Woman of Style: Anna Palabyab-Rufino, the consummate good girl
- Bea J. Ledesma () - August 11, 2010 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Anna Palabyab-Rufino is a nice girl. The kind that says thank you to the checkout girl at the grocery, helps old ladies cross the street, and probably won’t think twice if you ask for her kidney. (OK, she might think about it, but she’d probably hand it over if you really needed it.) That’s a big deal in a town full of mean girls. Anna makes the virtuous life look like a cakewalk, juggling motherhood, work, and event-hopping without breaking a sweat.

The 31-year-old dermatologist, who graduated from Ateneo de Manila University in 2001 with a psychology degree under her belt and went on to major in medicine at the University of Sto. Tomas, is best known for her wholesome image. A porcelain complexion (thanks to her meticulous dermatologist parents’ upbringing) doesn’t hurt the good-girl impression either.

“I’ve never even puffed a cigarette in my life,” she tells The STAR with a straight face. “I don’t even drink coffee!”

The only kind of depravity she enjoys? “Junk food!”

Even her clothing speaks volumes. Pale pastel hues and neutrals — with a few black staples — pepper a wardrobe that would make Maria (of The Sound of Music — who happens to be the good girl icon) proud.

No stranger to happy, floral rompers or peppy eyelet dresses, Anna is the image of motherhood — sweet, gentle and kind. But don’t let the florals fool you. There’s a body-skimming dress in fire-engine red in her closet just waiting to be busted out for the perfect moment (like a date with husband Raymond Rufino).

And she’s not exactly a wide-eyed ingenue either.

“After what I’ve seen and gone through in med school,” she says, “I don’t think anything can shock me anymore.”

Anna Palabyab-Rufino is tougher than she looks. But then most nice girls are.

PHILIPPINE STAR: Let’s get serious. You’ve always been known for your wholesome reputation. Do you have any vices?

ANNA PALABYAB-RUFINO: No, I don’t. I only drink occasionally. But I would say my tolerance is pretty high. I’ve never even puffed a cigarette in my life. I don’t even drink coffee.

Are there things you enjoy that aren’t good for you?

Yes! I love junk food. Chocolates are my weakness!

What’s the most exciting thing you’ve ever done?

I guess it would have to be giving birth. You go through nine months of anticipation and then finally that moment arrives and then you finally get to meet this person inside of you. I was so excited to see how he looked.

When are you happiest?

I’m happiest when I’m with my family. I love it when I hear my baby calling out to me. It’s like music to my ears.

When are you saddest?

I’d have to admit that I’ve never been very, very sad. I try not to let negative things affect me so much. I tend to look at the brighter side of things.

What freaks you out?

I always say this, after what I’ve seen and gone through in med school, I don’t think anything can shock me anymore. Nothing really freaks me out — except maybe a flying cockroach.

What is the most rewarding — and challenging — thing about work?

I’m in a very visual field of medicine. The skin is the first thing you notice in a person, that is why when my patients get better, everyone sees it. I am happy when my patients say other people notice an improvement, but I am even happier when they themselves notice and are happy with the results. It’s hard to please everyone. It can be very challenging when a patient’s problem goes beyond their skin. No matter how much they improve, if they are unhappy with their lives they may never notice it.

How do you relax/recharge after an especially long, hard day?

I love massages, but spending time playing with my baby or just watching a DVD with my husband can be very relaxing.

Your favorite off-duty activity?


What do you do to blow off steam?

I think I handle stress pretty well so that I don’t really have to.

Bedside table musts?

My laptop, my cellphone, a glass of water, and our prayer book.

As a kid, what did you dream of doing?

I’ve always wanted to be a doctor, I really love kids so I thought I wanted to become a pediatrician, but med school changed that.

Growing up with parents in the skincare business, what were the cardinal rules of skincare they ingrained in you?

I was lucky that acne was never really a problem for me but I grew up with skin asthma and I guess, having dermatologists as parents helped me deal with that better. I can see how much of a problem it can be for some children now. I just always remember them telling me to stop scratching!

Do you still follow them today?

Thankfully I outgrew my skin asthma but whenever I start scratching, I can almost hear them saying it in my head.

What do you know now about skincare that you didn’t know at 21?

At 21, I didn’t care much about my skin. I would always try to get a tan like everyone else did during the summer. Now I am aware of the sun’s harmful effects on our skin. I’ve learned how to accept my skin color and so no more sun bathing for me!

Have you improved or added to your daily beauty regimen?

Yes! Definitely. There are some things that I have to do in order to prevent premature aging. I started using a tretinoin cream at bedtime, a glycolic cream in the morning and I never leave the house without sunblock.

How many steps/products do you go through in the morning before you leave for work?

I just wash my face with a mild cleanser, put the glycolic cream, sunblock then I top it off with my face powder.

You’re a new mom. How’s life changed since the baby arrived?

Now I’m always thinking of another extra person aside from my husband. It’s hard to be away from Stefano too long. I’m always thinking of what he might be doing when I’m not with him. I guess it’s much harder to just get up and go.

Has having the baby altered your beauty regimen? And how you dress as well?

With my beauty regimen, not so much except that I had to stop using the tretinoin cream when I was pregnant and while I was breastfeeding. In terms of the way I dress, yes, because my body type changed as well. I’m a believer in dressing for your body type.

Do you have beauty advice for moms who don’t have time to go to the spa or derma?

If you have skin problems, there’s no excuse not to go to the derma. It’s better to find a solution before it gets worse. Don’t torture yourself! If you can’t go to the spa, have the spa go to you. There are excellent home spa services that can come to you any time of day.

How would you define your style?

Very feminine and classic.

What was your style as a kid?

I was a very safe dresser as a kid. I didn’t really like to experiment much with my clothes. I would say that I’ve become more adventurous with my choices when it comes to fashion.

What do you feel best wearing?

High heels! It gives me more confidence and it makes any outfit look better.

Is there an item in your closet you cherish the most?

A gown that my husband surprised me with on my 24th birthday. He had our designer friend Tippi Ocampo make it with matching shoes and bag. It was really sweet and I absolutely loved it!

Do you have any fundamental rules of dressing?

Clothes have to fit well. No matter how nice it is, if it’s not in your size, don’t bother. Also dress for the weather.

What are the basic elements of a good outfit?

The right fit, a good color, nice fabric.

What defines a well-dressed woman?

A well-dressed woman will be able to hide her flaws and accentuate her assets through the clothes she wears.

Who, in your opinion, are the best-dressed women of Manila?

I like the style of Anne Curtis.

What separates your style from the rest of the pack?

I guess it’ll depend on how I accessorize my outfits. People can buy the same dress, but the shoes or bags that I wear with a certain outfit will make it different.

What is your no-fail outfit?

White shirt and jeans.

Most unforgettable present you’ve received?

My watch.

Most outrageous purchase?

I haven’t bought them yet. (Laughs)

Best sartorial advice from your parents?

It doesn’t have to be expensive for it to look good.

Who, in your opinion, is emblematic of classic style?

Audrey Hepburn, she’s just timeless.

What would you never be caught dead in?

Clogs? I really don’t know. I would’ve said Crocs, but I couldn’t resist wearing them when I was pregnant and my feet were swollen.

Your fave place to shop?

H&M,  Forever 21, and Topshop.

What is your latest purchase you are in love with?

My white Chanel bag.

What’s your idea of a perfect pair of shoes?

Four-inch stilettos that I can walk in all day.

What three pieces define your everyday style?

Pearl earrings, jeans and a girly top.

Local designers you admire? Why?

Rajo Laurel because he really knows what would look best on his clients.

Mich Dulce because she has a signature style that has her name written all over it.

Cary Santiago because his clothes are like art pieces.


Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig of Marchesa. I just love the femininity of their designs. Karl Lagerfeld because his designs are classic and timeless.

Who would you like to trade closets with?

Blair Waldorf.

What’s your signature scent?

Fresh Lemon Sugar.

Beauty product you can’t live without?


Three desert island picks?

My laptop, my husband and my son.

Celebrity crush?

John Cusack. He kind of reminds me of my husband.

  • Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with