I have been in Calatagan since the lockdown started. I’m already up at 6 a.m., and I go through my work emails. My career has always been in the city, and wow, this change is definitely the complete opposite of my fast-paced life in Manila. My family is here, however, so it made the most sense to WFH, or shall I say, “work from the farm.”
I always start the day with a bottle of essential vitamins from Arete Juicing, with my collagen from Healthy Options even before drinking water. You know, ever since I started taking all these natural vitamins, I don’t even need coffee anymore because I feel so good and full of energy.
If we have a shrimp harvest scheduled, I go straight to check on the shrimps. The process usually starts at 8 a.m. or earlier.
I then spend the rest of the morning overseeing the harvest, quality control, and making sure the logistics are all set for Manila’s delivery.
Our family business has been in Calatagan since the ’80s, providing shrimps for export and local consumption. In recent years, my mom saw the potential in supplying directly to households: basically the farm to table experience.
I tapped into my network, created Calatagan Seafood, and worked with my cousins and friends to bring the freshest shrimps straight from the harvest to your kitchen. It was timely because home delivery was in demand due to COVID-19, and all these marketplace groups on Viber and Telegram popped up.
If we have no harvest that day, that’s when I schedule my Zoom calls with Reef Check and my PR consulting firm, Philia Azul.
You can only find me in either workout attire or a bikini/scuba outfit these days. I go straight into my workout clothes in the morning to serve as a reminder that I can’t skip my workout class.
I change into my beach outfits and get ready for my time by the shore or in the ocean. Most of my athleisure is from Uniqlo, while beach outfits are from Wave Swimwear, Souvie, and Squires.
Come to think about it: I have been living in a bikini every day for almost 200 days now. Crazy!
I usually finish my work at around 11:30 p.m. I do my workout before lunch. I have discovered the magic of online workout classes from YouTube and Alo Moves. They are so effective, and there are so many choices that you never get bored with the routine.
I dedicate my afternoons to the ocean, and boy, the ocean has indeed kept me very busy. It started with teaching children from the local community to scuba dive with me, then together, we did some beach cleaning within the property. We are also hands-on with boat repairs, underwater photography, and removing trash from the coral reefs.
I usually do my scuba diving at noon when the sun is out to play or just before sunset so that I get to practice the different lighting with my underwater camera.
I make sure to wrap up my day just before sunset, so I have time to experiment on my gin & tonic cocktails. I enjoy this part because it’s when I start to slow down and unwind after an activity-filled day. I’m grateful to be lockdown in such a beautiful area, so I try to spend as much time outdoors and fight the urge to stay in bed all day except on Sundays.
My “COVID career” is being a gin and tonic mixologist. G&Ts were always my go-to drink. Throughout this time, I kept trying to create my favorite drinks from Las Flores and The Backroom until my gin and the botanical collection just grew, and I came up with my own mixes.
I spent a lot of time reading up on the different gins and spices, ordered them online, and tried them for myself. I even found botanicals that can change your cocktail to whatever color you want.
My tip for people interested in growing their home bar is to have more than one brand of gin, figure out your favorite, start with a few spices, and don’t be afraid to experiment. I found that a good quality tonic water makes a huge difference, too, and they’re so many kinds, from flavored ones to those with zero calories.
I actually have been getting many questions about G&Ts and cocktails, so it gave me an idea to work on a new project, Casa Calatagan. This is a passion project that aims to support the children of the Calatagan community. I launched a curated gin and tonic kits, perfect for at-home celebrations, Zoom dates, and happy hours.
Every kit will raise funds for the cause #CheersForKidsPH. Local schools now require internet, laptops & materials that not everyone can afford. My goal is to help uplift the lives of the community here and support their education.
I am so grateful that I already got several pre-orders when I started doing teasers, and I launched the brand’s Instagram account in early September. With those sales, I was already able to buy several internet devices for the children. September 20 was a very exciting day as the website was launched. I plan to launch with the basic kits online and start dropping new recipes afterward. I can’t explain how excited I am for this!
I also plan dates with my dad once a week. I make a spread of cold cuts, bring out his favorite wine, and set up this little sunset session for us. I get my Jamon and cheese from The Curated Deli and the best-stuffed olives from OFI Tasteful Solutions.
I am quite an extrovert, so I have several video call groups. All of us are on Zoom, but I have a group with my workout buddies, with the main ones being Selina Ocampo, Tisha Aganon, and Bea Gonzales. I catch my scuba diving friends for happy hour, and I also have catch-up sessions with my cousins and my high school friends. Oh, and countless birthday Zoom salubongs too. You can’t forget that!
I must say, my days get pretty busy—not as busy as it was before. Still, all the activities make me pass out so early at 9 or 10 p.m. Keeping productive has been making me very happy, and even though we can’t control the situation, we can control how we spend our days.
Vanessa Vergara is “an advocate of the ocean trying to balance my career and passion.” After working a corporate job for five years, she became a certified scuba diving instructor and Reef Check Philippines president. Eventually, she crafted her own consulting firm with friend Tisha Aganon. Follow Vanessa on her adventures via @vanivergara.