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Victoria Griengo-Mabilog, Cream Cover Girl February-March 2012

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posted by CREAMdelacreme Magazine alias creamdelacreme magazine on Wednesday 7th of November 2012 04:52:38 PM

Her Own Woman By Mafelou C. Leagogo-Agriam If there’s one person who attracts the curiosity of many Ilonggos more than anybody else, it must be Victoria “Marivic” Griengo-Mabilog, the better-half of Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog. For a people accustomed to seeing the wives of their local politicians once-in-a-while, Marivic is hardly spotted with the mayor or anywhere in the city. Understandably, Marivic has lived and worked in Calgary, Alberta, Canada for nearly two decades and long before her husband entered politics. She is connected with Terracon Geotechnique Ltd, an independent Canadian geosciences and engineering consulting firm established in 1983 and wholly owned by its management staff. As controller of the company, she takes care of its resources and their proper use. Terracon today employs some 279 workers to include geologists, engineers and technologists – a far cry from its original 32 employees during the firm’s fledgling days when Marivic was its accountant. “I saw the company grow and I’d like to take some credit in its growth,” she solemnly said during a casual interview at her well-appointed home in Molo. With the company’s rise followed Marivic’s own remarkable ascend in the organizational ladder as member of the board, shareholder and controller. Apparently, her huge responsibilities on the job keep her rooted in Canada. She visits Iloilo City every quarter of the year if not earlier than expected especially when family matters require her immediate presence. However, since she is hardly seen around the most part of the year, her husband’s constituents don’t recognize her in public places whenever she’s in Iloilo, which incidentally suits her fine. One incident in a local mall illustrates this point. After hours of malling, physical exhaustion fell upon her that she sat on the mall’s concrete stairway to rest. Thank goodness nobody took notice of her as shoppers marched up and down the stairs passing her by. And to her own credit, neither did she attempt at calling any attention to herself. People who know her are not at all surprised at her action. Devoid of any illusion of self-importance, neither is she overwhelmed by the trappings attendant to being married to a high local official. After all, she is one woman comfortable in her own skin. One time she visited a local bank for some business. Like all other clients, she followed the queue and waited for half an hour until her turn came only to be told her transaction should be done in another branch. Upon seeing her name in a document, the flustered bank employee offered to facilitate the job herself, which Marivic politely declined. “Na-anad ako sa Canada where everybody is expected to follow the rules. Even government officials in Canada are not exempted. A mayor was once apprehended by a traffic enforcer for speeding beyond the limits. He tried to extricate himself from the situation with an excuse he was late for an appointment. The trooper still issued him a ticket and advised the mayor to wake up early next time for his appointment.” Marivic is known to be frank and outspoken. Honesty is her virtue. “Words get around that I am opinionated. I don’t mean to offend anyone but I say what I think is right. Where I work, the president of Terracon knows he gets the true picture of the company’s state of affairs during board meetings because I don’t mince words, nor sugarcoat them, when I present what is and what ought to be. One thing more,” she added as an important aside to stress her individuality, “kontra ko gid kon gina-introduce ako sa Canada nga ‘wife ni Jed’ because I am Marivic.” Without a pause she traced her early family life to a humble beginning. Her father, a native of Pavia, Iloilo, was an ordinary worker; her mom – from Bago City, Negros Occidental – was a plain housewife and homemaker. Like many typical Filipino parents, they struggled to make both ends meet through hardwork, self-sacrifice and loyalty to employers. The character of their children was built around these values. Marivic recalled that although her family was not very poor nor comfortable, there was a television set in the house and the latest editions of the Readers Digest and Mod Magazines from where the Griengo children learned and honed their conversational skills in English. People who heard the siblings constantly bantering in English often mistook them for belonging to a well-off family. Her father seemed forever working. He was employed for a very long time in the haciendas of the Benedictos in Negros Occidental and as a family employee of the Darrocas in Arevalo, Iloilo City for 40 years. “I think it’s ingrained in our DNA that we stick to our places of employment for long,” she laughed. Although it was tough to send seven children to school, it was tougher for the patriarch to be perpetually in debt with his employers. His pay envelop was always marked resto on pay day to mean his remaining debts are still unpaid. Nonetheless, his employers, the Darrocas, were always willing to lend out money intended for the education of his children. Marivic at a tender age knew too well education was the key to get out of poverty. She resolved to use her resourcefulness to get to school or provide for her other needs, with the same resoluteness as her older sister Elsa who later turned out as class valedictorian, a lawyer and now a government prosecutor. Marivic entered the local public schools of Arevalo like the rest of her siblings. An avocado tree standing near her house somehow played a crucial part in her early education. When money was scarce, she sold its ripened fruits for her transportation needs. It came to a point she had to pick even the unripe fruits on a particular day to have jeepney fare to get to school. Despite the many hardships she went through, Marivic succeeded in becoming a top student. She was the editor-in-chief of her school’s official publication, a salutatorian of her class, and got an almost perfect NCEE score to qualify for college. She took up commerce at the University of San Agustin although engineering was her first choice. She worked at daytime at the La Editorial, a local printing press, and went to night school during her first year in college. The little that was left of her meager paycheck she saved for Nino Muhlach and Guy and Pip movies. She was a regular movie fan, you see. In due time, she earned her college degree, took up the CPA licensure exams and landed 12th in the national board. God in all His Providence sent her angels to unlock the doors of brighter opportunities. “Mr. Pepe Layson spent for my CPAR review in Manila and by God’s grace I made it to the top 20 in the board exams. Although I placed 12th, I was number one in the Auditing and Management Services exams. For topping these subjects, the SGV (Sycip, Gorres and Velayo & Co.) gave me a special certificate. The prestigious CJ Valdez & Associates in Manila hired the young CPA immediately. For a time, too, she was affiliated with the Iloilo City Hall and PECO before moving to Saudi Arabia for four years, and later to Canada where she is now based. Helping her family became the overriding goal for working overseas. “I swore to myself then never to make my nieces and nephews go through what we experienced in our lives. The reason I worked long and hard in Canada was to be able to send them to school and provide their needs. Today we have in the family three nurses, two computer engineers and a medical doctor.” The latter is a nephew, Kenneth Griengo, who recently passed the February medical board exams, the first doctor and certainly not the last in the Griengo family. Thankfully, Marivic’s husband is kind, appreciative, and supportive of her efforts, dreams and ambitions for her family. He understands it if she is called – and when she serves – as the “Sister of Perpetual Help” or “Doctor of Perpetual Help,” both family terms of endearment for her unlimited generosity. Sometimes, her largesse even spills over beyond family circle. Another subject of public curiosity is how she met her husband. With typical frankness, she said, “We were the best of friends before we became lovers.” Their closeness developed in their teens during their Kabataang Barangay (KB) days, where both served actively. They were each other’s confidante. Marivic rose to be KB federation secretary to Iloilo City KB federation president Marivic Layson Guevara (now Calderon), whose family embraced the brainy Victoria Griengo. Until now, the latter has very fond and happy memories of the Guevara home in Fundidor, Molo, and particularly the influence of the late Julieta Layson-Guevara. “The selflessness, love for the people, generosity, honesty in public service, and people-first mantra -- all these Jed and I learned from Fundidor. I'd like to live my life as a tribute to Mama Let.” Besides their shared interests, she and Jed are soulmates. They know each other’s needs and wants even before the other says so. “I can finish his statement and he can finish mine. We may not see each other like regular couples but if ever I were here always maybe we would be at each other’s throats,” Marivic laughed, hinting at their respective fierce sense of independence. Nevertheless, she and her husband are comfortable and happy accepting each other’s attributes: Jed being carinoso and a gentle man and she straightforward and frank. “Life with Jed is really fun,” she continued. “When we are together, we laugh at ourselves and our private jokes. Maayo gid man ang sense of humor sa mag-asawa.” The couple is blessed with a daughter, Patricia, whom Marivic describes as the best daughter one can ask for. A college sophomore in the coming school year at the Assumption College in Makati City, she is as unasuming as her mom. The latest addition to the family is young Jonathan, which means “gift from God.” The mother-and-son relationship is close and on-the-level. During this magazine’s interview, Nathan wanted to go with her mom to a local mall, but the mother had a prior appointment to a reunion with classmates from the Arevalo Elementary School, one of the institutions at the receiving end of her benevolence. The boy was wailing a bit. The mother explained very kindly why it was important for her to meet up with her primary grade school friends. Then she changed tact and asked permission from Nathan if he could allow her to go. Why, like an intelligent adult the boy said “Okay.” And the wailing ended. Like her husband, Marivic is an eternally devoted student of world culture and history. Her travels to the different countries in Europe (and Asia) are structured to include visiting museums, historical sites and architectures, and immersing herself into stories on the making of the place and its citizens. The best part of Europe for her is the Vatican in Rome and the Louvre in France. A keen observer of people, it amuses her no end to see her fellow Filipino travelers spend their whole time having their photos taken while foreigners use their cameras photographing the sceneries, places and nuances native to the country. “Someday, ‘I’ll come home for good and be involved in several family-owned businesses and education-related advocacies,” she said candidly. Meanwhile, she enjoys her stay immensely in Canada. A fairly good ice skier herself, she likes best the winter season when she can further hone her skills in the sport amidst the serenity of a vast pure-white environment.



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