Work from home, but make it fashion | Inquirer Lifestyle
Amina Aranaz-Alunan: Outdoor walks

Work from home, but make it fashion

(15th in a series)


Steven Tan suits up for working from home.

Unlock a new skill

Steven Tan, president, SM Supermalls

With the ongoing quarantine, I basically transitioned into a work-from-home warrior. The work doesn’t really stop; it evolved.

Right now, medical response assistance keeps SM focused and busy. We are supporting SM Foundation facilitate the distribution of PPE (personal protective equipment), testing kits and ICU-grade (intensive care unit) ventilators to hospitals in need.

Looking after the employees’ welfare and ensuring mall tenant protection is another prime concern. We also continue operation of essential services in our malls as form of public service.

My advice is to maintain a steady routine, keep busy and observe healthy habits while staying home.

I wake up early, work out and read up on the latest news and situation analysis. I schedule all online team meetings in the afternoon, averaging four a day. We keep it concise, precise and action-oriented.

At night I make sure to decompress and catch up with friends, family and loved ones. Carve out some time to unlock a new skill, like maybe learn to cook a new dish? It can be fun. Mental health and well-being are important to weather our new normal. —Cheche V. Moral

Renewing bonds, friendships

Tonichi Nocom, fashion designer and SM Retail fashion consultant

It was Sunday when news of the lockdown was announced.

It was the lunch topic in my house with Jackie Aquino, Randy Ortiz, Henri Calayag, JC Buendia, Jing Monis, Rey Lanada and Vic Barba. With this group of decades-long friends, and our first time in a long time to get together, our topics jumped from current events to social media, business, colleagues, employee funds, what to do during lockdown, food/grocery, and not to forget, “Papa” in our dreams. We all went to S&R to buy groceries before going our separate ways.

Marco Protacio is also in our group but was unable to join for lunch as he had to begin work helping COVID-19 (new coronavirus disease) victims in their family-owned Protacio Hospital in Parañaque.

For the immediate need of masks and PPE for front-liners and hospitals, Jackie began to seek help from fashion-designer friends and the private sector to raise funds for procurement of materials and assistance in production from designers with available sewers.

Thanks to technology, we messaged or chatted at the start of the lockdown. We posted archive photos, shared views on movies.

I made two trips to the supermarket before the lockdown to have enough food. I made sure safety rules are imposed. I was able to make time to binge-watch TV series and movies.

Ongoing is my spring cleaning of things accumulated through the years, and I do the work myself.

The lockdown, in a way, has been good for all of us, as it made us stop and contemplate what we have been doing with ourselves. My generation and the generation before us gave quality time to family.

The situation has made me and my friends closer. We got to know and understand each other better. We do a daily roll call in our chat group in the morning, and have silly and fun debates throughout the day. Though this bonding activity may not become a regular thing once all is back to normal and we each go back to our work routines, we feel happy for our renewed bond and friendship. —Cheche V. Moral


Lulu Tan Gan tends to home garden.

Time to pray

Lulu Tan Gan, fashion designer, mentor and entrepreneur

I do like this solitude and silence, it’s so good for the soul.

I found time—to pray, to read, to watch on YouTube documentaries and lectures on history and politics, to get to know more about China, and I got to know my hubby more, too. I’ve been going online learning art and interior design.

I also found my health path. Finally, I am gardening, rehabilitating about 50 pots of plants I have had for years. I also found my old fitness flame, tai chi qigong!

But I sorely miss hugging my little apo, Mino.

And my prayers go to all the health-care professionals, our heroes. So sad to lose so many of them. —Cheche V. Moral


Michael Cinco: Staying productive in Dubai

Developing new ways of working

Michael Cinco, Dubai-based fashion designer

I never thought it was possible to work while separated from my team. Designers usually work with skilled team of pattern makers, dressmakers and artisans. Though it’s very challenging, I still feel quite productive.

Since day one of the quarantine here in Dubai, I started developing new tools and new ways of working within the design team. I hold meetings through digital tools, like Zoom, and go through design documents collaboratively.

I’m trying to be busy and have been doing some research for the new collection. This challenging environment has taught me to be more organized and more creative in a relaxed environment. It’s not as good as the old normal but would surely do for now. —Cheche V. Moral


Amina Aranaz-Alunan: Outdoor walks

Enjoying nature

Amina Aranaz-Alunan, creative director, Aranaz

I consider myself blessed to be able to quarantine in a place surrounded by nature. So I have been making the most of it by taking outdoor walks and even biking (something I haven’t done since I was a teenager). —Cheche V. Moral


JC Buendia on the beach pre-COVID-19

Reading books again

JC Buendia, fashion designer

It was the end of the wedding season right before the quarantine, and I was wishing I could sleep for three straight days. I was burned out already.

Well, as they say, be careful what you wish for.

Since the lockdown, I’ve been able to hear Mass online with my mother every day, something I’ve been wanting to do. I’ve also done some spring cleaning. Marie Kondo will probably give me five stars.

This week, I started painting again. I will donate my work to #CourageCebu, a fundraiser for COVID-19 frontliners in Cebu. I’m working on acrylic on canvas.

Nagsawa na rin ako sa Netflix marathons. I’m reading books again. I’m always buying books but I don’t get to read them the way I used to. I’m reading “To Love Another Day: The Memoirs of Cory Aquino,” by Rapa Lopa. —Poch Concepcion


Christian Espiritu focuses on his garden.

Gardening and listening to music

Christian Espiritu, fashion designer

From championing the use of the terno for decades, veteran fashion designer Christian Espiritu now focuses his attention on his garden. The first thing he plans to do after quarantine is “hunt” for more plants. “I did not have a hard time adjusting to quarantine because at 86, I now live a very laid-back life,” Espiritu said. “Even before COVID-19, my life has been very quiet. And since I have given up column writing, having to stay home is already a very normal thing. Aside from my addictive gardening, I get a great consuelo de bobo from reading and listening to music. One of my favorites on Spotify is Croatian cellist Stjepan Hauser.” —Raoul J. Chee Kee


Dennis Lustico’s triathlon bike holstered on a trainer at home

Zoom workouts

Dennis Lustico, fashion designer and triathlete

I have Zoom activities. I have thrice-a-week workout sessions with our personal trainer from Fitness First. We do a one-hour body weight-based routine every session with mostly triathlete friends. I look forward to doing this as it is my only fixed schedule every week.

I also do online chitchat parties with my different groups—runners, triathletes, creatives, GT (gin and tonic) group, One Night in Bangkok group and BFFs.

I subscribed to Netflix only when the lockdown started. I was able to finish “The Crown” and “Next in Fashion” series, which I enjoyed very much, but Netflix isn’t as addicting as I thought it would be.

I’m getting more substance from YouTube, as there are more choices. I watch a lot of fashion documentaries lately and I’m obsessed with Dries Van Noten. If I could live another person’s life I want it to be his. His collaboration with Christian Lacroix was to die for.

As for books, I’m a bit slow at the moment because of my online activities. I’m finishing “The English Patient” which I started many moons ago, and should ideally proceed with “Jerusalem” by Simon Sebag Montefiore.

To create activity in the shop, which is so quiet nowadays, I’ve converted the receiving area into my workout room. This gives me the illusion of reporting for work since our shop is just two blocks from where I live. So I do exercises on days I don’t have sessions with a personal trainer. And most of what I do is dance—hip-hop, Bollywood, salsa and high-intensity Zumba. I also do stationary biking at home. —Cheche V. Moral