At first glance, one would easily assume that Tootsy Echauz-Angara was a sheltered child of an overprotective mom. Her graceful moves and charming smile might lead you to think that she's a trained ballet dancer or beauty queen.
Far from it.
In an interview, the 41-year-old executive described her childhood as one marked by simplicity and compassion. It all began when her mother, former model Baboo Mondoñedo, joined a group of activists and decided to seek refuge in the mountainous terrain of the Cordillera.
"I grew up in the day and age of pre-EDSA Revolution. She [my mom] was a mom with the heart of an activist. Growing up, I always heard the words 'fight for your freedom. One day you will be able to cherish everything that we're fighting for.'"
AN UNCONVENTIONAL CHILDHOOD
Growing up in the mountains, Tootsy learned basic survival skills early on in life. And amid the difficulties, she learned the key values that honed her personality.
"Imagine the values that they instill in you of being grateful for being alive, 'yung simplicity of life. And also 'yong learning how to survive because you're just happy to be alive the next day," she said.
Tootsy said her mom had little confidence in formal education since, she believed, a child can learn more things outside the classroom. Nor did her mom push her to aspire for good grades.
"Very liberal siya," Tootsy quipped. "She would just say, 'I trust you. You're mature enough to do the right thing, and if you don't do the right thing, you'll suffer the consequences.'"
On weekends, her mom would bring her to visit political prisoners in Bicutan instead of watching a movie or shopping. At night, instead of fairy tales, she would read to her historical accounts about the Philippine Revolution.
"Wala kaming toys. Ang toys ko notebook and pencils because, she said, creativity and inspiration comes from within," Tootsy recalled.
A CAREER WOMAN
After the 1986 People Power Revolution, Tootsy and her mom returned to Manila. She finished her undergraduate degree at De La Salle University, and eventually joined ABS-CBN where she climbed the corporate ladder in the next 22 years.
Currently, Tootsy is the cluster head for advertising and sales of the network's entertainment, sports, and cable assets.
She married a highly eligible bachelor Sonny Angara, who followed his father's footsteps and got elected to the Senate. Despite this, Tootsy did not give up her job at ABS-CBN.
For her, working is part of life. She wants to help her husband in providing for their family, and ensuring that their kids get the best opportunities available.
Despite all her achievements, Tootsy never forgot the values of simplicity and compassion she learned in the mountains, which she now tries to inculcate in her two children.
A WORKING MOM
Although she enjoys the pressures of corporate life, Tootsy said it was never easy at first, especially when she became a mom. At times, she feels sad when her children would compare themselves with their schoolmates who are doted upon by their parents.
"Being a working mom has never been easy, I think, for every woman kasi lagi kang naaawa. But at the same time you have to earn for the family," she said.
According to her, achieving balance between family and work is impossible. But she made sure she explains it to her children.
"To be honest, you can never say you're balanced. Never kang magba-balance. Sometimes I feel inadequate as a mom kasi wala ka doon kapag nagpapa-check up sa doctor. Because you're busy attending to problems at work. I don't think it's ever a balance," she noted.
"It's a life that works for me. It's a life that I have learned how to accept and love--because it's the only life I have."
Tootsy is grateful that her children understands and appreciates her for what she does. She makes up for her absence by ensuring that her kids grow up strong -- physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
HEALTH EQUALS HAPPINESS
At times, Tootsy admits that she feels guilty that she couldn't attend her children's tennis tournaments or ballet performances. And whenever she feels lost, she would ask herself, "What would Mom do?"
As a child, despite the bittersweet experiences she had in the mountains, Tootsy was generally happy.
"Children follow who you are. More than the achievements, if you're a happy person, they will be happy. If you accept who you are, they will grow up confident. If you teach them the value and the character of staying true to their word, the will do the same," she said.
"In this chaotic and super magulo world out there, you know what your contribution can be? Being happy is in itself is a contribution to the world kasi there's so much sadness, hate, chaos. So if you are happy, grateful, that will pass on to other people you talk to. As children, just be happy. "
And, for Tootsy, the key to achieving happiness is good health. That's why she makes sure her children get the right nutrition by monitoring their diet and ensuring that they drink six glasses of whole milk in a day.
"When you talk about childhood, it's always about happy memories. In order for a child to be happy, he has to be healthy. I make sure that they get enough dairy intake," she added.
“Moms like Tootsy trusts nothing but Anchor made with Whole Milk. Whole milk refers to fresh cow’s milk in its purest form, unadulterated and has not undergone artificial process. It has vitamins and minerals that can help maintain overall health and wellbeing.”
With Anchor coupled by proper diet and exercise, working moms like Tootsy can be sure that their kids grow up happy, strong, and well rounded. To learn more about Anchor made with Whole Milk, click here.