Trailblazer, risk taker: Resident Fe Hermosa

Vi at The Glen resident Fe Hermosa

In a Life Plan Community populated by people whose life experiences could fill a book, Vi at The Glen resident Fe Hermosa’s could fill volumes. Page one would begin in her home country, the Philippines, and each chapter would take her from one welcome challenge to the next.

An entrepreneur and world traveler, Fe’s story includes many incredible accomplishments beginning with a single, life-changing choice that took her over 8,000 miles from home.

Success at home, opportunities abroad

Fe was born on Cuyo Island in Palawan Province, Philippines. After graduating from pharmacy school and while still a young woman, she ascended to a leadership position quickly, becoming chief pharmacist at the Philippine Chemical Laboratories.

Hungry for new opportunities, she made a life-changing journey to the United States in 1958, studying at both Rush University and Central Michigan State. She earned her master’s degree in allied health and was appointed head of the medical laboratory at Ravenswood Hospital on Chicago’s North Side.

Putting down roots in Chicago

A year after settling in Chicago, Fe met the man who would be her husband for almost 50 years, a man with an energy and ambition to match her own. Mariano Hermosa came to the U.S. from the Philippines with just 85 cents in his pocket and the dream of making a better life for himself.

After a whirlwind honeymoon that took them back to the Philippines and across Europe, Fe and Mariano’s mutual love of travel inspired them to enroll in travel agent school. And soon a new business was born: Hermosa Travel.

Discovering new ways to give back

Owning the travel agency enabled Fe and Mariano to see the world. Fe estimates she has been on more than 50 cruises, but travel for pleasure was just one leg of their journey. Ultimately, Hermosa Travel gave them the opportunity to help their fellow Filipinos.

“Because we had the business here in Chicago,” Fe said, “we were contacted by a travel agency in the Philippines. They asked if we could help their clients who were coming to the United States and wanted to become permanent citizens, but didn’t know anybody. The people would come, and they stayed in our apartment. My husband would help them find jobs—good jobs at that.”

The travel agency facilitated international humanitarian trips for the Hospital Laboratory Managers Society, a professional organization Fe helped found. With the organization, Fe visited hospitals in Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Madrid, Salzburg, and Tokyo.

New community, friendly faces, welcome challenges

Since making the move to Vi at The Glen in 2017, Fe has become an enthusiastic participant in many community activities, especially the exercise classes, and given her lifetime of pursuing new opportunities to learn and grow, she attends all the community-sponsored lectures as well. And what she’s come to love about the community is that she never has to look far to see a smiling face.

“The people are very friendly,” Fe said. “The staff are very friendly. Nobody passes by you without saying, ‘Hello. Good morning.’ Everyone knows you by name.”

Asked about future plans and what she looks forward to experiencing at Vi at The Glen, Fe’s answer, given the life she’s lived so far, isn’t surprising: A true explorer, she’s looking for new challenges and new discoveries.