Recipient: National Prism Award for Women of Style and Achievements
By Nelia Dingcong Bernabe
She is a successful businesswoman as she is a classically trained mezzo-soprano. She has a B.S. Marketing Management degree from De La Salle University as well as four years of formal education from the Conservatory of Music in the Philippines. She sells natural, organic foods and sings soprano in a Catholic choir at the same time.
Welcome to the two worlds of Melissa Romualdez Abiva Fata, where business meets the world of music, where exporting premiere American organic foods meets the primary cantor for weddings and funerals. In central Ohio, she juggles both roles with great panache. It’s second nature.
In her two worlds, she can sing the highest of notes and land her business a plum account. In March of this year, she met with potential food importers in the Philippines when she launched her business. Among them, Robinsons Supermarket, a nationwide chain of supermarkets in the Philippines that has over 30 branches nationwide and is now a client of hers.
She owns Nutra Source Trading, Co., LLC, a leading export provider of natural, organic foods and nutraceuticals from the United States. “My job is to source the best choices of healthy food and offer them to my clients,” she said. “My main purpose is to promote US natural and organic products abroad.”
Nutra Source Trading’s mission is to offer better health for better lives in a better world by providing delicious, natural organic food choices to the global market. It participates in Food Export Midwest Buyer’s Missions and domestic tradeshows. “I like the fact the these missions enable me to meet foreign buyers from all over the world and I don’t even have to leave the country,” she said. She feels that her business affects the global community in positive ways because of the healthy products that she provides to the customers of her importers. She is promoting a healthy lifestyle, according to her.
Just as her business takes center stage in her life so does her love for singing. Melissa is a classically trained mezzo-soprano at the University of the Philippines Conservatory of Music under the tutelage of Professor Josephine Garlit – Bailen from 1980 – 1984. She won first runner up twice at the National Music Competition for Young Artists (NAMCYA) competitions at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
When the late President Cory Aquino made her first official presidential visit to the United States in 1986, Melissa was the guest artist at the rally held at Fordham University. She also performed a duo concert with Josephine Roces at the televised Paco Park Presents in the Philippines in 1982.
In addition, her love for singing augmented by her formal training gave her the opportunity to sing at the 50th Anniversary Concert at the Carnegie Hall in 2001. She currently serves as Vice President of Cultural for the Philippine American Society of Central Ohio (PASCO), a position she has held since 1999. She has served as a board member for five past PASCO presidents and assisted in organizing cultural presentations such as Ballet Manila, DLSU Chorale and Kinding Sindaw in Columbus, Ohio. She is a member of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra Chorus since 2000 and has sung in numerous concerts under the baton of Maestro Alessandro Siciliani, Maestro Hirokami and Choral Director Ron Jenkins. She has been singing in the soprano section of the St. Agatha Church Choir since 1997.
Her involvement with St. Agatha Church also resulted in her serving as president of the St. Agatha Women’s Club for two years. She was actively involved in planning and implementing fundraising projects, Day of Retreat, field trips for the ladies, among others. Melissa came to the United States in 1984 as an International Association of Students in Business and Economics (AIESEC) trainee for Burroughs Corporation in Detroit, Michigan. Her job as software product marketing assistant was responsible for reviewing software programs for the company’s computer systems.
While with Burroughs Corp., she said that because she reviewed products, obtained approvals from the company’s vice presidents and made formal presentations to get the products approved, she developed professionalism and experience in the business world. “I learned dependability, integrity and honesty while at Burroughs and I am using my experience there in my own export business,” she said. While still a marketing management student at De La Salle University in the Philippines, Melissa was crowned Bb. La Salle. She was in the Dean’s List and was a marketing officer and vice president for AIESEC for the local committee. She was its national projects officer when the organization’s Agribusiness Development Symposium of the Philippines project won AIESEC International Project of the Year Award in Avignon, France. She attended the AIESEC International Congress in France to receive the award.
Looking towards the future, Melissa sees herself being involved in the Filipino community. “ I see myself in a leadership capacity either as an officer or volunteer. I also see myself as a recognized exporter of natural, organic food products to the Philippines,” she said. “I hope to expand my product line to include environmentallyfriendly products for the home,” she added.
This Manila-born, force-to-reckon-with lady is happily married to Samuel K. Fata and is the proud mother of Angelo Carlo, a second year Pre-Med student at the University of Cincinnati and Gabriella Theresa, a first year Exploratory Studies student in the same university. She credits her parents, Felicito Quiray Abiva of San Narcisco, Zambales and Teresita Romualdez Abiva of Tacloban, Leyte for her success and innate desire to help.
She considers her father, Toots, her role model and is inspired by his good works. “He inspires me daily to serve others through my music or my deeds, never to settle for anything less, and to be a participant in life, “ she said. Melissa added that she has embraced her father’s “I Will Do More” guiding principles that go like this –
“I will do more than belong…I will participate.
I will do more than believe…I will practice.
I will do more than forgive…I will forget.
I will do more than teach…I will inspire.
I will do more than care…I will help.
I will do more than dream…I will work.
I will do more than give…I will serve.”
They say parallel lines never meet but in Melissa’s case, she has found a way to meld her two worlds – business and music – in such a way where she is finding utmost pleasure in immersing herself in their beauty and reaping their benefits. Melissa has found a way for both worlds to meet and she’s sitting comfortably right in the center of her two worlds.