By Mafelou C. Leagogo-Agriam
(CREAM February-March 2014)
One of the pretty faces in Iloilo City that graced the pages of CREAM Magazine in the mid 90s belonged to Nina Frances Montelibano (now Oestreicher). Even early on in high school at Assumption Iloilo, already people took notice of how forthrightly she held her own candle alongside the other beauties in the family.
Considerably taller in height, her older sisters Ivy Marie (now Valderrama and New Zealand-based) and Geraldine “Jing” (now Trinidad and New Jersey, USA-based) were on all accounts stunning to watch, not to mention having a beauteous mother, Maria Luisa “Louie” (nee Benedicto) and good-looking dad Jerry Montelibano, who brought such good genes to their brood. Still and all, petite Nina stood squarely with quiet confidence and grace beside her elders. She held the most promise.
Thankfully, the young girl had a good head over her pretty shoulders. For certain, she realized then a good college education was a better choice and preference to whatever other sweet options there were in array for someone with charm and exquisite manners. In due course, she graduated with a diploma in International Business from Assumption in San Lorenzo, Makati.
Not unlike most college degree holders coming from elite schools in Manila, Nina entered the corporate world with ease. She worked as a young executive for Beauty Bar, owned by Rustan’s/SSI, the country’s most upscale de luxe retail store, Rustan’s. But this wasn’t enough for her, it seemed.
Nina and equally beauteous mom, Louie.
When her parents migrated to New York City many years ago, Nina joined them with good reasons. She lost no time to seek for higher learning and took up graduate studies at New York University, and finished in time with a degree in International Marketing Communications. It was in the realms of media communications, publishing and advertising where she earned her spurs as a career woman.
Nina worked in television as a broadcast associate producer for CBS News for a good while. Having had her fill in the broadcast industry, she next joined the Advertising Department of the renowned and influential publishing house Conde Nast.
To the uninitiated general public, this media firm produces such widely-read, popular, up market glossy magazines and in-depth materials as Vogue, Vanity Fair, GQ, Architectural Digest, Glamour, Conde Naste Traveler, Golf Digest, etc. Time to shed this print media backdrop and capture the excitement in the living factory of beauty, Nina gained entry into the bigger enclave of the highly-competitive but luxurious beauty industry. She is currently Director of Education at Unilever’s Beauty Luxury Division.
With a potent combination of good looks, intellect, class and finesse, and a great career path, Nina over time acquired the circumstance and privileges that further bolster a career woman’s dignity and respectability. It is unsurprising if she also had a slew of male admirers knocking on her New York apartment door at the Upper East Side of the Big Apple.
Tellingly, one Jewish New Yorker stood out in Nina’s eyes. They shared life defining commonalities in traits and interests, like both are personable and outgoing. They love the finer things in life especially arts and culture, being members of the Metropolitan Museum. They are keen on music, movies, pop culture, history, family and values, news and current events, travel, food, sports and fashion. The list could go on at length between two compatible souls.
Andrew Oestreicher was educated in several schools: Yeshiva University (MTA) in New York, the Bar Ilan University in Israel, University of Hartford in Connecticut, and St. John University where he earned his degree in Sports Management. Like Nina once, he is into advertising and the publishing fields. He is Director of Mobile Advertising at a publishing company called American Media, Inc., which produces OK! Magazine, The National Enquirer, The Globe, Star, Shape, Men’s Fitness and a lot more. Andrew also does consultancy work for Mobile Marketing, a job that entails frequent traveling around the United States.
How they met is a stroke of fate. The first encounter happened when out from nowhere Andrew bravely approached Nina while she was asking someone for directions. “We come from two different backgrounds,” Nina said. “but we bonded over our varying interests.”
And so on January 18 and after a nine-month long engagement, 34-year-old Andrew and 32-year-old Nina wedded in interfaith rites officiated by a Roman Catholic Priest and a Jewish Rabbi with 300 guests attending, some having traveled from different parts of the globe.
For the many who miss Nina, here are her thoughts, feelings and opinions, and the stuff and ingredients the Ilongga’s New York life is finely molded on.
Regular Hangouts: The Standard Grill at The Standard Hotel, The library at The Nomad Hotel and Cafe La Esquina in Brooklyn.
Comfort Food: Sweet potato fries and dark chocolate.
Thoughts on Being Born Privileged: I’d like to think I was born blessed (not privileged). I’m incredibly lucky to be born into such a wonderful family whom I consider my support system. My parents instilled in all of us good moral values, a strong work ethic and the importance of Faith and generosity to others.
Idols/Role Models: My parents are my role models. They are the perfect example of enduring Love, Strength and Faith.
First Thought Upon Waking Up: The weather and what to wear! Recently, NY has been on extreme weather conditions. I never know if I should wear a thick coat or if a light jacket is enough.
Best Out of the Country: Italy! I have been there a few times and it is always a great trip. Everything is breathtaking — Rome’s architecture, Venice’s romanticism, and the fashion in Florence and Milan is like no other.
On Earning and Money: I’ve heard that “your 20’s are for learning and your 30s are for earning”. I’m only in my 30s and have had a great career path thus far. And I think if you love what you do, sky is the limit on what you can earn and accomplish. So hopefully, that saying will hold true. It is important to me that I spend wisely and choose quality over quantity.
Most Expensive Purchase: My most expensive purchase would be some vintage accessory pieces I’ve collected through the years. They are timeless and I love that they each have a story.
What You Are Most Proud of: I am most proud of the career path I have chosen. I’ve been fortunate to be exposed to different industries in different countries. My job in the beauty industry allows me to work with global beauty experts, travel and make a difference in women’s lives. I am also proud and blessed that I get to sustain the kind of lifestyle where I can balance my work and personal life.
What I Miss Most: I miss the simplicity and convenience of Iloilo City. I miss the days in Assumption, hanging out with my high school friends (Lleana Ng, Anna Maloto, Anne Tabligan…), and I also miss Ilonggo food!!
Pet Peeves: Lazy people. The kind who seem to not make any effort to better themselves. As Coco Chanel once said: “There are no ugly people, just lazy ones.”
Define your Fashion Sense: EVOLVING. I am not one for unsuitable, generic and redundant personal style. I like classics but always with a hint of personal flair.
Most Important Lesson Learned in Life: The most important lesson in life is to BE OPEN TO CHANGE. Nothing in life is constant, and as we age, there are always new lessons to be learned and reasons to be a better person. Our environment is ever changing, so we must always be open for newness, move forward and improve ourselves.
Dreams and Aspirations: I aspire to have a life filled with beauty and substance. I am looking forward to starting a family and building a home. Hopefully in the next few years, I am able to do more philanthropic work, fingers crossed for that.
Any Advocacy to Work on (If not now maybe later): FEED is one of my most admired advocacy and something I support. It was founded by Lauren Bush – Lauren (http://www.feedprojects.com/history) – designing bags with proceeds fully dedicated to feeding the children of the world. I would love to do something like this – develop products that will directly benefit the plight to fight hunger and eliminate malnutrition throughout the world. I would specifically start with providing for our less fortunate brothers and sisters in the Visayas region, particularly Iloilo. This is a big dream of mine.