Behind the beautiful chocolate creations and the cheery photographs are deaf artists Parcy Llaet, Lita Marcial, Jamie Aquino, and Genny Diokno. While a lot of people still find themselves mulling over what to do with their lives, how many actually move on and made the firm resolve to pursue their deepest desires? These four women did and are joyfully living their passion.
Shooting for Dreams
Genny and Jamie are best friends and on top of their regular jobs as HR assistant and corporate communications officer respectively. Their real passion, however, is in photography.
Genny says that she pursued her professional career to be financially stable and to initially support her interest in photography, she also wanted to “show that I can do the things that a normal person does. I believe I’m good in my job and I try to be very patient and focused. I also work to support my family and to secure my future.”
It hasn’t been this light always. When she first joined the company, Genny admits that there were also hurdles she had to go over, the most basic of which is communicating with her officemates. “Other people are not aware about deaf people, [our] way and culture and it was really difficult. I felt sad and bad before but now I’m really loving my new job,” she adds.
“It makes me very inspired because of the people in my company who [made the effort to] communicate with me and learned sign language. It makes it very easy for me to be understood,” Genny continues.
Even when both were still in their elementary years in school, they already enjoyed capturing special moments such as wedding and birthday affairs celebrated among family.
Both women know how to live in the moment as well. During their spare time (that is, if they still have any considering they’re also starting to get more projects as photographers), the friends like to dance and watch movies. Genny has a favorite song, “Because you loved me.” Though she can’t hear, she chose the song for its lyrics.
Jamie, on the other hand, says she has joined a dance class and shares that she just follows her teacher’s steps. People are always amazed when they see how these two women are able to dance to the beat of the music, their steps moving correctly to the tempo of the music.
The Chocolate Girls
Parcy Llaet and Lita Marcial are fondly called as The Peninsula Manila’s “Chocolate Girls” and as Executive Pastry Chef Sebastian Coquery would say, “They are my bosses.” Everyday, both Parcy and Lita quietly go about their ways in the Chocolate Room of the hotel to create the most delightful handmade chocolate confections. This talented chocolatiers churn out the hotel’s elegant and famous chocolate milk, white and dark ganache, vanilla, raspberry, caramel mocha, and honey truffles, to name a few.
In an interview with InterAksyon, Lita expresses that chocolates are loved by many and she enjoys seeing people enjoy their creations. She is self-taught and reads a lot of cookbooks during her free time. This is how passionate and dedicated Lita is to her job.
The challenge in her workplace, however, is “To communicate with my hearing co-workers but im glad that some of them know how to use sign language.”
Both valued employees of the hotel are graduates of the Philippine School for the Deaf and the National Education Center. They received further training as chocolatiers from the hotel’s various chefs. Both have also bagged honors for their expertise. Lita, for instance, has won seven awards—three of which are gold—in various Pralines (assorted candy) chocolate competitions including Chefs on Parade. Parcy, on the other hand, has won two bronze awards at Chefs on Parade.
But it’s during these competitions that Lita’s self-confidence and resolve to lead a ‘normal’ life is particularly put to the test: “It happens everytime i join competition with other hearing people. It’s a matter of showing your talent…I’m not giving up, instead it serves as challenge to explore my abilities more.”
Both Parcy and Lita are mothers, too. Married to deaf spouses with kids who can all hear. They developed and taught their children the sign language while they were young. Extraordinary mothers, we could consider. While motherhood is a challenge in itself for many, they dealt with their disability along with it.
Lita says that one of the best things her kids have told her is that that “They’re proud of me, even though I’m deaf, I can support them.”
“The only difference [between a hearing and non-hearing parent] is that you can’t scold them when you’re mad! But for the love and affection—it’s the same,” adds Lita.
Equally proud mom Parcy says, “My kids respect me even if I am like this. It’s because of the help and advice of my parents who taught my kids to respect me. I’m happy that my children are kind and love us.”
‘Never give up’
While these four women are still going through the journey of getting their work-life balance, it’s clear that their admirable zest for life has always been in them all along. They also expressed that it’s their wish for more job opportunities for the deaf as most are jobless. Other considerations they wished would be the availability of interpreters in institutions like hospitals and clinics.
After all, they point out, deaf people also dream and hope, they love and celebrate life, and desire understanding and acceptance.
On gaining work success, Parcy advises, “Be careful about relate to other people who are not honest. Be brave, honest, have discipline, and always do your best.”
The “Chocolate Girl” says the most important, however, is to “Pray always to God to help you. Obey, love, and respect your parents and elders. Follow their good advice and be a good follower to the person who’s honest and sincere in helping you.”
Lita gives this advice to other hearing-impaired individuals, “Just continue with and love your job.”
Genny adds, “Love yourself, what you have, and your work. Be more patient and don’t give up to show other people that you can work like them. There are jobs available such as in graphic design, encoding, to name a few. Or, go into business. Love what you have.”