Contagion–the collagen kind | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

In my book, what makes my friend Ricky Reyes rare isn’t only because he has millions (of money; my social demographics isn’t really heavy on the billionaire sector), but also because he’s always quick to admit to—if not brag about—his latest beauty procedure.

Last week we were supposed to have dinner so he could show me the proof of his latest beauty discovery, and how it was supposed to have erased the creases and laugh lines, and has given his face that incredible lift. Too bad, the dinner didn’t push through.

Ricky is rare because he loves to gather his girl friends around him and give them an update on his latest beauty discovery. Better yet, he drags them (literally, sometimes) to the doctor’s clinic.

Last month, he brought me all the way to Bangkok because he wanted to check out the wholistic health clinic there that offers stem cell therapy and, of course, the other rejuvenation and beauty procedures available in this manmade beauty mecca.

He was invited by Villa Medica, a world brand based in Germany noted for its revitalizing and rejuvenation procedure known as “fresh cell therapy.” (The therapy has been known worldwide, including in the Philippines, since the ’70s. It is based on the 1931 discovery of famous surgeon Dr. Paul Niehans in Switzerland. The therapy has been used by countless number of patients worldwide for decades now, including, it is said, Pope Pius XII.) Villa Medica has a clinic in Bangkok, which also offers other health and rejuvenation (including beauty) procedures.

But that story is for another day. The picture I’m painting here is that of Ricky in Bangkok who is like a kid let loose in Disneyland: He embraces beauty/rejuvenation procedures with a sense of wonder and adventure and not-so-cheap thrill. And—he’s honest about it.


Many of today’s Filipinas aren’t that candid about their beauty job, whether it’s Botox, facelift, lip collagen, liposuction and such. Yet—you only have to look at pictures in the dailies to see how, indeed, more and more Filipinas are undergoing beauty or cosmetic procedures. The realization hits you even harder as you do the social scene. Really, a beauty contagion is sweeping across the country. You haven’t seen as many of the following, as you do now:

Pouty lips—actually swollen lips, because women can’t seem to have enough of collagen for those Angelina Jolie lips. On your natural face, bee-stung lips will surely look misplaced.

Lumpy faces because of fillers everywhere—forehead, cheeks, laugh lines. I was once startled to look up at the face of a former beauty and saw how her cheekbones—those prized features—were made to look even more pronounced so that they looked now like two rosy tomatoes, a senior-citizen Minnie Mouse. Indeed, Filipino women are getting a filler-overload. When overdone, those fillers that are supposed to enhance the cheeks or smoothen out the forehead end up as lumps that misshape the face.

Liposuction or body sculpture or body tightening—nothing new, nothing wrong with it, really, except that now and then, you see women with corrugated-board arms. Arms should be toned, not undulated. Off-the-shoulder and strapless clothes aren’t for you if you’re past 70, unless you’re Imelda Cojuangco who can get away with it. Now, what would Audrey Hepburn or Jackie O do in their ’70s?

Pointy or sharp nose or pinched nose—on a non-mestiza Pinay?!

While our lolas in their time had their share of peeling, wonder facial creams, facelifts, eyebag removal and such, the pursuit of techno-beauty today is really something else. More and more Filipinas are paying for the reconfiguration of their faces and bodies. Not just rejuvenation or enhancement—it’s reconfiguration.

And this reconfiguration trend cuts across demographics, from affluent socialites and ladies of leisure to fashionistas and working women. At one recent lunch, we were trying to pair off our friend, who has just split up with his wife, with eligible women in town. Names started cropping up, including that of a fashionista. My girl friend piped up at the inclusion of the fashionista’s name. “But her face is now like a Lego—pieces you try to fit but can’t!”

That was the first time I ever heard a face described as a Lego. But indeed, some of today’s reworked faces are like an unfinished Lego: features don’t fit together—yet.


Reconfigured faces sometimes look better in photos. Face to face—yikes! A face looks so much sharper because the nose bridge is much too high, the lips too pouty, and the cheeks puffed up, or the forehead made runway-wide just to smoothen out wrinkles.

Really, it’s not easy to reconfigure nature (i.e. genes, facial bone structure). You shouldn’t, in the first place.

While many women are bold enough to undergo a procedure, not everyone is bold enough to admit to it. Some women become at least four to six sizes smaller, as if overnight, and when asked how they did it, they say diet! (It’s against social etiquette to ask, in the first place, but then it’s so Pinoy to use body weight-talk as an icebreaker at socials.)

I got curious how much the girls will own up to their beauty or cosmetic jobs, or how they won’t, so I asked my friends, if in case they undergo a procedure, if they would admit to it. Surprise, almost all said they would—if the job is good.

“If obvious, yes, if not obvious, will not admit,” said one obviously shrewd friend who just turned 50.

“If I were to have a face job or lipo and it made me beautiful or ultra sexy, I will admit. It’s nothing new these days,” said another who’s not even 40 yet.

“I wouldn’t volunteer the info, but would most likely tell my close friends and recommend my doctor to them if the job is good. If the job is bad, they’d probably ask me—who did this to you?” said a hotel executive friend.

“I may not flaunt it, but if asked, I will readily admit. No reason to hide it,” said a friend who made it to the best-dressed list a few years back.

“Yes, you can’t fool anyone anyway, especially not your friends,” said another whose wisdom I’ve always respected.

“Oh yes,” said a fashion designer friend, “if they have the audacity to ask; I will not volunteer the info though, so they will wonder and talk.”

“Too hard for me to pretend and even more difficult to lie,” said another who’s already in her 70s.

Honest circle

Must be an honest circle I have. But then, they’re also “virgins” when it comes to cosmetic procedures. As far as I know, none of the women I asked has had anything done on her face (or body), except, like me, cleaning and peeling. (I also go for Fraxel, the laser procedure that smoothens away pores and scars.)

I really have nothing against women undergoing procedures—to each her own beauty fix. But it’s sad when they overdo it, get addicted to cosmetic surgery, until their faces lose their unique expression of character.

Your wrinkle is different from my wrinkle.

Best advice from hubby

At the Philippine Cancer Society Best Dressed ball last Thursday, 40-year-old businessman Mikee Romero gave what must have been one of the best pieces of advice a husband could give his wife these days.

As he watched wife Sheila, who would walk the ramp as one of the country’s Best Dressed, prepare, he advised: “Wear comfortable shoes (on the ramp). Make sure you can walk comfortably on them.”

Sheila did, even in this century of killer heels. She wore medium heels (just a little over three inches), which were hardly seen beneath the Rajo Laurel evening dress anyway, and walked a model’s walk on that long runway. And she looked cool and confident doing it.

She and another Best Dressed, Cris Albert, in classic Auggie Cordero, hit the runway effortlessly.

Mikee obviously started that day right. He rang the Philippine Stock Exchange bell as head of a 50-year-old company—the loudest the Exchange ever heard, said Vivian Yuchengco. Ah, the energetic 40.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.