With Mother’s Day just around the corner – celebrated in Thailand on August 12 – Prestige caught up with three moms, and their kids, to talk about the very special bond shared between mother and child. In this installment, Catherine Napalai Faulder chats with Phanni “Rose” Saeki and her son Tokito.
Already deemed a ‘female samurai’ within Thailand’s automotive industry, Phanni “Rose” Saeki had no idea she would be the one leading her husband’s automotive components business to world-class standards during their married life. Having already made a name for herself before she fell in love with the Japanese-born Toshihiko Saeki, she was quite content with staying home and raising a family.
Yet her acumen for business did not disappear once the couple settled down and had kids, nor did her visceral instinct for being a good and loving mother. Rose, now serving as Chairman of the Board of Directors at R.R.D Automotive (Thailand), a fully-fledged manufacturer of automotive components to the world’s top five car and motorbike brands, is a perfect example of a woman who can balance both work and being a good mother.
“Everything I do, I do for the future of my kids. I work hard every day, because I want to, and I also come home and spend time with my family, cooking for them and being there as a firm pillar of support.” Her eldest daughter is now studying hard at Babson College in Massachusetts, while her youngest son is currently attending Bangkok Patana School.
“My son Tokito, or “Toki” – which is Japanese for “the best” – has an avid interest in sports, particularly in basketball, and most recently won a national basketball tournament for Thailand in Udon. He takes after his father, who used to be on the Japanese national football team – can you believe?! His father is so supportive of his playing, and it’s very beautiful to see how similar they are. As for what Toki and I have in common, I think he has a kind heart, and like me, he never talks badly about others.”
Spending time together isn’t just reserved for special holidays like Mother’s Day, as the Saeki family regularly takes trips to the seaside when time allows. “With my son, we love eating together, watching movies, and going to the beach,” she says. “This is how we spend our time usually. Toki, like his father, isn’t one to shop; this is an activity I enjoy more with my daughter, on top of design and interior decorating.” As she says this, she gazes at the glistening Fendi chandelier at DMHome and comments on how gorgeous it is.
We also caught up with her son Toki to find out more about his relationship with his mother. “For those who don’t know her, I’d say she is super funny and of course, she loves to shop! But more importantly, she’s so hardworking, more than anyone I know. Everything I have, everything I am able to do, I owe it to her. I am so proud to have her as my mum.”
At school, Toki’s favourite subjects are maths, geography and economics, and if his mother’s predictions are correct, he’s destined for Boston College, or maybe even Harvard. “A valuable lesson I have learned from my mum is to never follow the crowd and do what others do, as it could push you far away from what you’re actually meant to do.”
We also ask Toki about the meaning of Mother’s Day. “To me, it’s about making your mother feel like she is the most special person. Even when it’s not Mother’s Day, I’ll always do what I can to make my mom happy, because that’s what she deserves. I’ll take her out to eat, watch a movie with her, even give her a backrub as I know she works hard and gets tired sometimes.”
Rose explains how her son is very good at judging a situation. “He doesn’t say much, but he always says what’s right and what I really need to hear. He knows when I’ve had a long day and somehow, he’ll always find the right words to say to give me support and motivation and make me feel like I’m not just doing this for nothing.
“And because he’s so good, and because my daughter is so good, it pushes me to be a better mom,” she goes on to say. “As mothers, we are the role models for our children. They see what we do and learn from us. They deserve our very best.”
Asked what he has planned for August 12, Toki answers: “Every year, my sister and I follow the Thai tradition of giving puang malai (Thai flower garlands) to her. I’m also hoping to take her out for a nice dinner as well. And I’ll give her a kiss on the cheek. It’s not something I do often but I know she loves it so on Mother’s Day.”