The Roa sisters take a lot from their mother, Ruby Diaz Roa, whom they consider the most beautiful woman in their lives. Ruby takes from the same gene pool as her sister, beauty queen Gloria Diaz, once heralded as the most beautiful woman in the universe. Of course from that fact naturally comes the nagging push to be pretty, exude grace, blaze a trail. Not that being all that takes so much effort anyway. Sisters Timmy, Georgia, and Gabby are blessed with charming looks, yet were all brought up by parents who taught them that it is one’s character, not beauty, which opens many doors. Gabby teaches and owns a preschool. Timmy, an architect, practices interior design and manages the family’s logistics company. And Georgia keeps a number of clinics as a pediatric dentist, all while raising children of their own.
Of course, their mother, Ruby, couldn’t be prouder. “Here, wear this,” she tells Timmy, her eldest, holding up a chunky neckpiece she designed herself. “That would look good on camera. Should we move the sofa? Hang the painting? What are you going to wear? Have your guests eat first,” Ruby enjoins. Moms can be amusing. They will always have both the nurturing and prodding habit no matter how old their children become. The sisters have inherited that. Their family members, says Timmy, are their worst critics and their biggest supporters.
In the closely knit Diaz-Roa family, a simple gathering instantly becomes a big party. The three sisters have 10 aunts and two uncles from the Diaz side alone, with whom they’ve spent a lot of traveling and growing up. The Roa sisters, along with their two brothers, spent summers traveling in pairs, as they were sent for weeks to aunts and cousins who lived around the world, apart from out of town trips with their own families on weekends. The tradition is kept to this day, with their children treating their cousins like extended siblings. Weekends are usually spent at the beach or at a relative’s house for lunch or dinner. Every gathering is filled with noise, laughter, and great food, attests Timmy. Sometimes—she adds, laughing—newcomers get extremely overwhelmed.
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The sisters in Boracay with their husbands Gilbert Remulla, Yugi Antonio, and Peter Limjoco
Timmy, being the ate, knows how to manage and make everyone, even new guests, feel at home. “We had king crabs cooked especially for you; stay and have dinner with us,” she insists. In her younger sisters’ points of view, Timmy is everything you’d want in an older sister. She’s the first they consult with when they need help in making decisions, says Gabby, who’s also grateful for the eldest’s help in designing and building her preschool for free. Timmy also decorated Georgia and her husband Gilbert Remulla’s house.
Who they are today isn’t too different from who they were as children. Back when Gabby was in first grade, Timmy would help her transfer notes and homework from the school board to her notebook. And even then they’d raid Georgia’s closet for clothes. Georgia and Gabby were best buddies, going to parties or attending concerts together. The year they lived apart—Georgia was in New York for school, Gabby lived in Los Angeles, and Timmy was based in Manila—ironically brought them even closer with daily phone calls and updates. In their family, they never say they have a “best friend,” rather a lot good friends. Perhaps the “best friend” term, muses Gabby, is reserved for her sisters.
The ladies at the Manila Polo Club for their brother Daniel's wedding party
Gabby says she felt most blessed when Timmy and Georgia stayed in 24/7 for three days when she gave birth to her daughter. Timmy was in the delivery room and Georgia took care of bringing everything she needed, from clothes to baby items. Gabby will do anything for her sisters too, from paying bills and taking care of the nephews and nieces to running errands when they’re abroad with their husbands. They fill in for each other whenever they can, emphasizes Timmy, with or without the other asking. As for the most beautiful lesson on sisterhood, if not family life itself, they all agree that acceptance, forgiveness, and love make for the best relationships. "Not everyone’s made the same," says Gabby, "everyone has quirks. Celebrate the good, temper the bad. Work on it from there."
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Timmy, Gabby, and Georgia
More important, the siblings know that while they can help each other look good with tips and secrets and put on layers and layers of their trusty M.A.C foundation, Shiseido lipstick, or Maybelline mascara, at the end of the end of the day, they all go home, take it all off, face the mirror, and see their own skin. "When you are happy and peaceful, it just shows in your disposition and your appearance," says Georgia. "No matter how much you spend on your face," adds Gabby, "it will reflect on the outside if you’re not at peace inside." Beauty, for the Roa sisters, is the joy that comes from generosity, graciousness, and love, which are after all, the things that attract and make an impression long after the makeup comes off.