Magpakatotoo Ka: It’s about you, not your stuff, silly.

By Lalaine Chu-Benitez


Aren’t you just exhausted, dahling?  Oh, it is sooo so tiring to live in this fabulous city.  After all, it takes supreme effort to keep up stride with all the slim, fashion forward, rich and fabulous Joneses of this town, n’est ce pas?

Shy? Modest?  No space for you here, I’m afraid.  This place is not for the wallflower, or even for the low-credit-card-limit-clueless carrying the last two seasons’ ‘it’ bag. Don’t you know that your collection of designer duds needs a regular update?  Dahling, you gotta have the bag, the watch, the shoes, the car, and of course, the holiday.  Because if you don’t – horrors of horrors!  -what have you got to share with all your Facebook and Instagram “friends”?!

Authenticity – no, not that word that people have come to associate mostly with the Birkin, but the earnest garden variety type, seems to be such a rare commodity these days.  It is buried deep under the pretense of unflappable on-point stylishness and access to the latest obsessions of the product kind.

Not that I have any bone to pick with those who truly adore fine things. I love them myself.  Though admittedly, my definition of ‘fancy’ may be a tad off tangent from the typical.  But you have to admit, right here, where most everything is shiny and new, and right now, where our over-commercialized pop culture exerts buying pressure on the weak of constitution, while social media has given rise to the new exhibitionist, it’s pretty hard to sift through all the posturing, posing and product posting to see what people are really about.

It’s a dangerous thing – allowing ourselves to be defined by stuff.  Even more dangerous when we attach our self-worth to them that we don’t know who we are sans the bling.  Then again, there’s worst.  That’s when we get enslaved by the need for all this and allow our lives to be messed up by it. Now, I know you’ve heard a story or two about those living la vida loca until their card maxing ways caught up with them.

Of course, authenticity does not mean being spartan or shabby or depriving oneself of all indulgences.  Authenticity, in fact has nothing to do with stuff, or the ownership or absence of it.  It’s about knowing who you are, being brave enough to be yourself, and being able to carry yourself with confidence, regardless whether you wear unbranded or designer, whether you have the latest things or not, or whether you fit into the mold of what is considered ‘on fleek’ these days.

It is about not being all about the stuff.  It’s simple essence, versus empty display.

But then again, what do I know, right?  I’m just a simple Pinay, with simple joys.  I don’t have 26 designer bags in my closet and my idea of luxe is having time to do nothing.  I am not perfect.  I don’t have everything.  But I know I am enough.

But dahling, who are you?  I hope you know exactly who you are, too.

Power to the Pinoy.  Magpakatotoo ka.

We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.

– Edward Norton, The Fight Club


Lalaine Chu-benitezLALAINE CHU-BENITEZ

Editor-in-Chief and aspiring urban farmer “almost superwoman” Lalaine has been driving Illustrado’s mission to uplift Filipinos in the region for almost a decade now.  A former corporate dynamo living in Dubai for over 20 years, she has seen enough to appreciate that the best things in life can’t be bought, and that in this day and age, authenticity could be one’s best asset.


Power to the Pinoy!  Here’s how Filipinos can be truly free –


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