Noemi Pamintuan-Jara: Opening Minds and Doors for Better Opportunities
Noemi is a highly accomplished writer and an active advocate for the deaf community. ASW Philippines is proud to have her on our team as she shares her expertise and experiences in the world of finance. Read about her invaluable insights on why it’s better to say “life-work balance”, how we can reach out to deaf members, and how to provide equitable opportunities for women in the workplace.
1. Hi Noemi, could you tell us a bit about yourself? Outside of work, what do you enjoy doing? What are your hobbies and interests?
When I’m not doing volunteer work for non-profits or for researchers in academia, I love indulging in “soul food” or things in life that feed our heart and soul. This can be anything like listening to music, consuming self-help or historical content, watching live shows, attending workshops, communing with friends and nature, or simply doing things that spark joy that doesn’t entail spending a fortune (like staring at art pieces in galleries).
Like most people in the Philippines, I felt the impact of having been isolated and under stress for an extended period during the pandemic which deprived us of human interaction. While physical activity and a healthy diet are keystones to a long life, a Harvard decades-long study has revealed the number one thing in life that makes us happy and, in effect, live longer: Positive relationships. Because of that, I’ve been trying to be intentional when it comes to nurturing relationships by making time for friends and kin.
2. How did you start at ASW? Can you tell us more about your role here at ASW? What’s a regular day like for you?
I found out about the ASW role through my friend Jesus Morales, Jr., a deaf graphic designer for an ASW client. I’m a financial writer producing educational content for topics such as mortgage, investments, superannuation, insurance, personal loans, and financial planning. I also do conversion copywriting for websites and other digital assets, and training new editorial team members.
A typical day is devoted to researching about the assigned articles or marketing collateral for the week, strategising how to best write the content in a language that the target audience will understand, and designing content format for optimisation and ease of reading.
3. You have worked with Jesus on advocacy projects for the deaf community in the Philippines. What got you interested in supporting this advocacy? What’s the most important thing that other people should know about the deaf community?
I’ve known Jesus since he was an undergrad student, having been partner-volunteers for deaf kids at a Special Olympics, and later on as a co-founder of a non-profit that aims to make society more accessible for the deaf community. I had an organisation back in college that served the deaf community and this led me to serving and working with them in the fields of education, employment, and entrepreneurship.
I encourage everyone to try learning Filipino Sign Language (FSL) because that’s the key to opening a door of opportunities and possibilities for deaf people. Reach out and recognise that deaf people are not “less” because they speak a different language. We all speak one language — the language of love.
4. How do you manage your responsibilities at home and at work as a woman? How do you achieve work-life balance?
First of all, asking how responsibilities at home and at work are managed as a woman already has the assumption that women carry a heavier burden of managing multiple roles at work and at home.
This should not be the case. Household chores and management is a LIFE SKILL, not a gender role. Partners need to discuss and assign tasks that would enable both of them to function at home and at work. On my end, I’m in charge of meals and so I see to it that there’s food stock that I or any family member can easily prepare.
Next, don’t you think it’s better to call it “life-work balance” because life needs to come first before work? Incidence of people getting sick or dying of exhaustion due to glorified busyness is increasing. I have not perfected that balance yet and that’s why I strive to achieve that through my answers in question number one.
5. Can you share a time when you had to overcome a challenge as a woman in your career?
I have been lucky enough to work in environments where women kick ass and men recognise gender equality.
However, I’ve experienced a situation where another person tried to put me down by mansplaining and, worse, a male colleague laughing with this person even though I am the program creator (with a wealth of knowledge and experience) of what he was trying to explain. In situations like these, I keep in mind that I am not the one who has an issue and I try to choose my battles by knowing when I need to clapback or keep my peace.
Another common challenge for women with kids that I had to overcome is knowing when to prioritise important family events over your career. In my case, it was a non-negotiable when it came to attending my child’s school activities. I was always present, even during a physically difficult time when my child had a concert and I was still recuperating from surgery. Moments like these will be part of your child’s core memory. Your presence is a gift that will last a lifetime.
6. Can you tell us about a woman who has inspired or mentored you in your personal or professional life? What have you learned from her?
For the ones I personally know, I have a tribe of women I know I can call anytime when it comes to just about anything under the sun to specific issues when it comes to career, spiritual life or when having to deal with difficult questions that need deep conversations. This tribe has taught me that no matter where life leads you and what it throws at you, if you have your values intact, your true self will shine through in any situation.
For the ones I don’t personally know, I look up to the three stars that are currently shining their light on the Philippines: Hidilyn Diaz, Atty. Leni Robredo, and Maria Ressa. They have faced challenges in their personal and professional lives, and the unwarranted harassment they experienced from misogynists. Yet they carried on, pursued their passions and duties with grit and determination, and emerged from these challenges with dignity and grace.
7. This year’s theme for Women’s Month is Embrace Equity. How do you practise or encourage equity in the workplace?
We needed a local point person who can help break language barriers for a workshop with an international group. The person I tapped for this role was a deaf single mom but she said she couldn’t make it because her sister, who takes over her motherhood duties when she has to work, was not available on the workshop dates.
I asked if her child could tag along, playing on her own at a safe place within the venue. She can bring her toys and I will also bring activity kits to keep her occupied. I also booked a hotel suite which gave us enough room for extra guests.
The plan went well, and the deaf mom was so grateful for the opportunity. To encourage equity, women should not be made to experience motherhood penalty. Day care service at work is one solution to help break those barriers for women so they can fully participate in the workplace and in society.
8. What do you consider your top 3 achievements (whether at ASW or in your personal life)?
Choosing to be kind even when others are not.
Having clarity of thought and priorities when it comes to child rearing, education, and community building, and blazing trails to make the journey easier for those who tread these paths.
Building bridges when others choose to burn them.
9. Is there a personal or professional goal that you’ve always wanted to accomplish?
To sharpen the saw by going to grad school.
10. Thanks for your time! Before we go, what inspirational message or career advice would you like to share with your fellow female colleagues at ASW?
We are magnificently flawed humans who make an effort to demonstrate courage, compassion, and connection. Say this out loud everyday: Regardless of what gets accomplished or how much remains undone, I AM ENOUGH.