Vol. VIII No. 10 - Tuesday
March 10 - March 16, 2009



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by Saichon Paewsoongnern


Chiang Mai FeMail 
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Intro

The Valiant Tailors

Woman of the Month

 

Intro

In this week’s Femail page, we’re concentrating on people. No research reports on how to stay young, how to cope with stress, how to…anything! Just two stories about specific, exceptional Chiang Mai residents. This town contains some amazing human beings – they deserve to be celebrated. Some are working with NGOs, some are teaching, some are helping out at animal shelters and sanctuaries, some are devoting their time to charities, groups and associations, some are involved in Buddhist or other religious practice, others are just giving when giving is needed. All are committed to making a difference, one way or another. We’re so happy to be part of this wonderfully caring crowd of real human beings! A million thanks to all of you!
Sri Sathya Sai Baba devotees form discussion group
A small group of devotees of Sri Sathya Sai Baba are planning to hold a study and discussion group centred around his teachings. Other devotees of Sri Baba living here in Chiang Mai who may it interested in joining in are very welcome to call Bob on 081-469-1507, between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m.
Sai Baba is a spiritual master and educator with followers worldwide, whose central ashram is Prashanti Nilayam, located in Andrah Prasesh, India.

 

The Valiant Tailors

Fashion King’s Frank and Vanita celebrate 5 years in CM

Elena Edwards
Four generations ago, the Sethi family was one of the first families to emigrate from India to the Kingdom of Siam. According to their descendent, Frank Sethi, the GM of Chiang Mai’s most successful tailoring company, Fashion King, ‘Then was a totally different time. My ancestors didn’t have it easy, but our family worked hard and all held together. I was born in Thailand, so I see this country as my home country, even although the traditions of my family have also had a strong influence in my life.’

Frank and Vanita accept a bouquet at a charity event.

His career, and that of his wife Vanita, began more than 40 years ago in Bangkok, when they opened a wholesale outlet for tailoring equipment and textile goods.
The business still exists, and is still owned today by the fifth generation of the Sethi family. Frank and Vanita came to Chiang Mai about 6 years ago, as they wanted to continue their business without the pressure of the big city. Neither of them expected the success they now enjoy...and right now they are celebrating their store’s 5 year anniversary in the city. Fashion King has become an institution which everybody knows, here in the Rose of the North.
Although both Frank, 61, and Vanita, younger, would be able to retire, they both see their business here as a kind of retirement, as well as an enjoyable and ongoing opportunity to advise their customers on the latest fashions. Classic style, men’s fashion, the new women’s styles, even children these days want to be a la mode. 2,000 satisfied customers per year from 25 countries all over the world who consult the Sethis proves that they’re getting it absolutely right. And, of course, everybody in the city treats them with the utmost respect. Together with their two team members, they are happy to work every day of the week. Whether their clients are famous or not, everyone gets the same great service and beautifully made clothes.
But there is far more to Frank and Vanita than their business. As both are engaged in helping as many underprivileged people as is possible through their involvement in many social and charitable projects here in the north. Why? According to Frank and Vanita, ‘We appreciate helping the poor and underprivileged people, especially children, as nobody can be made responsible for the circumstances under which people are born, or, if there are natural disasters, like earthquakes, flooding, tsunami etc. We should see that people in distress can only have a chance, if somebody is helping them. We do.’ They also help to sponsor big events with interesting backgrounds, like the annual Chiang Mai Cricket Sixes Tournament, which this year will take place from March 29 to April 4, and will feature 31 cricket teams from 12 countries. The Sethis have sponsored this event for 5 years, as long as they have been here.
The Chiang Mai Mail wishes those ‘valiant tailors,’ Frank and Vanita many more successful, happy, healthy and lucky years in the city of Chiang Mai.


Woman of the Month

Dr Carolina Thompson – A truly International Woman

Elena Edwards
Women worldwide celebrated International Womens’ Day on March 8 – in the Femail column this week we celebrate a truly international woman!

Dr Carolina San Miguel Thompson in a relaxed moment with Dr Chao Duangduan na Chiengmai.

Known affectionally as ‘Dr Lina,’ by a large number of women in the Chiang Mai community, this extraordinary lady’s home country is the Philippines, although, luckily for us, she and her second husband, Charlie, spend a great deal of their time here, rather than in Florida, where they also have a home, or in Manila.
Dr Lina’s story is one of tremendous achievement, and also one of following her heart. Born in San Mateo, Rizal, the, then, Carolina San Miguel achieved academic success by gaining her BA in business administration major in accounting at the University of the East in Manila graduating “cum laude,” and after her marriage to her first husband, her Master’s degree (with honours) in business administration at the Philippine Christian University. As if that weren’t enough, she later gained a Ph.D. in commerce from the University of Santo Thomas.
Many other prestigious awards followed, including a Leadership Award and Presidential Medal from the Office of the President of the Philippines. At the age of 30 she became the youngest ever professor at the National Defence College, following this up, 3 years later, with her appointment as Dean of the Institute of Graduate Studies and Applied Research at the Gregorio Araneta University Foundation – the youngest ever Graduate School Dean anywhere in the world! At the same time, she became the youngest ever Barangay Justice in Caloocan City.
Scholar, professor, dean, judge, executive, lecturer, youth leader, international research and management consultant, supervising consultant to the Planning and Budget office of the Philippine House of Representatives, speech-writer for the Filipino President, for the Deputy Minister of Thailand and the President of the National Council of Women of Thailand, and much, much more. But what about Dr Lina herself, and her connection to Thailand?
Her visits to Chiang Mai began in the early 1980’s for the very good reason that she had, by then, met and married her Thai husband, and needed to make regular journeys to see her in-laws, who lived, and still live, in the city. Now Dr Carolina San Miguel Pratummanee, she soon fell in love with Chiang Mai. Her son, Vongsawatt Patrick, was born in 1982. In 1991, she was further blessed by the birth of her daughter, Artchariya Paulene San Miguel Pratummanee. Her first name means ‘marvellous’ or ‘wonderful.’ Tragically, Dr Lina’s husband died in an automobile accident in the Philippines three years later.
Her life changed again in 1999, when she was introduced here in Chiang Mai, by a mutual friend, to an American diplomat working in the field of communications, one Charlie Thompson. Two years later, the couple were married, and spent time travelling between their homes in Florida, Chiang Mai and Manila. They had decided to settle in Chiang Mai a year before their wedding as Charlie had, by then, fully retired. As a result, Dr Lina found herself involved with Mae Jo University, became the Director of the International MBA programme at Payap, and also began to realise that her invaluable experience was needed by various charitable organisations in the city. Never one to consider lack of time as a problem, she became active in the Red Cross, particularly with their ‘Grandma Cares’ project, in fund-raising for the Catholic Church, became the treasurer and board member at the Foundation for the Education of Rural Children (FERC) and the president, until January this year, of Soroptimists International Chiang Mai, presiding over the development of the new chapter. And, of course, she became a true and valued friend to many like-minded people.
And what about Artchariya, Dr Lina’s daughter? Now nearly 18 years old, she seems to be following in her mothers illustrious and industrious footsteps. She is at high school in Manila. Her mother believes that the Philippines provide a safer environment and better education for a young girl. She is fluent in Tagalog, English and Thai, invariably achieves high marks in her studies, and has inherited her mother’s talent for public speaking as well as her mother’s good looks! She is involved in community concerns, and has ambitions to be a diplomat. In brief, she is, like her mother, stylish, beautiful and multi-talented. Sounds familiar! Dr Lina’s son, Patrick (who also speaks fluent English, Thai and Tagalog, and is a very talented singer) now lives in Bangkok, working as the deputy manager of the Park Plaza Hotel in Sukhamvit.
Dr Lina is about to take a long break from Chiang Mai, spending time in Florida and returning to Manila in time for her daughter’s 18th birthday, then returning to Thailand late this year. What is it that draws her back? Her large circle of friends of all nationalities, both straight and gay, the inexpensive lifestyle, the food (as long as it’s not too spicy) and her love of the city, its traditions and the Lanna costumes she used to see on Fridays, sadly not much in evidence these days. Florida, she says, is the place for a quiet life, fresh air and relaxation, with just herself and Charlie – no charity events and nothing to organise! Manila is home – there’s no place like it – democracy, independence, and a Catholic tradition which supports morality for its young people.
Dr Carolina San Miguel Thompson, a varied and fascinating woman with a varied and fascinating life. Lina, don’t forget to come back. All your friends, this writer included, and all the people and organisations who need you will miss you dreadfully while you’re away.



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