CRISELDA LONTOK: ONE SPLEN­DID GRAND­MOTHER

An 80-year-old woman should not even wear miniskirts

Daily Tribune (Philippines) - - LIFESTYLE - Jojo G. Sil­vestre

Just like a se­lect few things that get bet­ter as they get older, Criselda, the ex­clu­sive cloth­ing brand, has tran­scended fash­ion trends and so­cial sea­sons and is to­day one of the best sell­ers at the Rus­tan’s Depart­ment Store.

Like her epony­mous brand, Criselda Lontok’s is one name in high so­ci­ety that has en­dured through decades. In her youth, she be­came a top fash­ion model and hers was one of the pret­ti­est faces of Manila. But her so­cial ca­reer would not end there. In­stead, she would re­main in the lime­light as a suc­cess­ful de­signer.

As a young wife and mother who be­lieved she could con­trib­ute to the world out there, she ap­plied for a job at Rus­tan’s. The grand lady of the num­ber one pur­veyor of lux­ury in the coun­try, Glecy R. Tan­toco, took her in de­spite her ini­tial doubts as to whether Criselda, who comes from a good fam­ily in Batan­gas and mar­ried into an­other good fam­ily from La­guna, would stick it out de­spite the rig­or­ous re­quire­ments of the job.

Thank­fully, Criselda proved her­self wor­thy, even as she had had to deal di­rectly with the ma­tri­arch, Mrs. Tan­toco, who was known to be a tough and no-non­sense boss. In fact, they clicked, as her boss turned out to be a sup­port­ive men­tor.

In time, Mrs. Tan­toco asked Criselda, who was one of the store’s buy­ers who trav­eled to Europe and var­i­ous parts of the world, to start her own line. To­day, Criselda’s out­fits are a must among Manila’s prom­i­nent women who love to wear them not only when at­tend­ing big par­ties but also when vis­it­ing with friends, shop­ping at the mall or re­lax­ing with the fam­ily at home.

Bond­ing with her grand­chil­dren

Re­cently, I in­ter­viewed Criselda not so much about her own brand but about how she has kept to her youth­ful looks and how she has grace­fully adopted to her role as a car­ing grand­mother to her el­dest son Carlo’s chil­dren, Fran­cis, Carlo and Adi; her daugh­ter Carla’s chil­dren Sophia, Chris­tian and Thomas who are all liv­ing abroad; and her youngest son John’s chil­dren, Is­abella and Alessan­dra.

My great­est legacy to them would be the achieve­ment of my suc­cess through hard work, pas­sion and stay­ing fo­cused on my goal.

Criselda ad­mit­ted to us that when her own chil­dren were grow­ing up, she “didn’t be­lieve in spoil­ing them as they would suf­fer in the long run. But I can­not pos­si­bly do it di­rectly to my grand­chil­dren be­cause they have their par­ents. So I tell their par­ents that it is not good to spoil them.”

She bonds with her grand­chil­dren by “din­ing out in restau­rants es­pe­cially on spe­cial oc­ca­sions and we ei­ther pro­ceed to Carlo’s house for swim­ming or go to malls for win­dow shop­ping.”

While she keeps a low pro­file and prefers not to party, her pres­ence in Rus­tan’s prod­uct launches and fash­ion shows is a per­sonal must for her. She also fa­vors din­ners with in­ti­mate friends and, once or twice a year, at­tends one of those big an­nual balls.

Bal­ance diet

Her beauty secret? “On or­di­nary days,

I sleep early af­ter cleans­ing my face and ap­ply­ing dif­fer­ent creams. Then, I wake up early, do the same ri­tual, pray and walk for about 30 min­utes with my rosary,” she says.

For­tu­nately for Criselda, who has al­ways been slim, “I have never had any prob­lem with my weight so I just eat a bal­anced diet with lots of fruits and veg­eta­bles, more of chicken than pork and rarely beef.

“Since I’m prone to al­lergy, I wash my face with Ce­taphil Gen­tle Skin Cleanser and warm Kan­gen wa­ter, fol­lowed by Kan­gen wa­ter of room tem­per­a­ture. I find Clar­ins good for my skin so I ap­ply serum eye cream and day or night cream, de­pend­ing on the time of ap­pli­ca­tion. While do­ing so, I mas­sage my face us­ing up­ward mo­tions.”

Al­ways be neat

When it comes to dress­ing up, she be­lieves, “It is im­por­tant to con­sider your age. An 80-yearold woman should not even wear miniskirts...just a lit­tle above the knee is per­mis­si­ble but not one that shows her prom­i­nent vari­cose veins and other un­sightly parts.”

Any­one of se­nior age, or any age, for that mat­ter, “should al­ways con­sider her per­son­al­ity and the oc­ca­sion when she chooses her clothes. Al­ways be neat and use a lit­tle per­fume,” she ad­mon­ishes women who want to be proper and pleas­ant.

Criselda uses her own brand all the time, whether “for of­fice work, lunch or din­ner with friends. I wear Criselda long gowns to for­mal af­fairs. This is one way of show­ing my line. I get good re­sults be­cause some of my friends and even new ac­quain­tances would ask me to re­serve that same style for them. I pro­mote my brand by wear­ing them.”

Din­ner and movies

Criselda is one woman of the upper class who has reached a level of suc­cess of which she could be proud. This, she at­tributes to “hard work and pas­sion for what­ever I’m do­ing. I owe my suc­cess in the fash­ion world to the Tan­toco fam­ily es­pe­cially the late ma­tri­arch, Mrs. Glecy R. Tan­toco, who started my line with a few blouses un­til it be­came what it is.”

It’s not all work for Criselda, though. She re­calls that when friends Mary Pri­eto and Josie Lichauco were still alive, “we would al­ways watch movies with Offie Recto and Honi Ilu­so­rio and ended up hav­ing din­ner. Then, Chari Ba­gats­ing would join us.” She still dines out with Offie and Honi, along with with Mar­garita Si­son, Nora Bi­tong and Buda Sam­son.

Criselda is a mem­ber of Cofra­dia De La In­mac­u­lada Con­cep­cion, which was founded by the late Meldy Co­juangco, Hand­maids of the Lord and Mary’s Way. “We do a lot of char­ity work in these or­ga­ni­za­tions,” she shares.

Great­est legacy

Go­ing back to the sub­ject of her grand­chil­dren, this el­e­gant, charm­ing and youth­ful grand­mother says, “I al­ways in­ject in their minds to stay hum­ble at all times and to re­spect oth­ers what­ever their sta­tus in life is. And to be­gin their day by thank­ing the Lord for all His bless­ings and al­ways stay close to Him and Mama Mary.

“My great­est legacy to them would be the achieve­ment of my suc­cess through hard work, pas­sion and stay­ing fo­cused on my goal. I have served as an in­spi­ra­tion to them and I be­lieve they will al­ways feel proud of me.”

PHO­TO­GRAPH COUR­TESY OF DAILY TRI­BUNE

SHE wears her own de­signs.

PHO­TO­GRAPH COUR­TESY OF RUS­TANS ARCHIVES

RIGHT af­ter a fash­ion show fea­tur­ing her epony­mous brand.

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