I got it from my mama


Usually, when Mother’s Day comes around, lists upon lists appear. They consist mainly of things to buy, treats to order and pampering services to book for the mothers in our life. This year, Lifestyle takes a different tack and peers at the gifts a mother bestows on her children—both tangible and intangible—and how they helped define who we are today.

My mother, Esperanza J. Chee Kee, taught English to high school students for over 30 years. When she finally retired, she had given a total of 40 years of her life to the Ateneo. I learned from her the delight that comes from reading, not as part of schoolwork, but mainly for one’s enjoyment.

She would tell me stories of Beowulf, O. Henry’s “Gift of the Magi” and Guy de Maupassant’s “The Necklace.” One particularly creepy story was of a woman who wore and never removed a ribbon around her neck. I was probably eight at the time, and that precise moment when the woman’s husband unties the ribbon that had been keeping his wife’s head attached to her neck the whole time is crystallized in my mind like a hapless fly caught in amber.

We asked people what they are thankful for that their mothers taught or gave them.

—With reports from Cheche V. Moral, Pam Pastor and Ruth Navarra

Cultivate a sense of fashion

Retailer Ben Chan with his mother See Ying

At a young age, I was exposed to my mom’s stylish sense of fashion and interest in interiors. She influenced me a lot, as this is the career path I chose later on. I fondly remember how she knew every family member’s birthday, including those of her great-grandchildren. She made sure to greet everyone on their special day, and would prepare traditional Chinese miswa for good luck. I miss my mom a lot!

—Ben Chan, retail honcho, on mom See Ying

Earrings and eyebrows on fleek

My mom taught me two things: First, I am not to ever leave my house without earrings because I would look like a boy. Second, my eyebrows always have to be fixed! I remember when I was younger, she would rate any makeup artist by how well they were able to fix my eyebrows.

My mom loves all things Filipino. Here is one of my favorite earrings from her, opals in vintage setting by jewelry designer Tita Celia Molano.

Marga Nograles and mom Mary Ann Montemayor

—Marga Nograles, Kaayo apparel and accessories brand founder, on mom Mary Ann Montemayor

Love the skin you’re in

The most memorable fashion/beauty advice my mom ever gave me is to embrace your body and never fear showing off your assets—meaning, bodycon is beautiful! Whether it’s a tight dress to enhance your curves, short shorts or miniskirts to show off your legs or a plunging neckline, wear it with confidence! To this day, I really credit my mom for the confidence I have to wear whatever I wanted, whatever shape I was in—biggest or healthiest. Nothing feels better than being confident in your own skin and only my mom could have passed that on to me.

—Tina Tinio, fashion executive, on mom Mary Ann Cuenca Tinio

Less is more

My mom would always tell me that less is more. Just use an ample amount of moisturizer on your face, a light dab of eye cream and petroleum jelly on eyelids, and you’re good to go.
When buying shoes, dapat daw laging may one inch allowance para pwede gamitin ng mas matagal because I’ll never know if I’ll grow big or gain weight! Also, she told me not to use shampoo every day but just put conditioner so hair is healthier-looking.

—Macoy “Tita Julie” Averilla on his mother Leonora Lacanlale

Use sunscreen

My mom has always been big on skin care. When we were young, she was also very particular about keeping acne at bay and making us use sunscreen, saying that good skin always makes a great first impression.

My mom taught us about self-care at a very early age, because if we can’t take care of ourselves, we can’t take care of others. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

—businessman Linfred Yap, distributor of Korean skin-care brands Papa Recipe and True Water, on mom Li Eng Yap

Kai Lim and her mom Christina Nakanishi: “We haven’t had photos together since the pandemic.”

‘Keep your things well’

Best fashion advice from my mom? “Love and keep your things well and they will last forever.”

I used to think my mom was too meticulous in taking care of her things. She would spend a lot of time storing and cleaning each item. Now I understand why and I’m becoming like her—archiving, storing and restoring.

This Cartier clutch was one of my dad’s first gifts to my mom when they were dating. More than 40 years later, it is in pristine condition. I’m confident it can be passed on to my daughter. The story behind the clutch is priceless.

—Kai Nakanishi Lim, coowner of Comme Çi and Cura V, on mom Christina Nakanishi

Harold Geronimo and mom Helen in prepandemic Paris

Grooming lessons

When I was growing up, I remember how Mama was always diligent in making sure that I put on my clothes, socks and shoes neatly. She was very particular about wrinkles on fabric, and how clean the whites were.

She would scrutinize my hair—how it looked, how shiny or how messy it was. In fact, she would comb my hair almost every hour during my grade school years.

I got used to these habits and they eventually became part of my lifestyle: I always want my clothes crisp and neat, my shoes always shiny and clean, and my hair properly done when I go out.

In terms of life’s principles, Mama always reminded me to get up when I’m down, and to never quit the fight of life. These guided me to become a stronger person, and to take every adversity as an opportunity to become a better version of me. Mothers really know best for their children.

—Harold Geronimo, senior assistant vice president and head of public relations and media affairs of Megaworld Corp., on mom Helen Geronimo

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat and mom Lovely Romulo, prepandemic: “That was the last time we were this close.”

Best skin-care tip

She taught me that Pond’s Cold Cream is best to remove makeup and to clean my face. In fact, just today (May 3), she sent me Pond’s Cold Cream from Japan because it’s always out of stock in Manila. It’s so lola, but I still use it!

—Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat on mom Lovely Romulo

No to tight clothes

My mama always reminds me that life is too short to wear uncomfortable clothes. I take this practical advice to heart. Too-tight tops, shorts and skirts have no space in my closet.

—Maureen Disini Teichert, fashion designer, on mom Princess Monjera Disini

Mama’s scent

As I was growing up, my mama would give me and my sister the best pieces of beauty and fashion advice. One particular advice which I live by and practice until today: to always be clean, neat and tidy.

When I was a little girl, I would watch her put on her makeup and get dressed for work. I would always be in awe of how she put everything together, from the time she chose her clothes, accessories, shoes, bags until she put on her fragrance. She always looked so neat and well put together!

As she left for work, I would sneak up to her dresser and try on her beauty products! Until now, we share the same love for beauty brands such as Clarins, Chanel, La Prairie, NARS, Laura Mercier and L’Occitane, to name a few. We also love going to spas and salons together and get excited over what nail color and new hairstyle to try!

But one of my most favorites were her perfumes! I loved it when the scent lingered on after she left the room, and when she came back home, the scent was still there. This was how my love for fragrance started, and which ultimately led to my personal choices of fragrances.

My love for fresh, clean scents stemmed from my mama’s advice to be clean, neat and tidy. She would often buy me after-bath baby colognes, mostly Spanish brands, and this developed my own love for fresh, clean scents.

What I love most about scents is that it captures a childhood memory, a story, a place and a special person in my life, like my mama.

—Mica Chanco Agdamag, advertising and PR manager of Rustan’s The Beauty Source, on mom Sandy Agdamag

Dina Tantoco and mom Marilene Jacinto

Heirloom jewelry

My favorite objects inherited are pieces of jewelry given to me by my mom. One particular accessory was one designed by my mom herself.

—Dina Arroyo Tantoco, marketing manager of Rustan’s, on mom Marilene Jacinto


My mom likes my hair really, really short. This pandemic, I had more than my usual hair fall so I had to cut it short, actually shorter than I am comfortable with. She loved it! When it grew a bit longer, she kept on reminding me to go back to the salon and have it trimmed. I procrastinated and then another lockdown happened. She never misses an opportunity now to tell me, “I told you so.” I don’t admit it to her, but I do like my hair shorter now.

When we travel, we like buying matching tops and have our twinning photos. Since we are mostly at home now, my current favorite items from her are our souvenir shirts and sandos. These are my pandemic uniform and these remind me of our fun travels.

—Kelly Austria, PR consultant, on mom Betty May Austria


My mama’s skin was always more flawless than mine. She would always tell me to wash my face before going to bed and never sleep with my makeup on. Basic but really important.

I had this heart stone gold-plated stud earrings and ring, but I lost the ring when I was in high school. I loved them simply because they were from my mom. She’s always a giver to everyone.

Thank you, Mama! I love you.

—Jorja Maria Almendrala-Molina, doctor, on mom Miles Almendrala

‘Keep it classy’

She always reminded me to keep it classy. My mom also taught me that good fashion need not be expensive or outrageous.

I will never forget how we frequented Hong Kong with the family and shopped in small indie label boutiques for years. She can pick a trendy item and mix it with a more traditional piece and come out chic. To this day, she is as sensible and stylish.

There are many little things that I cherished through the years from her. She likes timeless and elegant designs and she fueled my childhood with unique hand-me-downs and most of all, Vogue subscriptions when they were scarce. She saw how I could pore through her magazines and gave them to me. I think that started my life-long love affair with fashion. It was a love for good design that I developed because of her . . . and not just one, tangible object.

—Carmina Sanchez-Jacob, mother, marketing communications professional and brand development consultant, on mom Aida Cuneta Sanchez

Ailene Chua Co and mom Clarita

‘Sleep at least eight hours’

My mom told me to sleep at least eight hours, power nap and wash my face before going to sleep. But the best advice she gave me is to be kind to others and to love one another.

—Ailene Chua Co, chief executive officer of A-List and Partners Consulting Group Inc., on mom Clarita Chua

‘Never be too flashy’

My mom taught me not to focus too much on trends or brands, and to never be too flashy. Because of her influence, I gravitate toward more classic pieces that can stand the test of time and before I buy anything, I always look at the cut, stitching and quality of the fabric.

My mom also taught me to never waste money on costume jewelry. If I should spend money, I should always just buy real jewelry, because a pair of diamond earrings can elevate a simple outfit much more than anything fancy ever can.

My favorite piece is my diamond earrings, because they came from her.

—Celine Gabriel Lim, cocreator of Honest Junk and Kiele Naturals, and director, Mullenlowe Marc, on mom Myra Gabriel

Love for jewelry

My love for jewelry is heavily influenced by my mom. I grew up seeing her buying these stuff that glitter and I had no idea then how precious those things were.

What I treasure most from my mom is the set of heirloom jewelry she left behind because I consider these “storied” pieces. They have so much family history, and a lot of care and love are associated with these pieces.

—Mickey See, makeup artist, on mom Cresencia Dayrit See

Statement piece

When it comes to style, my mom would always say, be known for wearing a statement piece together with classic and plain pieces. My mom in her little black dress has always been her most iconic style moment.

—Danielle Wassmer, associate account director, Red Havas, on mom Maria Luisa Meneses-Wassmer

Jade Aveo and mom Maricor Defeo

‘Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen’

Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen, and don’t go to sleep without washing your face and moisturizing!

—Jade Aveo, commercial pilot, on mom Maricor Defeo

Jookie C. Radoc and mom Lilian

Real beauty

Mommy Lilian is the most beautiful woman in the world. She taught me that real beauty comes from within. We don’t need expensive beauty products and clothes to look good because when you are truly beautiful from the inside, this will make you glow on the outside. She always tells me that a good-natured smile is still the best makeup you can wear.

—Jookie C. Radoc, media relations manager, on mom Lilian

Dressing to the nines

My mom is always incredibly put together and never steps out in public without dressing to the nines! I think my philosophy of being overdressed rather than underdressed definitely comes from her!

I think my most valuable object is a pair of heart-shaped diamond earrings. My dad gave them to her and when I turned 18, she passed them on to me and I take them everywhere I go. My mom says diamonds bring good energy and are lucky, and she always wears them daily and not just for special occasions. I love the sentimentality of jewelry being passed on and I want to pass it to my daughter someday!

—Mich Dulce, fashion designer, milliner, corsetiere and band vocalist, on mom Yrna Ileto

Diamonds and pearls

My mother says to always wear jewelry but stick to diamonds and pearls. Your shoes should always match your bag.

My favorite pieces from her are matching diamond studs and watch because they dress up any outfit and make you look polished in an instant.

—Bea Bautista, public relations director, on mom Pauline Bautista

Low maintenance

My mom is very low maintenance, and from her I learned that less is more.

She was a banker for 35 years and was always practical about beauty and fashion. Years before it was trendy, my mom chopped off her thick, wavy hair and kept her hair very short since the ’80s.

She always looked chic and styled her look with statement eyeglasses or earrings. She had a style that was distinctly her own, and was always unapologetically herself. She never swayed with the trends and kept things classic.

She doesn’t rely on a ton of products for her skin or hair, but looks great for 70! I guess her minimalist approach to beauty and fashion works.

My mom has a pair of South Sea pearl drop earrings that I absolutely love because they’re elegant, classic, timeless. I always borrow them for weddings. They work perfectly for formal occasions, but can also easily dress up a white shirt.

—Mae T. Dichupa, marketing professional, on mom Elaine Torrejon Dichupa

Colorful clothes

Even when I was still young and had a lanky figure, my mom always encouraged me to wear colorful clothes. She said that this would help me look like I have a little weight, and it just became a habit! I am very drawn to colorful clothes and unique cuts. She also pointed out to me that fashion doesn’t have to be expensive, and it’s the way you carry it. Until now, whenever there’s a milestone event, I always ask for her advice on what to wear.

No heirlooms, only continuous fashion advice and style. I really got it from my momma.

—Charisse Vilchez, business director, Red Havas, on mom Loulette Ibazeta Vilchez


My mom would wear what we now call co-ords—a blouse and skirt with the coordinating prints she would have her tailor make back then. She would never leave the house without makeup (at least powder and lipstick!) and her perfume. Now my fave and go-to look is monochromatic and print on print and I never leave the house without spraying on my favorite perfume, wow brows and lip tint.

I got my penchant for jewelry and accessories from my mom. From time to time, I gift her with accessories and jewelry. On her wedding day with my papa in the early ’70s, she wore this beautiful embroidered column dress with white gold and garnet jewelry—the bracelet from that set is one of my most prized possessions.

—Myrrh Lao To, celebrity fashion stylist, on mom Irene Lao To

Animal prints

My mom never said it, but she always wore them. So it was her way of telling me, “Don’t be afraid to wear animal prints or prints on print.” A favorite piece of jewelry is a long strand of solid gold beads that was given to her by my father, which she passed on to me.

—Lady Bess Howe, PR consultant, Better Mondays PR Consultancy, on her mother Stephanie Baluyut

‘Maligo araw-araw’

My mom’s fashion advice: “Hoy, ’pag lalabas ka ng bahay para maglaro, mag-brip ka! Her beauty advice: Pwede ba, Mykil, maligo ka araw-araw.

—Myke Salomon, musical director, theater actor, singer, on mom Edorne Salomon

Living stress-free

Growing up, I watched my mom live a very happy and active lifestyle and eat a balanced diet full of veggies while doing Zumba and, at the same time, doing her church duties as the president of Apostleship of Prayer in our parish, and visiting a lot of places and doing pilgrimages. She is so fit and to this day, people think she’s 10 years younger than her age, 69.

My Mama Emma is very minimalist when it comes to make-up, but she has taught us the importance of eating healthy, living stress-free and being beautiful inside and out. She constantly reminds us to sleep early, because cells start to regenerate at 10 p.m., and to wake up early to exercise.

She taught me to apply oatmeal with milk and honey to moisturize my very sensitive skin and to condition my hair with aloe vera plant.

How she values belongingness, helping those in need, true and lasting relationships and spending quality time with family and friends isn’t just fun, but can help you age gracefully and live longer. She is indeed our light and our strength.

My ultimate fave piece from my mom is the Speedy Louis Vuitton handbag that is now vintage, and not just iconic but timeless. I definitely got my love of bags from her.

—Millet Liberato-Simeon, founder and managing director of M360° PR+Activations Agency, on mom Emma Liberato

Vintage gold necklace

My favorite thing that my mom handed over to me a few years ago was a vintage gold necklace. It’s very sentimental and special because it has a pendant locket containing a black-and-white photo of my papa when he was still a young man. She asked me to treasure it and reminded me to also put a photo of my future husband on the other side of the locket, in time.

My mom is now 80, but still moves around the house and learned navigating Facebook and watching dog videos on YouTube.

—Therese Janice Iglesias, public relations specialist, on mom Diana Iglesias

Always with me

My mom’s fashion advice is that simplicity is the greatest sophistication. My favorite piece of jewelry from her is a diamond ring. It gives me comfort, for I feel she is always with me.

—Anna Tiglao, makeup artist, on mom Adela Tiglao

Cowboy vest

My mom’s cowboy vest that she was wearing when she met my dad! Even as a younger woman, my mom was always a fashionista (she was known to wear yellow fishnet stockings in college, and electric orange pants to work), and for her blind date, she chose to wore this brown, hand-stitched cowboy vest with fringes up to the floor. It’s a curious choice to make a first impression in, but I guess it worked on the young doctor in the blue button-down shirt and yellow Hush Puppies who turned out to be my father.

Thankfully, she’s sentimental and has carefully kept it all these years, so I have actually been able to wear it. (Sadly, it has not brought me a dashing doctor to marry!)

I think the vest beautifully represents her unique, fun, and on-point style, but is also a great reminder of my parents’ lasting and loving relationship. Most of all, I think it shows how my mother treasures memories and people, and does everything to cherish and nurture these. In a time of tired, I’ve-seen-it-all cynicism and stories that last 24 hours, my mother always inspires me to keep and cherish joy, hope, and gratitude in my life.

—Monique Buensalido, PR and digital executive, on mom Joy Buensalido

‘Never mix yellow, rose and white gold’

She told me never to mix yellow, rose gold and white gold accessories together. She said to be consistent with the color of the jewelry I am wearing. The price of the accessory doesn’t matter.

What’s important is that they look good on you and you feel confident wearing them. You are the one who makes your accessories look good, and not the other way around.

As an adult who doesn’t live with my parents anymore, whenever I get to visit them, I always find myself bringing home something from her stack because I like her taste.

—Kathy P. Solis, managing director for SustainablePH, broadcaster for “StanUp With Oro,” host of “Breakfast With The King” and “New Normal: New World” and PR practitioner, on mom Imee Solis

Less is more

Fashion/beauty advice: less is more.

My mom has a penchant for jewelry and I was lucky to inherit a pair of gold hoop earrings and a ruby ring from her that she gave me on my 18th birthday. It’s one of those timeless pieces that I currently have that matches almost anything, and makes me feel so much closer to my mom whenever I wear it, specially at this time of pandemic.

—Sheena Teresa Asis, training and development coordinator, on mom Tessie Sy

Always wear a good outfit

Best fashion advice that I got from my mom is to always wear a good outfit every time you go outside the house, even if you’ll just go to the supermarket or buy some suka and toyo from the sari-sari store. According to her, we need to make a good impression on our kapitbahay.

My favorites are a pair of leggings and her old clothes, because when I was growing up gay, my mom was always supportive of what I am. She’d tell me, “Proud ako sa yo anak kahit ano mang mangyari.” Funny, because I have two sisters, and I was always the one wearing her old clothes. I remember when she was still an OFW in Saudi Arabia, she would ask if I wanted a new pair of leggings, because I always used her old pants.

—Alvin James Araneta Cariño, senior PR specialist, on mom Jocelyn Araneta Cariño

Gift of protection

When I was little, my mother gave me a necklace with a St. Christopher pendant, for protection. I lost the chain after Mama passed away, but I always kept the pendant in my pocket or wallet so it would be with me anywhere I went. For my birthday three years ago, my then boyfriend (now husband) gifted me with a chain so I could wear the pendant again.

I wear it every time I go out or I keep it in my pocket with me. I wear it for its sentimental value.

– Cyril Bonabente-Paradero, communications manager, on mom Rose Bonabente

Mom with the pearl earrings

When I moved to Singapore, I asked my mom if I could have her pearl earrings with diamonds. The jewelry just looks elegant and beautiful. I would wear it when I have important presentations in the office. But now that I’m far from family and haven’t been home for more than a year, I wear it whenever I miss her.

– Cynthia Matias, advertising operations director, on mom Corazon Matias

Pam Solilapsi and mom Sonia standing out in a sea of people

Stand out

Her advice: have fun with outfits and don’t be afraid to mix and add color, prints or a loud element in your wardrobe. Even if you have a closet with mostly neutral colors, these bursts of color are good to add to what you’re wearing. Also, to stand out in a sea of people when traveling!

-Pam Solilapsi-Guerrero, Boozy.PH COO and co-founder, on mom Sonia Solilapsi

Symbols of love

Mama’s pearly bag was a gift from my father and the rosary was my grandma’s, handed down to Mama. They are two pieces that remind of my mom every time, her elegant spirit and prayerful heart. The bag has been to a few formal occasions and the rosary goes with me on all my trips. I imagine Mama’s happy up there, knowing I’m taking care of these symbols of love from long ago that she cherished. I can feel all that love still.

-Sheila Gonzales Copywriter, on mom Soledad Yabut-Gonzales

Same work ethic

When my mama says that I’m her daughter, she’s not talking about my fashion sense, language, or anything superficial. Instead, she pertains to our similar mindsets when it comes to organization and work ethic. Besides me wanting to break into the same industry she once worked in, we usually bond over the fact that we like to fuss over to-do lists, clean work spaces, and successfully meeting deadlines on a day-to-day basis. In that sense, I can say that yeah, I really am like my mama!

– Giulia Martinez, student, on mom Liza Fernandez-Martinez

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