At Home in PAR­ADISE

BUSI­NESS­WOMAN AND MOM MY­LENE CO SHARES THE JOYS OF FAM­ILY LIFE AND EX­PE­RI­ENC­ING NA­TURE’S WON­DERS.

Southern Living - - Front Page - NIC­COLO COSME FOR THE LIGHT­HOUSE STU­DIO DIANNE PINEDA

in the mu­nic­i­pal­ity of Ba­ca­cay, Al­bay Prov­ince is Mis­i­bis Bay, a lush and ul­tra-lux­u­ri­ous is­land play­ground fa­mous for be­ing the fa­vorite hide­away of Hollywood celebri­ties, as well as some of the coun­try’s most af­flu­ent per­son­al­i­ties. One could only imag­ine and hope to see such en­thralling views sim­i­lar to the famed Mal­dives and the Caribbean; but My­lene R. Co, who is at the fore­front of the re­sort’s devel­op­ment, has added her own per­sonal touch. More than be­ing one of the key per­sons who over­saw the re­sort’s be­gin­nings— from vir­gin is­land to in­ter­na­tion­ally renowned par­adise— My­lene now sits on the ex­ec­u­tive board of the Mis­i­bis Coastal Care Foun­da­tion ( MCCF). It is an ef­fort to up­lift the sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties of Mis­i­bis Bay through schol­ar­ships, and to pre­serve the re­gion’s en­vi­ron­ment through eco-friendly mea­sures. My­lene tells South­ern Liv­ing how she man­ages to bal­ance it all: be­ing a work­ing mom, a char­i­ta­ble woman, and why, af­ter hav­ing trav­eled a lot, she still con­sid­ers both Mis­i­bis Bay and Legazpi City as her home.

TUCKED AWAY IN A PRIS­TINE BEACH OFF CAGRARAY IS­LAND, How would you de­scribe your life­style in terms of go­ing back and forth to Manila-Legazpi City and Mis­i­bis Bay?

Pretty laid-back, we go there to check how the busi­nesses are do­ing. We travel back and forth be­cause aside from our busi­nesses, my hus­band, be­ing a very gen­er­ous man and en­tre­pre­neur, makes sure all our schol­ars are be­ing mon­i­tored in terms of mak­ing them qual­ify to be sent abroad for bet­ter jobs. He wants to give back to the Bi­colanos by giv­ing them the chance to up­lift their lives, and in turn help their fam­i­lies left in Bi­col.

What’s your role in Mis­i­bis Bay re­sort?

In some ways, I’m in charge of the qual­ity of ser­vice that is ex­pected of us be­ing a mem­ber of “Small Lux­ury Ho­tels of the World.” And in some ways I make sure that the whole look of Mis­i­bis is main­tained. The re­sort is like my house so I want ev­ery­thing clean and or­ga­nized. I’m very hands-on. I take care of ev­ery­thing from the dust on the ta­bles, fin­ger marks on the switches, to the smell of linen tow­els— the way I'd clean my house. I’m that metic­u­lous when it comes to house­keep­ing mat­ters. My chil­dren re­quire a clean en­vi­ron­ment, and I want the same for each and ev­ery one of our guests.

What was it about Mis­i­bis Bay that made you want to de­velop it?

My hus­band loves na­ture. That’s ba­si­cally how we started. And it is a re­ally beau­ti­ful is­land. In all my trav­els, I still keep com­ing back to Mis­i­bis be­cause noth­ing re­ally com­pares to it.

What is the Mis­i­bis Coastal Care Foun­da­tion ( MCCF) and how are you in­volved in it?

It’s a non-profit foun­da­tion that my hus­band founded, and I’m sup­port­ing him es­pe­cially with the needs of the chil­dren. It is ded­i­cated to pre­serv­ing the en­vi­ron­ment and im­prov­ing the liveli­hood of the lo­cal com­mu­nity, to pro­mote sus­tain­able devel­op­ment. We de­vised sev­eral ways to make Mis­i­bis Bay en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly such as reg­u­lar coastal clean-ups, gi­ant clam plant­ing to pro­mote co­ral reef growth, use of so­lar-pow­ered street lights, solid waste man­age­ment, and pre­ven­tion of il­le­gal fish­ing. These ef­forts are not only found out­side the re­sort, but also within its rooms as well. We in­stalled en­ergy-ef­fi­cient lights, low flow show­er­heads, and a key card sys­tem, which au­to­mat­i­cally shuts off the room’s elec­tric­ity as soon as the guests come out of the room. But I think one of the most ex­cit­ing and ful­fill­ing as­pects of this foun­da­tion is that it pro­vides schol­ar­ships to the chil­dren and tech­ni­cal train­ings to the adults in the com­mu­nity to help boost up their way of liv­ing.

How do you man­age your time be­tween work and fam­ily?

My kids are my top pri­or­ity, even if I need to can­cel meet­ings, I will do it to fetch them from school and if they feel I need to be home. I have this spe­cial bond with them that I share with my hus­band. My hus­band is even pa­tient play­ing with them and tak­ing them to places they love. My son Michael is 10 years old and is very ath­letic, while Ella, who’s 5, is very cre­ative, and there’s Zoe, who’s only one and a half and knows how to play with an iPad! I even tu­tor my kids, help them do their home­work, and take them to school. You just have to man­age your time and keep your pri­or­i­ties.

What do you love most about moth­er­hood?

Hav­ing chil­dren is the best thing that has ever hap­pened to me. Ev­ery mom has her own ways of rais­ing their chil­dren, and for me, I have this spe­cial, un­ex­plain­able love for my chil­dren that

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