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#STORYOFSTRENGTH: KHATE DELA PAZ

#STORYOFSTRENGTH: KHATE DELA PAZ

 

A WOMAN OF HER OWN

It’s true what they say: life experiences shape who we are. In the case of Khate dela Paz, she came out older, wiser, better.

In your entire life, what was the one event that defined you?

Sounds like a question for the Miss Universe pageant, but the way 32-year-old Khate dela Paz answered this question took us by surprise.

After all, we’ve always known her as an adventurous, expressive, fashion-forward lady who seems to effortlessly breeze through life.

Little did we know, the impeccable strength that Khate possesses today is a result of a life-changing experience when she was younger.

 

On living alone

Khate was born in Saudi Arabia, but since her parents worked far from each other, raising her there would be difficult. When she turned four, Khate came home to the Philippines, where an aunt cared for her until she turned seven. Then, she moved back to Saudi and stayed there until high school, and then came home again to the Philippines to attend college here.

“My parents would come home to the Philippines every year to visit me and it was a cry fest every time they would leave. Imagine the typical movie scene where OFW parents say goodbye to their kids! My aunt said that after they left, I would go to sleep hugging the last t-shirt they wore,” recalls Khate.

College life was frightening enough for a teenager like Khate, but to have to face it alone without her parents by her side made it even more terrifying. With the help of family and friends, Khate braved every single hurdle: getting lost in the streets of Manila, riding the wrong jeepney and ending up in unfamiliar places, even losing her personal belongings to unscrupulous strangers.

The life lessons she learned were priceless. Khate learned how to set up her own bank account, budget her allowance, set up her computer, plan her meals. “It was a bit overwhelming actually because there was a lot of decision-making to do—suddenly,” shares Khate.

The hardest times were when she would get sick. Khate says, “I remember feeling lonely and helpless because I could hardly get up. I wanted food and water, but of course, I had to do it on my own. That was when it really struck me that I was living away from family.”

School breaks would afford her the chance to visit her family in Saudi Arabia, but leaving them again would make her feel extremely homesick. Khate couldn’t even get herself to open her luggage because the scent of their home in Saudi on her clothes would make her cry.

“It would be the same scenario every time I come back here from Saudi. I don't think one ever gets used to the homesickness; the gravity might have just lessened nowadays because of technology. I learned to just embrace those feelings and get through it,” she adds.

Older, wiser, better

As it turns out, it wasn’t just one event but a series of events that would define Khate. “All these helped me have a greater sense of accountability—that I should own my actions and decisions, and the consequences of these. It made me passionate about learning more and more about myself (and improving myself too, of course) as I think that understanding one's self can help us navigate life not exactly more easily, but maybe more wisely,” she says.

Fast forward to today, when Khate is more than able and ready to tackle the demands of her job as operations manager, while at the same time pursuing her passion and aiming to reach her dreams. An avid runner, Khate is currently training for a marathon in 2019, so she spends evenings going for a quick run or workout session. Someday, she hopes to teach part-time, and have her own TED talk on health and wellness.

Khate is also strong in her resolve to live life to the fullest: “to be present and focus on one task or situation or event or experience at a time.” Her reason is simple: it helps her make the most out of her time with family and friends, while allowing her to give her best, whatever the situation.

“Really, we only have one life to live, and the moments we spend can never be repeated or changed.”

Coming from someone who grew up with a less-than-ideal scenario, Khate’s words couldn’t ring any truer.

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MORE ABOUT KHATE

What she does

Operations Manager

Personal style 

My personal style is just simple and comfy. My wardrobe consists of black, dark blue, and gray clothes. You’d see some floral prints and orange color, here and there, but that’s the most adventurous I can get. My Katre bags are the ones that give a pop of color to my usual get-up!

On expressing herself through fashion

We’re not required to wear uniforms at work, but we do follow a dress code. I’m lucky to still be able to wear what I want.

Favorite Katre

Number one is my gold Baby Boite, because I’ve used it in all the weddings I’ve attended. It can carry all my essentials (makeup, wallet, perfume, keys, invitation, tissue), without looking like I’m carrying my workday bag. Next is my very first Katre bag–an orange Piccadilly. I used it as my workday bag so I looked like I was going out of town every single day! Now, I use it when I travel. Third is my latest purchase–a teal Portobello! What a beauty! It looks great with any outfit–even my workout clothes!

On being a bag person

I’m not really a bag collector but most of my bags now are from Katre!

Why she loves Katre

Several things keep me loyal to the brand: the quality, the fact that it’s made by a Filipina, and the personal touch in each and every transaction.

Style icons

Katie Holmes and Joey Mead-King

Shopping mantra

Before making a big purchase, sleep on it first!

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Photography KURT ALVAREZ

Words BUBBLES SALVADOR

Styling ANNE BELLA

Hair and Makeup DAVE GRONA