2007 was a big year for Carissa Villacorta. She was just your regular neighborhood publisher, traveling to and fro New York and California in the line of duty, until she lived her personal philosophy: believe, begin, become.
In October 2006, she launched her first book “Surreality” and was soon acclaimed because of her literary genius of telling contemporary life events through her essays and giving it her own unique twists and insights. A year later, she made it to Filipina Women’s Network’s ‘100 Most Influential Filipina Women in the United States’ and was also given the honor of being an international presenter at the Mensa Society of Greater New York.
Indeed, Carissa is one very successful global Filipina. Here is her story.
Influencing an Influencer
You would think that in order to produce such an earth-moving, classic-literature-writing person such as Carissa requires more than a handful of people. But when it comes to her influences, Carissa could only think of one runaway influencer in her life.
“My grandmother who loved life and was also a columnist. She was a brilliant writer. She loved to laugh and always did. To her, everything was maganda (beautiful) and masarap (delicious), even the smallest flowers (for maganda) and airplane food (for masarap). She appreciated everything and never imposed anything or on anyone. She was so generous, always thinking on what and how she could give. She was a true role model on how to live your life, humbly and gratefully,” Carissa fondly recalled.
“I think my Lola, [who] loves the rags to riches stories, philanthropy and helping the poor would be very happy to know that this is my work,” she beamed with nostalgia.
Carissa also never stopped gathering inspiration from her friends and loved ones who supported her all the way.
“Loida Nicolas Lewis was my first client as a publicist and event planner. She believed in me and probably saw my potential as a writer, until eventually, doors opened for other/more clients and projects,” she said.
“My clients who believe in me and my work. My family who give their support. People who’ve read my book and still talk about it with me and with others on how it’s changed their perspective, and sometimes, their lives,” she added.
“If you are doing something good, it’s good for people to know in case they may be inspired to also follow their dreams, help out and make a difference, whatever the case may be for each client,” Carissa shared.
In everything she gets involved in, she makes sure she contribute something for its publicity.
“I do PR (public relations), but it is Cause-PR. I like PhilDev (Philippine Development Foundation) because it finds and helps the less-privileged brilliant and deserving Filipino students and funds their studies in science and engineering so [they can] reach their potential and eventually, contribute to the society and Philippine economy,” she continued.
“I see publicity as a way of helping people: editors and producers get stories and access to subjects to feature, clients get the publicity they need to grow their business or promote their cause, and readers/ viewers learn something new which hopefully engages them and encourages them to participate and contribute,” she explained.
When asked about her vision for her causes, her face lit up with a mixture of pride and fulfillment.
“I always want to give attendees and supporters a positive and memorable time when they attend our events. I also always try to make sure the event is publicized in a positive way so that more people can hear about the event and support the cause. Some may even become beneficiaries of the cause because they heard about it in the media,” Carissa said.
For someone who has achieved a lot of things (and surely more in the future), Carissa has a very simple definition of success that she professes to live up to.
“Success is when you’re happy every day with your personal and professional life,” Carissa shared.
“Mary Poppins said, in every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. Sometimes people forget that, or they’re in the wrong job,” she explains.
Carissa also believes that there are “a million reasons to be happy in life.” All you need are “prayers and positivity.”
And while most people will equate achievement to Carissa’s book, she actually begs to differ.
“People would probably say it’s writing a book. I would say, it’s reaching people and being able to “talk” to them through the book. I love conversations and thankfully, through my book, I am able to meet them, and I am happy to hear about their stories too,” Carissa said.
“It was also fun to have organized top class events in the Hamptons and at the Lincoln Center in New York. These were benefits, so there were always beneficiaries while giving attendees and supporters a good and memorable experience,” she added.
As for her future plans, Carissa wants to work on her sequel for Surreality.
“It’s going to be called love life: the verb, not the noun,” Carissa beamed.
Phone interview conducted by Alpha Miguel-Sanford, editor, Aspire.Motivate.Succeed.
Article written and transcribed by Ching Dee, correspondent, Philippine Canadian Inquirer.