Small Laude reinvents what it means to be a modern-day celebrity, giving us a glimpse into a rarefied world through her undeniable charm, boundless joy, and refreshing authenticity.
This is an excerpt from Lifestyle Asia’s November 2023 Issue.
Poised gracefully atop a mangrove tree, Small Laude poses in a scarlet evening gown, with a sweet smile on her face that belies the challenges that had gotten her perched into that specific spot and standing upon sinewy roots. Surefooted and steady, she models the ruffled confection by Ivarluski Aseron with aplomb, a couture dress fresh off the runway, and one among many she giddily got to try on during a private fitting with the designer in her home.
Shot against the serene waters of Manami Resort in Negros Occidental, one would find it hard to imagine the concerted effort that was required to stage such a remarkable portrait. It was an idyllic location Lifestyle Asia editor-in-chief Candy Dizon had her heart set upon even prior to the shoot, which according to the resort’s owner Cristina Corro, would only be accessible during high tide.
Thankfully nature cooperates, and aboard four bancas, the team rows to this hidden oasis. With the couture gown decadent and yet delicate, Small had to change into it while riding one of the rowboats, in a makeshift dressing tent held up by four women. Despite being accustomed to many creature comforts, the cover star has no qualms about swapping outfits in the wild, even venturing out of her comfort zone to pull off the poses needed for this landmark photo series.
Upon reaching the spot, Cristina goes first, showing Small the exact places her foot needed to land to get her safely onto the crook of the tree. She balances herself and poses for lensman Patrick Diokno for a good 10 minutes, before the team then paddles away out of the frame for the drone shot by Ed Simon.
Standing alone amidst the rawness of this untamed oasis, Small is confident, like a supermodel who has perhaps done this many times. Striking in red, it’s hard to take your eyes off her, possessed of a certain je ne sais quoi that has earned her the ardor of millions of fans.
Despite her current fame, Small Laude is what can be considered a newcomer to the scene, having only started vlogging in 2019. Born Marissa Eduardo, she is married to business tycoon Philip Laude, and is mother to four children, Christopher, Timothy, Michael, and Allison. She’s also the sister of construction magnate Alice Eduardo, Melba Eduardo Solidum, and Joel Eduardo.
Being naturally outspoken and funny, the socialite recalls how her friend, broadcast journalist Karen Davila, had encouraged her to start her own vlog. She was hesitant at first, as were her husband and her kids. “The family of Philip, they are so private and low key,” she explains.
Small, however, was really drawn to it and wanted to do it for herself, finally giving in as she created her first video on a trip to Los Angeles. With her companions fast asleep on the long-haul flight, the then-newbie starts recording nonchalantly on her phone, eventually splicing it with snippets of herself relaxing in their Beverly Hills home, grocery shopping, and wholeheartedly enjoying their family’s vacation.
Her natural charisma and amusing personality shines through, and when that first video began to gain significant traction, Small started coming up with more. On her YouTube channel, which now has two million subscribers, fans get to join Small on trips all around the world, shopping at designer boutiques, attending high-profile events, or even throwing parties for her equally posh friends. Interspersed with all that luxury, viewers also get to see the sillier side of Small, with the content creator often engaged in amusing adventures, and never shy to show off her bloopers.
She also lets us into more personal affairs, like the intimate soiree she and husband Phil had for their 25th wedding anniversary, or their daughter Allison’s graduation from high school, and subsequent send-off to college abroad. In fact, she mentions that one of her favorite episodes is the one with her entire family, doing the “Who’s Most Likely” challenge, where they playfully dunk each other’s faces in powder.
While her family had at first been hesitant about appearing in her vlogs, they’re now prominent characters, with fans just as invested in their lives. “Now they’re so supportive, and I’m so happy,” she quips. One video showcases Small with her daughter in an amusing skit inspired by the body-swap film Freaky Friday, with Allison nailing her Mom’s mannerisms to a tee. Philip, on the other hand, has taken over as manager and “bodyguard” for Small, reviewing her contracts and accompanying her on shoots and appearances. In between takes at the cover shoot, when the couple thinks no one is watching, they can be seen fondly holding hands, making every project a loving family affair.
The socialite makes no secret of her genteel upbringing, or the comfortable life she has had ever since marrying confectionary empire scion Philip, who now also runs Timson Printing and stock brokerage firm Timson Securities.
Through her vlog, viewers get a sneak peek at the lifestyles of the truly rich, a world normally veiled in mystery. With girlish excitement, Small talks about her favorite things, raids her Ate Alice’s Hermès bag collection, or takes people on a tour of their six-story luxury home designed by Ed Calma. She describes her personal style as fun, girly and cute, but not classic. “It’s too boring for me to be classic. It’s not bagay,” she professes.
They’re slice-of-life videos, just infinitely more exclusive and glamorous, filled with sparkling jewels, grand tablescapes, and chic fashions. And yet, with her down-to-earth demeanor and inexorable candor, the approachable tastemaker has made everyone feel like a part of her rarefied world.
Witness as she picks vegetables from her rooftop garden, cooks dinner for her family, unboxes her shopping haul, or even declutters her closet. Congenial and easy to please, she finds joy in the everyday, and has just as much fun going to the wet market with her household staff, as she is traipsing along with her friends on Rodeo Drive.
And while clearly enamored by the finer things, the wife and mother also believes in prioritizing what is truly most important in life. “Many people think and see that I have so much. I can’t disagree with that, but it goes beyond material possessions,” she says, eager to go beyond just the surface. “True luxury to me is having your family healthy and whole, being able to spend time with loved ones, peace of mind, being able to give back, traveling and exploring the beauty this world has to offer, and just simple moments of joy and laughter with family and friends.”
She is comfortable in her own skin, a thing she credits as part of her success. “I’ve always wanted to be a celebrity of sorts. Had I known I just had to be me, I would have auditioned just being me,” she shares with a laugh. “Authenticity and candidness on cam are such a big deal.
I think that being myself, embracing my imperfections, opening up, staying positive and just genuinely connecting is what allows me to not only be me, but what makes people accept me.”
She reveals that one of the most common questions she, and the people in her inner circle get asked, is if her public persona matches her private one. “We all have the same answer, “YES!” What you see is truly what you get,” she attests.
POSITIVITY AND PURPOSE
Amidst a saturated social media landscape, there is something that makes Small Laude stand out. Having risen to fame amidst a worldwide pandemic, her followers were drawn to her bubbly personality, witty observations, and sometimes self-deprecating humor, christening her their “happy pill.”
“It’s the ultimate compliment,” she shares. “It is so heartwarming to know that my vlog and the content I create can bring this much happiness to people’s lives.” She prefaces every episode with her popular catchphrase in her trademark cadence, “No bashing! Of course, it’s for fun!”, reinforcing how all of what she does is simply to entertain and inspire.
Small’s message of positivity has clearly resonated, with people creating various fan clubs dedicated to her. “They’re the best! It’s like having a cheering squad uplifting you 24/7. They inspire me, they motivate me since they are the voice of so many, and I’m just incredibly grateful for them,” she shares.
The breakout star is thankful for all the love she’s received, and enjoys getting to know her followers. “I connect with them in many ways – through my DMs, social media, meet and greets, giving them exclusive content especially just for them, and just so much more,” she declares.
In fact, one of the biggest events she’s had was her “One Million Laughs” fan meeting in Samsung Hall, to celebrate having hit her first million subscribers on YouTube. Despite her apparent popularity, this milestone still caught Small by surprise. “It was a moment of immense joy and gratitude. I couldn’t believe it, but I knew I had to do something to give back to the fans. Fans even flew in from all over just to celebrate with us,” she recalls.
Wanting to create a memorable experience, she had invited celebrity guests, prepared a lot of activities and even performed for her fans. “I’m not a singer nor am I even a dancer, but I gave it my all,” she says. “I spent weeks rehearsing for my fans. No matter how exhausted I was, I pushed through because of them.”
The fan meet also gave Small and her loyal tribe a chance to really bond, taking their online connection into the real world. “I also wanted it to be more than just a performance, so I made sure to engage with my fans. I wanted as many people to feel included,” she says. Small and her team made sure everything was already taken care of, from the venue, to the exciting program, to even the snacks and drinks given away.
Small declares that when the day had finally come, it felt like a dream come true. “The energy in the room and the support from my fans was overwhelming. And more than anything, this was about the real people who had become a part of my journey,” she declares. “That was the real magic of the whole experience.”
Read the full cover story by purchasing a copy of the Lifestyle Asia November 2023 magazine via SariSari.shopping or select newsstands in National Bookstore and Fully Booked. Subscribe to the E-Magazine via Readly, Magzter, and Press Reader.
Text by MARIANE PEREZ
Photos by PATRICK DIOKNO
Sittings Editor: CANDY DIZON
Art Director: MARC YELLOW
Stylist: ROKO ARCEO
Makeup by OMAR ERMITA
Hair by PATTY INOJALES
Shoot Coordination: MAE TALAID.
Shot on location at MANAMI RESORT
Special thanks to ANDREI AND CRISTINA CORRO AND THE MANAMI RESORT STAFF