“Time is only wasted when you decide to waste it.”
Constantly checking the time is the norm for Sarah Lahbati-Gutierrez. Whether it’s for a meeting, a workout, or a class, it’s imperative for her to be on time.
“I was born and raised in Switzerland where time is such a big thing,” she tells Lifestyle Asia. “No one is ever late and if you are, it’s almost like you did something so terrible.”
In such instances, a timepiece comes in handy for Sarah and her husband, Richard. In fact, it’s an interest they both share. And while they are not watch experts, both consider it a style staple.
Sarah typically goes for a dress watch, one that suits her wrist size and has multiple functions. As a certified AIDA International freediver, however, she says she’s currently eyeing a diving watch like the Omega classic underwater watch, Seamaster.
Richard, who admits “there’s not a day that I don’t wear a watch,” considers a timepiece as a necessity for today’s man. “You can tell the style and personality of the person by the watch they are wearing,” he adds.
He has invested in a handful of watches and when he looks to add to his current collection, he takes into consideration build quality, durability, attention to design details, and the brand’s reputation.
“It also depends on how I see myself using the watch. Is it for adventure? Is it for everyday wear? Is it for formal events?” he muses.
But apart from being stylish and punctual, time itself has become even more valuable for the couple during the pandemic, where everyone was driven indoors by lockdowns.
“I feel like so much has been happening in my circle, from family members getting sick and friends who lost loved ones,” Sarah says. “That made me realize just how precious and short life is, and how time is such a luxury.”
The couple agrees that they can choose to do one of two things with their spare time: waste it or make the most out of it. Richard and Sarah go for the latter, “cherishing moments with loved ones and living in the moment.”
As the 37-year-old actor likes to put it, “time is only wasted when you decide to waste it.”
Enjoying home life
At home, life’s simple luxuries have been occupying the couple’s time: cooking for the family, eating together, reading, working from home, to name a few.
“I think the highlight of our lockdown is getting even closer to each other,” Sarah says. “A typical day starts with making breakfast for everyone and bonding with the dogs, before getting to work.”
Homeschooling their kids Zion and Kai, however, has been particularly rewarding.
Despite how daunting the task of educating children can be, the couple says trying their best, patience, and unconditional love “changes everything.”
“When you think about it, children are also the teachers we never knew we needed,” Sarah adds. “I’m constantly learning as I homeschool and take care of my kids.”
The couple also recognizes that it’s difficult for children to stay at home and not mingle with friends. “It pains me,” Sarah adds. “[That’s why I make sure that they get to be in touch with friends online and spend time with their cousins at home only when the quarantine classification in place allows it.”
As a family, they have art days or play board games.
Learning something new
Now that they’re back in the Philippines, Sarah says the family is “back to regular programming.”
Zion is being homeschooled again and Kai is being slowly introduced to it. Richard, meanwhile, is back at work filming for FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano in Ilocos, while Sarah looks after the kids and focuses her time and attention on decluttering and organizing their home, KonMari style.
Sarah shares that they lived with her mom for the most part of the quarantine and visited Richard’s parents on Sundays. Through it all, the family makes sure that they are staying safe.
“[It has] always been a top priority for us,” she says. “That means getting the whole house swab tested once in a while and taking precautionary measures to ensure everyone’s safety.”
Despite the limitations that quarantine restrictions bring, the couple wants to make sure that their kids are safe and able to try something new. “As we focused on spending time with kids, we had to be creative to keep them busy with different activities,” Richard says.
Last March, before the situation took a turn due to COVID-19 variants, the family spent weekends together and tried motocross for the first time through classes with a coach.
It’s “stepping out of our comfort zones,” Sarah writes in an Instagram post, to gain “new experiences and knowledge.”
Pursuing chances like this to learn is just as important for the couple as it is for their kids.
“[The lockdown] is also an opportunity for us to not just reflect on ourselves, but also work on what we need to improve on and identify strengths that we can utilize,” Richard explains.
But as much as they’ve travelled, spent time with family and friends, and tried new experiences, the couple made sure to look after their health.
Maintaining an active lifestyle, they say, is key for both their physical and mental wellbeing.
For Sarah, coping with the grim realities of the pandemic last year caused her to “completely let go of caring for my body.”
“There came a point where I felt like there was just no hope,” she shares. “I just ended up eating whatever and binge-watching shows in bed.”
As the couple realized what’s important in their life especially during this time—to be healthy for themselves and children—Sarah put a stop to the unhealthy habits and went back to working out again, which was typically how they began their days even pre-pandemic.
“At some point, I woke up and said, ‘Enough. I don’t feel good and I have to do something about this. This can’t go on forever,” she says. “How can I better take care of my family as a wife and mom when I’m not taking care of my mind, body, and soul?”
That’s when she started doing yoga and meditation. “It helped me so much to remain grounded and to have a positive outlook in life, despite everything going on,” she explains.
The full story on Richard Gutierrez and Sarah Lahbati, which includes their recent trip to Switzerland and how they are helping others in need, is in the October 2021 issue of Lifestyle Asia.
Photos ANDREI SULEIK
Creative Direction MARC YELLOW
Sittings Editor DONG RONQUILLO
Makeup and Grooming ANTHEA BUENO
Nails LUZ FORTUNO
Hair ARCHIE GILBERTO
Styling (Richard Gutierrez) DAVID MILAN
Assisted by NIDA MARU
Styling (Sarah Lahbati) MAITA BAELLO of QURATOR
Assisted by LESLEY LEDESMA
Special Thanks CHING BRAÑA, CLARK BAYALAS
Shot on Location at THE MANILA HOTEL