When style & substance meet & match

STARBYTES - Butch Francisco -

For some reason, I got my September copy of People Asia magazine rather late. Add to that the fact that I was gone for a while and the magazine must have been delivered the day after my departure. When I finally got the copy with Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos on the cover — it took me a while to finish reading all the articles because there was a lot to read and I’m the type who savors everything.

This current issue of People Asia — all about “women of style and substance” — is something you keep after ingesting its contents. Now edited again by Joanne Rae Ramirez, this month’s edition of People Asia is so well-put together — from the choices of articles, the writing, the layout and especially the photos chosen to accompany each story.

The first article I read (devoured actually) was the feature on The Philippine STAR Lifestyle editor Millet Martinez-Mananquil. Millet and I have been with the same paper for decades now, but since I’ve only visited The Philippine Star office only twice in my life. But I will always be grateful to her for having been my link to Loren Legarda and her late mother Bessie, who eventually became very good friends and counselors to me. (This was how it went: Millet introduced Loren and Bessie to Ricky Lo, who later introduced mother and daughter to me.)

I only recall two instances when I got to sit down with Millet: The first was at the penthouse of Loren in Makati in January 1988 and at the wake of Korina Sanchez’s mother at the Santuario de San Antonio a couple of years ago. Millet was with husband Robert Mananquil and the three of us had a nice chat with Korina.

However, I’ve always been fascinated with Millet, especially when the generation of journalists before me gushed about “how beautiful and so fresh” she looked when she was starting her writing career in the ’70s. She still looked lovely when I saw her at the wake and now divine in her Raymund Isaac pictures that appear in this issue of People Asia. True enough she was a cover girl in the past — so reported Ching Alano who wrote that very informative piece on Millet — and is still cover girl material up to now, especially after maturity and wisdom had made her a true woman of substance.

Another feature that immediately caught my interest was the story on Katrina Ponce-Enrile. Save for a dance number she did once on Martin Nievera and Fernandez’s Penthouse Live in the ’80s (that was her, right?), she was never showbiz. But they talked about her a lot in the entertainment industry when she became the girlfriend of the late matinee idol Alfie Anido and especially after his death.

Even if I never got to meet Katrina personally, I am still happy that she is now doing well and seems to be happy as president and CEO of the family-owned JAKA Group. And yes, she’s still pretty —  as shown by her Raymund Isaac pictures that accompany the feature story on her written by Kap Maceda Aguila.

A personal favorite, of course, is the article on Dr. Vicki Belo and daughter Cristalle Henares, who both looked so beautiful in white. The photos — again by Raymund Isaac — capture the close mother and daughter bonding between them. Even away from the photographers’ lens, Vicki and Cristalle constantly hug and smother each other with kisses and they adore one another. Vicki raised her children well.

The article by Jose Paulo de la Cruz traces how Dr. Belo had made it her personal crusade “to make everyone look good and feel good about themselves” and Cristalle’s present involvement with the Belo Medical Group. I can only hope that the magazine comes up with a separate story on Cristalle in the future because she has an interesting life herself — having given up all the material trappings in the world a couple of years back to become a Jesuit volunteer in Bukidnon.

I also found very interesting the features on three of my favorite female broadcasters: Korina Sanchez, Vicky Morales and Tintin Bersola-Babao and my heart bled when I read how Tintin (my former co-host on Showbiz Lingo) practically couldn’t go on with life after she was taken out of the morning show of ABS-CBN.

But really, Tintin, I believe that is just one of the many setbacks  in life and I’m sure you will spring back beautifully out of it — like you are now with your new projects outside of TV (Gawad Kalinga, writing books for children, etc.).

The piece de resistance surely is the Vilma Santos cover story. Having written a lot about the Star for All Seasons myself, I know practically everything about her life. But I still enjoyed going over her amazing achievements in the article written by Bing Parel-Salud. And her Raymund Isaac pictures were lovely. She looks so young and on the cover and in the photos in the inside pages — like she’s just in her twenties.

There’s a lot more to read in the current edition of People Asia and very interesting is Ricky Lo’s list of women of substance  (in the entertainment profession) in his Peephole column. I agree with his choices, except for one.

With regard to the magazine’s over-all list of women of style and substance, I do not know personally some of the people featured, but reading the corresponding articles about them I understood why they were included in the folio. They truly are women of substance and they all deserve to be in this very substantial issue of People Asia magazine.

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