Actress, wife, mother of three and inspirational speaker Chat Silayan is absolutely glowing these days. With her full smile, hearty laughter, still-a-beauty-queen face and 5’7" figure (she was Miss Universe third runner-up in 1980), the 43-year-old Chat beguiles those she meets with nary a difficulty.
But there’s something else about Chat now, something that gives her a "glow," something that she achieved and now savors to the hilt–contentment, happiness and the enthusiastic desire to help others feel this good, too.
"There are women who look good physically," Chat begins, "but when we get to know them, we can feel their loneliness, their depression. It’s the inner glow that should come out. I want to help women with this."
Chat is in a good position to do so; after all, one can only share what one has. And as far as Chat goes, she says, "I’m happier now–a lot better." She has learned her lessons well; having discovered herself, she is certain of what matters most and what doesn’t. It may have taken her some long-winded soul-searching but now Chat has earned–and definitely savors–her hard-won peace.
"When I reached 40, at first it was hard to say my age (out loud)," Chat shares. "It took me around two months to get adjusted to it... and to admit it! Everybody says life begins at 40; everybody makes a big deal about turning 40 that it has become a landmark. So when I turned 40 I said, ‘So what if I am 40?’ Because when you reach it, you get affected and ask yourself ‘What is to be expected?’ There’s going to be a shift somewhere there. I had to mature physically, emotionally–everything had to catch up."
The way Chat sees it, working towards maturity isn’t limited to one’s forties. "Whatever age you’re in," she believes, "it’s important that you’re committed to growth and maturity. When you’re 20, you should be committed to getting better in all aspects of your life. Forty is not the time to think, ‘Oh my, I’m so old, I’m so whatever.’ There’s so much ahead of you. There’s so much to look forward to, a lot to learn. And you have to be open to that. These days there are a lot of things coming up for me. So even for a woman at 50, 60, or 70–there are still many new opportunities."
The important thing, Chat reckons, is that "At 40, you should at least know what you want in life. Have a ‘map’; have a vision. When I was in my twenties I was impulsive. I didn’t have any goals; I didn’t have any direction. I was a college graduate (BS Nutrition and Food from PWU, where she was a College Scholar-Editor). Okay I was intelligent. But then I didn’t know what I wanted."
That Chat didn’t know what she wanted in her twenties seems surprising now, considering her high-profile showbiz career back then. Chat had no less than "The King" Fernando Poe Jr. as leading man in her debut film outing, Ang Maestro. She later also teamed up with other leading male stars of the decade.
True, she found herself in showbiz but Chat’s heart was not totally in it. Part of her difficulty was resenting comparisons with her father, the revered and multi-awarded Vic Silayan.
"I was in awe of my dad," Chat recalls. "He was the closest, the best person for me. But when I was an actress, I didn’t like being compared to him. He was only in grade five when he won the gold medal in an oratorical contest. In high school in Ateneo, he put up the drama guild. He was excelling. I resented the comparisons instead of being proud about my dad’s achievements.
"But my dad was my everything. When I’d see him in the golf course with a heavy heart, it lifted my spirits just to see him physically.
"When dad died in l987 I was in the US. When I came home he was in the coffin. I saw him 10 months before that and he was still very strong. I was so mad at God and I said, ‘God, how unfair! Where is my father who was my refuge, my fortress?’
"When I was in the US–I went there just to get away–my dad would write me letters telling me to read the Bible. I was very worldly, impulsive. Of his three daughters I was the prodigal one. I had a taste of cocaine, the wild life in the US. Nakakahiya what I went through but it’s good that God changed it all. Now I see the difference."
Her father’s death changed Chat fundamentally in that it made her keenly aware of depending on a heavenly Father. That incident became the fulcrum on which her life would eventually turn–but not before Chat "fell" hard again, so to speak, by having a child out of wedlock with an Italian. He was ready to marry her but Chat wasn’t prepared to do so at that time.
Her spiritual growth, in short, did not happen overnight; Chat admits it took time, patience and commitment.
As Chat matured spiritually she met businessman Mike Bailon of Cabuyao, Laguna. They will have been married 10 years this month, and family life with children Victor, Timothy and Michaela has never been better. Why, Chat even massages her family before they go to sleep!
Chat returned to TV in l997 in the soap opera, Esperanza. After that she attended to her family full-time. Last month, she joined the Channel 2 soap opera Bituin where she plays the battered wife of Ronaldo Valdez. She had turned down two soaps before this role, prioritizing her family and spiritual growth above all.
"The good thing about Bituin is that I tape for it only once a week," Chat explains. "My husband said that appearing on a show is fine if I only did it once a week. We were fighting about it before but I understood what he was saying. I prayed over it. Now he sees I’m happy and that I don’t neglect my spiritual life and family at the same time. Everything should be okay at home despite my crazy schedule."
That schedule, of course, includes being a motivational or inspirational speaker who talks to women about inner beauty. "Last year I went to the US for Couples for Christ to talk on women of faith, style, hope," Chat says. She has since talked before Christian groups, even in the provinces, and recently to a gathering of ladies from the media sponsored by skin-care beauty brand, Dove.
"Women want to hear about the spiritual," Chat adds, "but they also want to hear about the physical. At first I didn’t want to talk about the physical but now I think the two go hand in hand."
Chat Silayan has finally found her own map–make that a treasure map–and she is confident about following its directions and where it will lead her.
And the nice thing about it is that Chat feels she is helping other women embark on similarly exciting journeys in their own lives.
Is it any wonder that Chat Silayan positively glows?
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