As a woman, we are innately good at multi-tasking. Likewise, it would be easy to balance, if one enjoys what she is doing. The key therefore is enjoying and being passionate with what you are doing and putting God in the center of whatever you do. – by Dr. Ofelia Samar-Sy
“The apple does not fall far the tree” is what Dr. Ofelia Samar-Sy and one of her daughters, Julliane Moira Sy have proven. By far, they are a mother and daughter tandem who excel in their field of expertise. Dr. Ofelia Sy, the mom is an internist-cardiologist while Julliane, the daughter is studying to become a lawyer in theUnited Kingdom. Both have shown their dedication to serving the underprivileged members of the society, especially in thePhilippines. Both are respected in and around thePhilippines for the contributions they have made and continue to make for their fellow citizens. Both exemplify humility and deep relationship with God. Both continue to put their best foot forward in everything they do.
As a mother and daughter, they have a special bonding. They also have a common understanding of love, care and excellence! They are a special family “team” whose efforts continue to leave a huge impact in the global community.
Today, I am very pleased to share with you their story and hope that this will serve as an inspiration to the mothers and daughters.
This is their story:
AMS: Tell us both your background: education, training and community involvement.
Julliane Sy: I’m 21 year-old, in my final year as law student inUniversity of Bristol,United Kingdom. During my time in law school, I was involved in the law clinic, a student body giving legal advice to the local community. I spent a year serving in the University’s Catholic society’s committee. I volunteer at the local homeless shelter. After graduating High School from the Philippine Science High School, I was sent by the United World College (UWC) Philippine Committee as the lone scholar-representative to the Li Po Chun UWC inHong Kong where I took International Baccalaureate degree. InHong Kong, I helped provide para-legal assistance to OFW’s via our advocacy group Helpers for Domestic Helpers.
Dr. Ofel Sy: I come from a very poor family and finished medicine through my parents’ hard work and determination, government scholarships and help from many benevolent people. I finished Summa Cum Laude in College and had been a consistent scholar since high school. I realized I was good in class when I graduated valedictorian in Elementary in the most remote barangay of our town in Nabua, Camarines Sur. Presently; I am an internist-cardiologist who trained inUP-PGHMedicalCenter.
I have various community involvements. To mention a few, I am the President of the Pinoy Power Bicol Coalition, Inc which started out as a volunteer group which supported PNOY’s campaign to help our country in our advocacy for good governance and poverty alleviation. I am the Bicol Representative to the National Council of the People Power volunteers for Reform which does multi-sectoral advocacies in partnership with other NGO’s and the different government agencies. I am the Bicol Coordinator of the AGAPP(Aklat,Gabay, Aruga, Tungo sa Pag-unlad at Pag-asa) Foundation led by Presidential sister Pinky Aquino-Abellada which builds preschool classrooms, provide livelihood program and feeding program for the poor. I am one of the leaders of the Philippine Funds for Little Kids , particularly the Masbate Funds for little Kids which later formed a foundation called the Yellow Boat for Hope Foundation which helps impoverished children with challenging concerns particularly in achieving education, alleviating poverty and other social concerns. I am also the President of The Albay Medical Society, Regional Regent of the Philippine College of Physicians, and President of the Philippine Science High School Bicol Region Campus. I am also very active in the Smoke Free Albay Network group pushing for the anti-smoking ordinance in our province.
AMS: What are you currently involved in?
Julliane Sy: I serve in church and volunteer at the local homeless shelter.
Dr. Ofel Sy: Above-mentioned projects are all on-going.
AMS: What made you support these causes?
Julliane Sy: Studying law requires a lot of time and hard work so I am very careful about how I spend my time. Volunteering makes my time more meaningful. The natural response of knowing God’s love for me is to find out how I can love Him back. Jesus said that I can find him in the least fortunate. I want to follow Jesus and he told me to love my neighbors.
Dr. Ofel Sy: I have experienced how to be poor and how others helped me and eventually my family got out of poverty. I derive joy in my personal experience of how education of one poor child can make a big difference and progress in the lives of may people.
AMS: Tell us more about these causes. What are your visions for them?
Julliane Sy: I hope these causes will teach me how to love so I can be better at loving others when I pursue my career after I finish school.
Dr. Ofel Sy: I envision for each child helped to have the same progressive, comfortable and fulfilling life I am experiencing.
AMS: How do you see yourselves within these organizations and your participation in them in the future?
Julliane Sy: I think I will always seek to contribute to my local church out of gratitude. There are numerous ways of helping others and I am open to the opportunities to help that the future will bring.
Dr. Ofel Sy: I see myself not just as a leader but also as an active participant in every opportunity that comes to sustain the organizations.
AMS: As a successful mother and daughter tandem, what do you think is the most important lesson that a mom must teach her daughter or child about life and being successful? And vice versa.
Julliane Sy: Before pursuing any goal, be aware of what success means to you. Be honest about your source of definition. Seek the definition of success which will truly complete your joy. Genuinely and courageously live by it.
Dr. Ofel Sy: Teaching by example is the best lesson.
AMS: For a follow up question, as a daughter what is the best advice your Mom has ever given you?
Julliane Sy: My parents, especially my mother, taught me the value of education and this has driven me to work hard in my studies throughout the years.
The best things do not come from words said. They have taught me to love and be responsible by example.
AMS: Dr. Sy, how did you raise your daughter to become who she is today?
Dr. Ofel Sy: Julliane, has been a very goal-oriented person even as a young child. She is a visionary and writer. She used to write novels since Grade 2 and she would use the writing medium to express herself and her dreams. She is very specific.
AMS: How was it like sending her to a different country to study?
Dr. Ofel Sy: It was difficult for me to be separated from my eldest daughter. But as parents, we had no choice but support her dreams, happiness and passions.
AMS: How do you nurture your relationship together as a mother and daughter, despite the pressure to excel and be successful?
Dr. Ofel Sy: Julliane is a very competitive and perfectionist person. She wouldn’t go for anything substandard. She would always opt for what is globally competitive and of international standards. Her quest for studying abroad must have been inspired by her readings of books with international setting. As parents, we have made her feel that we will always support whatever her aspirations and endeavor that will make her happy, that we are always there to support her in any way we can.
AMS: Apart from your family and of course, each other who are your inspiration? Can you please cite an example when they were the most influential to you.
Julliane Sy: Jesus inspires me! Often we think of him as apart from us, but he walked the same earth we walk on now. The people who inspire me most are those who live ordinary lives with extraordinary integrity.
Dr. Ofel Sy: Aside from my own family (husband and four kids) my inspirations are my parents, my foster parents, everyone (there are a lot) who showed examples of genuine charity and commitment to help others and all my partners and members of our organizations. And of course, God has always been there providing many miraculous deeds. There are just too many instances that may take long to narrate. But one which was a great turning point which showed me that there really is one God that planned everything for me was how I was able to miraculously study medicine despite poverty. While, it seemed so impossible at that time, the realization and putting into pieces of how I attained my profession was made so perfectly smooth. There was no doubt in my mind, it was God’s miraculous hand paving the way.
AMS: As a mom, how do you see your role in the future of your daughter and for the future of the advocacies you support?
Dr. Ofel Sy: I want to play a nurturing role which will serve as an inspiration for my daughter to achieve her own dreams and happiness and our organization to continue to flourish and serve others.
AMS: How do you balance the life of a successful doctor, community supporter and a Mom? What is the key in being successful in all of these areas?
Dr. Ofel Sy: As women, we are innately good at multi-tasking. Likewise, it would be easy to balance, if one enjoys what she is doing. The key therefore is enjoying and being passionate with what you are doing and putting God in the center of whatever you do.
AMS: Finally, what is your definition of success?
Julliane Sy: Success is God telling me at the end of my life, “well done good and faithful servant”. It is finding joy in whatever life throws at me and learning genuine love for others.
Dr. Ofel Sy: Success is when at the end of the line you can honestly say that you got involved, took a stand, and made a change to make oneself, others, and your country better that God will tell you, congratulations!
To read other inspiring Success Stories, click here.
Editor’s Note: Starting this week, the “Saturday Success Stories #___” title of this series will now be changed to “Success Story”. The title will change but the vision of this series will still continue to be on chronicling stories of extraordinary individuals from around the world.
Picture on File: On the picture above is Dr. Ofelia Samar-Sy and Julliane Moira Sy, with Jules (her son) and her husband Jullie. Two of her daughters are not in the picture shown.