Sari Yap: 'Why I choose to be single with no regrets'
HEART TO HEART - HEART TO HEART By Ann Montemar-Oriondo () - July 7, 2002 - 12:00am

"Singlehood is not giving up something, it is embracing something bigger"

There's one incident which Sari Yap recalls with amusement. A TV show once wanted to feature her closet, so a staffer went to Sari's house. When Sari opened her closet, the bewildered staffer asked, "Where are the clothes?" and Sari replied, "But that's all I have!" The staffer was, Sari adds, "really disappointed."

The disappointment was understandable, given that Sari is the editor-in-chief of a leading fashion magazine, MEGA, and the executive vice president of the company that publishes it and six other glossies, MEGA Magazine & Publishing, Inc. Inevitably, one tends to associate Sari with the glamour of high fashion that her magazine has become known for.

That incident, however, was vintage Sari Yap. For Sari wholeheartedly believes one can be happy only if one lives simply, simplicity for her being a state of knowing exactly what one considers important, and trying to live one's life consistently with that.

"Many people cannot understand (the concept of) poverty especially because we are in the luxury goods business," Sari muses. "I try to have only the things that are expected of me in my position. They have to be good things, but I try to have the cheapest thing of the right quality that I can get. When I have something new in my closet, I take something out. If this item can do for that, then I don't need both. Simplicity is important; too many things or wants complicate life."

Sari's outlook on material possessions goes far deeper than a mere detachment from material things. "If this item can do for that, I don't need both" is a telling statement about how she looks at life in general. For Sari is one of the rare breed of women who have discovered for themselves what "will do" for them, and with much joy and nary a hint of regret, consequently give up "what doesn't."

For Sari, what "will do" boils down to serving God in her ordinary, daily circumstances. "When I was a teenager I attended a lecture where I learned that you can turn work into something holy–that was very attractive because the ring of truth was very strong," she says.

Later when she was a 19-year-old student at UP Diliman, Sari recalls, "I didn't want to go into Mass Com because everybody was saying (negative things about it) and I didn't want to be branded that. But then I knew I was made for it. Somebody told me, "You know, we need people who have a sense of responsibility in mass media. That really struck me. (I thought), "Oo nga ano, why am I complicating my life? Why worry so much about what people think?' That was an example of keeping things simple. So I shifted from Business Economics. I was filled with a sense of mission." Sari apparently made the right choice, graduating cum laude.

This sense of mission remained with Sari when she took her Masters in Media Management in Spain's University of Navarre, where she not only learned to speak Spanish fluently, she also broadened and deepened her education.

"The University of Navarre has a strong philosophical foundation even for media," Sari says. "There, I learned to go beyond what was technical, to learn more about the deeper meaning of things, the things that anchor me."

Her thesis on entrepreneurship became the seed from which MEGA sprung. "I tried to isolate the qualities of an entrepreneur because at that time, the '80s, entrepreneurship was new and a big thing. Based on the qualities of the entrepreneurs I wrote about, I realized I could be one." That plus a love of the Spanish fashion magazine Telva, which got Sari wondering if she could create a quality, glossy fashion magazine in her homeland.

"They say entrepreneurship is putting order into chaos and I like chaos!" Sari laughs. "That's where I feel most comfortable in. Entrepreneurship requires seeing many disparate things and making something out of them." Or, to paraphrase Sari again, simplifying what can potentially be complicated.

This unfettered, unencumbered approach to things has, Sari says, served her in good stead, especially in her career. "As a journalist," Sari elaborates, "I never let my personal biases–which of course I have as a person–get in the way of reporting. I may not like certain designers not because of their design but I may not agree with (say) the way they deal with suppliers. But if they do come up with a good show, I give them the exposure they deserve; it never gets in the way.

"You have to suppress the human desire to revenge, to get back, to say, "Don"t feature them in the magazine'. This cannot be because I realized my loyalty has to be to the truth. You work with your mind that cannot be subjugated to something less than the truth. To recognize the truth is the aim of all intelligent activity. Otherwise you'll get into trouble."

Ask Sari to explain her success in running a business enterprise and her explanation remains consistent. "In business, I realized I don't have to make rules up," Sari explains, "because I just stick to basic principles and everything else is a consequence. When you don't do things the right way, they enchain you–you go to jail, get into all sorts of scrapes, shady business deals, drugs; kung ano-ano ang mangyayari sa iyo. If your principles are good, somehow you will be successful. The foundation is firm."

Her personal life, too, remains consistent with Sari's beliefs. As she emphasizes, she did not "give up" marriage and a family life, she chose to lead a life she believes can and does make her happier. It is just coincidental that this life is best served by remaining single.

"The reason I didn't get married," Sari says, "is not because being single is a more "purposed' state. In fact I was fighting it for three years. I was going out with the cutest guy who I was waiting for all my life. I also got my first checking account. Then suddenly parang God wanted me to give all that up.

"But when God calls you, you really feel it, no matter what you do. Those were the unhappiest days of my life because I was very complicated; I was resisting what was supposed to be done. Singlehood is not giving up something, it is embracing something bigger. That was when I saw what God wanted. As in a scale, on the one hand, there was the guy I was going out with and maybe a future family, and on the other side it was like the whole of humanity I was being called to (serve).

"The reason why we remain single is simply so that, as Opus Dei numeraries, we can be available to serve the group members anytime we are needed.

"Of course, having a family does cross my mind at times. But I don't see myself as being different because when a woman makes a choice of having a husband, she gives up the affection of all other men. I have made a choice–something that makes me very happy. No man could make me as happy."

But as steadfast in her beliefs as she may be, Sari knows that true love of others requires being non-judgmental. "I have lots of friends–my best friend is gay–but we have so much fun. They know that any day they feel like asking me how things should go ba talaga, they can ask me. They know I love them and at one time or another I manage to tell them, "O mali yan'."

"I think love is at the core of everything. I love my friends and if I've been judgmental, we wouldn't even be friends, di ba? I don't consider myself different from anybody else so how can you judge, di ba?"

"People say I look younger than my age," Sari ends. "It's because life becomes very simple when you have one goal–to live according to your values. It's never too late to get those anchors because they are there for the grabbing. You have to be ready to accept what you may not like–even making a leap of faith. But God will take care of you."

AMP FOR SARI LIFE ONE SARI SARI YAP SOMETHING THINGS UNIVERSITY OF NAVARRE WHEN I
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