During a recent inter-school band competition, the host introduced her as “the prettiest Barbie in the Philippines.” Her concept of beauty, though, combined with her positive outlook that’s deeply rooted in her spiritual upbringing, makes singer Barbie Almalbis not the least bit synonymous to her blonde and plastic namesake.

Asked what she thinks about being constantly described as “pretty” (for lack of other words that have the exact meaning), Barbie becomes a bit more profound in tone and talks about a book she’s recently read titled “Captivating”, which delves into the concept of beauty.

“Beauty is such a controversial thing, especially for women. Every woman feels she’s not beautiful enough,” Barbie says. This, she adds, leads to “forced humility” among women because they do not truly appreciate what makes them beautiful. To her, it’s about time women start a healthier outlook towards beauty.

‘s concept of beauty has definitely become a lot wiser after more than seven years in the music business, although to her fans, and to everyone who appreciates OPM music, she will remain that ethereal singer who sang of dreamy songs like “Goodnyt”, “Tabing-Ilog”, and more recently ‘Just A Smile”, which is getting solid airplay these days thanks in part to that similarly dreamy toothpaste commercial.

(“Just A Smile” is also included in her now-released anthology CD which also features singles from her Barbie‘s Cradle and Hungry Young Poets days. The album also includes a bonus VCD of videos and live performances of these songs.)

Even her more emotional songs like “Torpe” and “Belinda Bye Bye” still sound a bit more upbeat than most love songs these days (although “Firewoman” could be the most emotional among her more popular hits). While other singers sing about staple themes of unrequited love and heartbreak, Barbie‘s songs conjure images of casual strolls in the park and sunshiny days.

“They’re not exactly happy,” she says, referring to her songs. “It doesn’t mean naman that things are great all the time. Maybe it’s the outlook that makes it happy.”

admits being Christian reflects in everything she does, including her music. In her own words, she just wants to keep it real, meaning, she will not write about themes she cannot relate to or things she cannot do. This, however, does not mean she can’t rock; she actually listened to glam rock bands like Skid Row, Guns and Roses and Bon Jovi during her high school days in her home province of Capiz.

“Glam rock is so emotional. I wouldn’t be surprised if Sarah McLachlan listened to glam rock,” she laughs.

What people wouldn’t find surprising is that Barbie has finally gone solo, something which is rather inevitable.Her recent band even carried her name. Barbie herself admits she was asked this question (of going solo) as early as last year but never got around to seriously considering it until three months ago after she talked about it with manager Tommy Tanchianco of indie outfit 12StoneRecords, which also manages erstwhile Mojofly lead singer Kitchie Nadal. In fact, after Barbie‘s Cradle ended its contract with Warner, she wasn’t sure whether to stop playing for a while or form another band. Like Kitchie, she swears it’s a personal decision for her to go solo and mot much else.

Right now, Barbie is raring to go into the studio to record her debut album as a solo artist (tentative release date is November). She says going solo allows her more flexibility in her songwriting although this doesn’t change the fact that she still has a band backing her up. Asked what listeners can expect from her future albums, she replies: “A little more adventurous I guess.”

On heavy rotation in her iPod these days are Brit-rockers Coldplay and indie-folk singer Damien Rice. Barbie adds she intends to have some songs in her forthcoming album to have that folksy, sparsely produced feel to it, all the more attuned to her mantra of keeping it real.

Going back to discussion about beauty, it was also rather inevitable to ask Barbie if there are other secrets why she has managed to not age one bit from way back when she was still sporting longer hair and wearing dresses onstage.

Her simple answer: water. Her not-so-simple answer: what she calls an “Old Testament” diet, which consists of only seafood but limited to fish with scales. “I read this book by a Christian doctor, saying it’s not for religious but for medical reasons.”

So does Barbie have an ideal “Ken”? She replies: “Well actually, I do.”