Tito J (aka Jonathan Cruz) and I quickly became good friends after being introduced by a very special lady, Gaile Guevara (aka JC’s cousin). They both amaze me and inspire me in ways they could never imagine. Tito J very quickly invited me into his home and studio to meet his two angels, Gabriella (his wife) and Sofia (his baby girl).
I fell in love with the Cruz’s so quickly that it truly made me see things in a different perspective. Long story short, having experienced September 11th, 2001 a few blocks away from Ground Zero, I became a very closed and shy person, having extreme difficulty with letting go of fear and seeing the truth and good in people around me. Moving back to Vancouver in 2008 and meeting what I now call my “Gastown Family” was the BEST healing experience I have ever had, and it still heals me to this day in different aspects of my life. I never saw Tito J as the amazing photographer that catches the true essence of everyone he shoots, but he asked me if I wanted to do a shoot, so of course I said yes. To me, it was a fun day of laughs and hopefully good eats with a crazy long haired buddy that never sleeps. When he told me the subject, I was extremely excited to meet her. A true hero with a shining personality, inspiration to all, the beautiful and passionate Carol Huynh. She grappled Canada to a gold medal in the Beijing Olympics in 2008, and the tears she shed while the Canadian anthem was playing, to this day gives me the shivers.
We started pretty early in the morning so we made breakfast. A spread of bacon cooked crispy, medium, and soft, scrambled eggs, pastries, longanisa (if you haven’t tried these Filipino sausages, then you haven’t lived) etc etc etc… After the delectable meal, we went on to hair and makeup. Let me tell you one thing about Carol. She glows. And when a woman glows from working hard and is skilled at what she loves to do, no matter how young or mature you are, you really don’t need much makeup. So, we gave her a little natural smokey eye to go with the stunning dresses lent to us by Manuel Mendoza. Nothing too extravagant, as she mentioned she had sensitive skin and didn’t wear much makeup on a daily basis.
Being a makeup artist, I get to stand in front of astonishing talent. You are pretty up close and personal and through conversation, you really get to know the person that is in your chair on a personal level. She shared her stories about family, her husband, her future, on being the first woman ever to score a gold medal for Canada in wrestling, how she felt when she stood under the Canadian flag on that historical day, on how she feels about being a role model, and how excited she was to just go back home. You can see that she values the gift of strength, courage and perseverance her parents gave her and lives each day and each step without forgetting what she has.
Coco Chanel once said that a woman should be two things, classy and fabulous. Carol is just that and then some.
Thank you Tito J for having me as your guest blogger. I love my Gastown Family. [ Gabby, Sofia, GG, Evan, Tony, Coco and Moko]