Tetta Agustin and daughter Tosca Augustin : Two tough, intelligent women
Tetta Agustin & Tosca Augustin: A life of style, substance and strength
Millet M. Mananquil (The Philippine Star) - May 13, 2018 - 12:00am

More than all the glam in her life, Tetta is proudest of her daughter Tosca who passed the New York bar four years ago, determined to be a lawyer  ‘so she could protect me.’

MANILA, Philippines — The fashion world remembers Tetta Agustin for giving the Philippines its shining moment in international couture history. Tetta was the acclaimed model of Givenchy for three years, and Yves Saint Laurent for five years — the only Filipina achieving that kind of success in Europe in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

Then she transformed into a businesswoman, mastering other kinds of figures — besides her own shapely one.

Tetta ( right) during the graduation of Tosca (third from left) at the University of London where she took her master‘s in International Commercial Law.

For the past two decades she has also been a classic car rallyist with her French husband Christian Baverey who is a vintage car collector. Together they are into real estate and art/antiques.

But little do her followers know that more than all these glam hallmarks of success, there is a singular achievement that Tetta is proudest of: raising her daughter Tosca Augustin who is now a beautiful and brilliant lawyer.

First of all, why the name Tosca? And why Augustin?

“I probably should have named her Berlina, for she was born in 1989, the year that the Berlin Wall was brought down,” Tetta explains in her uniquely Frenchified Pinoy twang.

“But I named her Tosca because I promised my friend Maria Callas that if I had a daughter, I would name her Tosca (after the song by Puccini that Callas was renowned for performing as an opera star), and so I did.

At the Bavereys’ boat on the French Riviera, La Tosca, named after Tetta’s daughter. Like Tetta and her husband Christian Baverey, Tosca loves traveling and studying foreign cultures. She recently rediscovered her Filipino heritage by traveling to Cebu, Balesin and Tagaytay. And found her Asian soul in Japan, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal.

“Maria Callas was so depressed when Aristotle Onassis left her for Jackie Kennedy. I tried to comfort her, sometimes by sending her adobo, which she liked. We lived not far from each other. The Greek tycoon died in 1975, and Callas two years after.”

 As to why Tosca’s surname is Augustin (instead of Agustin), Tetta says: “Europeans never pronounce ‘Agustin’ the way we do, they always say ‘Augustin.’ So in London where Tosca was born, the hospital wrote her surname on the birth certificate as ‘Augustin.’”

Tosca’s entry into the world was instantly chic, befitting her mom’s world, having been born at Britain’s ritzy Portland Hospital where chefs famously serve champagne, foie gras and oysters in a five-star manner to moms post-delivery. Newborn babies stay in their own room; Tetta remembers flowers being delivered non-stop during the week she stayed at Portland Hospital.

Tosca with mom Tetta and her French husband Christian Baverey, whom Tosca deeply adores and who has been such a loving father to her.

 I first met Tetta in Paris in the mid ’70s when Larrie Silva —himself having tasted a measure of Parisian success as an apprentice of Balmain before Glecy Tantoco recruited him for Rustan’s — introduced me to Tetta. The three of us walked along Champs Elysees as we talked fashion, and I took photographs of her as well, for a feature in the Daily Express Sunday magazine.

Many years after, in 2011, I met Tetta again in Hong Kong on board the boat of a Hong Kong industrialist who was a friend of the couple Philip and Ching Cruz, whose birthday we were celebrating there together with their friends from the international business circle. This time, Tetta and I talked not just fashion, but also about her daughter Tosca who was always on her mind.

Tetta made sure her daughter got a good education. Tosca went to Hill House School in London for her preparatory years. From regularly joining her mom and her friends for tea at Claridge’s in London, Tosca enjoyed learning more about the world just by listening.

Tosca at their Cannes home that speaks of a love for art and culture.

For grade school, Tosca studied at the Good Shepherd Catholic School in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles. Tetta smiles as she remembers it was their school choir that sang during the tribute at the wake for the late Frank Sinatra.

Tetta sent Tosca to boarding school at Institut Le Rosey in Switzerland where Tosca did the international baccalaureate. Then she took her law degree at the University of Westminster in London, followed by a master’s in International Commercial Law at the University of London.

Not content with these, Tosca finished another master’s in Corporate Law at Columbia.

She went on to work for the New York law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett. She relocated to the Sao Paulo office for three years.

Tosca having fun at Tetta’s recent themed birthday party. Photo by Walter Bollozos

“When she passed the New York bar exams four years ago, I was so happy,” beams the proud mother. Tetta likes to think that her daughter was determined to be a lawyer “so she could someday protect me.” As a businesswoman, Tetta would bring the young Tosca with her during her consultation visits to her lawyer.

It was during her work in Brazil that Tosca had a eureka moment and thought that, after lawyering, she could tackle a new challenge by starting her own business in Brazil.

“I am still in the process of researching. It seems interesting to bring a version of what we call ‘dirty ice cream’ to the mass market in Brazil, as it does not exist there yet.”

 Here, the model mother and her lawyer daughter talk about each other:

Tosca in a gown from the wardrobe of her mom’s modeling days.

Tosca Augustin

How do you describe your mom?

Fun and crazy, always the one telling the story or joke.

What is your unforgettable childhood memory regarding your mom?

Before my mom would go out to dinner or a party, instead of always kissing me goodbye, she would “sniff” me goodbye because she always had some beautiful lipstick on her. It’s a weird memory that I remember so vividly, which I even do now.

What is the best lesson you’ve learned from her?

To be independent. Anything can happen in life within a blink of an eye. You may find yourself alone and need to be able to fend for yourself. My mom taught me to never depend financially or emotionally on anyone or anything.

What is the best lesson she learned from you?

To trust her daughter will make the right decisions.

When was the last time you made her cry?

My mom is a tough cookie, I don’t make her cry.

When was the last time she made you cry?

When we were going through her memories with Tita Letty Magsanoc. They had such a strong bond, her passing was very tough for her and going through her memories made us both cry.

What advice would you give your mom right now?

My mom is always traveling and still starting new business ventures. I would tell her to slow down a bit to avoid unnecessary stress. She will always have a great life.

What are you proudest of about your mom?

My mother has had a life of ups and downs. She lost everything she built in London in the Lloyd’s of London crash. I’m very proud of how she rebuilt to give me the childhood that I had. A lot of friends in her position did not have the will or ambition to start from scratch and rebuild.

Is there anyone among your mom’s friends who has made an impact on you?

Both godfathers I have made an impact on me. Givenchy, the well-known designer, had always been someone that I looked up to. Not only physically striking but a great person to have known. Yuki is my other godfather who is a Japanese designer and was more well known in the ’70s. He has taught me so much and has definitely impacted my life.

You are often apart, in different parts of the world. What do you do when you miss her ?

 Nowadays it’s so easy to pick up the phone and FaceTime her whenever I miss her. We FaceTime quite often.

‘My mother has had a life of ups and downs. She lost everything she built in the Lloyd’s of London crash. I’m very proud of how she rebuilt to give me the childhood that I had,’ says Tosca.

Tetta Agustin as the runwaymodel who was a fave of Givenchy and Yves Saint Laurent.

Tetta Agustin

How do you describe your daughter?

She is so loving especially to elders, so supportive of her classmates from grade school, high school and at law school. I know well because I met most of her classmates. Her best trait?  She’s so joyous.

What is your best memory of Tosca when she was growing up?

That she’s the magic in my life. When she was little she used to come to my bedroom and she would sing and dance for me. At the age of two she already knew the lyrics to most of Whitney Houston’s songs.

What is the best lesson you’ve learned from her?

To trust her.

What is the best lesson she learned from you?

To be independent and to be kind to underprivileged people.

When was the last time you made your daughter cry?

When I scolded her whenever I thought she did wrong. Now she has become a strong person like me.  She will only call me when she needs something.

When was the last time she made you cry?

She never saw me cry, but I cried every time I had to leave her in her boarding school. Today I still cry when her vacation with us is over.

What advice would you give your daughter right now?

She’s of age to make her own decisions. I am just here to guide her.

What are you proudest of about your daughter?

She is a brilliant lawyer. And napakabait niya.

Is there anyone among your daughter’s friends who has made an impact on you?

Yes, her friends who adored me. And one who passed away at the age of 21.

You and Tosca are often apart, in different parts of the world. What do you do when you miss her? 

I call her or do FaceTime with her. Whenever I cannot reach her or if she’s too busy to talk to me, I text her to tell her that I am calling the police to look for her.

TETTA AGUSTIN TOSCA AUGUSTIN
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