Amanda Griffin Jacob: Raising Citizens of the World
Amanda Griffin Jacob shares what it’s like infusing different cultures while raising her kids, why her family chooses to eat vegan, and her advocacy as an IJM Ambassador.
Known to most who grew up in the early 00s as a sought-after model and VJ, Amanda Griffin was quite the household name in all—if not most—all-girl schools. An ‘IT girl’ who graced the covers of well-known magazines, she had a smile and an accent that many aspired to possess. Girls wanted to be just like her—beautiful, cultured, classy, and living her best life at the tender age of 21. From modeling and doing commercials, she went on to host a number of lifestyle shows, including one of the hottest channels back then—Channel V.
Now a wife and a mother to three sons and a daughter—Kieran, Kalon, Lila, and Kyle—Amanda Griffin Jacob is an International Justice Mission Ambassador, a proud vegan, and the founder of Glam-O-Mamas—a helpful community of moms from across the globe who support one another through meaningful conversations and connections.
Living a Bi-Country Lifestyle
Amanda considers both Singapore and the Philippines her home. Though her family is based in Singapore at the moment, she flies to the Philippines at least once a month. However, the pandemic recently changed that dynamic for her. “It’s been really hard for me. I live a bi-country kind of lifestyle. Singapore and the Philippines are both my home. I used to come to the Philippines every three weeks. But then the pandemic hit. I finally got back here (in the Philippines) after two years. And I missed it so much. We’re a traveling family and it’s been a real adjustment not being able to travel.”
When asked what the biggest challenge was in not being able to come to the Philippines for two years, Amanda shares, “I miss Filipinos in general. I miss our culture.”
Raising Citizens of the World
Amanda shares that her children all have different personalities. “Kieran is headstrong and feisty. He’s my firstborn so I’m always learning on the go with him. Kalon and Lila are sort of in the same bracket since their age gaps are quite close. Kalon’s very much a momma’s boy,” she giggles “And, Kyle’s the baby.”
Meanwhile, she loves being a girl mom to Lila. “Lila asks me for a sister all the time. She asks why she’s the only girl. She’s girly-girl but she’s also rough and tumble. I love being a mom of boys but Lila’s my best friend. She’s my sanctuary. There’s nothing like the bond of a mother and daughter.”
Amanda, who admits to being an introvert, continues, “It’s always chaotic and loud at home. It’s funny that life ended up this way for me when as a person, I really crave that requisite solitude. I need to decompress every single day. And yet I have four kids who are like, ‘No way, mom!’. And I know that this is very fleeting. They’re only this age once. They won’t want me when they’re teens,” she jokes.
When it comes to raising her four children, Amanda likes to mix different cultures. “My dad is British and I infuse a lot of the British culture into what we do. My kids are very multi-cultural. They were born in Hong Kong but they’re half-Filipino, quarter-British, quarter-American. And they live in Singapore now.”
However, if there’s one culture that Amanda wants to stand out in her children, it’s Filipino. “I’m hoping that Filipino will be their predominant culture. I don’t want my kids to feel untethered the way I feel sometimes—if that makes sense.”
Amanda Griffin Jacob on Conscious Eating
Amanda has always been very vocal about eating consciously. In fact, the entrepreneur hasn’t served meat in her household for 15 years. “My kids are vegetarian. My husband and I are vegan. The reason I’m propelled to eat this way, besides health, is for the planet and what our children are going to inherit.”
“Everyone is going to be a vegetarian at some point in the future because the planet can’t sustain and handle the load that it is taking. And as a third-world country, we’re going to keep getting battered and battered because we don’t have anything in place to mitigate any of these issues. So if there’s anyone who should be doing it, it should be us. Any little change that each person can make would have a huge impact.”
When asked what she’ll do if her kids decide to eat meat in the future, she says, “It’s not really happening right now, but if any of my kids decide to eat meat—they’re their own person. I’m not there to boss them around or be a dictator. At the end of the day, they’re going to make their own choice. But in my house, I won’t serve meat.”
She compromises with Kieran, her eldest, and allows him to buy meals at the cafeteria twice a week so he can relate with his friends. This is so he feels included and not too different. “At the end of the day, my kids will have vegetables as a very big component of their meals because their palate is trained that way. So if ever they start eating meat, I know that their foundation is good.”
She explains that she still wants her kids to have fun. Once in a while, she lets them indulge in treats and sweets whenever they go out—like the occasional pizza or doughnut, so they can still have a happy childhood. “That’s the compromise. But at home, I control the meals and desserts.”
On Influencing Families to Eat Healthier
For moms who want to teach their kids to eat healthier, Amanda advises, “I always tell moms it’s baby steps, first of all. Because your kids are used to eating a certain way, right? If you start trying to bombard them with super healthy stuff, they’re going to be like, ‘No way! I’m not eating that’. So I always say start with substituting. If you’re going to give fried chicken and rice, try fried chicken with brown rice. I tell people this also: it’s going to be tough.”
“If your kids are used to eating a certain way, they’re going to fight you. It’s going to be emotionally exhausting for you. The way to power through that is to think about your child’s health and how you’re taking them to a new path; a different road for their wellness journey in the future. It’s not something that can be done in an instant. It’s going to take time. Also, children learn best when it’s modeled by you.”
“Modeling behavior and baby steps are important. And arming yourself with knowledge. You can Google healthier recipes and substitutes. All those things are right at your fingertips. One of the local cookbooks I love is Mesa Ni Misis by Juana Manahan Yupangco. She uses all local vegetables.”
Working to Stop the Online Sexual Exploitation of Children
Amanda is a proud ambassador of the International Justice Mission (IJM) and is an advocate of stopping the online sexual abuse and exploitation of children (OSAEC) in the Philippines. “The entire pandemic, IJM has been doing what they do—rescuing children in full PPE. They are warriors. They work with the government and they work with the police. I’ve been so impressed with the task force assigned to OSEC victims. Meeting and seeing their work made me realize we have some really good people on the ground committed to helping our children. We just need funding. It’s the age old story. I hope whoever comes to power this year dedicates funding to this.”
On why OSEC in the Philippines lacks the funding or support, Amanda says, “I think the reason why it’s also hard to get into the national psyche is because it’s so dark. No one wants to hear about a baby, a 6-week-old, getting abused. And you start thinking about your own kids. You can’t go there. It’s too much.”
“It’s one of the biggest problems we face as Filipinos. And no one really understands that. It’s not in our nation’s headspace. We’re the epicenter of online sexual exploitation. This is what’s exploding on the dark web. We need more funding to rescue children, have more aftercare support, and build more shelters. We need more foster families. Because these children, once they’ve been rescued, they need to go somewhere. My eventual goal is I want to put up my own shelter. That’s really what I want to eventually be able to do in life.”
Amanda Griffin Jacob on Teaching Her Kids Respect
As a mom of three boys, Amanda is adamant on teaching her children about gender equality. “Because I only have one daughter and I have all of these boys, I want to make sure my sons are hyper aware of the fact that women are equal to men. There is no difference.”
“We are equals. It doesn’t always come down to money or contributions to the family. I want to make sure my sons understand this and treat women with a lot of respect. I think that’s what’s missing with a lot of people these days. Not just respect for women, but respect for people in general. Have that goodness in you to be mindful of others and be kind to others. Think of others before yourself.”
Amanda Griffin Jacob also believes in not coddling her children. “Children need to learn. They need to go through some things on their own. They need to make mistakes so they can learn from them. As parents, we’re here to guide them. Not live their lives for them. They’re not an extension of us. They’re their own individual people.”
Words GRETCHEN GATAN FRAGADA
Photography STANLEY ONG
Makeup MAYESA DELOS SANTOS
Hair KIERLO VELASCO
To help fight OSAEC, you can donate here: https://www.ijm.org/give/amandajacob.