I always wanted to be a model. I found it cool that people could watch you on television or see you in magazines and get paid for it. I learned about this whole modelling business from my dad, who used to model. He, along with two of my uncles used to come out in commercials regularly (when my dad listed down all his TVCs, he came up with the number 80–so yes, he did around 80 commercials in his life, playing lead and support roles from age 20 to 50). So you can say I grew up watching him on TV, which I thought was the greatest thing in the world (in my mind I was related to a famous person, which was something to be proud of). For a time, I would even attempt to “tape” my dad’s commercials, which meant I had to keep a close eye on the TV, especially when commercials would start airing. I would try to record the TVC right at the beginning (I would memorize the music or image from the first frame), using of course our trusty Betamax.
My dad eventually brought my sister and I to his VTRs so we could try out for kid commercials. I always wished I was one of those “bibo” kids who could sing and dance at a snap of a finger, but I was painfully shy. In my mind I wanted to do it, but I couldn’t seem to overcome my shyness. I would freeze and start shaking! Mahiyain–that was the best word to describe me. But even if I was shy, I continued to try out for VTRs, trying to imitate how my dad and sister did it. I did this for about 10 years or more. I would try out and sometimes get to final castings (a HUGE feat for me by the way), but I never got a commercial.
I finally landed one when I turned 18. It was as an extra for a softdrink commercial. The pay back then was P7,000 (I already felt like a millionaire with that money haha) and I was seen for 0.25 seconds in a big group of about 30 people. Funny, every time the commercial aired I ran to the TV and would point on a speck on the upper lefthand corner of the screen and whisper, “that’s me”. A year later I got a billboard for another softdrink commercial. The concept was a group of four teens coming out of a cinema, laughing with the softdrink in hand. (Pure genius haha!!) It was plastered on facade of Landmark and I was soooooo proud and happy about it. I would always find a reason to go there just so I can see that billboard. Then after, I got a telecom print ad, which came out in every sim card manual. That was cool. I didn’t know what to make of my “new-found fame” haha. I knew I was ecstatic I started to get work–it took me 10 years to get noticed!!! It definitely gave me the confidence I needed to try out for more commercials and even join a contest.
It was my cousin, Angela Vallejo who showed me the ad for a model search. It was for TEEN Magazine Philippines, and the prize was a modelling contract worth P100,000 from Cal Carrie’s. I was game to join with her. We needed to submit our snapshots and give a reason why we deserved to win. I remember we both went to a photo developing place to have our “studio pics” taken, which was really just your average studio pic. You know, tie dye background, soft beauty lights, and I think I even wore a silky shawl on my shoulders, just to get that perfect effect. And with my goofy smile and short, reddish hair, can you believe, I got in the first interview, and was part of top 20?!!
A panel, consisting of Teen Magazine editors and Cal Carrie’s Philippines owner Joey Espino, did the interview. I was so scared that I don’t even remember what I said. I was so nervous!!! And you know what? I didn’t get in. And I was crushed! A few weeks later I got a call from TEEN, asking me if I was free on a certain date to do a cover shoot. I couldn’t believe my ears! Apparently, one girl couldn’t continue on with the contest and since I was number 11, I was in. I was beyond happy, and nervous at the same time. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!!!
And so I went to the shoot at Xander Angeles’ studio. KC Montero was there–he did the cover shoot with the 10 finalists and I still couldn’t believe I was part of something that amazing. All the girls already knew each other, as they already did shoots and modelling classes before I became part of the 10. Thankfully, they were all very nice and accommodating. Some of them are still my good friends till this day. You may know them: Bianca Fernandez (my sister-in-law haha), Nicole Hernandez and Solenn Heussaff. And so, after my super long story of how I got into modelling, Bianca and I went on to be part of Cal Carrie’s and of course, Solenn won the contest and she went on to become, well, Solenn.
I thought you may want to see some of the videos I found from the model search. All of us looked so young and nene, but it was a happy time to revisit nonetheless. Its good to remember where you came from, because no matter how rich or famous or successful you become, you are still that same person who had big dreams and was willing to do anything to be part of that world.
BIG thank you to Bing Basit for sending me these priceless videos!!! 🙂