Meet These Hip And Happening Moms Of Instagram: The Bump Squad
The best things in life often start with a smile.
For Charisse Tinio, Nikka Martinez-Garcia, LJ Moreno-Alapag, Camille Prats-Yambao, Jeck Conwi-Maierhofer, and Bangs Garcia-Birchmore, it was a smile—or rather, six smiles—captured in a photo that solidified their bond as women, mothers, and friends for a lifetime.
Even with Bangs now settled in another country, the image taken on July 2017 is one that these super moms will always cherish. Each of them was dressed in brilliant jewel tones and ready to welcome the newest additions to their families—all at the same time! Rosy with the glow of motherhood, they were well on their way to becoming one of the digital sphere's most influential mommy groups today: the Bump Squad.
As the owner of NicePrint company that pulled off the now-famous photo, Charisse shares, "It's beautiful that it started with that, and now it's a barkada. [These women] were all NicePrint brides. It's a beautiful experience to become friends with people who started as clients. We started with their pre-nup shoots, followed by their wedding photos, baptisms, and even their children's first birthdays!"
With each milestone spent together, these moms soon realized that there was a mission binding their friendship: they wanted to inspire women that it's possible to be the best mother—and wife—you can be without sacrificing personal fulfillment.
"You can be the greatest mom and still lead a busy life. You don't have to choose between the two; you can do all these things at the same time with time management, by setting your priorities, and having the passion to do all these things perfectly," Charisse continues.
It didn't take long for these moms to establish an online presence anchored on sharing mommy-focused tips and tricks, life hacks, and overall support and encouragement with fellow mothers. More so, as women who dedicate much of their time to their respective careers and businesses, the Bump Squad ladies also wanted to promote the importance of putting motherhood first, no matter what.
"We're still moms that get dirty and play with our kids, or sleep on the floor with our toddlers. Even if you see all of us all made up, at the end of the day, we set aside everything for our kids. That's the heart of this mom squad, and that's what we want to tell our audience," Charisse continues.
After an afternoon spent with Charisse, Camille, LJ, Nikka, and Jeck, there's one thing about them that we now know for sure: their smiles are those of women who have embraced their journeys of motherhood.—Sara de los Reyes
In celebration of Mother’s Day, Metro.Style brings you Hip and Happening Moms, a three-part feature on stylish, influential, and multi-hyphenate moms who are active on social media.
As the supportive wife to basketball superstar Jimmy Alapag and committed mom to Ian, Keona, and most recently, baby Calen, LJ's love goes on for miles and miles.
While it's clear that motherhood suits LJ to a tee, her path to fulfilling this dream was defined by peaks and valleys. For several years, LJ watched many of her friends become moms as she and Jimmy tried to conceive without success. Yearning to be blessed with her own children, LJ was caught off guard when God whispered the answer to her prayers in the most unexpected of ways: adoption.
"We weren't adopting just because we didn't have kids; we really loved [Ian]. Never did we think that we weren't going to have kids, because we knew that God was going to bless us. It just came to a point where we wanted to become parents, whether it was biologically, or through adoption. So when we had Keona and Calen, there was no difference," LJ recalls.
Just as she predicted, God blessed her with a second bundle of joy a mere months after bringing Ian home in the form of Keona, LJ's first biological baby. Calen followed a few years later, much to the surprise of this couple who was already beyond thankful for their little brood. All three children, she proudly calls her own; even if not related by blood, everyone in the Moreno-Alapag household loves each other without question.
Now that she's ticked off two items from her life checklist—to become a mom and a successful business owner of The Lollicake Factory—she hasn't forgotten to look back at how her experiences with her own mother have helped her along the way.
"My selfless mom just always says to pray. That's one thing that I got from her: faith. Prayers kept her strong, and it's the same with me now. Putting God at the center of my marriage kept us strong," LJ ends.—Sara de los Reyes
Describe your personal style.
I'm simple and comfortable. You'll usually see me in jeans and a white shirt, or shorts and sneakers, or sometimes sandals.
What got you into blogging?
I started blogging years ago for my business, and when I made adoption my advocacy. Now that I have kids, I'm thinking of getting into vlogging.
How do you define a hip and happening mom?
She's someone who can balance taking care of herself, looking after the kids, and also being a wife. She's also someone who can be happy, regardless of all the chaos in life!
On LJ: Top, Saturday Dress; Skirt, Forever 21
Every woman knows that resiliency and patience are two of the things she'll need to able to thrive as a mother. No one knows this better than actress Camille Prats-Yambao who is successfully raising not one, but two kids.
"The hardships of having a newborn, I dealt with all of it. All of a sudden you feel like a different person. There are just so many things going on. Buti na lang I have a very supportive husband, and best friends who listen to me," recalls Camille, who is a mom to 10-year-old Nathan from her first husband Anthony Linsangan, and baby Nala with John Yambao.
Now that she's gotten a hand of being a mom—and a great one, at that—Camille shares her story of motherhood that revolves around a central lesson: "If you're complete, happy, and have a good disposition, you can give love to your family. Ang isang bahay, 'pag miserable 'yung nanay, miserable na lahat. It's really the mom who carries it all," she says.
Even during her toughest times that began with the passing of her first husband, Camille was an ever present mother to Nathan. Her grief, she transformed into full attention to her son, and her occasional bouts of loneliness, she kept at bay with the thankfulness of having a family to call her own. As she continued her journey of healing, her efforts were rewarded; Nathan has grown up to become a responsible and respectful young man, and best of all, one who regards his mom as a friend and parent rolled into one that he can rely on and speak openly with.
Today, Camille knows that her children are her biggest motivations to be the best woman and mom there can ever be.
Her family is one that smiles together, prays together, and even exercises and cooks together with her paving the way for their happy hearth. What more could she ask for?—Sara de los Reyes
Why got you into blogging?
I want to share the things that I feel would be beneficial for parents about raising boys—and kids in general! I started blogging because I kept getting questions online. I also want to be able to document our travels and at some point, be able to look back on them.
How do you define a hip and happening mom?
She's someone who plays a lot with her children and enjoys the company of her kids. She's a mom who enjoys doing the things her kids love to do, and understands and connects with them. Not only her opinions matter, she's open-minded to what her kids feel and what they want to do.
What's your sense of style like?
I'm more about making sure I'm comfortable before anything else. I buy a lot of sneakers and I make sure they don't have laces! I make sure that I'm more realistic and practical now; the fashion part is secondary.
On Camille: All from Forever 21
It’s safe to say that girls who grew up in the 90s had a crush on actor Patrick Garcia at some point. But one of them got to marry him: Nikka Martinez-Garcia.
Nikka used to work in the corporate world but decided to focus on being a full-time wife and mother to Michelle Celeste “Chelsea” Garcia, 5; Nicola Patrice, 2; and Francisca Pia, 4 months.
“It’s challenging to simultaneously take care of a pre-schooler, toddler, and a newborn baby but I love every moment of it. I was an only child growing up so I’ve always dreamt of having a lot of kids. While Patrick, he has always wanted to have kids with small age gaps just like how he grew up with his siblings. So, in that sense, we agreed with the age gaps,” Nikka says, revealing that “we are planning to have one more kid, if God will allow it. Doesn’t matter if it’s a girl again or a boy, as long as healthy, then we will be so happy.”
Nikka shares her journey about having an “artista-husband” through her blog www.nikkagarcia.com, where she also writes about her little magical moments as a mother to three girls.
“I’m very blessed to have a very supportive husband. Patrick helps me out with the littlest details. He does everything that I do, except breastfeeding,” she says in jest. “I’ve always been a breastfeeding advocate, and I’m very passionate about that.”
Nikka imparts that there were, of course, uncertainties when she was a first-time mom, but she had gotten over them and would like to think she was a better mom for her second and third kids.
“At first, you panic, you don’t know how to handle it. But it’s true what they say, there’s mother’s instinct so you will figure it out along the way," Nikka shares, detailing what a day like is for her these days. "I’m very hands-on so these days, I am up every 3-4 hours because I breastfeed our newborn. When Pat has taping, I drive our pre-schooler Chelsea to school, then go home and take care of the little ones’ needs then we play. Then when I pick up Chelsea, I bring along Patrice, our toddler. Then come home again to feed or play with our youngest. We have help, yes, but simply for assistance. I make sure I’m hands-on about being a mom.”
Nikka also shares that she didn’t know how selfless she could be until she became a mom. “When you’re a mom, you tend to forget about yourself. So now, with my third baby, I’ve learned to have time to take care of myself too because how are you going to function well without self-care,” she says.—Marane Plaza
What’s your style mantra?
Fashion just has to be comfortable and stylish. Try to look stylishly presentable.
What were the changes in your style when you became a mom?
I used to literally run in heels because I loved heels! I am more into rubber shoes and flats these days because, of course, I have little ones. I am more into bags now, too, than shoes. I always go for shirt paired with skorts, or a pretty casual dress.
How do you spend your me-time?
For my me-time, I do spiritual devotions in the morning, treat myself in the salon once in a while, enjoy a cup of coffee, and pray. Quiet time for me is very important.
On Nika: All from Forever 21
When Charisse Tinio had her first child 12 years ago, she encountered more than the typical struggles that a first-time mom usually experiences. First, she was the first in her barkada to get married and have kids, plus it was the same year she was just building NicePrint, today’s go-to digital photo and video services company of celebrities.
“The struggle was how to juggle my time between being a wife, being a mom, and managing a full-time business,” Charisse shares. “Of course, when you’re starting a business, you have to give it your all. We only had four people under us, so we were doing everything. And more than anything, I’m a mom. It was never a choice between the two. I knew we could make it work.”
With Konika Photo Express as her first business with her husband, Charisse’s passion has always been photography. She then discovered her passion for weddings as she had just planned her own wedding at the time when there’s no Pinterest nor numerous bridal fairs yet. She decided to marry her two loves, photography and weddings, and go with the digital age of photography business through NicePrint.
Charisse confessed that as a mom, she’s more strict with rules at home, but also knows how to let go when needed. ”I don’t wanna shelter my kids. I want them to grow up knowing that they can make decisions for themselves. Sancho, my eldest, already ‘works’ for my company this summer, with his own desk and all and he is just 12 years old,” she shares. “I intend to do the same parenting style with my second son, Vito, 6 years old, and my youngest, my princess, Sienna Dream, 6 months old.”
When asked what her secret is in balancing family and business, she has this to say: “One mantra: God before anything else, then my husband, then my kids. Even the Bible instructs us to take care of our husband first before the kids and it makes sense on a practical level. Because how can you give your all as a mom when you’re not whole? And for me, I’m complete because of my husband. That’s why we have two date nights weekly and travel as a couple, apart from travelling with the kids. It’s also about balancing being a wife and a mom and following God’s words.”—Marane Plaza
What’s your fashion mantra?
I’m all about comfort over anything. When I got older and busier, I just want to be comfortable. Yes, still stylish, but more than anything, comfortable.
How would you describe your personal style?
Basic with a pop of color. I always go for neutral colors when it comes to my clothes because I wanna dress up in an age-appropriate manner plus they’re easy to match with. But my purses and shoes are always bright! I’m a very jolly and positive person, so that’s my pop of color—my bags and my shoes.
What are your favorite fashion staples?
I love Hermes Birkins in bright colors. These days, I like Gucci. I am neutral with my clothes but in terms of fashion and trends, you can see them in my bags and shoes. I love Dolce & Gabbana for a time, but these days, I love Gucci for both bags and shoes because they’re all colorful and vibrant.
On Charisse: All from Forever 21
Being married to a PBA star might seem like all perks and glam, but Jeck Conwi-Maierhofer, wife of San Miguel Alab Pilipinas’ Rico Maierhofer, proves she is more than just a baller’s wife. A natural entrepreneur and self-proclaimed “millennial mom," Jeck juggles the responsibilities of raising their four kids Tash, 12; Calel, 4; Harper, 2; and Sarene, 9 months with managing her successful Instagram store, @brandville_by_jecklist, which sells authentic designer bags and accessories.
“When we wake up, I say our prayers, then prepare their food, bathe the little ones, and when they’re a little relaxed already, I answer all the inquiries in my Instagram store. I love that my business allows me to manage my own time and be very hands-on with my kids. I do our groceries and I cook for them, especially since I went to culinary school," she shares. “By June, we’ll travel more from and to Puerto Galera, because we’re also managing Rico’s family resort there, the Tropicana Castle Dive Resort. Plus, we’ve decided to homeschool some of the kids, starting with Calel. I’ll have home-based, Christian modules from Homeschool Global, so I’m preparing for that.”
The former Happy Wife, Happy Life host imparts that their Christian way of living is the only basis of their parenting style. “We make sure that our decisions as parents are always aligned with God’s words. As what God says in Proverbs 22:6, 'Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it,'" she says. "My family is my real happiness from God. There are challenges as a mom but I’ve overcome them through God’s grace.”
What’s her advice to moms like her? “Like what my mother said, be patient and strong and always say your prayers. Time flies so seize the moment because they do grow up fast.”—Marane Plaza
What’s your style philosophy?
Comfort comes first, of course, but it has to be trendy and stylish, too. My guilty pleasure is shopping, and I plan my clothes especially since I don’t repeat my outfits. After I use my clothes, I sell them in bazaars.
What do you like more? Bags or shoes?
Both! I love accessorizing! I love Chanel bags because they’re timeless and can be used for both casual and formal events. My guilty pleasures are Valentino shoes; I definitely love their styles!
What’s your style mantra?
Comfort and style can go hand in hand, and as long as you feel pretty in an outfit, then you’re good to go!
On Jeck: Top, Sevastra; Bottom: Forever 21
As a tribute to these wonder moms, here's a gallery of their photos with their families:
Photos from @thelollicakechic @nikkamgarcia @jeckmaierhofer @camilleprats @siennadreamtinio
Produced by Grace Libero-Cruz and Sara de los Reyes
Photography by NicePrint
Art direction by Butchie Peña
Makeup by Jinx Agbao (Camille), Jzaenna Pantonial (Charisse and Jeck) both from Make Up For Ever, and Jelo Alindayu (LJ and Nikka)
Hairstyling by Realyn Real, Gerard Villabroza and Jay-R Tuliao of Bianca Festejo Salon
Shot on location at SMEG - Ground Floor Park Terraces, West Street cor. Arnaiz Avenue Ayala Center, Barangay San Lorenzo, Makati