Ling Ling King lives life with confidence and verve, practicing the art of self-awareness, gratitude, and loving herself as she endeavors to be of service to our underprivileged youth.
Ling Ling King embraces life on her own terms. Petite, all smiles, and with a glowing tan, she welcomes us warmly into her light-filled abode overlooking an equally vibrant garden, with a large tree amidst a sun-kissed breakfast area.
The first thing one would notice about Ling Ling is that she doesn’t look her age, and that’s if one would even think about asking her this question given her svelte figure and effervescent demeanor. She looks decades younger at 61, a thing she attributes to having always had a healthy lifestyle. But if she looks impeccably fit now, she maintains that didn’t happen overnight, and is likewise something she endeavors to maintain.
She recalls having started her fitness journey at around 18 years of age, and continues to be into all sorts of sports like skiing and tennis, with a diving trip in the Maldives coming up in a few weeks. “Being fit is a lifestyle and you must enjoy it,” she tells Lifestyle Asia. “Been working out for more than 40 years now, and I have a certain diet that I follow and enjoy.”
Ling Ling exercises with a trainer three times a week in her home gym, fully equipped with weights, Kinesis machine, elliptical bike, treadmill, and even a trampoline. “I always do the trampoline. That’s very good for the lymph nodes, it drains [it]. And it basically moves the whole body,” she conveys. On her off days, she walks or bikes around her village.
One notable feature of her cozy exercise area, which opens up to her garden, is the fountain and current pool to the side. “I just like the feeling of while I’m working out, that I get the feeling of the water flowing,” she shares of the breezy space.
Water is indeed a central feature of Ling Ling’s newly renovated home, which she worked on with architect Anthony Nazareno. There’s of course the glass sculpture by Impy Pilapil whose contours cascade gracefully onto a pool of water near the main living room. “I got inspired when I was in Portugal, when I was in Fatima, because I was in the meditation room of Fatima,” she narrates. “I like the water features, it’s very calming for me.”
The abstracts hanging on her walls are equally soothing, with muted tones that seem to float. She doesn’t have any favorite painters per se, and prefers to go by emotion. “If it moves you, buy it,” she says, likewise mentioning having worked with interior designer Nix Alañon for the bedrooms.
This gentle flow is likewise mimicked in the spacious open layout, surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows in the living room area of Ling Ling’s newly renovated home. “I wanted it to be Zen, I wanted it to not have a lot of clutter, which is my personality,” she declares of her revamped abode.
She reveals that this had been the home she had shared with her husband, the late Archie King. “It was my husband who built this house, so this was our house, the two of us,” she states, explaining that when her stepchildren Atticus and Angie had graduated from college, they had moved out. “So it was just me and my husband the whole time, living here, until the accident. So after the accident, I was just living here by myself,” she shares, referring to the helicopter accident that had claimed the life of her beloved husband and the pilot, during a flight she and a few friends had also been on. She reminisces that it had been a happy marriage, and calls Archie the love of her life.
Ling Ling does not delve into the details of this event much, but honestly discusses some of the ways she has tried to cope. Even right after the accident, she recalls flying in a helicopter right away. “I didn’t want to be a slave to that fear, and that trauma,” she says, and reveals that she does talk to a therapist to help her process things, in addition to her meditation practice, and her constant endeavor to live her life and create good memories.
It has also been one of the reasons behind her desire to remodel her residence. “So I said, part of moving on is like doing this and that. But letting go, it’s hard. So, it was part of my moving forward, and letting go,” she says. “So I thought, now I’m going to renovate this house, according to my taste, to how I like it. So that’s why I did it.”
Ling Ling declares that she was very hands-on with the entire process, and has been pleased with the outcome. “I love it, I wake up in the morning and I look, and wow, it’s very simple don’t you think?”
And while the new layout is much more modern than its previous iteration, there are certain features that King has fondly retained, like the massive, sinuous black and white stone that greets you at the entrance, shipped all the way from China. “That’s a chrysanthemum stone that’s more than a million years old, they claim. So I wanted that when you open the house, that’s what you see,” she shares.
It had been a gift from Archie, for their second wedding anniversary. “So I was teasing him. You’re giving me a stone I cannot wear,” she says, with a small laugh.
Loving Oneself As An Integral Part Of Daily Living
Nowadays, it’s all about self-love and nurturing for Ling Ling. “I do a lot of mindfulness, gratefulness meditation, from the moment I wake up, when I nap, and before I go to bed, or when I’m anxious,” she shares, consciously reminding herself to appreciate and see the beauty in everything.
“It has to be a lifestyle. I can easily sit down here, and I can just tune in, and then meditate. But it shouldn’t be an effort, if you can’t meditate, then let go, your mind’s not into it. It’s not the right time. So practice is key, and then it becomes a natural thing,” Ling Ling declares. “It’s always linked to self-love. If you don’t love yourself, you can never give love, right?”
There’s a certain ease and serenity that comes with living a life that is rooted in trying to be your authentic self. She shares that when she and her husband first got married, his kids were in high school, and had asked her what she wanted to be called. “They used to call me Ling, right? So they said, do we call you Ling, do we call you Tita, do we call you Mom? And I said, whatever, you can call me whatever you want,” she declares.
In the end, both Atticus and Angie chose to call her Mom. “I never exerted any effort to please them, because that’s not me. I’ve always been ‘me’. It was like, take me for what I am, so I think they embraced that,” she states.
She continues to maintain a close relationship with them, and relishes being a grandmother to Atticus’ four children, and a lola many times over through the kids of her nieces. She also reveals that she does have a special person in her life right now, and while she chooses not to keep this aspect of her life hidden, she also prefers to keep other details private.
When asked what she values most, she believes that it is faith, hope, and love. “Without faith, I wouldn’t be where I am right now. Hope keeps me alive, and it is hope that keeps me going the moment I wake up, and love is the greatest gift you have that you can also give to everyone,” she conveys.
The former model poses in couture effortlessly, looking absolutely at ease in a semi-sheer ivory ensemble, a blush pink evening gown, as well as a corset and a ballgown skirt. She becomes even more relaxed and alluring when posing with her pets. There’s just something about her delicate features and her natural disposition that the camera loves. Her slim, hourglass figure, of course, doesn’t hurt either.
When the shoot had wrapped up, she shared videos of her modeling days which she posted on her Instagram. “This was my Rejoice ad, more than 30 years ago,” she points out, revealing that she was the first model for the brand in the Philippines, and that she went on to do a total of three hair commercials. “And this was my PAL commercial,” she says, pointing to a behind-the-scenes snap of her in Boracay, before showing us a photo of her at 16, with luscious and bouncy hair, on a Sunsilk bottle.
Talk turns to her youth in Quezon province, where her mother is from. “My childhood memories were all fun. We had an island when we were young, so we would always spend our weekends on the island. We spent a lot of time in the water,” she reminisces, sharing that her father, being Spanish, allowed them to have freedom and a wide berth while growing up.
She also discloses that she had been a flight attendant for more than a decade. It was a job she enjoyed, but also did preclude her from getting any tattoos in her twenties. But when she turned fifty, she decided to get her first one – a dolphin on her ankle. “I’ve always liked dolphins, because they can go to the deepest part of the ocean, and really communicate with Mother Earth,” she declares.
She also has tattoos of birds in the nape of her neck. “I’ve always liked birds because they can always fly free. And I don’t like tatts that are like obvious,” she notes, revealing that she feels subtler ones that are a bit hidden are sexier, like the other avian creatures inked on her back. “So when I’m wearing my two-piece, that’s when you can see it.”
When she isn’t traveling, she enjoys having intimate dinners with friends, engaged in intellectual conversations she can learn from. She also loves entertaining at her place. “I love serving home cooked food, I’m proud of my food at home. I’m usually relaxed when I entertain, always telling my friends to come in their casual attire too,” she states.
Fueled by genuine self-expression
When asked where she had gotten her nickname, she maintains that it is from her given name Maria Angeles, which somehow became Angeling and then evolved into Ling Ling. It’s a charming moniker, befitting the amiable socialite, who also fondly mentions her past stint as a cover model. “You know, I was the cover girl of Lifestyle Asia when I was 42. And then we’re doing this 20 years after,” she shares while getting her hair and makeup done.
When asked how she would compare the two experiences, she declares lightheartedly, “Well, I’m much older now right?” She also reveals that she had told the title’s editor-in-chief Candy Dizon that she was too old to be the cover, which was of course met with a resounding no from the glam team. Despite this, she appears nonplussed about the concept of aging. “You gotta embrace it, it’s inevitable. If you deny it, you’ll be so miserable,” she says.
The elegant beauty reveals she is most empowered being herself. “Be yourself. Be natural. People can see if you’re real or not,” she states, continuing that it’s all about “embracing yourself, embracing what you have. Loving what you have, embracing your imperfections, your flaws. Because by doing so, I think you’d be more grateful, you’d be more loving. You’d be more kind to yourself.”
The Ripple Effect
What she looks forward to most in 2024, aside from just trying to live happily and healthily, is to be a better servant of God. “Without Him, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” she says. She plays to us her favorite song, Thank God I Do, during the shoot, asks us to listen to the lyrics and shares how it resonates in her life. “If I didn’t give my faith to Jesus Christ, I wouldn’t be the person I am right now. My strength comes from Him. He is my anchor, He is my steadiness, He is my shelter, He is my safe place, He is my saving grace, He is my everything,” she conveys.
“I am grateful that I wake up every morning, and have a chance to be of help to others,” she states, and feels fortunate that she has resources that she can share. “It’s always been my plan to help intelligent, less fortunate students to go to prestigious schools to attain a better education. So once they’ve graduated and have become successful in life I am hoping that one day they can pay it forward in the same way,” she declares, explaining how she’s already started on this worthwhile endeavor. “My dream is that this practice continues.”
Despite life’s challenges, Ling Ling remains exuberant and optimistic, while being grounded and kind. “I realized that those challenges that were given to me could be a gift that I could use to show others that in spite of what I have gone through I decided to look at my life as a beautiful gift that I should treasure every minute of the day,” she conveys. “Everything is a choice. I chose to live and enjoy life.”
Text MARIANE PEREZ
Photos BORGY ANGELES, assisted by KARL MARIANO
Sittings Editor CANDY DIZON
Creative Director MARC YELLOW
Art Director PAOLO TORIO
Makeup LILIAN YEUNG
Hair CATS DEL ROSARIO
Stylist ROKO ARCEO
Shoot Coordination MAE TALAID