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Ladies Who Lunch

Gen Z, Anna Wintour and Nanay Ramos

By: - Lifestyle Editor
/ 07:35 AM April 08, 2018

Socorro Ramos, last year, as she turned 94, with Virgie Ramos beside her –THELMA SAN JUAN

Today’s parents aren’t doing so bad, after all. Their children could go beyond their gadget and style must-haves, after all, and help transform society.

The world woke up to this pleasant surprise and watched the news about hundreds of thousands of the Gen Z and the millennials marching across the United States to protest the Parkland deaths, the latest in a never-ending series of mass shootings in the US, and to launch the
#neveragain movement.

But what made world media, indeed the world, sit up and take notice was this generation’s fearlessness, relentlessness—and articulateness.

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Time’s “The Young and the Relentless” carries a full-page photograph of one of the
#neveragain leaders, Emma Gonzalez, her buzz cut hairstyle and fiery eyes now the iconic image of this phenomenon.

The Gen Z, and before it, the millennials, comprise the generation that has been getting a bad rep all this time—from the older generations, us. They have been dismissed as spoiled —spoiled by us, of course— self-absorbed, self-indulgent, self-entitled. In short, theirs is said to be an egocentricity the likes of which modern civilization has never seen.

But—guess what, the affluent and liberal parenting that bred them has an upside, after all. They have become a most assertive and most articulate generation that can shout down anyone (Republicans, Democrats, demagogues) and call out anything (no gun control, dictatorship).

They’re so empowered, thanks to their no fear of technology—technology, after all, is their surrogate parent. This generation raised on tablets and habitual selfies can look the camera in the eye—no self-consciousness at all, unlike their parents—and do a hot-seat interview.

This generation’s marketing savvy is unmatched, thanks to its life-long exposure to brands. It knows that branding is the message.

Gun vs social media

Political power, it was said in the time of Chairman Mao, comes from the barrel of the gun. For today’s youth, political power comes from the smartphone and the social media it enables. The Gen Z’s mastery of technology—and its supreme self-confidence— have turned this generation into the swing vote of the times, here and abroad; you don’t mess with it.

Where does that leave us parents?

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Now, more than ever, we must make sure that this generation’s self-empowerment comes with the correct knowledge and critical thinking— and correct values. The kids have all the technology they need, now how do they grow the heart?

If we do this right, the future will belong to the humans, not the robots.

World without Anna

The news—false, it turned out—that Anna Wintour was leaving Vogue brought back stories of the unceremonious departures of past Vogue editors, all style omnipotent(s).

The legendary Diana Vreeland heard the news of her dismissal from outside of Vogue, it is written, and had to confront another omnipotent, Alexander Liberman (Vogue’s all-powerful artistic director who, incidentally, married a Filipino nurse after his wife died) about her rumored exit. It was said that even as she was meeting with Liberman, her signature red lacquer work table was already being hauled out of her room.

Her successor, Grace Mirabella, who rose in the era of women’s rights and who took on the cigarette manufacturing giants, learned about her departure from Vogue while she was watching the TV news where syndicated society columnist Liz Smith announced it.

Most unglamorous exits for what has been, arguably, the most glamorous job in the world—that’s the supreme irony in the world of fashion.

Now, can you imagine the fashion world without an Anna Wintour, at whose feet the industry worships and who has helped shape pop culture (“The Devil Wears Prada,” the book and the movie)? After 30 years on the job, she’s surpassed the average career longevity (15 years) of a Vogue editor in chief.

However, as Wintour has proved—she of the killer instinct and ultra-vast network —it takes more than iconic dressing to be editor in chief.
Or does it really? These days, one begins to doubt that, as journalism, like other professions, is seeing a paradigm shift and media is having a field day of disruptions.

More than being a content generator, the editor must generate likes, more likes, 24/7. It’s no longer how you tell the story—you must be the story. (Yikes!)

If and when Wintour goes, it will surely be the end of an era you presumed would never end.

Nanay’s longevity

Speaking of longevity, the life of Socorro “Nanay” Ramos, the founder of National Book Store who has introduced generations of Filipinos to books and reading—remember reading?—is a narrative that doesn’t lose its thrill with each retelling.

She is one Filipina whose life isn’t only about success; it is also about true grit, and the Filipino values of hard work, integrity and frugality.

I can’t forget her story about the early years of the store she and her husband, Jose, put up in downtown Manila. At the height of one storm, they lost the roof over their heads, literally. She looked up at the merciless sky and around her, at the books left soaking in the rain, and she told herself, no, this would not be their end.

It wasn’t, and theirs became one of the country’s largest retail chains.

A precious opportunity given us in media is to be with her now and then.

Last year, coming from watching “The Angry Christ,” we proceeded to an intimate dinner with her and Virgie Ramos, her daughter-in-law who herself has built the Swatch brand in the country.

Since the get-together was a day or two before Nanay’s birthday, we turned it into her impromptu birthday dinner. She was turning 94.

She made us a deal—that if she makes it to 100, “blow out ko kayo!” she said.

Then with a giggle, she asked, but in a declarative tone, “Kaya pa (Do-able)?”

Here comes “blow out.” True grit.

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TAGS: #neveragain movement, Anna Wintour, Gen Z, Millennials
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