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Santamaria! |



UPTOWN DOWNTOWN - Joanne Zapanta-Andrada - The Philippine Star

Just how old is Ingrid Santamaria? That was exactly what Ingrid’s then four-year-old grandson Brian asked his Mama Ing.

Santamaria laughed as she remembered how she dealt with the question. “I looked at him straight in the eye and asked, ‘How old do I look?’ After a quick assessment he answered, ‘42.’ Five minutes later, this grandkid came running back and said, ‘Mama Ing, if you are 42, then you are younger than my Mom and Pop.’ So I said, ‘That’s OK. It’s really how old you think I look. Then we will just make that my age, OK?’ Private deal.

 â€œThen the unthinkable happened. I Googled myself and in a bold headline I saw the words: ‘HOW OLD IS INGRID SALA SANTAMARIA?’ with the answer, ‘She is 69 years old and a few months short of 70.’ That information came from I panicked and withstood two weeks of torture. Finally, I told my eldest daughter Crispy about it. Then I decided to meet my grandkids and told them the Google story and my real age,” she said. She felt relieved to be honest, accepting and gracious about her age.

Truly, this beautiful 73-year-old pianist has the reason to be gracious about the time she has spent as pianist, advocate, teacher, wife, mother and grandma. But inside, Ingrid Santamaria is anything but old.

“I feel the same as I felt when I was 17. I have always been goal-oriented, focused. I’ve always wanted to achieve and share. All of which I think I have been able to do and hope to continue doing. Of course, the reality of my mortality looms clearer and bigger, so I have made an effort to collect, organize and share my memorabilia,” she said.

Now, Santamaria just wants to impress and inspire her 16 grandchildren with this collection of memorabilia so that they, too, will work hard and achieve proudly at their chosen fields.

In fact, when the proposal of a glamour photo shoot came Santamaria’s way, she giggled like a schoolgirl. “Oh yes! Please do!” she enthused. “This will be so much fun!” For the project, this columnist commissioned the expertise of fashion designers Fanny Serrano and Rem Divino to create gowns that they felt befitting of Santamaria’s image. A renowned expert in maquillage, Serrano also handled Santamaria’s hair and makeup.

When asked what her secret is to staying young, Santamaria shared that she eats wisely — mostly veggies, enough fruits and very little meat. She avoids fried food and controls her rice and sweets. She occasionally has red wine but gave up beer 20 years ago. Santamaria has disciplined herself to stop “work” (anything music related) at 6 p.m. and sleep early.

Since her husband Joe passed away 20 years ago, she has avoided evening socials that are not musically related. â€œI like to jump out of bed at 5 a.m. and rejoice in a new day,” Santamaria shared. “I try to balance ‘work’ (again, piano practice or other musical stuff) with ‘rest’ (one-hour siesta after lunch whenever I can) and running errands. I don’t have a secretary or messenger so I have to do a lot of these things personally. I think this keeps my brain active, too. I try to smile a lot and close my eyes to negative situations, ideas and company. I get inspired by people who have conquered problems bravely. I try to think every problem must have a solution, and if I don’t find it immediately, I have a chocolate bar! I try to be happy most of the time.”

The year 2012 marked Santamaria’s 50th year in the classical music industry. A Doctor of Music, Santamaria was born Ingrid Sala from Cebu City. Her mother Pilar Sala gave the young Ingrid her first training in piano at her own Battig Piano School. Ingrid had her first professional performance in 1962 and 50 years later continues her commitment to music — both as a performer and as an advocate.

Photography by JOANNE ZAPANTA-ANDRADA • Gowns by FANNY SERRANO (34-A Sct. Madrinan St., Brgy. South Triangle, Tomas Morato Rd., Quezon City. Tel. nos. 351-1698 and 351-3329)and REM DIVINO (45 BF Homes, Parañaque City. Tel. no. 809-7625) • Hair extensions by MYLES FLORENTINO (0927-263-8240) • Special thanks to Jaime Ponce de Leon of Leon Gallery

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