“Within the next two years, for sure, I’ll give birth,” Solenn Heussaff, replying to a query, disclosed. “We’re obviously talking very much about it now.” She speaks within earshot of Nico Bolzico, her Argentinian husband of two years. He is obviously listening, tuned in to the ongoing conversation even as he attends to #patato, their pet tortoise who figures largely in his Instagram account.
“We’re moving to a bigger place,” she says with deliberation. “There are plans.” Nico, who recently visited family in Argentina, posted a photo of him there with a toddler and wrote, “I want one @solenn!.” Social media followers, among others, are looking forward to that happening.
Painting with Street Children
Solenn is drawn to children. “I really love kids,” she admits. It isn’t unusual for her to stop and talk to street children. When she gives them money, she tells them not to spend it on cigarettes or rugby and instead, get some food. She also shares time and her painting passion with them. “I teach kids how to paint. Sometimes I go the ruins of Poblacion and from 9AM till 3PM, it’s an open house for anyone who wants to paint.”
More than that, she does collaborations to contribute to school children’s needs. “I know the owners of Our Tribe and am working with them, designing bags. Recently, I made two designs and for every bag sold, we give school bags and school supplies.” She is reticent to broadcast her philanthropic pursuits and prefers to do help when she can quietly.
Closer to home, Solenn has a nephew, Kaeden who works with her on paintings that express a viewpoint of social realities. She lets her sister Vanessa’s son dip his hands in paint and carries him like a big paint brush to create the color background that she paints over. “Sometimes the world looks so bleak. As adults we often forget the days when we saw the world in full color,” she says. “Kaeden used so much color and it makes you understand how children see things through the lens of positivity.” Their collaborative work were on exhibit at the Provenance Gallery where the art work sold very well. Proceeds of the exhibit sales were donated to the Kalipay Negrense Foundation for disadvantaged children.
Solenn expressed admiration for the way her sister raised Kaeden. “I see how she brings up her children. She’s very hands-on. Her children are allowed only 15 minutes of cartoons every week,” Solenn says. “Everyday she does experiments with them, doing home made lava lamps or painting with cotton buds and silk or with their fingers. They would cut out potatoes and make stamps. She has something new every week. My three-year-old nephew is so intelligent. It’s the way he’s brought up.”
Nico chimes in, “He’s the child you want to have.”
Once, when he was spending the afternoon in Solenn and Nico’s flat, she switched on the TV for him. He lasted a total of 15 minutes, before he was off to do other things. “I think it’s good to be a hands-on parent,” she says, intimating how she might possibly be when she becomes a mom.
Like Father, Like Mother
Both Solenn and Nico have strong relationships with their parents, crediting their fathers and mothers for the values that have contributed to their character. She is close to both her father Louis Paul and her mother, the former Cynthia Adea. “Since dad is a guy, there are certain questions he cannot ask me, which makes it easier to be open. Of course, my mom is a mom so she’ll ask more detailed questions. In personality, I am more my father but I’m also my mom because I am really, really quiet even if I open up myself.
“When I was studying college abroad for four years, my dad would call every single day,” she shares. “It came to a point that I told him what we learned in school today is what I learned yesterday. I can call you every other week but if you call me everyday, there is nothing new happening
“My parents have always been super supportive. They’ve always guided me but never forced me to do anything. They both came from families who had to work hard. My mom came from a family of nine. My dad had to work at the age of 15 to help support his sister’s schooling. They grew up knowing the value of things.”
Nico’s high regard for his parents is just as apparent. “Both started with nothing and they gave us everything. My father Telmo is the owner of the farm but he rides the horses with everybody else. You cannot tell him from among the others,” he shares. “He is 77 years old but he’s still working like he’s 30. He has so much energy and he’s always working on some things.”
“I left Buenos Aires when I was 18 to study in the US,” the youngest of three boys says. “My mom pushed me and my brothers to go abroad. We didn’t want to leave home but she made us move out of our comfort zone. It was a huge economic effort on their part but she wanted us to see the world and see things out of the box.” There is obvious affection for Wilma, his mother. “I ate steak and salad twice a day because my mom believes that if you don’t have enough steak, you won’t have enough protein to live.”
Nico’s occupation as an farmer-entrepreneur revolves largely around different areas of agriculture. He is bullish about the prospects in the country and set up a company that is contributing to the development of the sector. Nico, who considers himself pretty much a Filipino, felt honored by a recent invitation to be the keynote speaker in the AGRI Tech Venture Forum in Canada. He accepted on the condition that he would speak from the Philippine experience.
The appreciation for the farm life harkens back to his roots in Argentina. “I love horses. I rode a horse before I rode a bike,” he grins. “It’s good to be in touch with nature. Working on a farm helps you understand where things come from. It’s a simple life. I want our kids to spend three months on the farm for them to learn those values. It prepares you for life.”