If you Google the name of Tammy Bejerano-Dinopol, one of the search results that comes up is her profile in the Internet Movie Data Base (IMDB). It reveals a long list of accomplishments that includes being a script consultant of blockbusters such as Ang Tanging Ina, Milan, One More Chance, A Very Special Love and Ang Tanging Ina N’yong Lahat, among many other movies.
Tammy was also the head writer of the original Pangako Sa ‘Yo teleserye that starred Kristine Hermosa and Jericho Rosales. She was the one who coined the name Amor Powers, the strong-willed character played by Eula Valdes that eventually paved the way for a second wind in the actress’ career.
As head of the creative department of Star Cinema, Tammy was one of ABS-CBN’s most prolific creative minds. It was hard to imagine her leaving the company, but she did so after 12 years.
The decision to leave was gradual. Tammy and her husband Dino Dinopol had financial concerns. Dino was a helicopter pilot with the Philippine Air Force who earned P25,000 a month--Tammy's salary was in the six figures.
The urge to leave, however, became stronger when her first daughter, Sydney, was born in 2002. "At that time, I instinctively I knew what I had to do--leave my job and become a full-time mom. I did not have the will to do it. I was concerned with our finances, and, of course, I already had a successful career, which, deep down, I wasn’t ready to leave despite the challenges."
Yet, Tammy found herself wrestling with questions about juggling career and motherhood, and, even more strongly, the kind of world her daughter was going to grow up in. “I will never forget the day when she was just a few days old,” she recalled, “and as I was holding her in my arms, I asked the question, ‘What kind of world are we shaping for my daughter?’”
Tammy found herself doggedly pursuing answers. It initially motivated her to make small but significant changes in her family's lifestyle. “It was a time when bringing your own grocery bag to the supermarket was still considered strange. I was met with a lot of curiosity by the cashiers and the baggers. It was a time when it was difficult to source for local organic and chemical-free products. I refused to have the scripts I need to read printed, so I was reading everything from my computer.”
It was not long after when Tammy focused her attention to her children’s education and discovered the Waldorf approach on education, which espouses practical, hands-on activities, creative play and artistic expression. It is famous for its no-television, no-computer policy, which Tammy said appealed to her and she understood the reasoning behind it. She didn’t need any convincing to remove television in her house, which remains true to this day. “I only succumbed to the use of an iPhone last year so we could use Uber.”
Two years ago, Tammy decided to homeschool Sydney, now 11, and youngest daughter Phoenix, now 7, using Waldorf education. It was a journey that cemented her passion to become an education advocate. By January 2015, she and three like-minded other friends put up Shaping Sophia, a company that organizes seminars and workshops inspired by the Waldorf philosophy developed by Austrian educator Rudolf Steiner. They bring in experts from abroad to train parents and teachers on different topics such as how children learn and the Bothmer movement (physical body culture based on Rudolf Steiner’s principles).
Tammy, who is a member of the Board of Trustees of Tuburan Institute, the first Waldorf school in Davao, explains, “Our aim is to bring alternative approaches to education, parenting and other fields in what we typically call the ‘cultural realm’ through adult education.”
While most of Tammy’s time is occupied with her daughters’ homeschooling (she teaches them in the mornings and then she works on the lessons for the next day on evenings), Shaping Sophia, and her own Facebook children’s store Syd & Phoen, she hasn’t completely turned her back on her former playground of television and film. She is one of the partners of media company Origin8Media, and it recently spearheaded the publicity of Honor Thy Father, which stars John Lloyd Cruz.
"Film will always be a part of my life. I still think that my work in film and TV is very important. [I want] to bring change in this industry, to elevate the kind of movies we make, to make sure that the good movies will have a proper platform for distribution. Movies affect the children and society in profound ways. They have the power to shape their imagination and influence their creativity."
Tammy's kids know about her work, but she hasn't let them watch any television or movie (yes, we were shocked, too). "They see me watching movies. They hear me talk to colleagues about work. They know how movies are done. They’re perfectly happy knowing that there will come a time when they, too, will be watching movies--but not now. And I also know that they are not missing anything.”
In her formula of balance, Tammy knows one thing for sure. "Nothing will replace the presence of a parent in a child's life. Nothing can replace conscious and present parenting that only we, mothers, can give our children.”
Tammy with Shaping Sophia will conduct the Camp Ikapudi summer camp for children, ages 7-13 on May 26-29. The camp will be held at the Prado Farms in Lubao, Pampanga, and features adventure and bonding activities through music, movement and the arts. Know more about it here.