Photo By Stephanie Torres

Denise Gonzales-Bernardo, Noelle Hilario, and Monica Eleazar-Manazo, the “FLOW Girls.” Photo By Stephanie Torres

This is a collaborative interview I did with the gorgeous women of FLOW SurfYogaSamba Weekend Retreats. I asked them to talk about their bliss, which has inspired me a great deal throughout the years. I love how they’ve been able to activate their passions into a truly purposeful, lifestyle business where they can all literally do work that they love! — Martine

What, for you ladies, is “passion”?

Monica: I’ve always been passionate about the things I do. Whatever opportunities came my way, I would grab it and live it. What really shook my world around though was when I became a mother to Santiago. There was I, a full pledged adult with child. I knew that whatever I did from that day on would affect my baby. So I began changing my whole lifestyle.

When Santi turned a year old and I had more time in between breastfeeds, I deepened my yoga practice (because it’s what kept me sane from hands-on parenting!), I became more aware of what I ate and where my food sources came from, switched to mostly all natural products and even started INDIGObaby with Denise to promote what exactly we were doing – attachment parenting and teaching mommies the same through our eco-friendly products.


Not too long after, we began searching for a school that would support our lifestyle and so we found out about the Waldorf Education here in Manila. Learning about Anthroposophy and childhood development was a real eye-opener because it truly touched my soul. So I decided that this is the school my son will go to. I’ve been an advocate for Waldorf Education since Saving Childhood. This is a good thing to fight for when technology and modern education is pushing our children to grow up too fast too soon that it takes a toll on their well-being and health — among other things.  There is a saying that your children are your gurus because each child that comes into our world teaches you life lessons. I believe that.  Without my evolution into motherhood, I wouldn’t have began this journey into my self discovery.

Denise – PASSION is what drives us, it is what wakes us up in the mornings and push ourselves everyday to do and be better. Like monica, becoming a mother was one of the turning points in my life. My sons are precious to me and I want what is best for them…im sure all yummymummies out there feel the same. Because of this, I started Indigobaby- an online shop that advocates natural parenting, breastfeeding and babywearing. I want to share these ideals with other moms. We may not always be able to give our children the world- but we can give them the best within our capacities. It is about real parenting.

In line with this, we mommies also need to take care of ourselves and listen to our needs. Sometimes i feel as if i am giving and giving to everyone and need to stop in my tracks and listen to my inner child that needs caring as well. This is why I go to yoga, dance and drum samba and eat healthier. As the saying goes- if Mama aint happy, aint no one happy:P It’s true!


There is a balance that needs to be met between doing what I want as an individual and being a mother. Some sacrifice has to be made, but this is why we also came up with FLOW- to live our passions and take our children with us to learn from nature and the great outdoors.


How did the company begin?

Monica- We started our company, FLOW Surf Yoga Samba retreats in November 2009 because as young hands on working mothers, we wanted to experience all those that we haven’t yet – surfing and samba for me, in one weekend to save on time and of course to be around my like-minded friends at our favorite destination: THE BEACH. During our early planning stages, we were just discussing our dreams and that I was finally doing my yoga teacher training that summer and I’ve always wanted to do yoga retreats, offer classes beyond the studio. So, that’s exactly what we did late that year! Soon after graduating teacher training, we began planning our very first Surf Yoga Samba weekend retreat in La Union, November 2009.

Photo By Stephanie Torres 2 222682_10150244905165992_668464_n

What tips do you have for other women or mothers who want to pursue their own passions?

Monica – For me, it’s easy to say JUST GO FOR IT but timing is also everything. I learned this from my 2-year living in Palawan stint. My husband and I share similar dreams of living in paradise/nature so when Santi was a toddler, we uprooted our urban lives and just went for it. Of course, since it was a decision based on whim, without real plans beyond plan a and plan b.. we didn’t last out there very long. So, my true advice to others who want to take their own plunge into their passions is that to wait for the real opportunity that will come their way. If it is for them, it will manifest in one way or another.

Photo by Hanna Abello

Noelle – If it’s something deep in your heart you know you must do, if it haunts you in your dreams, then do it. You’ll never know if it’s really for you or not unless you give it a try. If you succeed then great! If you fail then learn from it, and it doesn’t hurt to give it another try. But always have a long term plan, set goals and figure out how to reach them.

Denise – My advice for living passions is to do what you love– do the things that make your heart sing. BE SILLY every now and then and laugh and immerse yourself in good company!

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