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Katrina Ponce Enrile: A woman with her own mind

Prior to all of these happening, I kind of felt something was going to give. So I started this slowdown movement, which was to detach myself for a while to be able to appreciate the simple joys in life and to be able to destress

Jojo G. Silvestre

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illustration by glenzkie tolo

Whether she is perceived her daddy’s girl, or an independently feisty woman of a brave world, there is no stereotyping Katrina Ponce Enrile. At a young age, she was already being talked about, being the only daughter of the most powerful man in the country, next to the president. The fodder for controversial talk, hers had been a colorful life, that of a girl in search of happiness, especially in matters of the heart.

But Katrina has many facets aside from being a woman in love and being the brilliant daughter of a brilliant father, if that is not belaboring the point. She is also a corporate president and chief executive officer of diverse companies and is responsible for the creation of some interesting consumer products in the Delimondo food brand. She is a caring mother who does not spoil her children, and yes, she is a friend who, when asked by friends to pray for them, would right there and there ask them to join her in asking for the Lord’s guidance and blessings.

The Daily Tribune recently enjoyed conversing with Katrina for an advanced taping of an episode of the Daily Tribune online show, Spotlight, with Life editor Dinah Sabal Ventura and Social Set editor Jojo G. Silvestre asking her about how she is coping with the exigencies of the pandemic as she performs her various roles at home, in the family enterprise and in society.

Daily Tribune (DT): Thank you for joining us this afternoon. So, what is a typical day like for Katrina Ponce Enrile these days?

Katrina Ponce Enrile (KPE): Prior to all of these happening, I kind of felt something was going to give. This was last year, sometime in September. So I started this slowdown movement. Which was to detach myself for a while to be able to appreciate the simple joys in life and to be able to destress. When you’re not stressed out, you’re more creative. I’ve been actually preparing for this. I didn’t know that we will be put on pause. I was just thinking of slowing down. Having said that, there really wasn’t much change because I was already working from home.

DT: What have been your work-related activities at home?
KPE: I would only go out on meetings on an as-per-need basis. If I really need to see them one on one. Most of my business was done through my phone, so I could work from my house. And I still do. My work as CEO and president is not really running the day to day activities. I pretty much left that to my other executives. When they can’t solve a problem, they come to me. But of course, because of the present landscape, that’s also going to change. There will be limitations now as to what type of business you can go to.
As a matter of fact, when I heard about the virus in early January, I already implemented in our office starting 18 January all the protocols that I put in when we had SARS. The temperature taking, all the disinfecting every so often, I had that in place as early as 18 January even in my house. I was like three weeks ahead of everybody.

I guess we all have to just bite the bullet. We just have to really look and see what is needed and let go of the fact.

DT: Are you in touch with your dad? Do you consult with him with what’s going on?
KPE: He’s actually just right next to me. I wouldn’t consult my dad with business because he pretty much left that to me. Everybody actually thinks that Delimondo is his, but it’s actually my baby. He just eats there. When I go see my Dad we talk about the latest gossip or the latest news. He tells me what he’s read and written, stuff like that. We’re also practicing social distancing within the compound. As much as possible we try to keep away our distance.

DT: What makes Katrina Ponce Enrile happy?
KPE: What makes me happy is very simple. I have my favorite pet. Her name’s Simone. She is one of my joys. Of course, my children, my grandchildren, spending time with my mom and my dad, being able to take care of our business, all these make me happy. Also giving jobs to the people who have stayed with us in the organization, having to be able to rebuild the organization. It started in 1974 and it is still going up. I’ve been at the helm since the Asian financial crisis in 1997. But I was officially president and CEO only in 2004.

DT: How are you with your mom? Do you see each other also? Or do you pray together?
KPE: My mom lives a very simple life. She watches TV, she comes down, walks around, visits my dad once in a while. They have a garden apart. They have their own spaces now. Usually we have family dinners together but because of this we are trying to avoid that first. We’re all eating separately. I go visit them a lot because that’s basically what I can do, right? And we get our Vitamin D by staying in the sun every morning or mid afternoon. We kind of see each other in the garden.

DT: And your children?
KPE: I have a son in Alabang, I don’t see him and my grandkids over there because, of course, they can’t just come over here. But my eldest daughter lives next door and I have two younger ones here in the house. They were in the States but I brought them back first because of the COVID situation.

DT: So how is it like being the daughter of JPE?
KPE: If the senators dread being interpolated by my dad, I get that everyday. It’s because he is just mentally sharp. He remembers everything to the decimal point. He expects people to be at his standard. I keep on telling him “Dad, you have to realize you’re different. I can’t be at par with you. Little bit, but not at par.” You will have to give me a pass on the decimal points.

DT: Has he ever allowed you little luxuries? You’re the daughter of JPE, chances are you really can’t be over or too much on essential things. Does he allow you a little of this and a little of that?
KPE: He always said study and work. I mean, I’m still working even if I’m 60 years old. I’ve been working since I was 16. I started in SGV, licking stamps in the audit division there, putting it on envelopes to send out to all our clients. But from age 16 until now, I’m still working. I’ll talk for myself only — yes, he has given us and provided for us by putting up a business. But I didn’t start off working there. I started in SGV before putting up my own businesses until after he said to join and I did join. And I’ve been with the company for God knows what, 40 years? Pretty long time. I get a salary and that’s what I use.

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I noticed my skin was getting very dry and scaly and even when I started putting on my high end skincare, all that happened was that it just sat on top of skin hydrating it for a short time and then the dryness just came back even worse. After several months of researching and experimenting and asking experts about what was happening to my skin, I got the shock of my life. I now had sensitized skin due to several factors—- too much exfoliation, using skincare that had too much fragrances to it and essential oils, skin peelings and laser treatments. Yes that shocked the me so much. So after all the trial and error on how to try to get that glow back and actually make it stay, I think I may have found my solution. I am still in the process of finding out so much of why skin reacts the way they do but I understanding it now more than ever. Had I known this when I was in my thirties I could have saved so much in terms of wasted skin care that just went stale or just the basics of the things to avoid. I probably overdid the stripping of my own skins natural ability to heal itself with everything I have done in excess. Anyone care to know how i did it can direct message me. PS—- I am not saying peels, lasers etc are bad in itself but accumulated damage cause by many factors does contribute to one’s skin changing from normal and healthy to one that just cannot tolerate anything anymore. Balance is key and never ever overdo anything! Be gentle with yourself always! #skincare #skin #sensitizedskin #remedies #kpe #katrinaponceenrile #skinbarrier

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DT: What do you tell your children about the new world that they will be growing up in?
KPE: Right now, the children have their own coping mechanisms. A lot of them are bored. They go on TikTok and all that but I tell them that they can’t keep doing only that. Like now, my daughter who is a singer, she’s in the studio creating. My other daughter has her advocacy, which is helping women who suffered domestic violence and abuse. We’ve also been busy helping the frontliners. Apart from my daughters’ TikToking, we also help feed them; we send shields, masks and PPE or whatever we can. We all have to help. They do go around sometimes and give drinks to the delivery people, the security guards. Just Little gestures of kindness. I don’t have to teach them that because they have seen that growing up. Your children will only learn from what they see. I can’t tell them to do this and they’ll do it. They’re doing it now because they used to see me doing that all the time

DT: What is your message to people who are facing all these challenges because of COVID-19?
KPE: I guess we all have to just bite the bullet. We just have to really look and see what is needed and let go of the fact. We all have to survive. We are at war actually. We are in survival mode right now. I’m not saying this is going to last forever, but in the interim, this is the way it has to be.

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