What would you do when you arrive in the United States just when 9-11 was a couple of months away from happening? “It was all fun and vacation for me for the first two months, spending fun times with my family, cousins and friends,” she recalls, “but come September, the real life kicked in.”
Later that month – and it’s not as though I needed to say – the entire world changed in the aftermath of the attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York.
Patience, they do say indeed, is a virtue. The feeling of helplessness and depression went on for a few more weeks but fortunately, a friend eventually helped to get her a job.
Mary Grace Tabora. Sounds a lot like the name of someone bound for the convent. Miguez, therefore, is the artzy nickname, the ‘z’ very much intended. The nick alone oozes of not just art but avant garde, innovation!
She was in my History class in schoolyear 1994-1995. Not, perhaps, her cup of tea – but hey, you win some; and you lose some.
Miguez explains, “I mostly excelled and was much more interested in Math subjects like Geometry under Ms. (Juliet) Conti and Algebra under Mr. (Ireneo) Salazar. I also really loved the Drafting and Calligraphy Classes under Mr. (Roger) Basco when I was in Third Year High School.”
Curious, then, that such an artistic temperament would eventually opt for a Science-based and definitely technical program such as Industrial Engineering, which she took up at DLSU after graduating from high school. With a Chemical Engineering minor, mind!
Being away for college was hard, Miguez admits. It was the first time that she had to be away from home for prolonged periods. It was, however, a learning experience.
“I believe that it was when I got the best training for being independent,” she now says. “Just being able to keep up with the hardships of college was already a great achievement for me.”
She also adds, “With great friends from Lipa to hang out with and share the same experiences and challenges in Manila, we all got through college successfully and with great pride in being probinsyana (from the country).”
Despite the challenges, Miguez graduated from college just four years later in 1999 and was eager to enter the world of professionals. Fortunately, she was hired almost immediately by Epson Manufacturing to work at its plant located at the LIMA Industrial Estate near the border of the city of Lipa and the municipality of Malvar.
“My first job was in the Planning Department,” Miguez recalls, “where I had to plan the production line of different Epson printer models and make sure that all necessary manpower and materials were available. It was very interesting and also a very challenging first job.”
After a year with Epson, she moved to Amkor Anam Philippines, which has a facility in Laguna. Her work was again in planning and the environment was tough but fun, Miguez says. She stayed with the company until her move to the United States in 2001.
At present Miguez is Account Manager of a trademark called Stoosh owned by Roger Garments in the Los Angeles area. She has been with the company for seven years. This is the regular job. It is outside of this job that Miguez comes true and expresses herself as the artist that she has always been.
A natural and talented artist, Miguez has gotten around to designing itty-bitty girlie things that she sells in a hobby-cum-sideline outside of officer hours which she originally called Creations by Miguez but which is now named ShopMiguez.
“I design, make and market my products myself,” Miguez says of her sideline. “It all starts from the inspiration that I find from trends everywhere; which I then combine with my own personal style – feminine, classic and vintage.”
“My products are all designed and handmade in my home studio in Pasadena, CA,” she explains further. “These include handmade handbags, small goods, charmed and hand-stamped jewelry and accessories for young, trendy women. I love pretty things, so I incorporate everything pretty in my shop.”
“I currently sell my products online on Etsy and I also showcase them at various Events and Craft Fairs in and around Los Angeles, such as Unique LA, Renegade Craft Fair and Patchwork Indie & Craft Show,” Miguez continues. “I have received various requests to wholesale my products and I am currently planning and working on getting more seriously into that. It is just hard to juggle between my day job and commit to bigger orders for the shop.”
Although Miguez learned to sew as far back as her elementary days, she took up formal lessons in sewing; and this helped to further hone her talent.
“Seven years ago,” she relates, “while looking for something to do one weekend, I bought myself my first home sewing machine which I then used to make small stuff like pillow cases, wallets and hair ties. I got bored and wanted to learn and make more. So, I enrolled myself in Sewing and Pattern Making classes at the Los Angeles Trade and Technical College in downtown LA.”