On a Tuesday night, I found myself catching up with my good friend Jules Aquino who, of course, just got hailed the winner of the much-talked about #CenturyTunaSuperBods. Jules and Maureen Montagne specifically won the younger set, versus Johann Ludovica and Angel Jones who got crowned winners of the “Ageless” group or those aged 38 and above. We quickly touched base on Angel, another friend I especially rooted for, whom Jules referred to as an easy winner in her division. That she was a shoo-in. That she had it in the bag.
“Oh, yeah?” I said, then cut to my conversation with Angel mid-competition some weeks ago. “Oh, yes!” I finally agreed with Jules.
Jules found himself a lot like Angel—a person who has since led a healthy and active lifestyle that joining the competition didn’t budge her system. Jules for himself wasn’t boasting, but just stating a stone-hard fact. He has pretty much tried every sport in the world—tennis, basketball, American football, lacrosse—and was even a varsity track and fielder for the University of the Philippines. Angel, on the other hand, in all her sun-tanned, bikini-clad glory, took fitness seriously for a lifetime of reasons.
“All I did was probably cut out a little bit of carbs. But to be honest, I don't do diets,” Angel told me in that same chat earlier. “My life is healthy, and my life is fitness so I didn't really have to do extra.”
[related: Mod Moms: Proud 'Hubadera' Momma Angel Jones Advocates HIV Awareness And More]
For those who haven’t heard of her, Angel is a Filipino-American artist who resided most of her life in LA. She started off her career as part of Pinoy hip hop group Kulay, before venturing into hosting, makeup, social media influencing, and public speaking. The younger gen might know of her more as the mom of flavor of the year (and equally ripped) Tony Labrusca.
Just at 39, Angel raised four kids. Yet, she almost always gets the impression that she’s his superstar son’ older sister. She joining #CenturyTunaSuperBods—a competition that has since catapulted many names like Mauro Lumba, Olivia Medina, John Spainhour to star status and has been endorsed by showbiz giants Alice Dixson, Ina Raymundo, Derek Ramsay, and Anne Curtis among others—was then inevitable.
“I guess, it's part of my personal advocacy I believe that—I joke around and call it the ‘Anti-losyang movement,’” she laughed. “I just feel that mothers don't need to settle for below gorgeous, you know? Just because we have kids, doesn't mean we gotta let go and not be fantastic. I think that's what it is. I wanted to stand up and be inspirational to others.”
[related: Mod Moms: How Tony Labrusca's Mom Angel Jones Defies The 'Nanay Na Naloshang' Stereotype]
Underlying Angel’s “advocacy” are her three truths she always uses as her motivation. One, “I’m vain… I love looking great. It's not bad. I feel like I can't tell my children to respect themselves and feel beautiful for themselves if I don't do that for me, right? So, I love being vain. I love being an inspiration to other people, and tell them, 'You don't need to mish-mash your clothes. You don't need to let go. You can be hot. You can be beautiful, have a career, take care of your children. You can do it all.'" Two, “It was mental health. I didn't wanna take medication, cause I had anxiety or was suffering from depression. So, I realized that fitness is what will help heal me.” And last, “I actually grew up really insecure. I didn't have a normal mother, (who's) like, ‘Oh, you're so beautiful!’ So, I actually had to teach myself how to love myself. So, it started with that, learning how to fall in love with myself. “
Angel works out every day, literally. She does circuit, yoga, dance, pole, exotic dance, and then mixes it all up “‘cause I don't like being bored.” She has no trainer, and often finds herself sweating it out at Beast House Pole and Aerial Dance Studio near her place in Pasig. Sometimes, she does boot camp sessions with her actor-model son.
How does she manage, despite her busy sched as a mom, influencer, HIV awareness advocate, and all? Cliché as it sounds, she stressed, it’s all about prioritizing.
“I'm telling you, if I (were) a quitter, I think it would be the first thing I'd let go of. But the thing is, I'm determined to not make anything an excuse. My point is, no matter how busy you are, there's really no excuse,” said Angel, who also keeps a double tap-worthy feed at 19,000 followers and growing.
“Here's what I always tell people, ‘If you can find the time to pee, and you can find the time to eat, you make a way.’ It's the same with working out. You can make a way if you really, really, want to. And trust me, I got a son who's like a superstar, I've got a daughter who's a genius, plus my career—it's insane. But like I said, if you want it, you're gonna do it, so I make time.”
[related: Daily Diaries: How Tony Labrusca Redefines Being A "Mama’s Boy"]
The four week-long #CenturTunaSuperBods finally ended last April 12, with physique-perfect fitspos like Angel shaking our social media feeds as human forms of brimming dedication and drive. For her part, Angel underwent daunting challenges that came with convincing both the public’s and judges’ hearts. And then she conquered. Yet, the story of her inspiring more moms and women, meanwhile, is just starting a new leaf.
“I was dying of fear of rejection and embarrassment. I've never done anything like that. This is the first thing I joined that had anything to do with bikinis and fitness. I mean, I love wearing bikinis, but not, like, competitive, you know?” she mused.
“A lot of people (supported) me. My son supported me. Everyone just kept saying ‘Go!’ and so I'm like, 'Why not?' I just felt like a fit—you know, where I'm at in my life. I mean, the timing was great with my age. It's not some diet I started yesterday. It's not a workout I just started. It's something I've been doing. It is my life.”
ALSO READ: I Love My Job: This Millennial 'Let Go Of Everything' To Focus On The 'Most Rewarding' Job Ever
Photography credits in gallery, taken from Angel's Instagram account