The curious case of Mandy dela Rama-Santos

Cate de Leon (The Philippine Star) - November 23, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - 40 is an age that many 20-somethings dread hitting. But not only does Mandy dela Rama look youthful for her age, I had more fun interviewing her over the phone than I’ve had face to face with many women half her age. She’s very candid, at ease, and cracks a lot of jokes on the side. The experience was like talking to those sassy, world-wise, but only slightly older ate figures whom we try to be cool and level with, but have secretly turned into our personal life pegs.

What’s different about being 40? “Nothing really. I mean, I have the Olay ads. That’s a new thing I never thought I’d do because I’m shy. But 40’s pretty much the same as being 30,” she says breezily. And you can tell from a slight nuance in her voice that she wonders why everybody thinks it’s such a big deal.

Mandy’s personal experience of aging has been “in the reverse.” Her metabolism is faster now, and she doesn’t have to work out as much as she did. “I used to be at it for hours, but now I just work out for 30 minutes and get the same results. I eat like a pig, and nothing. I wouldn’t have worked so hard when I was younger if I had known this. And I know a lot of people who are like that also.”

I asked her about the things she’s had to give up, as she eased into settling down and becoming a mother. “We have this idea that we lose things as we age,” she says. “But we gain. We’re more financially secure, because we’ve been working for a long time. In place of the insecurity and personal uncertainty when you’re younger, now you’re more confident,” says the queen who has found and marked her territory.

Three clothing businesses

“I’m the owner, designer, manufacturer, and slave of my brand, Tarte Tatin. I’m also designing and producing Rustan’s in-house children’s line, Kiddos. And I’m planning a third line for Wellworth department store. Plus I have a food business in the works,” she says.

She doesn’t take the fact that she was once tagged as an “It Girl” seriously. Although she says that today’s it girls are definitely smarter because they know how to milk it completely. “Before if someone asked us to appear in an ad, we’d do it for free! Seeing how it girls do it now, I’m like, mali! And the cyberworld wasn’t around back then. I sound like a dinosaur.”

Ironically though, she hates shopping. “I used to love it, but now I don’t have the patience. That’s the worst thing you can do to me. I’ll just kill myself. I like doing it online, though, where it’s relaxing and you can just sip while at it. But yeah, the last time I travelled, which was three weeks ago, I didn’t even go to one shop. A friend was asking me to come with, and I told her I’d just meet her later at happy hour.”

She describes her own style as being a reflection of her “simple” life. “I’m really not bongga. I’m very streamlined. I’m all for minimalism and simplicity,” she says.

A second wind

“A second wind” is how Mandy describes how it feels to be recently separated. “It’s a decision I live with every day. There are pros and cons, but I am very, very happy being free and single. Life is very good,” she says.

Nevertheless, marriage is still something that she would want for her nine-year-old daughter. “Marriage is a beautiful institution. It mattered to me that my daughter grew up seeing a good example of it. I want her to have the opportunity to have a happy marriage.”

‘You don’t need to get married for the second time. God might strike me with lightning for saying this, but I just want to be with a person because I want to, not because I'm legally required to. I’m not going to do it again, unless it’s with Zac Efron or Daniel Craig.’

And while Mandy is very open to falling in love again in due time, “0917… no, just kidding,” she laughs, she’s content with having tried marriage once. “You don’t need to get married for the second time. God might strike me with lightning for saying this, but I just want to be with a person because I want to, not because I'm legally required to. I’m not going to do it again, unless it’s with Zac Efron or Daniel Craig,” she jokes.

“I’m currently loveless. I’ll let you know when I get there. But this time, I know what I want, and I’m looking forward to my happy ever after.”

Three passions

The three current outlets for Mandy’s passion are her child, her work, and boxing. “I’m just overwhelmed with the thought that I wake up being responsible for someone—someone else’s character, who she grows up to be. And this is someone who will later on have an effect on others. My contribution to society is my child.”

And despite how rich many people would already consider Mandy’s life to be, she’s still excited to pursue more. “I want to start more businesses, more work, more money,” she laughs. “I want to try new things. I’d like to put up my own blog, I just don’t know what direction it will take. I want to branch out into houseware and put up a shop that’s similar to Australia’s Smiggles, with scented erasers, all sorts of stationary, notebooks, umbrellas, and even abubots. You know, silly little stuff.”

For now, Mandy would describe herself to be at peace. “I’ve found myself, and I discover new things about myself every day. I’m facing some serious challenges right now, that if you had told me about when I was 20, I’d freak out and get discombobulated with the emotional and scary situations I had to face. But now that it’s happening, it’s no biggie. I know how to handle what is thrown my way. I can easily put my mind over my heart when I need to. And I find that I have courage, grace under pressure, and the calmness that it takes.” she says.

See guys? The water’s more than fine.

* * *

Tweet the author @catedeleon




Produced by DAVID MILAN




  • Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
Login 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