Have you ever heard of the saying “Everyone’s got a story?” well I’ve been told that my story is such a colorful one. So I said to myself, “Why not jump on the blogging bandwagon?”
It’s like writing your own personal diary for everyone to read. Sometimes reading the thoughts of other people can help in ways that you never knew possible. It can inspire and give hope. Allow me to share with you stories of my past, my present, and invite you to be part of this experience as I continue to create my autobiography.
An Incomplete Childhood
I was born on June 19, 1968 in Bangkok, Thailand. My mother is Filipino and my father is German-Austrian. As a toddler I spoke Thai. How I wish I could still speak the language.
I remember when I turned three my mother and father gave me a big party for my third birthday in the Philippines. It’s where we ended up living.
My parents travelled everywhere.They lived in Japan, Hong Kong and Australia. Their kids born in different countries because of their work. The last stop was the Philippines. My father was an entertainment promoter and my mother a singer. Having them both in my life did not last long. My father left us for another woman and disappeared into thin air.I remember asking my mother where my dad was. She would reply “Your dad went abroad but he’ll be back.” It must have been hard for her to explain that knowing it was a lie. It was a difficult childhood. I have so much respect for my mom and all the single mothers out there.
There was my mom doing everything to the best of her ability to raise 4 children on her own.
No matter how I tried to dismiss the fact that my father wasn’t coming back, I always felt a little hope that just maybe one day he will return to us.
The name “Daddy” was never spoken. I tried to convince myself that it didn’t matter since I was very young to know and understand when he left us, but the hole remains in my heart.
It will always be incomplete.
The 70’s, the era of bell bottoms, wide collar shirts, afro hairstyle and disco! I do remember it very well. I was very young then to understand people’s lifestyle but I recall the outfits people wore and the music that played on the radio.
This was my grammar school years. My memory of it was about my struggles to excel academically. I was an average student and had a hard time doing well. I look back and I realized that I may have been distracted with my dysfunctional family. I know my mother tried very hard to keep it together. But subconsciously everything was affecting me. You see, despite our financial struggles, my mom was still able to put us in a private school. She had unimaginable ways in getting through our hardships. So you would think the least I could do is to do well with my studies. The bar was set high.
My older brother who’s 2 years older than me was the vice president of our student council. He is smart, and intelligent. He’d bring home high grades and just exceeded everyone’s expectations. I sat there thinking how I wished I could be just like him. He became my inspiration. Thankfully my mom kept me busy by enrolling me in after school programs. It was then that I discovered my love for the arts! Singing, dancing and declaiming. How I loved being part of all the competitions our school would organize for the students. I clearly remember the song I sang during our final singing contest. The song was “You Light Up My Life” by Debbie Boone.
I also remember my piece in our declamation contest, it was “Vengeance Is Not Ours”. These were such memorable moments of my life. The experience I gained was about to mold me.
When graduation rolled, students that excelled in academics were called on stage and given medals. My name was also called and I was awarded for my singing and declaiming. I found my passion, and I know I have made my mother proud!
High School Days
1980, I was 12 years old and was entering freshman year of high school. It is very interesting to not even be in your teens and be called a freshman in High School! Our education system was different back then. We did not have to attend middle school. So expect to graduate at age 16 and figure out life!
Luckily all that singing and declaiming helped me prepare for my future. It was a very short childhood for me. I had to face the obligation of contributing financially to the family. It was my choice.
At 14 I started singing professionally at restaurants and hotel lounges. Mind you with make-up on and high heels I could pass for 21.
So how did I do this? I was a junior in high school, doing singing engagements 2 nights a week and attending school in the daytime.
By the end of senior year I competed in a national beauty contest and won the title of Ms. Young Philippines. It was very exciting! This became my stepping stone in showbiz. I matured very quickly.
So at 16 years old I was ready to go full force and face adulthood.
Walk of Life
1984, an abundance of opportunities. I was busy! I sang at The Tokyo Hilton Hotel for 6 months, I travelled to Los Angeles with my colleagues in showbiz and had a show at The Shrine Auditorium once home to the Academy Awards. I’ve also hosted TV variety shows, I was in tv commercials, print ads for magazines and newspapers, recordings, corporate engagements, movies, TV series you name it- I was in the thick of it!
I tried very hard to get my degree in business in 2 different universities. I attended Philippine Christian University and decided to transfer to Far Eastern University where I would meet my first husband, a young medical student named Carl F. Calica.
I was 18 and he was 24. We dated and come Christmas of 1987 he brought me to the States to meet his family. We got engaged in December of that year and decided that we would be married the following year right after he graduates.
I did not finish school. Friday, October 14 of 1988 we tied the knot. The wedding consisted of my showbiz and non showbiz friends. My father in the entertainment industry (German Moreno) walked me down the aisle with my mother. It was a very memorable time. Sunday, October 16th our wedding was televised during our weekly Sunday noontime show called GMA Supershow. I was happy but also sad. I knew that in 2 weeks time I would have to turn my back on my career.
I bade my goodbyes to my family and friends. I didn’t know how long it would take before I would see them all again. My walk of life has dramatically changed!
Married and Divorced
I am a hopeless romantic. I followed my heart hence I was engaged at 19 and married at 20.
I gave up my blossoming career in showbiz and started living a married life in New York. So you can imagine this is a bit of a culture shock after living my entire life in Manila.
Getting married young comes with its own pros and cons. For one, less baggage from the past, low expectations and a lot of first time experiences. You also get to encounter parenthood much sooner and be closer to your kids age wise. But the lack of maturity when you are young is a major minus especially if you do not have a big support system from your immediate family.
I was married to a doctor. The pros for me was that I was young enough to experience what it entails to be a physician’s wife. And it wasn’t for me. My mother was opposed to my marriage from the get go. She said I wouldn’t be able to put up with the erratic hours, possibly an unromantic nature and sometimes him being emotionally unavailable too.
These were my mother’s fears. She knew me well. I woke up one morning and felt numb. I called my mother in the Philippines and her advice to me is that if I wanted out I need to do it while I’m still young. My husband then tried, he really tried, but no matter how hard he tried, I couldn’t see a future. With a toddler in tow we eventually divorced and remained friends to this very day.
Career Change: The Art of Not Knowing
Ever since I was a young girl, my work has always revolved around entertainment. That was my passion. My profession was in the field of show business. When I moved my entire life here in the United States, I had no idea whatsoever how I would transition career wise. I felt frustrated not having a degree under my belt. I felt trapped.
I would cry for days. I felt lost, depressed because I felt that I had nothing to offer. I didn’t know where to begin. But as Wendell Berry said… “It may be that when we no longer know what to do, is when we come to realize our real work, and when we no longer know which way to go is when we have begun our real journey”
And that exactly what transpired in my life.
My first job in the United States was at a gourmet food store. There I would learn to make simple salads, slice meat, learn to bake cookies, manage sales, and ring up customers. It was exciting to learn and engage in customer service. I remember getting dressed before work and looking forward to my day. I was proud even only earning $5.50 an hour because I knew I was gaining so much experience and it was a place for me to feel normal
No cameras, no stage or microphone. I wanted a simple life.
I then worked for the outlet store of Polo Ralph Lauren in upstate New York. I remember holding my resume in my hand and going for an interview. I felt so nervous. My hands were sweating and my heart was pounding. I was called in by the store manager and we got talking about my past experiences and my goals.
When I was done with my interview, I got in my car, hugged the steering wheel and prayed out loud. I needed this door opened for me so I could grow and be given the chance to prove myself. A day later I got the phone call I’ve been waiting for. I was hired and was offered the position of Women’s Department Manager. It was time step up my game. I’m in fashion now and customer service is my strength.
A year later, I moved to Brooklyn and asked to be transferred to the company store, in Carlstadt, N.J., I worked closely with Ralph Lauren’s cousin Maury on the selling floor. It was a good transition. But my dream was to work and experience working in the flag ship store, on East 72nd Street and Madison Avenue in Manhattan. It was the famous Rhinelander Mansion. It wasn’t easy to get in working in the flagship store. And so I applied for a cashier position just to get my foot in the door. Six months later I was promoted on the selling floor. It was in the Boy’s Department where I would develop my strength in merchandising. I remember being invited by the buying team to visit the showrooms just so that I could put in my recommendations. We would have storewide meetings with Ralph Lauren himself and I felt really proud to be part of the organization. I also remember how exciting it was for me to have assisted famous people like Jacqui Kennedy Onassis, Yoko Ono and Arnold Schwarzenegger just to name a few at The Polo Mansion. This experience has sharpened my skills in the retail world.
Eventually, the line Infants and Toddlers for Ralph Lauren was launched and I became the head merchandiser for the whole northeast region of the U.S. I trained sales people in different department stores, namely Macy’s, Nordstroms, Lord and Taylor, Bloomingdales and Neiman Marcus. I secured retail space for our products and educated managers about our new clothes line. I was young then, I was learning and I was growing.
And that’s the Art of Not Knowing.
Nothing In The World Prepares You For New Motherhood
Let me first start by saying that my first pregnancy was not an easy one for me. My doctor had prescribed me medication to help me conceive my first born. I experienced morning sickness and felt lousy the first trimester. Emotionally I was overwhelmed. I didn’t know how to feel. I was nervous, scared and excited all at the same time. I read all the books about pregnancy. Highlighted names on the baby book. Attended Lamaze class and did just about everything, and anything a new expectant mom would do before the arrival of her new baby.
I worked all throughout my pregnancy standing 8 hours a day. When my due date was soon approaching I decided to take my maternity leave.
Did you ever experience other people approach you while you were pregnant and say to you, “God bless you!” or sometimes surprise you with a rub on your belly and say “Oh, you’re going to love every minute of it!” or better yet the famous saying “Treasure the moments, they grow so fast!”
And now I understand it all. I look back and I recall the endless nights, feeding my baby every 2 hours, his first tooth, his first cold, his first ear infection, his first, and my first in this journey together as mother and child.
I think about all the things I did that sometimes didn’t make any sense- just to get through the challenges. I read once that when you struggle, it’s only because you are trying so hard to do such an amazing job.
When I went back to work I needed to bring my baby to daycare. How I wish I could stay home with him but life didn’t dictate that. It was hard. I had to go back to work. I remember having separation anxiety and the feeling of uncertainty.
But nevertheless, I needed to trust.
Trust that everything will be fine. Trust that my baby and I will both get through this. He will grow, walk, talk and be transformed adapting to his environment and there will be constant change in both our lives.
Nothing prepares you for motherhood.
Nothing is by the book. It’s never a one size fits all!
I believe that everything a mom does is from the best of her ability and it’s all done from the heart.
My first born was welcomed into this world November 21, 1992. I was 24 years old.