordinary girl to take a course on Human Biology. At 13, she was the youngest college student in her class at the De La Salle University, a prestigious school in Manila.
In the middle of college and in spite of her success in school, Shaira decided to drop out. While everything she has accomplished so far proved that she could become a medical practitioner, something inside compelled her to pursue the arts and photography instead. She realized that the discovery of being gifted at a young age does not prove that her destiny has already been drawn for her. She did not settle for what seemed to be obvious. It was her choice that defined who she is today and it will be her choices in the future that will define who she will become tomorrow.
Shaira, now a 28-year-old professional freelance photographer, shared that going to college at such an early age was no walk in the park. She admitted, “Being immersed in a totally different environment; stepping in college was not a smooth one.” She also remembered getting bullied because of her age and for looking ‘weird.’
Like all teens, Shaira tried to pursue what was expected of her. But like all young adolescents, she also went through the phase of trying to find her self, causing her to jump from one course to another.
While Shaira did excel in all the fields she tried, there was always a longing for something else that led her to finally quit school. Still, she is still grateful for her college experience because it paved a way for her to discover the world in her own way.
“I’ve always been responsible with or without my parents watching me. I just did what I thought is right and try to be a role model.” She credits her parents for playing a significant role in her upbringing by allowing her to excel in whatever she puts her mind to, including the decision to discover a different path.
That spirit of excellence continued to bring out the best in her. Though trained in medicine and the sciences, the same spirit ignited in her the desire and courage to pursue the arts and photography.
Growing up as a household name came with the pressure to excel so when she decided to completely change her path and pursue her passion, criticism was inevitable. Shaira on the other hand, is not the type of person to get affected and carried away with what other people say or think.
“You can choose if you’re going to be affected by the choices others make for you, or just jump there and explore some other things. I don’t understand why you need to put yourself down over anything else. Like others say, it’s a mistake. But what’s a mistake really? I don’t fail in anything. For me, it’s just an opportunity to learn something new.”
Shaira reflected that a career in photography actually never came into the picture when she was younger. “I never touched the camera even if they were always shooting me.” Her passion for music, however, led her take photos of bands’ performances. Eventually, bands and brands took notice of her skills.
Now, Shaira is making waves in the field of photography. She has been around the country and the world taking photos of world-renowned personalities and models, and continues to work with local and global brands for advertising campaigns.
The dictionary definition of a gifted child may lead people to question Shaira’s choices — of giving up college and a career in medicine to pursue photography, something else that’s totally different. But for Shaira, taking on the world and living life is not dependent on what other people expect of you or how they see you. It is about discovering what you really want and sticking with it.
Looking at the bigger and clearer picture of Shaira Luna’s life — she never regretted pursuing her passion. She is a prime example that you can do what you love and excel at it. She broke the mold that others created of her at an early age and proved that each of us are solely responsible for our own happiness. Bravely, she says, “Bring it on!” and keeps living a happy life.