Of the many things I anticipated doing after survivingbreast cancer, putting on a lot of makeup wasn’t one of them.
Last Oct. 6, I walked a fashion show runway for the first time in my life as one of the survivor “muses” (oooh, what a title) for FashionCanServe, the fund-raising fashion show staged by ICanServe Foundation Inc. and Marie France to support the foundation’s projects for breast cancer awareness and early detection.
The show featured the creations of Rhett Eala, Rajo Laurel, Lulu Tan Gan, Maureen Disini, Kristel Yulo and Eric de los Santos, modeled by pros; ICanServe’s gorgeous, supportive ambassadors; and a bunch of survivors, including, ahem, yours truly.
I wasn’t sure if Kara Alikpala, ICanServe’s founder, was serious when she asked me to join the “mowdels.” Then they told me I would be walking with Dawn Zuluetaand Tweetie de Leon-Gonzalez, so I figured they had to have a representative of the plus-sized, mentally imbalanced, real-people sector.
I seriously didn’t give it much thought—until I was summoned by Rhett Eala for measurements. “Hoy, my muse,” he messaged me on Facebook. “When can you come over?” Patay. Seryoso na pala.
It helps, of course, that Rhett is an absolute doll. “What do you want to wear?” he asked. I had no strong preferences, actually—only that I don’t wear too bright a pink that would make me look like a children’s party tablecloth, and that I could wear flats, because I haven’t done heels in years.
Iwas delighted when Rhett approved my embroidered slippers from Pateros. I was going to do the show in chinelas!
Rhett made mean elegant black, flowing pantsuit that was supremely comfortable.
The day of the show, we were backstage at 2 p.m. at the Raffles Hotel’s ballroomfor rehearsals with director Jackie Aquino. We got to try out the ramp, and jokes about tripping were traded.
Big thanks to the always wonderful Tweetie, also wearing Rhett, who kept me company despite feeling under the weather. So how do I walk, I asked her. “Just be yourself—that’s enough.” How can you not love this woman?
It was a bit intimidating at firstto share a holding room with the likes of Maritoni Fernandez, Leah Caringal, the sunshiney Michelle Soliven, Crisann Celdran, Bernie Aboitiz, Ann Puno, Julie Torres, Patty Betita and many others, mainly because my waistline was bigger than everyone else’s, and because they were all in sky-high heels.
Then I realized, we had all beaten the crap out of breast cancer, and were still here, getting dolled up. It was very inspiring talking to Bernie and Ann, in particular, who look fabulous almost a decade after their treatment. “Don’t worry, your menopause fat will disappear,” Ann reassured. I hope so!
“How do you want your makeup? asked Sari Campos. “Uhm, I don’t know, I don’t really wear much,” I answered, “and eyeliner makes me cry.” Thanksto this sweet young lady for keeping it painless.
Finally, we put on the clothes, and after Tessa Prieto-Valdes raised a truckload of money in an auction, we finally got our moment in the spotlight. The energy was wonderful; I got a big kick out of seeing my own editor in chief standing up to applaud me. My friend Joy Rojas screamed while shooting a video. Indeed, the love came in incredible waves.
Taking a bow with Rhett and all the ladies I shared the stage with felt like one big party. The best part was, all the money raised that night was going to ICanServe projects that would save many women’s lives. Yesterday, we marked ICanServe’s OKtober Check Yourself month by sharing our stories with communities all over the country, and I was happy to carry out my assignments in Barangay San Antonio, Pasig and with the Taguig local government unit.
Truth to tell, I wasn’t nervous. I’ve done quite a bit of theater and have played many roles on stage, but this was different. I was playing the best role of my life—myself, only better. And the chinelas really helped.