There is no other month that suits her best, but February- the love month. She helps couples achieve their dream wedding by guiding them to the fairy tale ending, the happily ever after. Marinella Gonzales- Sitchon, who is also known as Ycoy Sitchon by her friends, colleagues, and now, even by her clients, is the epitome of a woman who didn’t stop by being a mother to her wonderful son, Liam and wife to Jeff. She pursued her passion to make people happy by making their dreams come true.
She is a former banker whose expertise includes people management, leadership and negotiation. She used to handle trainings for Relationship Managers and Business Managers of one of the biggest universal banks in the Philippines. She is also a former trader and marketing officer thus analytical, business planning, development and marketing skills are her cup of tea. She is known for being a perfectionist by nature. Currently, she’s the Business Manager of a foreign advertising company and the wedding planner of La Belle Fête W&E. A Wedding/Event- planning company that focuses on its niche – to make every event stylish, unique and exceptionally beautiful. La Belle Fête Weddings & Events is the brainchild of Ycoy Sitchon whose passion for weddings stemmed from her desire to give every couple a stress-free journey to wedded bliss. Her mission in life is not merely to survive but to thrive; and to do it with so much passion, compassion, class and style!
May her amazing story inspire you, awesome Mums!
Are you a working mother or stay-at-home mother?
Both. I work from home. I am a wedding planner and currently managing an advertising company based in Australia.
What influenced your decision to work/stay at home?
I used to be a very career-oriented woman. You know the type who goes to the office 5 days in a week, managing people, approving deals, talking to clients, signing documents. I had seen myself doing this routine until retirement. Being a young achiever/officer, my mission and vision in life traversed only one path – and that was to be a successful banker. Eyes fixed on the prize, until I got pregnant and gave birth. My husband and I have been together since college (10th year this year). We were on our 8th year when we decided to tie the knot. After one month of honeymoon, the baby came. We were so excited but to be quite candid, I thought I prepared myself for it, but I did not (physically). I had been very sickly and stressed. There were so many issues and pressure at work because of the upcoming corporate issuances and I had no option but to go to work. When I had my first ultrasound, the sonologist saw a hemorrhage and my OB GYNE, Dr. Martin Manahan demanded me to go on bed rest. For the first trimester, I had Proluton shots every 3 days and had to have my ultrasound every week to check my baby. It was very hard, in addition to the all-day sickness I had been feeling. Furthermore, the pressure at work never left me even if I was still at home resting. Thus when I decided to go back to work, I bled profusely. And that was a wakeup call. I could not lose the baby. He is my priority. And there was paradigm shift. I resigned and stayed at home. During my “vacation”, I wrote e-books and articles. After giving birth, I thought of going back to the old routine, to my comfort zone. I was interviewed by different banks (both local and foreign). There was a foreign company who asked me if I could leave Liam (1-month old that time) for one-month training in a foreign country. The answer came swiftly – No. I was breastfeeding that time (nursed for 11 months) and I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving my poor baby that young without me. My baby and my family will always be my priority.
As a writer, my mind never runs out of novel ideas. I always play stories in my head, ever after’s, and anything that captures my fancy. As I was browsing our wedding photos and videos, an epiphany came. I was the one who planned our wedding and creative juices have continued to gush out like lava. I have also helped friends and relatives to come up with ideas on their respective weddings and was involved in the preps one way or another. The desire to do wedding planning was intensified when a dear friend came to me and asked me to plan her wedding. I considered that as a calling. March 2012, I decided to officially venture to wedding planning. I registered La Belle Fête Weddings & Events, signed up for webinars, bought books – very determined to improve my craft. I continue to do research, hire people, write articles, and right now continue to make every couple happy, satisfied and stress free, helping them every step of the way to make their dream wedding come true.
What sacrifices did/do you have to make to work/stay at home?
One big sacrifice was to let go of the dream of reaching the pinnacle of the corporate ladder one day. My mind was fixated to that dream. Right after graduation, I worked for the biggest investment bank in the country. A year after, I was hired by a local bank as a bond trader with my own portfolio. After 5 years, I was already managing my own group and training bank managers. The path was paved and it came too easy for me. It had been my comfort zone as well. But in my very core, I knew I was not happy. Something was missing. I still found myself wondering if this was the right career for me. I kept on transferring from one bank to another, looking for that missing link. And then the answer was offered to me on a silver platter when Liam came. The desire to achieve the goal was great but the passion was never really there. It was never really my passion to begin with. I am bound to do something else.
Do you feel that your child is missing out on anything because you work/stay at home?
No. Definitely not. Although I am very busy with work, and more dedicated than before because of the burning passion, I always give a big percentage of my time to my son. When he cries, I am always there. We play, we watch Elmo (his favorite), I read stories, I cradle him to sleep, nursed him until he was 11 months, and I get to see his milestones. I will never trade my life now and the time I get to spend with my son for anything else.
How do you think your relationship with your child would differ if you worked/stayed at home?
First, I observe that most kids today whose parents are working in the office, are closer to their nannies than to their moms/dads. Or they prefer to play gadgets or watch TV. My son is very close to me, giving me hugs and sloppy kisses everytime. He is very sweet and loving and perhaps it is because of the constant hugs and kisses my husband and I give him. He receives acts of love and compassion frequently merely because the people who can give him unconditional love are always around and beside him. Plus, I get to see his milestones. I got to witness his first rollover/crawl/lunge, got to hear his first word, saw him clap for the first time, saw him stand without support and the never-ending list of developments.
What would be you ideal situation (stay home, work part-time, work full-time)?
I am very lucky to say that I am in the most ideal situation that any mom can ever hope for – working and earning; pursuing my passion and be with my baby 24/7.
How do you view mothers who work/stay at home?
All mothers want the best for their children. It is just that each and every one of us is entitled to our own decisions in life. Let’s also take into consideration that each circumstance or opportunity presented to us serves as a great factor in every decision that we make. I have high respect for all the moms who work 8 hours a day in the office and do mommy duties when they get home. Likewise, I salute all moms who decide to leave their career to take care of their children. All moms are amazing.
What advice would you give to a parent who is struggling with the decision to work or stay home?
It all boils down on what you think is best for your family and your children. I am very sure that all moms think of their families first than what is best for them. All supermoms are selfless. I think that each one of us is given a rough stone and we are given the tools to shape and polish them. It is in our hands how to make them a great work of art. That is our life. If the decision to work for your family than to stay at home seems to be a better idea, then go for it. It doesn’t mean that when you work, you will abandon your family. It is just a matter of maintaining the balance. Likewise, staying at home doesn’t mean that you no longer care for your career or personal growth; you can always find a way to pursue your passion and dream even while staying at home. It if is possible for me, it can also happen to you.
Have you ever or will you join any baby/toddler classes?
Yes, i am very open to toddler classes. I am planning to enroll Liam when he reaches the ideal age.
What skills do you think your child could/has gained from these types of classes?
Of course, it is like studying in a real school. My child can acquire skills that are based on research and studies that the ones holding the classes have done. The effectiveness will be measured after.
What is the best piece of advice that you can give to all mums out there who do like you do?
Just continue to love passionately and open your heart as wide as the universe. An open mind and heart can contain more knowledge and more love. Learning will come day by day and you will be better as years go by. Continue to put your family as your top priority but in the process do not neglect, lose and forget about yourself. Dress up, hone your skills, have some “me” time every now and then, indulge once in a while. For the things that you do for yourself can lead to discovery, and once you unravel these discoveries, you will become better – A better person and a better mom.
As told to MummySG
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