As typical as these stories go, we often wonder: Will she do as the world expects? Where is she going to go? What is she going to say? But being the woman that she has become, Sarah Lahbati is writing her life guided only by her heart and the love that springs from within.
“Sorry about the late response. I just flew back from a trip,” writes Sarah Lahbati to the email correspondence that sat untouched on my inbox for a few days. Typically, the standard, mundane exchange of electronic messages straddles the fine line between sincere and detached, often falling trap to presumptions of reception. Sometimes it can be curtailed by the connection of two punctuations to form the stylized smiling face that have become insulations to many conversations on the daily. While this straightforward, matter-of-fact reply was indeed affixed with the textual representation of cheer, there existed a color of genuine warmth to the pleasantry that belied the typical internet conversations.
She is of course talking about her recent trip to the lush tropical escape in one of Philippine geography’s gleaming gems, one that has invaded via virtual postcards on her usually carefully curated Instagram page. Taking over the snippets of unapologetic fashion, unerring glamour and unparalleled beauty were aww-inducing slices of her life at that moment in El Nido, Palawan with her constants: Richard, Zion and Kai. Instead of precise posing and strategic placements of products she loves, obsesses about, or endorses, there were toothy grins, eyes shut tight and candid loving gazes. Perhaps the only thing that rivalled the serene backdrop of the archipelago’s persisting frontier with its crystal-clear waters, towering cliffs, and stretches of white sand beaches was the vision of contentment that jumps from the photographs compelling one to utter in a weighted exhale: hopefully all.
However, as aspirational as her life may seem now, Sarah Lahbati has had quite the arduous journey to get to the state of mind she is in now. That’s the thing with the lives we follow these days, most of the time, we fail to consider what goes on behind that scene or how one got that scene immortalized. For the actress, author and endorser, her charmed life had to go through the wringer before unravelling to her dreams realized today. “I never thought I would be able to juggle being a working mom at a young age. It hasn’t been easy and there are still days where I feel overwhelmed, but I’ve been blessed to have the most supportive people around me, from Chard to my parents and his family,” she says. “Having Zion and Kai changed my life for the better. I work harder and I’m more inspired. I constantly work towards being a better version of myself for myself and for my family. Motherhood is crazy and fulfilling journey.”
A professional multi-hyphenate wearing many hats when necessary, Sarah Lahbati beams with pride when it comes to the jewels that decorate her proverbial crown—mother and future wife.
“I’ve always leaned towards having stability in life, whether it being in relationships or work. Of course, as a teenager, I was very indecisive and didn’t really know what I wanted to do in terms of my career. And by indecisive, I mean mind boggling, end-up-with-a-headache indecisive,” she discloses. “I just knew I loved the arts, fashion, and acting. I’m the type of person who learns along the way as I weigh my choices and decide which moves to do next. Being where I am today, it makes my heart full. I’m in love with my family and my life, and still work towards achieving my goals. I believe in working hard towards making your dreams come true whether you have kids—or not—or at 50 years old. It’s never too late to make things happen for yourself or find that thing that fulfills your heart and soul.”
For Sarah Lahbati, life has never been the same, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.
The Story of Them
“Living in a third world country with kids out of wedlock is quite frowned upon, yes. But that doesn’t make Chard and I less religious or less in love. More than anything, it strengthened our relationship. Having our own timeline of how we should live our life has been liberating for us. We chose to focus on the kids and make sure they’re nurtured, loved and have a good future ahead of them,” Sarah opens up about the path her life has taken since, especially in the society we live that is admittedly painfully and frustratingly conservative to a fault. “I do wish that people have a more open mind when it comes to this subject because our situation works and could work for other people, too. It hasn’t been smooth sailing, of course…But at the end of day, love for us is stronger than any obstacle. Not everything has to be conformed into society’s dictated ways of living.”
Despite an overarching of liberation on many fronts, there still exists a stubborn fragment of the world that is held back by a certain way of life, one that.
is held to the rigors of dusty age-old mandates. It’s the classic dance of two steps forward, one step back, which has invariably robbed progress of its rhythm. To a person of less resolve, courage and nerve, this can easily be the breaking point, forcing them to subscribe to tradition in order to preserve the status quo at their expense. But Sarah Lahbati is not that type of person. With a steady source of support and inspiration, she has stared adversity in the eye and willed it to work for her at her own time and pace. Even well beyond the perceived trying times, this steadfast spirit continues to guide her as she further navigates the next stages of her life—one that is no longer just about herself anymore.
“Being able to feel at ease and feel like myself is essential in order for me to be a good mother and partner. I meditate and do yoga to reset, reflect, and pause to feel like myself again when I feel overwhelmed with responsibilities or the kid’s energies,” she says followed by a laugh. Striding over her hurdles the way that she did, with her heart as her compass, Sarah Lahbati has grown up exponentially over the years, and with grace if we say so ourselves. No longer just a young woman with a horizon of opportunities before her, she has become the source of life to her three boys, her future husband included. While some would still raise and furrow their brows in contempt and disapproval, she has inadvertently gained a world of possibilities through the loves of her life.
Feisty and focused, it is this very same outlook that she wants her children to carry on in their own journeys. “I keep telling Zion to never stop learning and exploring. Life is an adventure…To watch and appreciate a full moon or sunset and pause. To pray and be grateful for all that they have,” she says. “Another thing I never want them to forget is to be kind and to help when they can. Giving back and being a good friend are essential things in life. My parents have been the best example…they are kind, loving and always happy to help.”
In what stands to be her life’s greatest role, she has taken to motherhood in the way only she deems and defines it to be. And nothing quite comes close, she gushes. “I love hugging my kids, I love loving them, nurturing them, and helping them grow into my good boys. I love coming home to them and just hanging out with them. If I’m not working, I’m just at home with them and wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Clearly no longer the woman that people have chalked her up to be, she is instead shifting her focus to the foreseeable future, one that includes the happy ending to her own take of a childhood fairytale.
Back To Her
From where she stands, looking up into the expansive unknown of the universe, the stars are aligning into a glittering constellation of promises. In a breath of words, the year is going to be quite something for Sarah Lahbati.
“I’m excited as I am working on a secret project I can’t share yet…all I can say is it’s been a dream of mine to do this. I’m still working on it and I can’t wait to share it with you,” she teases of what is to come from her. “But most of all, I’m looking forward to seeing my kids walk the aisle and kiss Chard for the first time as my husband.”
It is innate and generally inexplicable, but our generation has seemingly developed a skill of reading between the lines (for better or worse), sensing what the other means and intends in typed out words sent over in a swift motion. Despite it being a virtual exchange, it becomes clear how tickled pink and over-the-moon she is with her upcoming nuptials to her best friend and life partner, Richard Gutierrez. Leaping off the screen, evidenced by an abundance of ellipsis and exclamation points, the date couldn’t come any sooner for them—officially.
“It feels great! It’s exciting and a bit nerve wracking at the same time…We’re excited to celebrate love with our family and friends,” she relates before parlaying into the preparations they are undertaking for the red letter day. “I’d like to think I’m a pretty chill bride…I am,” she laughs. “I’m lucky that Chard helps me out, and it’s not a one way thing when it comes to preparations. We also have the best wedding planner, Amanda Tirol, who’s been so helpful and kind. We try to have fun with the process and make it memorable. You only get married once [after all].”
There is a bubbling desire to pry and find out all the dreamy details of her wedding, including what she plans to say in her vows, but she is right, you only go through this once, and she deserves this moment to keep it to herself, relishing in the progression leading up to the day she says “I do.”
As hers is already a story atypical to the ones that have been drilled in our minds as formula and fairytale, we take a step back from our view finder and shift the focus of the lens to her and ask: What are your vows to yourself? Moving forward in this new chapter, what are the promises to Sarah Lahbati that you intend to persist at?
“I vow to love myself at my best and worst. To continuously learn and grow towards the woman I want to become. I will not worry about things I cannot control. I vow to continuously, wholeheartedly love and take care of my family,” she writes. “Oh, and note to self: Be gentle with yourself, you’re doing the best you can.”