Tonight, at the reception party of the Ambassador of Russia to celebrate Russia's National Day, I bumped into one of Manila's nicest and most prominent society ladies, who also happens to be a guardian angel of Travelife Magazine. There's a whole group of lovely ladies and gentlemen in Manila society who have helped promote Travelife since Day 1; I call them my guardian angels, and she's one of them.
As usual, she was looking gracious and gorgeous -- truly gorgeous -- at way past 70, and also still socially active and interested in life, culture and philanthropy. Maybe that's how she stays always young.
She's never dressed in a flashy way but everything she wears -- whether it's an ambassador's party or a friend's casual cocktail by the swimming pool -- is just impeccable and so appropriate for the occasion.
Tonight she was dressed in a pantsuit with black smoking jacket and major statement champagne pearls. So very Chanel or YSL, actually. And to think she's pushing 75 although you would think she's more like 60.
BEAUTY WITHIN REACH
When I saw her, I greeted her with a kiss and said with all sincerity: "Tita, how gorgeous you look." It's true. She was beautiful for her age, but in a very natural way. When I'm pushing 70 and more, I certainly want to look like that.
She was very pleased with my comment. She whispered back: "I'm way past 70, of course, but I've never had any work done. It's all just a matter of simple and no-nonsense care."
I was intrigued. Surgery and the fanciest creams and potions are well the norm for some society ladies seeking beauty at any age -- but apparently this wasn't for her.
Then she continued: "And you'll never guess what my beauty regimen is like either."
I waited with bated breath. I wanted whatever she's having. She pulled up one of her sleeves right in the middle of the ballroom of the Mandarin Oriental to reveal flawlessly smooth skin on her hands and arms. Then she said: "I've been using Jergen's hand lotion on my hands ever since I was a young girl."
We compared hands, and I hate to admit it online, but we had very similar skin, generations apart.
THE POND'S TEST
Then she pointed to her face and said: "And on my face, I do absolutely nothing. Just a cleaning routine followed by Pond's."
I did a double-take. Pond's? As in the Pond's from the drugstore?
She nodded happily and said: "There's a Pond's facial cream that I buy in the supermarket or drugstore in the States and it contains some cucumber ingredient. I've been using that for years. I used to use a fancier and more expensive cream before, but it was just too oily and rich for my skin. Pond's is just right."
I thought I'd share with you this conversation to show you that beauty is achievable even without spending a fortune, and simplicity is really the key. This really happened exactly as I've recounted, by the way, in case you're wondering if someone from Pond's put us up to writing this. Scroll down to read about the contrasts with Japan...
THE CONTRASTS WITH JAPAN
This was really interesting for me, actually, especially coming from Japan where lots of women spend half their salaries on skin care regimens that take up to two hours to do every night. I could never understand this as that comes up to about two to four hours every night on their skin -- and all I can think about when I see this is what else I can do for those extra two or four hours every night.
When I would travel somewhere with my Japanese girl friends and we should share a room, I would always go to sleep earlier because I just couldn't stand waiting two hours for them to finish their skin care routines just for lights out and good night.
My own skin care regimen is something like 10 minutes max every evening, although I have to admit it involves stuff slightly higher than drug store skin care products. At least until I heard my Tita's regimen last night.
Then I bumped into another prominent gentlemen with an old-rich family name that everyone knows. He too has been a great supporter of Travelife since Day 1. Tonight he told me: "Travelife is so big now. It's really everywhere you want to be, Ms. Travelife."
NEVER FORGET A KINDNESS
I smiled at him. He'd really been there for me and the magazine since Day 1. So I said: "With your great help and support, sir. I'll never forget your kindness and support in those early days." Yes, I'm one of these people who never forget a kindness; and unfortunately I never forget a wrong either.
DON'T MISS ANG BAGONG HARANA
I also saw the wife on an ambassador last night who is supposed to join us for the special showing of ANG BAGONG HARANA this Sunday. If you're free on Sunday, you should join us for this truly beautiful and rare concert of Philippine culture and songs. There's never really been a production like this one put up by the Philippine Opera Company, and I can't think of a more enjoyable and cultured way to spend a Sunday afternoon than watching ANG BAGONG HARANA this Sunday. Scroll down to read about today's liquid lunch...
"What a beautiful concert," she gushed. She'd watched the gala the previous night as a guest of Madame Vicky Zubiri and accepted our invitation for Sunday afternoon as well, without realizing they were one and the same production.
"I never experienced such Philippine culture before. We've been looking and looking for shows and productions that we can attend that will give us more of an inkling about Philippine culture, and this is the first time we have been able to experience your culture in such a genuine and genuinely beautiful way," she added.
I chose to invite guests for the Sunday matinee -- which is the last showing of Ang Bagong Harana by the way -- because I thought that it'd be the perfect time to head to Makati for an afternoon of musical pleasure. No traffic in Makati, no pressing engagements afterwards, no other cocktail parties or dinners to attend.
Do join us if you wish. I guarantee a Philippine musical experience like no other.
LIQUID LUNCHES AND LONG GOWN DINNERS
Today is supposed to be a very busy day so I don't know how everything is going to fit in the next 24 hours but I'm certainly going to try. My Blackberry schedule says I have a very liquid lunch from 12, and I've really been looking forward to this for quite a while as a chance just to enjoy good food and wine in the company of people I've know for a while without having to keep track of time or next appointments. I've cleared my afternoon for this.
The last time we did this, I had so much fun and when I got out of the restaurant the sun had set and I had 15 minutes to change into a saree for a dinner at the home of the Ambassador of Sri Lanka.
I also remember that I'd been mildly furious with my friend J for some reason, because of something I'd heard at the end of this liquid lunch; but when I got home, I'd managed to get into a saree while sending him a couple of BBMs in 10 minutes flat. Poor guy, he never saw it coming...I'm so glad he's usually a good sport.
A SWEET SPOT, FOR ONCE
Hopefully today will be different and there won't be any semi-furious BBMs from me to him after this liquid lunch. J and I are in kind of a sweet spot at the moment as we're collaborating on something and he's been very nice. He's even allowed me to write a bit more about him again in this blog so perhaps you'll be reading about some of our conversations every now and then. I think he changed his breakfast routine, and that may have something to do with everything.
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