Nikki Garcia repeats the question. “If I were to be the president of the Philippines…” she ponders. She’s amused by the pageant-esque nature of the question, but nevertheless succinctly answers: “The first thing I would implement is to increase the agriculture and healthcare budget.” Her answer stems from Solita Monsod, who talked about the state of the economy post-COVID. To Nikki, it makes sense; infrastructure won’t find use if people go hungry. She restates her advocacy: “I want people to buy and eat local produce. We can restart the economy by building a sustainable food supply chain. Let’s feed our country while giving livelihood to our fellow Filipinos.”
The kind of selflessness and ingenuity that Nikki holds is felt through many parts of her life, whether it’s at the farm or at home. It’s rare to find women who balance both sides, but Nikki was quick to squash the myth, and admits that sacrifices had to have been made. “Admittedly, I felt very guilty leaving my kids with the yayas at such a young age,” the mother of three shares. “For a working mom, we can’t have the best of both worlds. We need help and it takes a village to bring up children and people to run a company. I have my good and bad moments being a working mom—though I am blessed that my kids are very forgiving.”
The Way Of Life For Nikki Garcia
Hugs and back massages often welcome her as she comes home from a long day at the office. “Those small things make my day,” she remarks. And the sacrifices come in equal measure, Nikki details how her attendance at school events is non-negotiable, and how food is the family’s love language. She also continues a tradition her lolo instilled in her; the kids would visit the office and the warehouses and attend company Christmas parties just like she did when she was younger.
Now in lockdown, Nikki is adding “teacher” to her resume. Homeschooling, of course, is an entirely new beast. “It’s tougher for a working mom. You’re the all-in-one, you’re a principal, IT teacher, and PE teacher, and then you need to work,” she shares. Her biggest challenge is fitting everything within 24 hours but she’s grateful for more time spent with her kids. “I am practically with them 24/7. I think they enjoy it, but don’t want to admit it,” she laughs.
The way Nikki Garcia cares about her family is an extension of how she was raised. Spending her childhood summers in Davao was another tradition instilled by her lolo, which she happily recounts as a time filled with joy and love. “I learned the value of taking good care of those around you. I was surrounded by good food and since we grow chicken, we had a lot of chicken,” she adds. It was there that she also learned to practice Filipino values like prayer, valuing relationships, and celebrating even the smallest wins. “Gatherings don’t need to be grand but rather should be about spending time with the people that mean the world to you,” explains Nikki Garcia.
Adapting With Change
Things had changed by the time she entered Assumption College in high school, where she described herself as an oddball, and it was in college in Switzerland where she truly found herself. “When my parents dropped me off, my mom cried buckets,” she recalls. “As for me, I was so happy I immediately went out with my new friends.” She liked that they celebrated individuality, which was a far cry from the standards she was used to back in the Philippines. She was the only Filipino at school during a time where misconceptions about the country run rampant, but it only fueled her further, “I like to believe it was a great privilege to prove them wrong.”
Nikki Garcia is currently the Executive Vice President of their company, Vitarich. “I am very happy in my role of helping my brother achieve his dreams for the company,” she shares, crediting her contentment to her father, who not only trained them to have a deep respect for each other, but to also think of the entire team over the individual.
Nikki Garcia On Looking Back And Learning
Nikki’s family is a 3rd generation feed miller and integrated poultry raiser, but she never thought she would join the family business. Her mother made it clear “The only thing your mom and dad will give you is a good education and values,” which Nikki Garcia repeats that they had been given in spades. Her chosen career, however, was still inspired by her family. “I wanted to enter the food industry because I love food. My family loved food. I had so many great memories surrounding food, so it was natural I wanted to become a chef,” she shares, adding that her mom is Kapampangan and a great cook. The idea and profession, however, was met with ire at the time, prompting her to instead take up Hotel and Restaurant Management to have a business edge.
Nikki Garcia describes her time in the hospitality industry as a place where she got to help people celebrate special moments but it wasn’t long until she entered the family business. “I officially started in 2003. It was very tough because the company had financial issues and my mom was very sick of cancer back then. So, imagine the heavy burden my dad had to carry all those years.” She was thankful for what her dad had already cultivated: trusted partners, suppliers, and consultants who all took her under their wing. With no formal training, she was schooled about the business from the ground up. “Looking back, it was something I would not recommend for everyone, but if given the chance to go back I would not change a thing. I realized I learn faster being on the ground.”
Pinky is the President and CEO of Progressive Laboratories, Qualibet Testing Services Corp. and KPP Powers Commodities. A chemist by profession, she is also the President of the Association of the Bureau of Animal Industry Registered Companies and Recognized Testing Laboratories (ABAIL). A humanitarian at heart, Pinky hosts a weekly online show called Grateful Tuesdays. On top of all this, she is also a wife and a mother of two.
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