When I was six or seven my mom had me take voice lessons in Manila. Every session would involve drills - mi oh mi oh mi oh mi oh mi! - and then we would study a song in the end. My voice coach made me memorize a Lea Salonga album that summer. I had a small, brightly-colored Sony cassette player with a matching mic and I would perform those songs for my relatives under a big mango tree.
That was the summer I learned that I can be anything I wanted, if I just put in the time and effort to learn how. It strengthened my confidence in myself and in my abilities - thanks to my ever-supportive mother, and of course, Lea Salonga! She has inspired me since I was a little girl, as she did all those amazing things in the world stage. This legendary woman is the proof that Filipinas are beautiful and talented enough to be successful internationally. To be world class.
Now I am constantly bombarded by ad campaigns from beauty brands (as are you!). Honestly? I feel desensitized towards them at this point. Be confident to be beautiful. Be beautiful to be happy (and vise versa). Believe in yourself to be beautiful. Accept yourself for who you are. These are all amazing positive messages, surely, but do you know what's wrong with them? They encourage women to look too far inward. You can't expand beyond yourself if you don't look out and look up to others who have done better than you.
Beyond being beautiful, beyond believing in yourself, you need role models to guide you. You need mentors, if you can find them. It pays to learn from those who have gone through monumental challenges so that you can get past your own with less friction.
Last Tuesday, I had the pleasure of being invited to an event by Cream Silk at Solaire Theater. I did not expect anything more than good food and a nice time, as these events go, but I came home so inspired. Lisa Macuja-Elizalde, prima ballerina, gave a powerful speech about her climb to the top of her field. She spoke about being 18 and alone in a Russian winter, training day in and day out. She said that while her work seems glamorous, it required a lot of sacrifices, focus, and a determination to make your family and country proud.
She was such an eloquent lady. Being seated just a few steps from her, I can feel her emotion as she talked about her challenges and triumphs on the road to becoming one of the most distinguished prima ballerinas in the world.
After Lisa's speech, Cream Silk premiered a short film called "Portraits" about the lives of their four endorsers, Anne Curtis, Toni Gonzaga, Lea Salonga, and Heart Evangelista-Escudero. It explored Anne's experience working on the Hollywood indie film Blood Ransom, Toni's first concert in Dubai, Lea's life during her Miss Saigon days, and Heart's first art exhibit in Singapore.
Cream Silk Portraits: A Celebration of the #WorldClassFilipina will premiere on ABS-CBN on April 25 at 10pm and on GMA on April 26, 9:30pm. It's pretty nice! What really blew my mind away though was Lea Salonga performing "On My Own" from Les Miserables and "Gravity" from Wicked. She is so amazing! Here's a clip I posted on Instagram:
Truly, Filipinas are world class with our beauty, talent, and grit. Kudos to Cream Silk for such a great campaign, and for bringing these inspiring women together for one night to remind us that we can be more, if we can dream it. Beyond being beautiful, we must be ready to put in the work to achieve even the most impossible things.
PS - This is not a sponsored post, if you're curious. I just really super enjoyed the event which, to be honest, is not often. Photos are all taken by myself too. ^_^