A Mother's Day 2019 Special: Amina Aranaz Alunan & Becky Villavicencio Aranaz On Being Their Kids' Moral Compass
We’ve all heard the quote: “A thousand candles can be lighted from a single one, and the life of that candle will not be shortened.” This same philosophy of empowerment and positivity is what underlines the family dynamics of the Aranaz household, especially among its strong female heads. “My mom had always had such a positive outlook in life, and it empowered us to believe in following our own dreams,” begins Amina Aranaz-Alunan, describing her beloved 64-year-old mother and “ilaw ng tahanan,” Becky Villavicencio Aranaz. “She made us believe that we could achieve and conquer anything with hard work, boldness, and a whole lot of prayers and faith.”
Like her daughter, Becky was an enterprising woman, who managed her own bag business, which she had built from scratch. She was not the stay-at-home mom typical of that time, but “I never felt her absence either,” explains Amina. To Amina, Becky was more than just mom; she was her own woman.
As an entrepreneur, Becky would spend her days at the office, ensuring that the operations ran smoothly. She ran the business alongside her siblings, who, too, had their own families. But instead of feeling neglected, the children, including Amina, found something deeper and more empowering in their mothers’ roles as career women.
“Though she worked, my mother managed to be there for all our milestones and she was also often home. I guess part of being her own boss is that she managed her own time. In fact, her office was an extension of our home, in the sense that we were always there,” Amina says with a laugh.
Amina recalls many days when her cousins would “congregate” at the factory, while their mothers took to work. Amidst the bustle of the factory, surrounded by the beautiful designs, Amina discovered a meaningful pursuit that would resonate deeply with her and direct her down the creative path as an entrepreneur.
“Seeing my mom as a (successful individual) made me believe that being a working mom is possible,” shares Amina. Becky, through her example, showed her daughter that you didn’t have to make that choice between being a mother or pursuing your dreams, as you could have both and flourish in both roles.
“I was immersed and exposed to such a variety of creative endeavors through her. My appreciation for fashion and all things Filipino-made are, in fact, also directly influenced by her. ‘Dressing up’ and exploring trends was also our form of playtime!” By seeing her mother shine, Amina was inspired to come into her own light as well.
“My mom had always had such a positive outlook in life, and it
empowered us to believe in following our own dreams.
She made us believe that we could achieve and conquer anything
with hard work, boldness, and a whole lot of prayers and faith,”
says Amina Aranaz-Alunan on mother Becky Villavicencio-Aranaz
Amina, today, is a respected icon and style purveyor, proudly advocating world-class Filipino design and ingenuity as the co-founder of the School of Fashion and the Arts (SoFA) and the creative visionary behind the lifestyle brand, Aranaz, which celebrates 20 years in the industry this year.
Radiating bliss and gratitude, Amina reflects on how far she has come. Needless to say, she has greater dreams for the brand, but for now, she’s content with allowing it to grow at its own pace. “I’m usually a go-getter, but I am hoping to slow down a bit this year,” she reveals. “I want to focus more on nurturing myself emotionally, physically, spiritually, and choosing to do only what matters most.”
Along with re-centering herself and re-evaluating her career priorities, she’s focused on being a mother to her brood: Lucas, Helena, and Diego.
A soul patterned after Amina’s own heart, Helena, her unica hija, is exhibiting the same creativity and powerful charm that all the Aranaz women possess. While Amina describes herself as having been an obedient child, she proudly notes that her daughter is “curious, headstrong, and tenacious.”
“She is quite mature for her age and seeks to understand things as deeply as she can.” Helena, though just 10 years old, is an inquisitive soul who “doesn’t take things at face value,” and who exhibits the same leadership qualities. “I often feel that she is my ‘little helper,’ because she can manage to execute instructions that I give her.”
Amina sees the bright potential in her daughter and the strong, growing light of a young woman emerging. And just as her own mother nurtured her talents and passions, Amina aims to be there as well for her daughter.
“Most especially now, parents have to take an active role in educating their children properly. This is so that our children will hopefully have the proper values to discern whether what they see and hear on social media, traditional media, TV, and the internet is right or wrong.”
Amina adds, “The world has changed and it has become so much more liberal, which is not always a bad thing…Kids are exposed to so many things that may be a cause for confusion, so (my role as a mother and as a woman) is to guide my children and keep them chaste and pure.”
Comparing the times of her mother, her own childhood, and the society in which she now raises her own family, Amina agrees the decades are very different and present unique challenges. But as confusing as the times may be, according to Amina, parents can be assured that their children can find their own way safely through values that can serve as a moral compass, directing them to the right path.
Amina shares the powerful lessons from her own childhood, which not only have guided her through life, but which have helped her discover herself as a woman. “From my mother, I learned to always protect and celebrate your womanhood and femininity, while being true to yourself and your purpose. Follow your heart, but make sure that your heart is in the right place. “
She passes on this precious wisdom to Helena, who’s at the cusp of womanhood herself. To her darling, she says: “Don’t feel the need to follow the herd. Explore, discover, and have fun within reasonable bounds. As long as you know your heart is in the right place, stand your ground and soldier on.”
Amina has no intention of coddling her children; you can’t keep them in the dark forever, she insists. Rather, she wishes to empower them by letting them make their own choices in the light of their wisdom—shine bright and “believe that no task, no challenge, nor dream is too big to be pursued.”
*This article was originally published in Metro Society March 2019 issue.
Photography by Dix Perez
Makeup by Jim Ryan Ros
Hair by Francis Guintu