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Janine Gutierrez and Pilita Corrales Celebrate Family Through Fashion

Janine reveals Mamita Pilita’s love language.

by Owen Maddela | May 17, 2019

Mamita Pilita Corrales and granddaughter Janine Gutierrez find common ground in the things that defy the generation gap. Among them, copious amounts of family love and fashion savvy.

“Anything I wear is nice for her and that has made me confident. And when there’s someone really important encouraging you, it’s a big thing. What other people have to say just fades into the background,” enthuses Janine Gutierrez about her Mamita and co-star in today’s shoot Pilita Corrales. Recalling her career turn as a bikini-clad calendar girl for a petroleum company back in 2017, Janine received nothing but solid support from her Mamita when anointings of this sort are usually unheard of in most lola-apo relationships.


But to Pilita’s credit, there is much liberal thinking and full-on support to be expected from someone of her experience and magnitude: At nearly 79 years old, Asia’s Queen of Songs has had her own fill of been-there-done-that moments: global travels, singing front act for The Beatles, sharing Las Vegas anecdotes involving performers Diana Ross and Sammy Davis Jr., playing Valentina in 1991’s Darna, and seeing upstarts like Martin Nievera, Gary Valenciano, Regine Velasquez, and Jaya build names and churn hits for themselves. To add cool lola to her resume shouldn’t be a tall order.

Janine then narrates how her Mamita, one day after dinnertime, proudly showed aforementioned calendar to relatives and guests with pride and without hesitation. “I would imagine how other lolas would be apprehensive at the thought of it, but because she’s dressed [sexily] before, she’s more ‘flaunt it while you’ve got it’ than anything,” she says with relief.

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For her part, Janine has always found ways to show honor to Pilita’s legacy in every way possible: onstage performances, recreating vintage beauty looks, wearing her clothes, and styling them for the present. Then there are the moments that they share as grandmother and granddaughter, away from everyone else’s prying eyes.


In parallel conversations with the two stars before and after the shoot, we discovered how their differences in age and upbringing do not matter as much as their mutual respect, devotion to family, and appetite for fashion. These images and words combined, Pilita and Janine’s relationship is an exemplary love made manifest.

Pilita Corrales on her life in style

Preview: Wardrobe-wise, were you under somebody’s advice when you were just starting out?

Pilita Corrales: Not really. There was no “stylist” at that time. There were only the big designers—Ramon Valera, Ben Farrales, Pitoy Moreno—but I was just starting out and I could not afford them. They would instead be commissioned to design clothes for me to wear since borrowing [or pulling out] was not yet a practice.

But when I started [the seminal musical variety show] An Evening With Pilita, I had someone from my native Cebu make clothes for me. How much naman did custom-made clothes cost before, dios mio? Very cheap, ’noh? In that program alone, I had to change four times, so he would make those. And if I didn’t need the clothes anymore, I would give the clothes back to him and he would sell them in Cebu.


Janine wears her Mamita's trench coat. Pilita is wearing her own Fleet Street coat.

P: Your style has been consistent through the years: Polished, glamorous, and sexy and playful to a certain extent.

PC: Yes, yes. Never indecent. Because I wear a lot of see-through and some are—como se llama?—crocheted, but I am well-covered. Though sometimes, I would explain onstage, “This is [bare], but you won’t see anything.” But surely, they would ask themselves, “Mayroon ba ’yang panty o wala?” [Laughs.]


P: It’s apparent that you had a lot of creative control with your wardrobe—and to good results!

PC: It was all me. There were no specific wardrobe requirements or colors to wear—as long as I was in a gown for the opening, for the Spanish portion, for the next. It was an evening program and in gowns was how the executives wanted me to dress up.

When I did two shows a night in Las Vegas through the invitation of Sammy Davis Jr., also at the same time Diana Ross was performing, I was the only one who would change gowns every day. People would come to the dressing room and ask, “How much does this cost?” Eh ‘di syempre binobola ko rin, “That’s $2,000!” Eh, ano lang pala ’yon, P2,000. [Laughs.]

Typically, if you’re working there weeks, you would use the same gown—for the first show and the second show. So everybody was amazed with my wardrobe and some of them already ordered in the Philippines after I told them the real price. I changed gowns every day, and for every show.”


P: Does that mean that your sense of style is innate?

PC: Didn’t think so, I don’t know! [Laughs.]

P: But is dressing up something you’ve loved ever since?

PC: You know, when I went to finishing school at the Colegio Mayor de Padre Poveda in Madrid, they taught me everything—music, cooking, etiquette, how to dress up. But more than that, I’ve always wanted to look that I cared—even if I am running errands at the bank or grocery. But it’s not because I have a fashion sense; I think I owe it to my public. You owe it to them because they look up to you. Nowadays, with the cellphone, anywhere you go, they take a photo of you. So at least when you’re in the picture, you’re wearing something nice.

"I’ve always wanted to look that I cared—even if I am running errands at the bank or grocery."—Pilita Corrales

P: You also brought gowns and coats from your personal collection for you and Janine to wear at the shoot.


PC: Yes. One of the crocheted gowns that I brought, I wore at an international tour before. But here in the Philippines, it is different. You wear one gown today and the Filipino says, “Ginamit na niya ’yan, eh.” So what I’ve already worn here is what I bring abroad because it’s their first time to see it.

But, you know, the Filipino is very conscious of clothes and fashion. Alam nila.Ginamit niya do’n sa concert niya ni Martin [Nievera] 'yan eh. Bakit inulit niya?” Like last night, when I guested at Jaya’s concert, I was going to wear a gown that I already wore at a pre-Valentine event for Anabelle Rama. “Hayaan mo na,sabi koKakanta ako then do a bit of comedy lang.” And then I changed my mind, because people will say, “Nakita ko na ’yan.

P: What do you tell the women in your family about presenting themselves in public?


PC: People want to see somebody who’s on stage to be well-dressed even when they are off-stage. I would remind my daughter Jackie (Jackie Lou Blanco) when she was starting, “You’re in show business, when you go out, put a little lipstick on or something, 'cause you know, they know you.”

I remind my granddaughters, too. But Janine, she is pretty and already very stylish. I hope she got that from me! [Laughs.]


Pilita is wearing an embellished gown by Danilo Franco, while Janine is wearing her Mamita's crocheted dress by Nellie Teves with Charles & Keith shoes (P2599, Power Plant) and earrings from on Instagram.

PC: How invested are your granddaughters in your closet?

PC: They take whatever they want—clothes, bags, shoes, makeup. [That also includes] what I buy when I go to the States. I would ask them, “Do you need this? Do you want this? Do you need whatever?” I know that anytime I travel, I can get again. So kung ano gusto nila, I give it to them.

P: Do you remember them playing dress-up and wearing your jewelry when they were kids?

PC: Oh, yeah. And wearing my shoes na ang laki-laki, ngayon kasya naat na-take home pa. [Laughs.]

P: You mentioned earlier that you admire your own granddaughter’s sense of style, in the way Janine dresses up. What would you think of it?


PC: She’s always very well-dressed even if she’s wearing, let’s say, shorts lang. I love her fashion sense. Sometimes, she comes to the house on a Sunday and she’s so well-dressed in something simple. And when she wears modern stuff today—the wide pants, everything. With her height and her build, she can wear anything. And when she wears it, it looks good, 'di ba?


Janine is wearing a crocheted dress by Nellie Teves with earrings from on Instagram. Pilita is wearing an embroidered sequined dress by Gener Gozum.

P: Of all your grandchildren, she’s the one who is following in your footsteps as a performer—and as a devoted family woman.

PC: I remember telling Janine, “Sige na, mag-showbusiness ka,” and she said, “No, Mamita, I want to finish school first. I want to finish and have a degree.” That decision has turned out to be good for her.

My other grandchildren look up to her. And she is very close to her siblings—parang nanay na nila. I think that’s why she matured fast, too. And even if she already has her own condo, she still stays with them and makes time for them. She is totally devoted.

P: It must be like paradise for you to be around Janine and your other apos all the time.


PC: I wish I were rich enough to live in a place where I can have a house with both my children and their children there. Actually, I was telling Jackie, “Sell your house. Because I’m selling mine. Then I’ll just buy a big one. You can live with me here” It would be great for them to be together, 'noh? Not just every Sunday.”

Janine Gutierrez on growing up with glamour

Preview: Do you recall a specific instance in your childhood when you realized that you belong to an extensive showbiz family tree—with legendary kin on both sides?

Janine Gutierrez: I do have a specific moment: I was in Grade 2 and we were studying Sibika. On that day, the topic was arts and culture. And then my lolas, Mamita (Pilita Corrales) and Mama Guy (Nora Aunor), were both in the chapter for music and film in the Sibika textbook. So I was like, “Bakit sila nandiyan?Parang do’n ko na-realize na more people know them than I had thought.


Pilita and Janine are wearing earrings from on Instagram with the former's trench coats.

P: How does it feel to have Mamita as a grandmother?

J: It’s indescribable! I have always really adored her—her personality is one of a kind! I’ve never met anyone like her: enchanting without being intimidating, funny without being mean. Parang she’s the perfect mix of everything. It’s just really fun to have her around.


P: What was it like growing up around her?

J: When I watch her concerts, I would just feel proud and feel that people get to see her the way I do. Because at home, she’s so funny, sometimes cheeky, and I get to share her with all these other people.

Now that she has Instagram, my cousin and I always try to take random videos of her. Minsan naka-abang lang ’yong camera namin, waiting for her to say or do something funny. It’s like her concerts were just bigger venues of these moments we personally see.

P: And all that fashion!

J: Yes! When I was younger, I would look at her glittery and sequined clothes and jewelry and say, “Oh my gosh, Mamita is the only one who could wear these things!” I didn’t think that one day, I would be wanting to wear some of those things. Her things seemed so unreachable or pang-concert lang, but I’ve realized that she was having so much fun with fashion. From the ’60s, the ’70s, the ’80s, the ’90s, lahat dinaanan niya and she had no hesitations.


P: She takes pleasure in lending and giving away her clothes and accessories. How does that feel for a granddaughter?

J: Her closet is my favorite shopping place. It’s her love language. Every time we’re at her house, after dinner, there’ll be a moment where she’ll say,  “I have something for you, let’s go upstairs.” And she’ll go “This is for you, get this, get that.” And even if we politely decline, she won’t take no for an answer. Ibibigay niya talaga lahat!


I once wore one of her gowns to an event in Bali and I raved to my Uncle Mond (Gutierrez) who was in the same trip, “It’s Mamita’s!” He said, “Oh my god, I’m so mad at my mom because she threw away my Dad’s vintage Versace shirts” Turns out, Tita Anabelle gave away a lot of Lolo’s old clothes. But I’m so lucky Mamita kept her things. It’s like having access to a time capsule.

P: How does Mamita’s closet look? It feels like it’s filled to overflowing.

J: It’s a walk-in closet that spills out to the hallway. And in the hallway there a couple of racks: one for polos, another for coats, and for gowns. There’s also a table of accessories and jewelry. There’s also a section for her wigs. Her closet is experiential. [Laughs.]


P: How has her style trickled down to yours?

J: One of my favorite things is vintage fashion. I have always loved the experience of looking at her photos from the ’60s and saying, “This is my Mamita, look what she’s wearing!” In the future, I want to be able to look back, whether I was wearing a crazy trend or something funny, and it’ll be a fashion moment.

Now that I’m older, I love that she lends me her gowns and her coats, and all those that I used to think were out of this world and impossible to wear. I realize now that you really should have fun with fashion—it’s a way to express yourself. And to not worry about what other people will think.

"I realize now that you really should have fun with fashion—it’s a way to express yourself. And to not worry about what other people will think."—Janine Gutierrez

P: At what point in your life did you realize that branding and image are important in your clan’s line of work?


J: I initialy had no idea until I joined the industry myself. That was when I saw that some people really work on their personal brand and work on presenting themselves in a certain way. But I feel like with Mamita, it’s organic. 'Yun talaga siya, eh. Even at home, her brand is really who she is, and I guess that’s what also makes her unique. Ngayon kasi, you’ll realize that some people make a brand, it’s conceptualized, just like Katy Perry’s. I feel the pressure that you also have to keep up with a certain image of what people expect to be but I realized that much later on.

In Mamita’s case, her brand came after identity. Her mother would just make her gowns, which she wore as a performer in Australia, and then that became her image: a glamorous singer. It was all effortless.


P: You are a muse to some insiders in fashion and beauty and have been listed in Preview’s Best Dressed twice before. How much of what we see now was inspired or influenced by her?

J: What I really got from her is to have fun with fashion and be resourceful, too. She’s also really thrifty! She’d tell me, “People won’t know this is so cheap because it’s how you wear it.” You don’t have to spend a lot to be able to look great. She doesn’t really splurge; she enjoys a bargain.

P: I guess that’s how I found my own style. I’ll be like, “O, ito lang yung kaya; gawan mo ng paraan na mapaganda yan.” I learned to innovate, and it helped me to be creative.

J: Another thing I’ve picked up from her is to play around extremes. On some days, I’d be happy in jeans and a white shirt but I also enjoy getting dressed for a shoot or the red carpet. Si Mamita din, she’s just wearing a white polo and black pants off-duty and then, on work days naman, she’ll go super glam. It’s not about the occasion more than it is about how good you feel in what you’re wearing.


P: Access and influence aside, how does her style differ from yours?

J: Well, when it comes to the super glam stuff, she is obviously more out there. She’s all out: glitters, sequins, heels, huge hair, eye liner, smoky eyes, everything. She has this whole concert performer package going on: old school glam, very regal. Me kasi, I really enjoy the classic, subtle look. I also like makeup that makes you look a little undone, wet hair and all.


P: There is a split image of you and your Mamita when she was around your age that’s making the rounds online. You obviously look alike! How do you feel about growing older given that you have this genetic disposition to look as fabulous as her?

J: Oh my gosh, that is what I am praying for! I hope I look like Mamita when I’m older. It’s something look forward to! Seeing like how she’s lived her life, she’s always been youthful and that translates to how great she looks. I have that to aspire for myself.

P: Her gowns, her separates, her accessories: Do they play a role in that future?

JG: Well, they already play a role in my present because I have been using some of them. Suwerte lang talaga kami that she loves dressing us up always. Every time I get something from her, I’m sure that I’ll have it forever until I’m old.


P: What other valuable things has she taught you that you’ll carry with you for a long time?

JG: I think more than style, it’s how she is towards other people. She’s always approachable and when I’m out with her, so many people come up to her and they’re like “Oh, Pilita, you remember me? We were together in…” And even if I doubt that she remembers, she makes an effort to make kwento. And that could go on for about 20 minutes!

She’s very professional, never complains, is hardworking, and is genuinely nice to everyone. Up to now, she’s the first one on set. And at times when I find myself working for 24 hours, those are the moments when I have to remind myself, “Okay, what would Mamita do? Si Mamita, mabait.” She really has that charm about her. It comes from a sincere place.


Produced by Isha Vallés

Photographed by BJ Pascual

Styled by MJ Benitez

Makeup by Omar Ermita for MAC Cosmetics

Hair by Mark Familara

Art Direction by Bacs Arcebal

Nails by I Do Nails

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