Filipino enterprising philanthropists share life realizations amid pandemic

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 01 2021 12:52 PM

MANILA -- Premium postpaid brand Smart Infinity has tapped four Filipino enterprising philanthropists as its newest ambassadors for making a positive impact in the Philippines and beyond. 

The four new "changemakers" are Kenneth Cobonpue, furniture designer and advocate of design entrepreneurship; Stephanie Kienle-Gonzalez, Philux Inc. managing director and advocate of WWF and Habitat for Humanity; Bea Valdes, accessory designer and advocate of slow design and conscious craft; and Len Cabili, Filip + Inna creative director and advocate of local artisans. 

In a recent virtual media conference hosted by former ABS-CBN anchor Pinky Webb, they opened up about the life lessons they have learned amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Below are their answers to the question: "What is the most significant change you've made in your own lives over the last year and a half which you think impacted you for the better?"

KENNETH COBONPUE

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"For me, just hitting that pause button I got that much-needed break in my life. Everything was just so fast-paced and this break allowed me to recalibrate, strategize, think about the company, about everything -- the meaning of everything that I was doing. 

"And it also allowed me to appreciate all the things that I took for granted, like family, our friends, our loved ones.

"It also made me realize how important connectivity was because without it, I don't know how we would ever get things done."

BEA VALDES

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"The real change that I've made in my life is simplification and deeper connection. I think it has really distilled what is most valuable in our lives."

STEPHANIE KIENLE-GONZALEZ

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"I would have to say being kinder to myself. That's something I really learned throughout the year.

"And taking things a little slower, and savoring every minute, and practicing gratitude. This has really allowed me to take a different perspective despite all of these challenges around us. And I feel much better for it."

LEN CABILI

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"You know, a few years ago I was traveling and stumbled upon this artwork that had the words, 'What is enough?' It took years for me and a pandemic to force me to answer that big question and it was life-changing.

"I tend to be obsessive about my work because I really enjoy it at the expense of my health. I get sick every now and then because of that. And when I started asking that question all throughout the pandemic, I realized that it was enough that I would work from 8 to 5, and then I get to do other things.

"When I was praying all throughout the pandemic in relation to the brand I was praying that, 'God, just give us enough sales to keep the artisans working.' And God granted that answer. And when he gave more than enough, it was an opportunity to share.

"And I think that question, having answered it on a personal level and on a professional level, has changed me and it has made me look at life in a different way. I had cancer a few years ago -- what it taught me was only a fraction. I think [I learned more from] this one, in the context of the pandemic, and I think everyone was affected. I think it was a very important question that I had to answer for myself, and I'm thankful for the change it has made to my life."

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