Nobody knows the importance of starting over like Cat Arambulo-Antonio
Call off the angry mob and lay down the pitchforks, this isn’t what you think it is. There are no excuses, apologies, or justifications happening here today. You won’t find a scapegoat or a PR approved press release. This is a story about human error, learning from mistakes, and growing through struggle — surely, you can relate. Cat Arambulo-Antonio isn’t back from her cyber space hiatus, but she’s here to fill us in on what it truly feels like to fall from grace.
An unexpected downfall
The high profile socialite hasn’t left her home in 46 weeks. Nobody in her family has. Most definitely a privilege denied to many, it is a luxury exclusive to well-to-do families. This realisation was the wakeup call that blew the door of Cat’s life off its hinges.
Only a few days into the Nationwide ECQ implemented last March, Cat Arambulo-Antonio found herself in the middle of a social media debacle that rocked the internet into an absolute frenzy. “Motherf*ckers, just stay home!” is a line she won’t soon forget.
If you ask Cat how she found herself in the middle of all that mess, she’ll tell you it was purely verbal diarrhoea. Not an excuse, it just is what it is. A mindless reaction to a video she saw, a post made on impulse, and a plea to abide by restrictions placed for our benefit. She posted a rant and went on about her day.
The backlash was astronomical as she found her name slandered and her reputation in shreds — posted on every social media platform, tabloid, and mainstream outlet, even reaching as far as Europe, India, and the United States. Aside from posting public apologies (issued on four separate occasions on Instagram), she has denied every single request for an interview. Why? There was nothing more to divulge, and she did some serious introspection.
What happened behind the scenes
Cat threw herself a two-day pity party, retreated to her bed, where she lay under the covers like a lifeless corpse. She eventually returned to her duties, thinking she was putting the issue behind her, but turned to medication at night to help her sleep. It wasn’t until she found herself reacting to the medication unexpectedly, by calling random numbers at odd hours through the night, that she admitted that the problem was much bigger than she realized.
“I started sleep-calling people and talking to them for hours at really weird times. Whether it was eleven at night or four in the morning, I had no sense of time nor did I even remember calling, until my husband asked me the next day who I was talking to.” Cat confesses, with a laugh. She adds, “Then, I would check my phone to see who I called, and see how long the convo was, and then I’d call the person I apparently vented to and apologize!”
This was her red flag. Worried she would do something even more damaging to herself or to others, she quit the medication completely and decided to work on herself. On a mission to peel back the layers and flesh out her problems, she began looking inwards to figure out why everything felt so horribly wrong.
Taking accountability and unmasking her demons
Getting started was simple. Cat Arambulo-Antonio enrolled herself in a 200-hour yoga teacher training certification class, and as the work progressed, everything started to unravel. She shares, “Now I know what was wrong. I guess it’s your conscience catching up with you. I knew deep down inside I was hurting. I’m not hurt, I felt bad because I knew that even if I unintentionally hurt people, the bottom line is — I did hurt people. And that’s what was killing me inside.”
Always the first to admit her faults, she explains that it was never really the hate or the bashing that got to her. “I don’t care what people say. But when I hurt people or if someone feels bad on my account, because I’ve made them feel bad, that’s what really affects me,” she says sternly. “I can’t live with that.”
Suddenly, it all began to sink in. She re-watched her videos and criticized herself, “If I look at it as someone watching it without really knowing me, and then seeing all the other stories I posted for the day, I would hate myself too. On all counts, I was wrong. No matter how you spin it.”
A fresh start isn’t a new place, it’s a mindset
Coming to terms with the hurt she caused opened the floodgates to revelations she would never have confronted otherwise. The energy of her transformation is palpable — you can hear it in her voice, you see it in the way she moves, it is in her aura. And folks, energy does not lie! Happiness fills her being to the brim. But it was a slow and painful process.
“That’s when I realized that I actually have a platform that I should be using properly. It humbled me. What am I doing with my platform? Sayang. I have kids who follow me, is this what I want to teach people? Is this the kind of energy I want to throw out into the world? I should have done better.”
Cat is confident that her experience is a lesson everyone could learn from. “Use me as an example. This was the most painful and challenging experience, but I think it’s become my greatest life lesson. I’ve grown so much from it, and it actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise.” She continues, “With everything that I’m doing, I have a purpose.”
Without darkness there can be no light
“I’m capable of using my network and my resources for better things,” Cat’s tone tinged with enthusiasm and sincerity. “I don’t want to just sell products, and give funny, stupid advice — typical me. I want to be a force that can actually make things happen, and help people. With what I’m doing now, my followers aren’t just following me, they’re actually helping me do things! They’re actually the ones on the ground materialising the things I prepare from the confines of my home,” she happily tells us.
Cat has been working under the radar, shying away from the public eye, avoiding scrutiny where her efforts could possibly be misconstrued. Her hard work has resulted in thousands of care packages that have been sent out to frontliners, essential workers, stranded students, jeepney drivers, typhoon victims, and those in her community in dire need of support.
Let go and let live
It has been an astounding display of compassion. In collaboration with various organizations, several brands and companies, and her dedicated followers, her missions have fallen under the extension of Cat Arambulo Studio OPC, which birthed Cat Arambulo Studio Cares, better known as CAS Cares.
Her charitable efforts show no signs of slowing down. Quite the opposite, it grows bigger and stronger as time goes on. This is not some form of atonement. For those who have been following Cat even before the pandemic, you’ll know her selfless nature has always been present. “I think this lockdown has put all of our lives into perspective, and to be honest, if that didn’t happen the way it did, sure, I’d still be helping — but not at the magnitude or the focus that I have now.”
When it comes to lessons learned, she shares, “Never let any event define you. And certainly never let other people, social media or the media dictate or change who you truly are. Take everything with a grain of salt, forgive yourself, learn the lessons and charge it all to experience. For me, it’s not about the mistakes that one makes, but the actions and what a person does as a response that matters.”
Everyone makes mistakes
Behind the glitz and glam (and flawless plastic surgery) is a mother who is just as imperfect as you and me. She makes a gazillion mistakes, she openly cusses, and she has naysayers (who doesn’t). But, she is also human — she feels deeply about protecting her children, she loses sleep over hurting others, and she wants to do better. A blessed life and having “privilege” is by no means a fault to be persecuted for, and her dedication to paying it forward is something we can all aspire to emulate.
When Modern Parenting’s editor-in-chief asked Cat to do this feature, she did not get an instant yes. It took Cat a while to agree, and when she did, it resonated. There is definitely something to be learned from Cat’s experience some way, somehow. There is a lot to be said about starting anew, especially in this time we are living in — in all aspects of our own lives. There is so much power in letting go and trusting God to heal all our troubles.
A fall from grace — that’s absolutely what Cat Arambulo-Antonio did. Then, she quietly got up, found her way, and she is better than she’s ever been. And truthfully, she doesn’t need any news report to validate that.