Thursday, May 19, 2011

11: Jillustrious Makeup Career - Exclusive Interview w/ My Guru Jill Ablaza-Tumbaga

It is my personal belief that you should never cease to learn or to look up to someone.  When you feel as though you have reached or surpassed your full potential, then it is the beginning of the end.  In my case, I am well aware that I have tons of room for improvement with my craft and I allow myself to continue placing a certain individual on a pedestal - my former CAS Makeup Artistry Instructor yet still my makeup guru, Jill Ablaza-Tumbaga.

The well-loved makeup instructor
For a time I had to refer to her as "Ms. Jill", but if you look at her, you'd understand why I always felt strange doing so.  You could mistake her for being a decade younger than she is, not only because she is uber petite, but also because she naturally has a vibrant and youthful nature.  I couldn't help but admire this all the more given that she too has a husband and child, because there tends to be a thin line between feeling like a mom and feeling manang.  I suppose it is because of her down-to-earth, non-intimidating yet thorough style that made her a very well-loved instructor by my entire batch.

Being that we became a very close-knit crew, rather than the usual sit-down interview at an office or coffee shop, our reunion happened over manis and pedis at Tips n' Toes.  So with both our sons in tow and with a whole lot of juggling multiple focal points, we were able to chit chat about balancing family and career, the importance of having something all your own, and of course makeup.

MJS: You broke free from a corporate career to pursue makeup artistry.  What drew you to makeup?

Making "a living out of making others  beautiful"
JAT: I knew I was good at it from the beginning but after being financially independent all my life, I still wanted to have my own source of income.  So I figured, who wouldn't want to make a living out of making others beautiful while still having my own time and time with my family?  I was also inspired by the makeup artist from my wedding who went through the same thing.

MJS: You seem to be a girl's girl.  Was that always the case?

JAT: Yes, I've always told myself that if I was reborn into another life as a guy, I would be gay (laughs).  But really, as much as I've tried to be boyish and want to be, it's just really not me.

MJS: In that case, how would you attempt to add a feminine touch to a rugged girl?

JAT: Of course I can't impose something on her like "wear all pink" so I would talk to her first about what she's comfortable with.  Perhaps, if she's willing, we could just go with a dash of color.

MJS: How important is it to be able to get in touch with your ultra-feminine side when you're already a mom and wife?

What a lovely family!
Jill with her son Jack (yes Jack and Jill, how cute is that?) and her husband Erwin
JAT: It's very important, because when that happens, your life is no longer just about you.  Even moments like this are ways for me to remember who I was even before I had a family.  When you are able to hold on to that, you are actually a happier person and therefore, better mother and wife. 

MJS: When do you feel most beautiful?  Do you need makeup to feel beautiful?

JAT: I actually feel most beautiful after a day at the beach when I still have sand in my hair and I smell like sunblock.  The most I have on is just the sunblock and maybe chapstick. don't need to wear makeup everyday and have actually only worn foundation on my wedding day.  Then again, I'm blessed to have good skin.

Staying tuned to your ultra-feminine side is important!
MJS:  Which actually leads me to my next question.  You do have great skin.  Describe your personal skin care routine.

JAT: I've been a Pond's baby ever since from my facial wash to my day and night cream, which I started wearing when I was 25.  I've never gone to a derma though all my friends used to, but honestly my observation is that they never ended up with good skin.  Now, I do feel like maybe my skin has become immune to Pond's and that up close, I can see sun spots, so I am in between products at the moment and I try to drink at least 6 glasses of water per day.

MJS: Do you have a makeup tip that can benefit any woman?

JAT: I think that finding the perfect red lipstick, since what suits me may not suit someone else, is a lasting makeup tip.  You don't even need to wear eye makeup anymore, just a pop of that perfect red.
Rockin' that perfect red
MJS: Any other staples in your makeup kit?

Jill's makeup kit staple
JAT: I've been using the same lip and cheek stain from The Body Shop forever now.  It can be tricky using liquid, but I've used it for so long that I've mastered it and it gives a very natural blush.  Sometimes it'll go out of stock, so I take advantage of those buy 1 take 1 deals and stock up on them.

MJS: In a sentence, explain your makeup artistry style.

JAT:  I always tell my clients: you will still look like you, but just a better version of you.

MJS: You are seen as a fun, yet highly knowledgeable instructor at CAS.  How is your method different from others and would you say that you have an edge?

JAT: Maybe it differs because I'm the youngest, I'm new and I was a student myself not too long ago.  I know what it feels like to sit through 8 hours of class.  I tried to put myself in my students' shoes and have less of a boring, lecture type of class, but instead take the handouts from the school and add a more entertaining touch with visuals and sharing of my own personal experiences.  I guess it worked, because you guys weren't bored!
Dainty Jill checking her students' work

MJS: Do you learn from your students?  Is it important to keep on learning even when you're considered a guru?

JAT: I don't really consider myself as a guru, but I definitely learned a lot from my students.  I remember telling you guys on the first day that I wanted us to bounce knowledge off of one another.  It is very vital to keep learning, because the times are always changing or bringing back something from the past with a new twist.  You have to grab every opportunity to keep up and learn more, because that will be your edge.  Actually, I still want to learn a lot.  I'm looking for a school that has an advanced airbrushing course with body art, fantasy makeup and there is a lot more to avante garde.  Or even special effects makeup like what you'd see in The Walking Dead.  I want to be one of the only artists in the Philippines to also specialize in that.  As of now, I think there are only 2 prosthetic artists here and although I wouldn't want to become a prosthetic artist, I think it would be interesting to know how to do it.  Basically, anything that tickles my curiosity makeup-wise.  Just nothing like how to put on makeup on a dead person!  (an inside joke to which we both enjoy a hearty laugh about).

MJS: What is/are a common mistake/(s) in makeup application?

JAT: A lot of people tend to overdo their makeup like wear glittery eyeshadow in the office.  I think Filipinas are natural beauties, so we don't even need that much makeup.  Some people shouldn't follow trends too closely or at least pick a right time and place for them.

MJS: I completely agree.  At times, more than makeovers, people need makeUNDERS.  Is there a way to tell someone they need to tone it down?

JAT: I wouldn't want to be rude so I wouldn't initiate it, but if someone asked for my professional help, I would make the person think that it is a makeover when in reality it is a makeunder.  I've actually had clients that tell me they don't want makeup that is "makapal", but she's already wearing a lot of makeup so I take off what she has on and just do a light application of concealer or foundation as needed.

MJS: If you could do makeup for anyone in the world, celebrity or not, living or dead, who would it be?

Jill's dream client
JAT: I'd have to say Lady Gaga!  She would be such a willing canvass for limitless experimentation and I really enjoy giving myself a challenge.

MJS: What has been your favorite summer beauty trend?

JAT: Maybe the orange lipsticks, though I don't know if I can pull them off!

MJS: Finally, what can we expect next and in the years to come in your Jillustrious makeup career?

Next, I will still be beautifying faces, teaching at CAS and growing both as an instructor and as a makeup artist.  In the future, I would also like to put up my own school with you guys in it! [f]

Want to begin your apprenticeship with Jill Ablaza-Tumbaga?  Contact or visit Center for Aesthetic Studies (CAS) to inquire about courses and schedules: 

2/F Frank Provost Bldg., 120 Jupiter St. Bel Air Village
Tel: (02) 897-0383/ 0307
Mobile: 0917-897-0383/ 0918-897-0383

For bookings, log on to:

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