Heritage of Heart: Alelee and Alexa Andanar’s Unbreakable Bond
Growing up surrounded by strong, incredible women has molded Alelee and Alexa Andanar into the formidable mother-daughter tandem they have been, growing undeniably close yet fiercely independent
While many moms and daughters can only dream of having an incredibly close relationship, Alelee and Alexa Andanar prove that something so aspirational can be so attainable and so real. Growing up in a home with three other sisters and a hardworking mom has given Alelee the awareness of how character-shaping these relationships are in the family.
Alelee reminisces, “Growing up with three sisters, April, Aivee, and Anne, was the most fun part of my childhood. The four of us bonded as we shared one room, borrowed one another’s clothes, and routinely waited for each other to come home and have a chat over our favorite meals that my mom used to make. It was like an endless slumber party.”
With the Aguilar women continuing such a close relationship straight to adulthood, it wasn’t so surprising to have Alexa learn a pointer or two from them. “One of the lessons I learned from them is the value of hard work and being able to do so while pursuing what I’m truly passionate about,” Alexa shares.
“My grandma, Mama Mel, allowed her four daughters to do what they wanted and to carve out their own path, and that’s something I witnessed growing up.” And like Mel, Alelee brought up Alexa to be just as independent and passionate. While studying at Boston University, Alexa had to learn how to do things herself with her ever-supportive family living miles away from her.
Nevertheless, Alelee was always beside her, just a call away. “When Alexa was living in Boston, our communication was always open. I am grateful for technology as it made it easier for me to adjust to my daughter being so far away, but of course, there were always times when I couldn’t help but worry because of the distance.” Alexa is set to graduate in 2022, hopefully pursuing further studies after.
Minding Their Businesses: Luxuri Manila and Other Ventures
Many are familiar with Luxuri Manila, a business that Alelee and her sister Anne started back in 2015. With both women having an affection for fashionable pieces, it only came naturally for the two to build a business revolving around such items.
“When we went abroad, we saw how reselling bags and shoes was a popular thing. At that time, there wasn’t anything like it in Manila, so we thought, ‘Why not open a small store with some curated and chosen pieces?’ We then opened Luxuri in Alabang,” Alelee explains. And while 2020 witnessed many brands close as buyers tightened their grips on their purses, Luxuri found a way by selling what was practical and necessary for the status quo.
“We thought of selling more practical items like T-shirts, printed masks, and stylish PPEs. And this was the silver lining we are grateful for.” Alelee then shares her excitement as Luxuri intends to open a second branch in BGC, further expanding their range with new products.
Currently staying in Manila while continuing her studies, albeit virtually and with a 12-hour time difference, Alexa helps with her mom’s business venture, handling Luxuri’s social media. She tells us, “Being home for the past year, I have volunteered to post for the store and create content for Instagram. I love dropping by Luxuri not only because my mom is always there, but also because seeing the store makes me feel happy and proud about her passion project.”
Inspired by her mom’s enterprising mindset, Alexa found herself establishing an empire of her own — Lexa Bakes, her online cookie bakery, while rediscovering her passion for baking in the course of the lockdown.
Lockdown Lowdown: The Andanar Women Reflect on The Quarantine Life
While the pandemic continues its debilitating effects worldwide, both women remain hopeful and optimistic, sharing how the lockdown also paved the way for reflection and widened their perspectives.
“The pandemic has been the most unfortunate and uncertain time for everyone, one way or another. But in the darkest of times, I saw the good side of people,” Alelee states, citing how the rise of philanthropy and social work amid it all was encouraging. “When it seemed like things weren’t getting better, I realized that people can be so kind and compassionate. I also realized that health is a gift—before the pandemic, superficial and material things often got in the way of taking care and prioritizing our health. I learned to place more value on the things that truly matter.”
Alexa agrees, “If anything, the pandemic has really taught me to appreciate the little things and to never take people and things for granted. Family is so precious, and I thank God for them every day.” With the pressures of college work and the time difference hers entails, studying wasn’t a walk in the park for Alexa, like many other online students have experienced.
Still, her admirable persistence and perseverance in finding other venues to lift her spirits pushed her farther than she ever expected. “My mental health wasn’t in its best shape during the pandemic—being at home really got me in my thoughts, but I have learned to take better care of myself by exercising, reading books, taking walks outside, and most importantly, praying.”
What Makes Her Special: Appreciating Each Other
Thankful for the wisdom gained from her kinship, Alexa shares what makes Alelee the wonder woman that she is. “I am very grateful that my mom can be an authority figure, mentor, confidante, and my best friend all rolled into one. To be honest, I don’t know how she does it. She is the rock and the glue of the family, and I admire and respect her for how she juggles everything on her plate. One minute she’s at work, the next she’s in my room giving me the most valuable advice. I can only aspire to be the hardworking, loving, and empathetic mother that she is.”
And without missing a beat, the proud mother returns the heartwarming words in her own generous way. “Every mother’s goal is to have a daughter who is an improvement of herself. And I can see that Alexa is growing up to be that person—intelligent, kind-hearted, and God-fearing. I am very blessed to have a reliable and responsible daughter. She makes things so much easier for me.”
The Multi-hyphenate At Home: Alelee as Wife, Mother, and A Woman of Her Own
While genuinely grateful for the blessing of children, Alelee tells us that motherhood is a never-ending job. But just the same, Alelee shares how the wonders of motherhood are equally rewarding as she learns so much from her two children every day. And with her husband, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, who has been there with her since day one, she feels more empowered than ever.
“The best part about being a wife to Martin is that he allows me to be the person that I am,” she proudly shares. “He always encourages me to try different things and pushes me out of my comfort zone. He always gives me his full support and sound advice whenever I need it. I can say that I am lucky to have him as my number one supporter. Martin and I have been married for 21 years. I think the secret to a long-lasting marriage is accepting each other’s faults and flaws and never giving up despite the rough patches.”
Growing her own family unit, raising her children to be the best they can be, and being a supportive wife to an equally supportive husband, parenting seems like a breeze for Alelee. But throughout the journey, she remains ever a student of life. The indelible mark of such an education is then continually bestowed to the next generation.
A testament to this wisdom, Alexa offers a lesson learned from her mother, “Another lesson my mom has repeatedly taught me is how important it is to be kind and to put others first. People can easily forget, but at the end of the day, they’ll always remember how you make them feel.” What one feels, though, when you sit across the two women who affectionately dote on each other while they share a conversation is comfort, care, and the undeniable connection.
Beyond the mom and daughter relationship, they are also friends and confidantes—be it in business, fashion, or even mundane matters. Aspirational, as some would say, but real in every aspect.