On Moms and Motherhood: Neil Felipp on His ‘Lady of Light’

Photo courtesy of Neil Felipp San Pedro. Art by Bea Lu

As we approach Mother’s Day 2024, Vogue Philippines celebrates this meaningful day with personal anecdotes from our collaborators about their experiences with motherhood.

Here, Neil Felipp San Pedro, designer and founder of brand Neil Felipp, shares his memories with his mother, Luz Filipinas Suarez-San Pedro.

As Mother’s Day approaches, I find myself grappling with the bittersweet reality of celebrating this special day without my mother by my side. It will be my first Mother’s Day without her, and the absence is keenly felt. Yet, I am determined to honor her memory in a way that reflects her essence and spirit.

My mother was more than just a woman; she was a beacon of humility and generosity, leaving an indelible mark on all who crossed her path. Her love knew no bounds, and it was during the tumultuous period following her cancer diagnosis in September 2019 that I truly came to appreciate the depth of her character. Amidst the chaos of doctors’ appointments and treatments, it was the quiet moments with my mother that remain etched in my memory. Her smile, her laughter—they were like rays of sunshine, casting warmth and comfort wherever they reached. It’s no wonder her name, meaning “Lady of Light,” suited her so perfectly, perhaps explaining her affinity for the color yellow.

This Mother’s Day, I plan to visit her grave, bringing with me her favorite flowers—yellow carnations, a symbol of the warmth and brightness she brought into my life. I’ll play her favorite music, the melodies of Apo Hiking Society. And amidst the quiet moments of reflection, I’ll carry her legacy in my heart, knowing that her love continues to guide and inspire me each day.

As I reflect on my mother’s influence on my life and career, I’m reminded of the profound impact she had on shaping not just my professional endeavors but also the very essence of who I am. My mother, affectionately known as Lulu, was more than just a parent; she was a guiding light, imparting invaluable lessons that continue to resonate with me today.

One of the most significant lessons my mother taught me was empathy. As I navigated the complexities of managing my business and interacting with my team, she emphasized the importance of understanding and connecting with people on a deeper level. For her, it wasn’t just about running a successful enterprise; it was about infusing it with heart and soul, creating an environment where everyone felt valued and supported.

In building my studio and establishing my brand, my mother’s influence was palpable. She wasn’t just a muse for my designs; she embodied the very spirit of inspiration, urging me to create not just for the sake of artistry but also to foster a culture of creativity and collaboration. It was her belief in the power of community and shared purpose that fueled my determination to build a brand that was not only admired but also inclusive and uplifting.

My mother’s humility and generosity were evident in every aspect of her life. Whether it was through her love of food or her humble demeanor, she exemplified the values of kindness and compassion. She had a knack for making everyone feel welcome and loved, whether it was through a simple meal shared with friends or a heartfelt gesture of support. For me, my mother’s love was never about grand gestures; it was in the simple, consistent acts of kindness that she showed her affection.

From treating me to impromptu lunch dates to sending me heartfelt “I love you” texts, her expressions of love were abundant and cherished. Through her, I learned that love doesn’t have to be extravagant to be impactful. It’s the everyday moments, the small gestures, that leave an indelible mark on our hearts. Even now, long after she’s gone, her love continues to resonate within me, a reminder of her enduring presence.

Throughout her battle with cancer, my mother displayed a resilience that left me in awe. I often wondered how she found the strength to endure it all, and then I realized—it was love. The love she received from those around her and the love she gave in return fueled her spirit, guiding her through even the darkest of days. 

As I look ahead to the future, I am reminded of the profound impact my mother had on my life and the enduring legacy she leaves behind. Though she may no longer be physically present, her spirit lives on in the memories we cherish and the lessons we carry forward. This Mother’s Day, and every day thereafter, I celebrate her love, her wisdom, and the extraordinary woman she was.

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