I was on the floor laughing when I heard the tag line of one of the TV commercials being aired endorsed no less than by the newly-minted Mrs. Soriano. She says,"May igaganda pa pala ako."
I thought that this was really ... well, hilarious because of the gamut of implications that the statement carried.
But let us not even go there.
My point is that every woman --- no, that is being sexist --- include everyone (male of the species included, in all possible permutations) want to be mas maganda or mas guapo. I have yet to hear anyone say: "Ayoko na. Sobra na ang ganda ko. It's already unfair."
Or even, "Lord, why did you do this to me? My beauty is my curse."
Human nature dictates that nobody is thin enough, beautiful enough ... or especially rich enough.
Usually those who have the right to say that they have acquired enough wealth for the next three reincarnations are the ones most prone to be endlessly nitpicking about their weight or beauty. That is maybe because the spectrum of their possible problems no longer involve everyday human survival. That is also because they have enough assets to get them by until the day they croak and set aside in their airtight caskets.
Or such problems come from those who make a living looking beautiful in front of people. They belong to that special sector of the population who are preoccupied with being more gorgeous or worse, remaining attractive to the eyes of their consumers. That makes a lot of sense really if your face and body are your office ... or if you have nothing better to do than be preoccupied by your shape and looks.
If you make money out of looking fresh, beautiful and young despite how you feel, what you are going through and how old you are, it is no mystery as to why looking at the mirror each morning can be a cautionary ordeal.
But there is one thing that really gets me into a hyper mode. It is when you discuss about things you think you can change from those that you simply must accept.
OK, if you are not blessed with that kind of Spanish nose (which chances are you are not ... unless you are a hybrid or having roots in the Iberian Peninsula) or you are mistaken for a boy because your mammary glands are molehills when you wish they were mountains ... or even if you just want to trim down that middle where your love handles have already grown into the size of a waist pouch ...then there is indeed an easy solution.
What cannot be readily addressed and relieved by Saint Jude, Patron Saint of the Impossible can be facilitated by Dr. Vicky Belo in any of her clinics. I mean, if you have the means ... inclusive of the tolerance for the pain that goes with such intrusive operations, aba, di go na lang nang go, hindi ba?
It is within your human rights to manipulate what nature fails to offer ... or has given up in terms of services.
It is your decision because it is your body ... and most of all, it is your money.
It is not as if you conned a senator to divert his discretionary fund just so that you can extract twelve kilos of fat from your midsection, right? If you can afford it, then employ any means ... including the legendary services of Malabanan to suck out everything that needs to be shed to achieve your svelte state of person.
Ibalik ang karapatan na magka-baywang. Bring back your right to have a waistline. Also include a neck.
But here's the thing.
I have this aversion for people who, until this day and age still think with the mindset of the times when Luneta was still called Bagumbayan or when Makati literally meant The Marshlands. I do not understand why (for the love of God and Mother Nature) why we are still pre-occupied in miming Caucasians or desiring to have fair complexion even at the risk of looking like albinos.
Fact to accept: we are of Malay blood ... therefore we are brown of skin. If we truly want to foist our indigenous origins, then accept the truth that we have brown or even olive skin. We are not maputi.
There are some of us who are naturally maputi because of the mixture of races in the that enormous melting vat of nationalities that has become our family trees.
But the natural Filipino color is brown ... and there is nothing wrong with it. At all. As a matter of fact, our color is what naturally makes us unique and beautiful.
Blame it on media. Blame it on some demented sense of commercialism that Filipinos are conditioned to think that you have to be maputi in order to be maganda. Ah, talaga?
This whole iconography of the mestiza as the paragon of Filipina beauty is ...well, really quite outdated yet is still being insisted upon and perpetuated in the faces that we see in mainstream media.
Let's make a headcount.
How many of the most popular movie and television actresses look like hybrid Caucasians? Is there still anyone out there who has darker skin or is everybody hydrating on Glutatione to make sure that they are maputi enough to be maganda?
If they are not mestizas, they are Chinitas. And that is mainly because we have also acquired a love for Taiwanese and Korean telenovelas. Well, that is good. At least, we are celebrating the Asian in us --- no longer feeling culturally inferior because we do not have doe eyes and instead loving the fact that singkit is beautiful.
But again Chinese, Korean and Japanese ancestry still has fair skin --- the most beautiful porcelain kind for that matter. And we bemoan the fact that ours is the color of chocolate or even kamagong.
There is a convenient explanation for this pre-occupation to be maputi or even maputla.
Ladies of media must be aspirational.
The fans adore them because they want to be like them. Thus, they should not represent reality as we understand it ... but that near-perfect state which, despite how much they try, your regular Nene or Inday can never and will never achieve.
Thus they are beautiful in their whiteness, garbed in designer clothes with their houses and personal possessions (Count those Hermes bags! Gape at the jewelry! Look at all those imported gowns ... and those shoes!) featured in ten spreads in entertainment magazines.
It has not nothing to do with talent but all of packaging. It has got nothing to do with the acting or singing but how the faces register in photographs or in the big or small screens. And all the while the emphasis has always been on being maputi because that is unreachable and therefore the ultimate gauge for being maganda.
Being fair of skin is a must if you want to be artistahin or to fall within the category of the maganda. Achieving pagka-Tisay does not only entail avoiding direct sunlight like a vampire. It also means bleaching, applying lotions with appropriate ultra-violet rays protection ...and of course, consuming what are deemed as healthy chemicals that have other functions aside from diminishing skin pigmentation.
Since we all want to be more maganda, we accept what media (and marketing) feeds us hook, line and bleaching agent. Yes, using sunblock lotions to protect the skin from UV Rays is acceptable ... especially for those who want to defy another law of nature called ageing. But then that has got nothing to do with one's eventual aspiration to be one of the world's most beautiful albinos.
( A sidebar: I once worked with a young actress whose pagkaputi has reached the level of the disturbing. I tactfully asked her how come she almost had this ghostly and transparent skin. She replied with such glee and authority and told me that she was taking Glutathione intravenously. At that point, my jaw literally dropped.
She also barked out names of other actresses who actually mainline the chemical. I knew about this being injected ... but to have this going straight to your veins is something that was mind-boggling.
I asked her just how white did she want to become ...and she said that she still felt she was morena. I told her that there was nothing wrong with having a dusky skin. But I held back in telling her that she was already on her way to be The Invisible Woman. )
Furthermore, here's the catch.
Even if we are still being bombarded by images and taglines in media that screams, "Bleach! Bleach! Bleach!" the world has already spun around so many times in the opposite direction. Tastes have definitely changed around the world and we have been blindsided.
Whereas before you have to look as regal as Gloria Romero or Susan Roces or Amalia Fuentes ... and the top mannequins were the likes of Pearly Arcache, Joji Felix, Chona Kasten or Crispy Santamaria, the world has evolved a completely set of aesthetics.
In the fashion world that has hailed the like of Iman, Alek Wek and, of course, Naomi Campbell and lately the actress named Lupita Nyongo, part of the global appeal is recognizing beauty over and beyond the color of the skin. Beauty is found within the skin color for that is what makes the personification of a race unique.
We do not even have to go farther even in our islands.
The two most successful Filipina models who hit the international runways and magazine covers to be darlings of international designers are not mestizas.
They are olive or brown-skinned beauties hailed for their difference rather than their compliance with Caucasian or Latin American benchmarks of beauty. Anna Bayle and Melanie Marquez were two of the most successful international models because they were not whites.
There are other models who walked down the American and European runways --- like Tetta Agustin and especially Bessie Badilla --- who to this very day is still a stunner --- were not your stereotype Spanish or American mestizas hailed by earlier generations.
Going down the beauty queen roster also proves the point that iba ang kayumanggi kaysa sa maputla.
Except for Margie Moran-Floirendo, all of the Filipinas crowned by international beauty pageants as queens or runners-up are basically morenas. Start with Gemma Cruz-Araneta, Aurora Pijuan, Melanie Marquez, Precious Lara Quigaman and Bea Rose Santiago all had their Miss International Crowns not because they looked completely Caucasian in features. Runners-up in the Miss Universe that include Desiree Verdadero, Chat Silayan, Miriam Quiambao, Chiqui Brosas, Venus Raj, Shamsey Supsup, Janine Tuganon and Ara Arida are all brown-skinned stunners.
Even Megan Young, the very first Filipina to bag the Miss World crown, has that beautiful brown skin despite the fact that she has a foreign sounding family name. She still stood out not only because of her intelligence, spontaneity and personality but because she looked good ... with a tan complexion sparkling beside her Caucasian co-finalists onstage.
Again, there lies the irony: in the eyes of the world, the gorgeous Filipina is one who radiates beauty with a color of an islander, proud of the fusion of both Hispanic and Malayan as well as other Western races in the totality of her being. She is not someone whose skin has been so engineered or chemically conditioned to belong to a species that is not hers to begin with.
After all, the real measure of beauty is in its truth. Or authenticity.
In the age of enhancements, well ... we all dance to the music we sing. Walang basagan ng trip. Thanks to the developments in science and technology, you can be whoever you want to be or become as long as you have the resources to make yourself happy. That includes completely reinventing yourself, rearranging your face like a jigsaw puzzle until you find the right package that suits your needs.
Don't get me wrong. Our fair-skinned icons like Marian Rivera, Carla Abellana, Bea Alonso, Kim Chiu and Anne Curtis are all beautiful in their own unique ways, embodying what is maganda in the here and now. But so are those who have accepted the colors of their skins --- to make them stand side by side with any mestiza and still stand proud: Isabelle Daza, Angel Aquino, Heart Evangelista ... just to name a few.
Again, for final emphasis: maganda ang kayumanggi. I do not need a clenched fist up in the air to prove that.
Perhaps beauty is indeed in the eyes of the beholder.
But what can be seen and adjudged can only last for so many seconds or scratch only the surface. Anything that is skin-deep, of course, has nothing but fleeting value because this is bound of change and eventually wither away. Real beauty is the genuineness in what beauty has to offer ... and that has got nothing to do with something that has been manipulated just to have that elusive and never-reachable thing called kagandahan.