With today's pressure from social media, there's still stigma attached to aging—some believe that getting older means being out of shape, or that wrinkles are flaws that need treatment. However, there are the wais ones who have chosen to live healthier and more productive lives more so in their 40s than when they were in their 20s. Take it from singer, stage actress, and businesswoman Rachel Alejandro, who defies age inside out. With the showbiz veteran's discipline and hard work facing a very busy schedule, she has managed to attain an enviable physique and a spirited attitude to beat!
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How do you define being "classic?"
Being classic, I think it also means timeless. So, when you think of a classic song, it means that’s something we've all grown up with from the past that is still very much a favorite now.
What are the three interesting facts about you that has not commonly known by the public?
That one, I’m blind. I’m really blind, literally blind. As in my husband and I nag-ko-contest kami kung who has the worse eyesight. As in, I am at the level na na pag tumaas pa dito di na ako pwedeng mag-contacts. It can’t be really operated. Hindi na kaya ng lasik. Nasa 10/50 na siya, my husband’s 11/50. So yung mga salamin namin, really thick talaga! The first thing I do in the morning, the minute I open my eyes, I look for my glasses. Two, despite what people think, that I’m slim because I own Sexy Chef, malakas ako kumain. I’m really a foodie! I love to eat and I pretty much eat everything. I just try to make it natural and as real as possible, so I avoid most of them mga fake food—yung mga instant food! But I don’t have particular thing that I do except when I’m preparing for a photo shoot. And the third thing probably is that I’m actually very, very shy and I don’t know what to do with small talk, like, with strangers. But the minute that you put me in front of the camera, a light turns on and suddenly I have purpose! I'd know what I’m doing, I'd know what I’m talking about. But it took me a while then. When I was younger—some people didn’t know this—Martin Nievera used to write my scripts kasi nga I had to talk about myself, and it’s so difficult to do out of shyness. So, my dad and Martin actually helped me out with how to talk to people during shows. The singing was okay but when it came to the spiels, I had a hard time. But now, wala na. I think it's age. Now, you don’t care anymore!
How did Sexy Chef come about?
(Chef Barni Alejandro-Rennebeck) was cooking for me. So, I would like bring home cookbooks for her to follow healthy stuff. So 'yun, it really started out of that. I wanted more and more people to taste her cooking, so we started offering to family members and other friends. And it just grew and grew from there. Now were on our 14th year—can you imagine? Three cookbooks later, our last cookbook was with ABS-CBN (Publishing).
But did you really cook?
I cook, but very rarely (like) for my husband. Si Barni talaga lahat. Lahat ng recipe ng The Sexy Chef is Barni. I’m just a guinea pig, I really try all the food. As in literally it has to go through me, all new dishes were sent to me and I have to critique it. So, it’s a joint creation in the sense everything that we do is decided by two people—whether it be from buying a new kitchen equipment to coming out with a new recipe (or) a new plan.
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What is something that you like to do in an old-fashioned way?
When it comes to meeting up and getting together with people, of course, we connect on the cellphone and that’s great. ‘Cause even people that you don’t see for a very long period of time like classmates from high school or whatever. Pero iba pa rin yung personal touch, a phone call, or actually meeting up and getting together because it’s very deceiving sometimes na just because "liking" na parang feel mo close na kayo. You know, if I have the choice I would still prefer for a real personal connection—really meeting up, really having a real conversation in person, or even on the phone, other than social media.
What are some of your childhood habits that you thought you'd outgrow but still have it?
That I get lost easily, that I have a very very poor with the sense of direction! And I don’t drive.!Imagine? I thought I will be this independent person, eventually one day, but it just never happened.
How about when traveling?
I can travel on my own, but I’m definitely afraid having to read a map. Thank God sa Google Maps and Waze kasi you can get around or go to a foreign country like even Japan and you turn on your Google Maps and the arrow will point you where to go! It happened to me already when I was younger. I went to Japan for two straight days, and I was completely lost! We were just going around, and people didn't speak English pa. So, yeah, I get really afraid of getting lost and it stresses me out. And (with) my husband, usually when we travel, 'yun yung pinag aawayan namin kasi he doesn’t mind getting lost.
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What’s the most surprising self-realization you’ve ever had?
I used to be afraid of being alone. But with age, over the past few years, I’ve discovered that I don’t mind it pala. And I'm surprised by that because as I said earlier, I hate getting lost. In fact, living alone over the past years since my husband moved to New York, being alone in the house pala is okay! You get to do the things you want! I’m not single, but in a way I am living a single life part time, and it’s not that bad. I don’t know, maybe it’s because in a few months or something, you know that he's there? I dont know if that makes the difference. But I don't find that that scary.
What's the best and worst thing about getting older?
I have some pain in my knees sometimes—arthritis! Pag yung matagal kang nakaupo, oh my God! Hindi ko akalain na aabot tayo dito. Pero I'm fit naman! I can go, go, go! Energy is never a problem.
Did you say the best thing also? I feel like I'm sharper! Maybe that's not going to be forever, but I think that's because you're more relaxed and you're not as worried about making a mistake. I am a perfectionist, yes, but I think becoming older, I have been a little more generous with myself. And so, because of the fact that I'm more relaxed, I'm not panicked—depending on the situation, of course—that I'm sharper and I feel like I learn things more easily. For instance, dance choreography. Weirdly enough, I started learning dance choreography better when I got older. Maybe it's because when I was younger, stressed out ako. So, yeah, I'm surprised that I pick up things better (now). Di ba, sabi nila, the brain daw supposedly slows down (as you age)? Hindi, eh. I'm even a better writer now! Maybe because we have more insights and more experience.
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How different was your life 10 years ago?
When I was in my 30s, I had just started a business with Barni. Bago bago palang siya. I think I had more free time. Weirdly enough. Now, kasi I'm juggling so many things—because of Larawan also, and because of the business that I've become a lot more hands-on with it. I've become busier as an older person. Maybe not as much concerts or things like that. Tayo naman kasing singers, ang iniintindi mo yung sarili mo lang—yung lyrics mo, yung mga kanta mo, yung spiels. Ngayon kasi, I have to write this blog, I have to do this, I handle the social media of Sexy Chef, I handle the website of Sexy Chef. So, nagkaroon ako ng day job na kasing laki rin nung main job ko. So, parang nami-miss ko yung days na 10 days sa Boracay, walang problema! Yung parang party party lang. 'Yun, 'yun yung nami-miss ko, the party life. Kasi nung 30s ko, na-experience ko rin yun. You have to experience all of it, and I'm glad I did because then I can really look back and say, "Yeah, I did that." And it helps me with my acting.
What are you most looking forward to in the next 10 years?
I wouldn't mind getting more into food. I'm looking forward to having more free time, hopefully. Maybe I would have turned over much of my responsibilities in the business to somebody whom I can trust. Hopefully it's doing well para at least di ba meron ka nang number two, para you don't have to do everything by yourself? And that I can focus on me really learning (about) food and wine. And maybe, by then, pwede na ko tumaba ng konti, kasi ngayon, hindi!
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Produced and directed by Mels Timan and Jeffrey Hidalgo | Interview by Jeffrey Hidalgo | Photography by Vyn Radovan | Styling by Camille Santiago | Makeup by Carmel Villongco for Dior | Hair by Triple Luck Brow & Hair Salon | Shot on location at Discovery Suites Ortigas
Clothes: Navy blue cami, Mango; floral shorts, Forever 21; White cami, Forever 21; kimono, Cotton On; Gray shirt, Cotton On; black shorts, Forever 21