“During my transformative period, I turned to the wisdom of seasoned mentors, leaned on the counsel of trusted colleagues and friends, and found solace in their collective guidance.”
“AMOR fati” is a Latin phrase that may be translated as “love of fate” or “love of one’s fate.” It is used to describe an attitude in which one sees everything that happens in one’s life, including suffering and loss, as good or, at the very least, necessary.
Such phrase may closely describe the life and times of Maricel Borromeo-Amores, a Cebu-based human resources (HR) management consultant, whose colorful life is like a roller-coaster ride with twists and turns that defy the ordinary.
Borromeo-Amores’ journey into the realm of HR was born out of a personal loss as she navigated the aftermath of her husband’s untimely passing.
She was happily married for a good 18 years to Ernesto Arbas Amores of Valencia City, who passed away in 2004.
“During this transformative period, I turned to the wisdom of seasoned mentors, leaned on the counsel of trusted colleagues and friends, and found solace in their collective guidance,” Borromeo-Amores offered.
“As my two, wonderful and loving sons — Ernesto Miguel and Carlos Alfonso — matured into adulthood, their evolving perspectives and insights took on a profound significance, especially in my role within the dynamic BPO (business process outsourcing) industry, where the majority of employees belonged to the millennial generation.”
Her sons — Ernesto Miguel (Erl), 34, and Carlos Alfonso (Don), 30 — are both lawyers.
“Their invaluable input became a compass for me, allowing me to chart the intricacies of their generation, addressing their unique concerns and aspirations,” Borromeo-Amores said.
“Furthermore, as my sons pursued careers in law, their expertise in legal matters and document management has proven to be an indispensable asset, adding depth and richness to my professional repertoire.
“That journey, marked by personal growth and the influence of family, continues to shape my HR career in ways I could have never anticipated.”
The death of her husband was not the first tragic twist in Borromeo-Amores’ life.
Decades back, she tragically lost her father — a bright lawyer and considered a rising star in Cebu politics in the 1960s — to an assassin’s bullet when she was only 7 years old.
“Shouldering some of the responsibilities of supporting my widowed mother and younger siblings became more important to me than fashion, parties and romance, which never held much appeal.”
She opts to call herself “unconventional,” as she immersed herself in books.
“My formative years were filled with books, music, songwriting, poetry, and a growing pen and stationery collection,” she offered.
She hosted a television noontime show in Cebu in the early 1980s, worked at the front desk of a glitzy hotel and became an executive assistant at a top-flight law firm where she met her husband — all while taking up law at the University of San Carlos.
She was also once a candidate in the Miss Cebu pageant where she won Best in Talent.
“As I matured, intellectual conversations and meaningful company with friends became my focus. Collecting pens and stationery, however, remained a cherished hobby.”
Borromeo-Amores established Fontis-ICAN Corp. in June 2019 after Borromeo-Amores retired from corporate life.
“So, it has been almost half a decade of sharing a client-centric approach in providing unparalleled HR solutions and guidance,” Borromeo-Amores said.
“Since its inception, Fontis-ICAN has tirelessly worked on building a strong client base, establishing a prominent reputation and maintaining the high standards expected from a C-suite professional.”
To date, Fontis-ICAN works with VIP clients and provides specialized consulting services in the fields of human resource management, organizational development and corporate governance.
“The most difficult part remains to be conditioning the mindset of business people into admitting the importance and cost-efficiency of retaining employees by making them happy,” Borromeo-Amores admitted.
At times, there is resistance to legal and regulatory compliance in terms of employee benefits and workplace conditions. Nonetheless, we have breakthroughs in as far as our clients are concerned as they have placed their full confidence in our team’s extensive industry expertise.
“We likewise experience marketing challenges because of ethical constraints on advertising and confidentiality obligations arising from signed NDAs (nondisclosure agreements) with our clients.”
“But while HR remains in our core, Fontis-ICAN Corporation also extends its reach through strategic collaborations with network partners across various domains, including legal, IT (information technology), events management, travel and tours, data privacy, financial management, outsourcing, visa support, realty and brokerage. Those synergistic connections enhance employee well-being and contribute to organizational prosperity.”
In 2021, Borromeo-Amores became membership director and past president of Rotary Club Cebu Fuente, as well as assistant governor of Area 1B Rotary International District 3860.
“Serving Rotary International has been immensely gratifying as I have been able to transform challenges into passions. Balancing multiple roles as a mother, HR director by night, student and early morning Rotary Club of Cebu Fuente projects, my commitment to ‘service above self’ eclipses fatigue.
“Inspired by the profound impact of 36 Rotarians who donated blood to my late husband, I joined Rotary to pay their generosity forward, finding profound purpose in our community’s selfless spirit.”
Cebu, being the base of the company, Borromeo-Amores no longer finds it necessary to expand Fontis-ICAN to Manila.
“With the advent of technology and remote work capabilities, Fontis-ICAN serves clients across various locations, including Manila, Bohol, Tacloban, Siargao, Samar and even international destinations like Australia, Canada, the United States of America and Singapore.
“Face-to-face meetings are accommodated as needed, often in clients’ offices or cafés, aligning with the current trend of bringing services directly to the client’s doorstep.”
Borromeo-Amores’ childhood ambition was to become a diplomat.
“However, the exclusive location of the Foreign Service degree program in Manila and my circumstances as a working student in Cebu initially diverted me from this path,” she sighed.
“Yet, I harbor no regrets, as this detour led me to a fulfilling career in Human Relations. It’s a journey marked by personal growth and professional satisfaction, where my innate interpersonal skills and commitment to service found a purpose.
“While my childhood dream was redirected, the chosen path has brought immense rewards and opportunities, for which I am truly grateful.”
Before the virus totally disrupted everything around us, Borromeo-Amores was fortunate to embark on a series of enriching journeys in 2019.
“I visited the US (United States) to spend time with my sister, Marissa, and her husband, Lynn,” Borromeo-Amores shared. Later that year, in June, I traveled to Korea for our annual Rotary Club sister club visit.
“The year concluded with a memorable trip to Europe in December, and I explored Italy, Vienna, Prague, Switzerland and Paris.
“More recently, I had the opportunity to revisit Korea for our annual sister club visit, maintaining a connection with this meaningful tradition despite the challenges posed by the pandemic.”
Borromeo-Amores’ advocacy is about “inspiring others to believe in their potential, reach for their dreams and maintain a positive outlook. I achieve that through mentoring, teaching, sharing my life story and engaging in charitable acts within the community. Gratitude, giving back and praying for my sons’ bright future are paramount.”
Sports have never been her forte. “I find solace in books over balls and rackets. Nostalgic childhood games like jackstone, Chinese garter and ‘takyan’ are my closest brushes with sports,” Borromeo-Amores allowed.
“My interests span writing books, keeping a gratitude journal and indulging in feel-good TV shows. Karaoke sessions and strumming my guitar add a musical touch to life.”
Borromeo-Amores’ role models are her parents — the late Atty. Raul Borromeo and Asuncion Fe Penales Borromeo of Dauis, Bohol.
“My father was Assistant Provincial, a man of intelligence, good looks and unwavering commitment to justice; and my mother was a woman of remarkable beauty, intelligence and boundless love.”
Young as she was then when she lost her father, Borromeo-Amores honors her father’s dedication to justice. His loving presence both as a husband and father left a deep impression on his daughter.
“He fostered my love for pens and stationery during our morning outings, where he allowed me to explore his office and write on his letterheads,” Borromeo-Amores shared.
“Tragically, his life was cut short by an assassin, but the outpouring of love and respect at his wake and funeral, which could be likened to the funeral of Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr., highlighted the impact he had on countless lives.
“My mother raised us four children as a single parent without ever remarrying. She exhibited grace by forgiving my father’s killers, teaching me the power of forgiveness and love over hatred.
“Her steadfast commitment to kindness and generosity, even when resources were limited, created a welcoming home for those in need. Both my parents, beautiful inside and out, have profoundly shaped who I am today.”
* * *
What is your biggest fear?
What really makes you angry?
Betrayal of trust.
What motivates you to work hard?
My family and extended family.
What makes you laugh the most?
At myself or my past booboos.
What would you do if you won the lotto?
I would keep it for a day and get a good financial adviser but definitely help others.
If you could share a meal with any individual living or dead, who would they be?
I would love to have a meal with my late parents, Princess Diana and husband, but I am scared of dead people regardless if they are my loved ones. So, I would love to share a meal with Princess Beatrice Borromeo Casiraghi in her beautiful house on Borromeo Island in Italy.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Happily tending to my grandchildren and still traveling to the places still in my bucket list like Greece, Spain and Japan. And finishing my book, “Treasures in my Pocket.”
What celebrity would you like to meet for a cup of coffee?
Edu Manzano: Unlocking the Art of Balancing Philosophy, Intelligence, Wit and Humor – A Conversation with a Renaissance Mind.
What is the most daring thing you have ever done?
Joining beauty pageants.
What is the one thing you will never do again?
Ride in that scary mini roller coaster.