Teresa: When we were young in our 20s, we had an aunt who came to the States for a long time. She told us that the secret to a beautiful complexion without big pores was not to wash your face with soap. Just wipe it with cream and take it off. Then splash with hot water 10 times and then 20 times cold, cold water. We did it and still do it now. Then you won’t have any pores in your skin. No soap or lye. Just this cream. I have a soft brush because you have to brush your face with this cream. 50 times this way, 50 times the other way.
Pacita: She became worse than me (laughs).
T: I became a model here. I became a model of pictures and clothes at the Emporium. I was 19 when I came here and I started modeling at the age of 26. First I worked in department stores as a sales girl. Then one of the managers of the Emporium saw me (in another store) and said, “What are you doing here? Why don’t you work at the Emporium?” I was going to sell suits. So I went and got a job just like that. I didn’t even look for it.
They made me a model. Every time I sold because I spoke Spanish, a little bit of Tagalog, English, a little bit of French and Portuguese. I was the top sales’ girl for many years. I would always get an orchid and luncheons. If I sold 100 garments, they’d give me one free. So I learned how to dress. They took me to class there and taught me how to do make-up. We never wore bras when we came here. Then I had to wear bras and tight girdles; very tight and in those days, very straight. Your behind couldn’t move when you walked on the platform.
P: Girdles! Girdles! (laughs)
T: So I did all that and loved it. My husband said go ahead to anything I wanted. He was very supportive. I didn’t have big concerns about diet because of being so active. I started exercising at age 30. My doctor here knew I was from the Philippines and said to me, “You know Teresa, you work hard and you only have 3 cups of coffee a day. You don’t eat.” They give only a ½ hour lunch and a 15 minute break. How can you eat? So he gave me vitamins. So since I was 31, I do all these vitamins.
Then I worked as a claims examiner for many years and saw all these diseases that people have. I thought, “My God. I don’t want to be like that at that age.” So I started exercising and I never stopped. It’s embedded in me. I have to do exercise every day. When I retired from Blue Shield, I went to the Spa and learned step aerobics. They asked me, “Why don’t you teach?” “But I don’t have any credentials.” “Never mind. You teach.” And that’s how I became an instructor. I’ve always been active. My children are all active.
What does beauty mean to you now?
T: We want to look nice. When people at the Church see me, they say, “Oh, we want to go hear mass because you’re the only one who dresses up.” I always change every day.
P: Even when she’s just at home and nobody comes, here she is with her make-up on.
T: Well, when you’re a model here, it becomes a habit.
P: I say, “Oh, are you going out?”
T: It makes me feel good. I see myself when I don’t have make-up and I feel like I’m sick or something.
P: I became very British (living her adult life in Hong Kong). Simple. No make-up. I was pleasing my husband. The very thing he said, “Honey, you belong to me, so no more low-cut, okay?” I said, “Fine.” (laughs)
T: My husband was the contrary. My boys are stricter than my husband. We used to go dancing every Saturday at the Presidio Officer’s Club. We belonged to the Bay Swingers. We did the tango, cha-cha-cha, and I became an instructor for many years. I did everything. Jack of all trades, master of none, but I did it. My kids all dance very well too.
My mother and father danced. My mother was an actress in the Spanish zarzuela. We saw her do the opera Madame Butterfly in the Philippines. She was Cho-cho San, the mother of Madame Butterfly. The diva, Evita Fuentes, was the only Filipina who went to the Carnegie Hall. That’s where she became famous. And she was my teacher in voice. All of us. My mother was her first student. My mother had a naturally beautiful voice.
P: I think it’s in our blood…music, dancing. That’s why we’re very happy people. We’re always smiling.
Still to be continued…