How Dawn Zulueta, Lea Salonga and Ping Lacson keep their ageless good looks and health

Nov 16, 2017 | Article, Business, Celebrities, Interview

Marie France, Facial Care Center and Svenson Hair Care CEO George T. Siy gave relaxation tips for visiting Donald Trump and China premier Li Keqiang

At the recent opening of the new Marie France, Facial Care Center and Svenson Hair Care at the 9th floor of the ETY Building at 484 Quintin Paredes Street, Binondo, Manila (named after the Yuchengco family’s patriarch Enrique T. Yuchengco), this high-end beauty chain’s chief executive officer George T. Siy gave the Philippine STAR an exclusive interview. Here are excerpts:

PHILIPPINE STAR: Who are your most unforgettable celebrity endorsers at Marie France and Facial Care Center, and why?

GEORGE T. SIY: Dawn Zulueta. She’s the “body that started it all” for Marie France, i.e. the celebrity in “before and after” transformations. During those times, no big celebrity would risk having her “before” picture be put with her “after” photo on a billboard. Dawn understood how empowering it would be for other women, so she said yes.  And 12 years later, she’s still with Marie France. The first meeting and contract-signing all happened in less than 10 days.

Another unforgettable celebrity is Lea Salonga because she’s an international star. She’s truly world-class! She projected well for the company. You would think that a celebrity of her stature would be demanding, but she’s not. She did a beautiful song also for the cause of breast cancer prevention. Her work ethic is really worth emulating; her energy never wavers until the last layout.

What are the top three happiness and beauty secrets you’ve learned from your celebrity endorsers?

Aside from getting regular treatments at Facial Care and Marie France, most of the celebrities we’ve worked with don’t wear makeup when they’re not working. They also try to work out, get enough rest, drink plenty of water and not overindulge in food.

Lea Salonga said one of her secrets to still looking young is to live a happy life and to stop caring about what other people think about you. You just can’t please everybody.

Even Dawn echoes that sentiment. What matters for her is how she feels inside. She said, “If you are happy, you’re content, you know you’re doing something purposeful in your life, it doesn’t matter if you’re not wearing any concealer, and your hair is not blow-dried or just tied in a bun. Invest more in friends. Invest in relationships and your own character.”

Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson was your past celebrity endorser for Facial Care Center. Why did you choose him as your brand icon and what are the secrets of his youthful looks?

We chose him as a brand endorser because during that time most men were not too comfortable admitting that they had to take care of their appearance, and could use help with their skin and hair. They were either embarrassed, clueless on men’s grooming or did not know how to start a skincare regimen.

Senator Lacson’s billboard carried the tagline “Results Matter.” It became a go-signal for many men to try our facial treatments or to get professional expertise for grooming. I remember we had numerous calls then from male clients who would inquire about the treatments Senator Lacson was having at our center. He came for maintenance (cleaning treatments) and firming to address the lines on his forehead.  Refirme, one of our newer treatments then, helped ease those furrowed lines, giving him a youthful look.

Actor Joey Marquez was a very charismatic endorser for Svenson, and he was always fun to be with. The late actor Mark Gil was also a model that men looked up to and people loved.

If you were to invite President Rody R. Duterte to your center, what treatment would you recommend  and why?

President Duterte is a driven man, works so hard and he still faces so many challenges and goals. I would not impose on his time priorities. Perhaps if he asked, I would just point out that everyone needs downtime. Leaders need to recharge for clarity, or simply to relax. And our treatments and centers, especially Facial Care Center, do these perfectly for you.  You come out looking and feeling good!

What treatment would you recommend to our senators and congressmen if they visit your centers like Svenson — on their frequent “hair-pulling” days?

(Laughs) At Svenson, for men and women, we now have the complete spectrum of options to address hair loss — from treatments to non-surgical hair replacement systems. Last year, we added to our arsenal hair transplants, which look very good nowadays. It’s best to do it while you still have some hair to transfer.

We’d invite these political leaders to visit any of our Svenson branches for a consultation with one of our trichologists, so they can properly check his or her hair and scalp, each person’s health and lifestyle history, then we can recommend the best options for them.

How about political archrivals Vice President Leni Robredo and former Senator Bongbong Marcos? What treatments would you recommend at Facial Care Center and why?

Since they both have good looks, I would recommend they take the time now to build the maintenance program for their health and appearances — while they still have the time. Lasers for clarity and consistency, collagen and facials for plumpness and glow, treatments for discoloration, supplemental nutrition for hair and skin. Looks are easier to maintain if you already follow a program. They could take longer term-effect treatments like Thermage, which is good for over six months.

How do you assess the economy under the popular yet controversial administration of President Duterte?

We see many more tourists, government documents are quicker to obtain, warehouses and factories are being built, the realty market is strong, consumer companies are expanding their reach, and unlike before, infrastructure and investment are spreading to every city in the country. Flights have increased greatly all over the country, airports are renovated and always full, but waiting time is shorter. Businessmen are excited by the expected start early next year of major infra projects like the subways and railways. Of course, increase in vehicle sales has added to traffic; there are political issues, etc. But entrepreneurs don’t expect perfection; we can work together as long as there is a reasonable direction and ability to implement.

US president Donald Trump, China premier Li Keqiang and possibly Vladimir Putin of Russia are reportedly visiting here for the first time for ASEAN. If you could invite them to your care center, what treatments would you recommend?

All three have reached the pinnacle of not just their professions, but of world power! Each has achieved premier positions that can influence world history. And yet, just like the busy top executives who frequent our center, maybe it’s beneficial for world peace for these gentlemen to try our intensive firming facials (probably our signature facial, the Repechage 4 Layer facial) so that they can ease the tension and have more harmonious, peaceful talks.

You are opening a new branch in Binondo. What was the name of your grandfather who started out in Binondo? When did his business flourish?

Grandfather Lee Tian Huay started with a small retail textile store in Quintin Paredes. We used to visit and work in the store every afternoon after school. The business grew under my dad Ramon who leveraged and leased a foreclosed textile manufacturing business into a textile boom, entered restaurants, retail, banking and other businesses in the ’70s. Now, we’re back in Binondo!

What are your suggestions to make Binondo vibrant again as tourist destination?

Decongest. Traffic is so bad going to downtown Manila now.  But Binondo is best experienced via walking. To check out the different shops — from the delicious Chinese food fare, to the row of jewelry stores along Ongpin, and most of all, having dim sum in one of those hole-in-the-wall restaurants. Visiting historical sites; supplies of almost anything at the best prices; amulet shops; traditional herb stores; fortune tellers; and the vibrant energy of entrepreneurs — there are many interesting things to do and see in Binondo.

 Wilson Lee Flores

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