The Age of Innocence

Straight-talking, athletic and gorgeous, Phoebe and Megan Smith take on the challenge of this cover story which entailed two separate shoots, several styling sessions and a trip to Bridges Salon to achieve a mahogany shade on Megan’s hair and a copper shade on Phoebe’s. The Smith siblings, young and self-aware, transport back to the age of innocence – where cynicism is a long way off and experiences are still fresh.

It’s not for the whole world to see,” Megan Smith quickly replied when asked about the controversy of the bikini-donning and cigarette-smoking seniors from an all-girl Catholic high school that resulted in their being banned from marching in their graduation rites. “It all boils down to family and unfortunately, not all families share the same morals. School is important, but you come home to your family and you can learn the most from them.”

Eighteen-year-old Megan tries to keep her values in order and herself in check especially since she aspires to become a teacher. Her former fourth-grade teacher, the late Germaine Legaspi-Chu of Cebu Learning Center sparked this passion. “She just had this way of making each one feel special,” Megan shared.

She also looks up to and has a great relationship with her teachers in Cebu International School and is currently enrolled in the CIS International Baccalaureate Diploma Program. Inching closer to her goals, she has been accepted as a scholar in Winthrop University in South Carolina this fall.

We turned to fifteen-year-old sister Phoebe, who said, “I believe rules are there to protect you to a certain extent. If my mom wouldn’t allow me to post photos on Facebook wearing my bikini, she has her reasons. Sometimes, you accept people’s friendly requests even if you don’t know them and they can just easily save your images.”

She shares her sister’s values, rooted firmly on the foundation of family. “I find family and the people around me very important,” she said. “I value my education as well as the incidental life lessons that you pick up outside of school. Since I’m young and trying to find out who I am, the people around me have a big effect on what I learn.” The result of an unconventional approach to education encouraged Phoebe and Megan to love learning. They were exposed to various schools and methods of teaching at Discovery Camp, the missionary school Joy Christian Academy, Cebu Learning Center, Kolbe Academy home school program, and now, Cebu International School.

Smart, stunning, and young, showbiz is bound to knock on their doors soon. As opposed to her sister, Phoebe is willing to enter the dizzying world of the Philippine entertainment industry. The pressures of society to look and act a certain way don’t faze her as she maintains a healthy self-image: “There’s a lot of pressure from the media on how you should look like. Filipino girls are petite and having American blood, I’m not naturally skinny. I think you should put your health first and if I want to lose weight, I will do the healthy way.”

Both Phoebe and Megan are into sports. When they were very young, they started dancing ballet but traded in their tutus and ballet shoes for shin guards and cleats. They played for the Giuseppe Football Club for four years before joining the CIS soccer varsity, CIS Dragons. They have competed nationally for the Alaska Cup and the RIFA Cup, and locally for the Thirsty, Mizuno, and Aboitiz Cups. The frequent hours spent practicing and competing on the field give them a sense of purpose, build their character, and demand discipline. “I learned how to be a team player since you can’t win on your own,” said Phoebe. “I learned how to manage my time, stay focused, and not fall behind on schoolwork,” added Megan.

They like to keep busy and stay out of trouble. Megan confessed that they are diligent with their school responsibilities and are both not the type to party crazy. It’s refreshing to hear that these two girls are in no rush to grow up either. “I would just like to go back to when I was younger. There is so much ‘drama’ now and I’m not into that,” Megan shared. Drama like cat fights, underage drinking and partying, and an obsession with boys are portrayed in popular teen shows like Gossip Girl and 90210.

Quite the contrast, during Christmas, the kids stuff baskets with goodies and they deliver these to the homes of the less fortunate, singing Christmas carols door to door. They are also more involved in encouraging the other children to participate in the Children’s Mass at their church, CCTN, a schedule set for every Saturday and organized by a group of moms. The girls had started attending it eight years ago.

Their favorite memories have more to do with the earlier days of simple joys. Phoebe recalls her days in kindergarten and how she loved taking long naps. Megan recalls swimming in their grandparents’ pool where they would spend summers in Taylorsville, North Carolina where their dad, Tony is from. For him staying true to their American roots would give the girls a more grounded lifestyle without household help and drivers. Family seems to be at the heart of the girls’ well-rounded existence.

Tony travels around Asia for his work as the general manager of the HongKong-based company, Furn-Tech International. Phoebe describes her dad as cool and chill and said that she would like to help him out in the family business someday. The girls are close to their mom Tippi who is busy running the family-owned furniture agency, Design Editions, while pursuing her passion for dancing at the same time. She is proud of how she raised the girls and how they turned out.

Tippi said, “If Megan was a book she would be a mystery novel, full of suspense and wonder. Megan is more private and a deep thinker. Phoebe would be a romantic comedy, full of love and laughter.” Tippi and the girls are even friends on Facebook, bragging rights to moms these days, if they’re as lucky.

When the conversation quickly turned to boys, we were told that Tippi had cleverly put up a ‘16-date system’ for the girls, which only allows them to go on a legit date when they turn 16. A legitimate date for them would mean that the guy gets to pick the girls up in a car from their house and take them out for dinner. Before the girls turn 16, boys can only come over to the house to have dinner with the entire family.

Along with an older brother, Ian, who is now taking up post-graduate studies in the United States, Phoebe and Megan share interesting family dynamics with their parents Tony and Tippi. Theirs is an American home with a blend of Filipino and American Southern values.

  • sittings editor Katsy Borromeo
  • production manager David Jones Cua
  • photography Jan Gonzales 
  • make-up artist Jonas Borces
  • hair styling Francis Lee of Bridges Salon 
  • hair color L’Oreal Professionals INOA
Zee Lifestyle
Zee Lifestyle

Zee Lifestyle strives to capture the pulse of Cebu! As a city-centric lifestyle magazine, it aims to inform and entertain with features on culture, personalities, travel, food, fashion and everything in between. Follow Zee Lifestyle on Instagram at @zeelifestyle.

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