Spotlight on Hyacinth Rebaud

This month we dive across many oceans into the life of INC Board member on the VP Team, mother of 3, half Australian-half Filipino, owner of studio l’atelier Pilates 18 and Pilates instructor, Hyacinth Rebaud who after finishing school on a sheep farm in Australia went onto acquire a Master´s in Development and has carved out a career in the sector in various cities ranging from Manila to Manchester. 

You started globetrotting from a young age, what was it like being sent from your home in the Philippines to school in Geelong near Melbourne, Australia?

This was definitely an experience that marked me profoundly and I made many lifelong friends.  Once I´d got over the homesickness I took full advantage of the opportunity going away to school meant, especially for a girl from the Philippines. It gave me the mindset to believe that anything is possible as long as you put your mind to it (and to always be prepared!).  

Riding by rickshaw in the Philippines

As someone used to densely populated Manila, how did you adapt to finishing high school on a merino sheep farm in Australia? What impact has that experience had on you in later life?

Well, it was certainly a steep learning curve! I wasn´t exactly enamoured with the remoteness of the location but I did acquire an appreciation for nature in all its raw beauty which has stayed with me today. 

I also had to skill up on how to deal with bushfires, droughts and such things like having kangaroos running around your property or snakes under the house. I am not a country girl at heart, but I would not change that time for anything in the world. 

Girl time in snowy Madrid

Having met your French husband during a brief stint at home in the Philippines you took a 1-way ticket over to France to be with him. Would you describe yourself as a risk taker?

I´m usually completely risk-averse but I knew I´d regret not giving the relationship a chance so despite having spent only a few months together I jumped on a plane to see what his world looked like. It’s fair to say that I tend to trust my gut feelings/intuition (always have, always will). 

You spent the bulk of your professional career in development and Corporate Social Responsibility – what attracted you to that sector?

Today, roughly less than 20% of the population live below the poverty line in the Philippines (about 18 million vs 3% in Spain). I simply wanted to understand this ‘inequality’, why it exists and what can we do to change that, practically speaking.  Through my interest in Development, I have worked on a range of projects such as urban development and economic and social impact in China and Inner Mongolia; fundraising and implementing Gender and Diversity in Australia and the Philippines; female entrepreneurship in Uzbekistan and microfinancing in the UK and France.

Hyacinth in Uzbekistan

Prior to moving to Madrid you spent three years in Athens, how did you adapt to life there? 

Once we´d mastered the rules such as: 

  • Guests should arrive at least one hour late for any dinner party
  • At 7 pm you will be served coffee not wine
  • Pedestrian crossings are decorative only
  • It is mandatory to invite ALL family members to children’s birthday parties and to stay for the entire day
  • Smoking is still acceptable in all indoor places

We found the Greeks were some of the warmest, most hospitable people we had ever met. 

How did you enter the world of pilates?

Raising a family constantly on the move meant I had very little time to dedicate to self-care and I felt my body had almost been hijacked by the needs of everyone around me.  Pilates provided a valuable one-stop shop in terms of healthy exercise and centering my mind and eventually, I trained to become a certified Reformer instructor to set up my own business. I feel privileged to have overcome the challenges that come with the territory of being a small business owner and Pilates has allowed me to really re-kindle my mojo.

You´re a great advocate of the Reformer in Pilates, what does it add in your opinion?

I am very biased I know, but personally, Pilates on the Reformer is a game changer and takes the Pilates experience to another level. It consists of various components that can be adjusted to each person´s specific requirements. If you haven’t tried stretching on the Reformer, then you have never experienced what a really good stretch feels like! 

I have a small studio in which I teach 1:1 private classes. It is such a humbling and rewarding experience to be part of someone’s physical and mental journey to boost their confidence and “blossom again”. 

Alhambra time

Which is your favourite podcast?

I´m currently enjoying :

‘More Than One Thing’ with Athena Calderone – the imperfect journey of various creatives, storytelling about professionals who have not necessarily taken the ‘normal routes’.

Hyacinth with 2 of her brood in the Plaza Mayor

Have you found any traits in common between the Philippines and Spanish?

Yes! The weekly family Sunday lunch ritual; warmth and hospitality especially to total strangers (I feel like I have been very fortunate! Finally, the love of dancing and music which are a frequent feature, Covid-permitting, of most social gatherings. 

Fun in the UK