While Felicia “Feli” Hung Atienza was preparing the responses required of her for this interview, she was also gearing up for the Hoka GTX trail run, which was set to take place the very next day. It was suggested to her by her coach several months back, and she agreed to take on the task—albeit reluctantly. Felicia, who admits to being partial to running indoors on a treadmill, found herself training extra hard to improve her performance and prevent injury during the race; they worked on strengthening her core, calves, hamstrings, glutes, and other body parts for better balance, stability, and coordination. She was also asked to quit champagne and wine to aid her training, which was, perhaps, the biggest challenge. “I’m a major wine aficionado, but I was dry for 30 days—my friends were in disbelief!” Felicia shares. “However, wine o’clock was back in full swing after the race.”
A former stockbroker (finance and multinational management, cum laude, Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania), she worked with Jardine Fleming and Merrill Lynch for a good 10 years and later, Merrill Lynch London. Executing a management buyout of Merrill Lynch Philippines in 2001 brought Felicia back to Manila, where she would meet and eventually wed television personality, weather anchor, and fellow fitness enthusiast Kim Atienza. As the tides changed, she found herself taking an extended sabbatical from her finance career to start her own school.
“When Jose, my firstborn son, turned two, I started scouting around for a school to enrol him in,” says Felicia. “I wanted him to go to an international school that would help prepare him to apply to any university—whether it be local or abroad—but also one that would have Mandarin as a foreign language requirement in its curriculum early on. At the time, no such school existed, so I decided to start my own.”