- HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:
The Valiant Tailors
Woman of the Month
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
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
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
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.’
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
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
Women worldwide celebrated International Womens’ Day on March 8
– in the Femail column this week we celebrate a truly international
Carolina San Miguel Thompson in a relaxed moment with Dr Chao Duangduan
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.
Chiangmai Mail Publishing Co. Ltd.
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