Saturday, October 28, 2006

Tim and Celine are cool

Photo by Piotr Lahunko from

I've been getting a lot of questions from people about Manila's society and media prince and princess, Tim Yap and Celine Lopez. Apparently, these two young people were not well liked by most of the denizens of social climbers that overrun this huge (and tiny) cosmopolitan city. And because I've worked with them before, people are hoping for the dish on these two, and I'm sure people want to hear ugly stuff. Unfortunately for them, I like Tim and Celine.

Now, as a rule, I don't talk about celebrities that I've featured in my magazine. But since these two people are amazing to work with, I'll describe how Tim and Celine are like.

The first time I worked with them, I admit feeling a bit apprehensive. These two were members of a class I never belonged to (and I feel very comfortable not to ever join as they still seem like a strange species), and I was a little afraid I'd be treated like a second-class citizen. But I must say that my fears were ridiculous. Working with them had been a breeze—no diva demands, every detail needed discussed briefly but efficiently, punctual, and whenever I needed something, one text message is all I had to do and I had what I wanted from them pronto. If every person I worked with were like them, my life will be so much easier!

I had asked Celine if we could visit the Lopez ancestral home in Iloilo. I anticipated a negative response since she's a very busy Manila girl, but surprisingly she said yes. The photo shoot had problems because I was on a limited budget and I didn't know how to tell Celine that I can't afford to pay for an entourage (I thought all society girls had that). When I mumbled out this concern, she laughed and assured me, "Don't worry! I can do my own hair and makeup. I'll choose my own clothes. And don't worry about the food—we'll serve you the best of Iloilo!" (She made good on her promise—my God, the food was incredible, and was served every two hours!) So off we flew to Iloilo with photographer Sara Black and shoot director Luis Espiritu. Celine brought a friend of hers, Miguel Pastor, but his airfare didn't come out of my budget. And since he was fun and intelligent too, it was definitely the more the merrier!

The shoot was a success. Celine woke up earlier than we did (an ungodly 8 AM for me since we stayed up late talking about Dynasty and ghost stories from World War II—which scared me hence I couldn't sleep!). She regaled us with outrageous tales about her (political) family, funny childhood memories, and even took us on a sightseeing tour of Iloilo City and Guimaras Island complete with tour guide commentary. She didn't complain about staying under the hot sun (I did—I get burned very easily) or lying down on the muddy grass, or posing in front of a carabao that had very scary sharp horns. Then when our van overheated in the middle of nowhere, she flagged down a tricycle. No airs at all.

But what really impressed me was how she treats the household help. Most of the time, you see the real character of a person by how he treats his inferiors. Celine treated all the manangs and drivers with respect, joking with them, making sure they ate already, always saying please and making lambing. And it wasn't an act. Parating pa lang yung sasakyan namin sa bahay, tuwang-tuwa na yung reception committee—definitely no fear of the master there.

Now Tim is Celine's friend and so when I called him up a few months later, I felt more at ease. I thought he'd be just as nice and I was right. For this shoot at his psychedelic home in Mandaluyong, I was late. I hate to be late because it's unprofessional. But when I got there, he was all friendly and chatty, like we were old friends. He asked if I ate corn on the cob because he had spied a street vendor and he wanted some hot mais.

While shooting, we realized to our dismay that because of his super colorful house, it was hard to photograph him. His surroundings (something straight from Alice in Wonderland and Austin Powers) overpowered him. The shoot dragged on and on as Tim patiently tried on one outfit after another until we found the perfect clothes and angles. All that time, he chattered non-stop about his life (our editorial assistant Kate Alvarez was interviewing him), his house, his dog Super, and so on and so forth. Kate's questions never seemed to stop yet Tim was game to answer everything, even the personal ones.

I learned three things from Tim that day:
  1. Never say no to work. Small-time, big-time, as long as it's decent, it pays you cold hard cash. Sleep is for the lazy or the dead.
  2. Always honor your parents. You owe them big time and the only way you can repay them is with honor and respect.
  3. Remember the people you work with. This town is small so if you want to be successful, treat everyone you meet with respect and you will be rewarded with more friends, jobs, and money.
I bump into Tim and Celine at parties now and then. I'm not friends with them but they are always very friendly to me, which surprises me because I'm usually very reserved at parties (I don't like venturing out of my house after 7 PM, which makes me gruff and monosyllabic at late-night gatherings). I don't claim to know Tim and Celine personally, but from what I've seen they are decent people. For those who ask me and want to hear nasty stuff about them, sorry, you'll have to look elsewhere. Good people are hard to come by these days so when I find them, it's only right to say they are good.

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