Blue Mon­day

Esquire (Philippines) - - THIS WAY IN - MAKEUP JOAN TEOTICO US­ING NARS COS­MET­ICS HAIRSTYLING JAYJAY GALLEGO OF CRE­ATIONS BY LOURD RAMOS SA­LON

Old school denim gets a new vibe.

THIS WAS ONE OF THE REA­SONS WHY SHE

not per­fect!’” She catches her­self there—the one thing she’s said through­out our con­ver­sa­tion that wasn’t per­fectly po­lite—and laughs. “I’m so not fuckin’ per­fect, be­cause all these things, even when I sit down at night to med­i­tate, it’s not be­cause I’m oh-so-spir­i­tual. It’s be­cause I have to keep it to­gether. That’s how I func­tion as a nor­mal per­son. Oth­er­wise, I would have these weird ob­ses­sions and neu­rotic ten­den­cies. I have to chan­nel my neu­roses into all these modal­i­ties that other peo­ple call ‘per­fect.’ They’re all crutches to keep me stand­ing up­right.” hap­pi­est,” she says. “And I think I fi­nally found my­self. Those pieces of my­self that were miss­ing, I found them back here.”

Soul-search­ing, as it were, meant that Mona would open her­self up to a lot of dif­fer­ent things. It was model­ing for the first few years, un­til she was coaxed into record­ing a stu­dio al­bum by some­one who imag­ined her to be some sort of lo­cal Fergie (the al­bum never saw the light of day, be­cause she quit mid­way through, say­ing “I couldn’t sing to save my life!”). Then she worked in the gov­ern­ment for a while, pro­mot­ing the wake­board­ing scene in Ca­marines Sur, and even starred in a re­al­ity show with Da­iana Menezes not too long ago.

But what stuck to her the most was ve­g­an­ism, which she dis­cov­ered through her part­ner, Corey. “It be­came my new job,” she says, telling me of how she be­came oc­cu­pied by cham­pi­oning ve­g­an­ism and cook­ing raw ve­gan food. Mona would do work­shops, teach the per­sonal chefs of wealthy peo­ple to cook the raw ve­gan way, and be­come a poster girl for that way of life. “Then all of a sud­den I had a raw food girl stigma,” she be­moans. “[It was] an iden­tity that was at­tached to me. But it didn’t quite feel 100 per­cent me, be­cause there’s so much more to me than just eat­ing veg­etable sticks.” These days, Mona is con­tin­u­ing her work as a ve­gan chef. She’s taken to paint­ing, too, and still teaches yoga. But more im­por­tantly, she seems to have found her place.

“A lot of my time ev­ery­day goes into keep­ing it to­gether, you know what I mean? A lot of peo­ple are like, ‘Oh, you’re into yoga, you’re into raw food and ve­g­an­ism and you’re an artist; you’re so per­fect!’ And I’m like, ‘No, I’m fuck­ing Then she shows me the scars on her fore­arms, and re­counts at­tempts at her own life: once with a blade in the cor­ner of a bath­room, and again by down­ing an en­tire con­tainer of pre­scrip­tion pills. But her tone never turns too rue­ful. To­day, she’s just calm and ob­jec­tive in ret­ro­spect of this chap­ter of her life, ac­knowl­edg­ing that it’s in the past, and that bury­ing it there would serve no one.

“I’m not say­ing that my fa­ther was an evil man. He was just a prod­uct of his gen­er­a­tion,” she says. “My dad passed away at the age of 90, so he was born in 1926, which means he was in the Hitler Youth.” Well, that was thor­oughly un­ex­pected. “You didn’t have a choice back then. It’s ei­ther you joined the Hitler Youth or you’d have the Gestapo on your back. He never re­ally told us the de­tails of what he’d been through, but you can imag­ine all the vi­o­lence that he en­coun­tered as a young per­son. And that just shaped him into who he was, and also as a fa­ther.”

There’s com­pas­sion, I tell her, in be­ing able to see it that way. Peo­ple tend to keep it in­side, to hold grudges. But not Mona. “Af­ter his pass­ing, all of us, we got to­gether, and we re­mem­bered him as the pos­i­tive, up­lift­ing, happy per­son who he was in times of nor­mal­ity.” MONA LISA NEUBOECK HAS THIS DIS­ARM­ING self-aware­ness about her—a rare wis­dom of her­self and of the world that not only adds to her al­lure, but de­fines it. Be­cause she’s learned to take life in stride, and eman­ci­pated her­self from her own de­mons, she has sur­vived; and stands to­day, stronger and more beau­ti­ful. To oth­ers, Mona is a #fit­spi­ra­tion, but only be­cause they don’t see how much more it is than just fit­ness. The surf­ing, the yoga, the ve­g­an­ism, her en­tire life­style—these are all rea­sons to be truly in­spired by her, be­yond how well they reg­is­ter on so­cial me­dia. Mona knows that, and in liv­ing them, hopes that oth­ers can draw the same from a healthy life­style too. “It’s a coping mech­a­nism,” she says. “It just looks so good!” moved to the Philip­pines. “Be­cause a lot of dark­ness hap­pened [in Aus­tria],” she says. Bat­tered, bro­ken, but hope­ful, Mona picked her­self up and es­caped to her mother’s home coun­try, where she still had fond mem­o­ries. “When­ever we would come to the Philip­pines on va­ca­tion, that was when my fam­ily was the

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