CALL her a superwoman in these modern times, for she really is. Nian Liwanag-Rigor is practically a full-time mom and, at the same time, a full-time corporate executive—assistant vice president for public relations and corporate communications of The Manila Hotel, the country’s oldest premier hotel no less. If the more-than-a-century-old five-star hotel now has a more modern, homier feel, it could be a reflection of Rigor’s managing and marketing style, influenced by her motherly nature.
At 35, Rigor keeps a senior post in a competitive, rigorous corporate sector. This, she does, while she, with her husband, personally attends to the needs of their two lower grade school kids—preparing and bringing them to school each early morning, helping them with their homework, attending parent-teacher conferences and other school activities, etc.
“It’s not easy, but it’s definitely a joy for me,” she said, “It’s challenging. But at the end of the day, I find consolation and fulfilment as I look at my children and how they’ve developed, and at the same time how warmly people have come to revisit our hotel.”
Rigor actually just returned to work at The Manila Hotel two years ago, after she resigned in 2012, when her youngest, who was just then less than a year old, had a very high fever at night, while she stayed working in the hotel until 8 a.m. the next day.
She then decided to quit her job as a corporate communications manager at The Manila Hotel and looked for a more convenient 8-hour job, for her family’s sake. After less than a year working in a popular multinational consumer goods company, Rigor missed public relations and corporate communications, which she found to be what she really loves doing.
What happened next is history. She’s back at the Manila Hotel, taking charge of the department she’s passionate about.
“I am just blessed with a very understanding and supportive boss, Ricky Yap, who also has a family,” she said. “Maybe, he sees my situation in his wife, who is also a mom, a tutor, and a professional at the same time.”
This time, however, Rigor sought a win-win solution to her dilemma as a corporate executive and as a hands-on mother.
“We laid down our cards on the table,” she recounted, “Both sides expressed our expectations. I told them I would come to the office early—before 8 a.m., after I bring my son to school—but they must let me leave the office at 5 p.m. to give me time to look after my children at home, like helping them with their lessons. After all, another trade-off is the office can call me and I answer their calls anytime. It’s not the amount of time I spend in the office. It’s the output—as seen in our KPI (key performance indicator)—that counts.”
Rigor finds her job rewarding, not for monetary reasons but for the fulfilment she gets from it.
“Being empowered to me means making a difference in the lives of people we work with, to be doing what I love doing,” she said. “I have never found myself dragging myself to work. Manila Hotel is family to me. I don’t know how my words would stand, but this hotel would be the last company I’ll work for. If ever I would leave it again, it would be for me to be a better mother.”