Tuesday, January 25, 2011

More Philippine Talent-Ahem

Filipino univerity student wins 2010 World SuperModel
by Thelma Sioson San Juan


MANILA, Philippines - A 17-year-old student of the University of the Philippines, whose body has been described as the "perfect designer's body" - 30 (chest)/ 22 (waist)/ 30 inches (hips) - has been chosen the World SuperModel 2010 in New York over the weekend by the iconic modeling institution, Ford Models.

Danica Flores Magpantay bested young aspiring models from more than 40 countries.

This is the first time a Filipino was named World SuperModel-a much-coveted title that carries not only a $250,000 modeling contract, but also the chance to model for the world's top retail brands and fashion designers and work with leading photographers.

It is ironic that Magpantay, strictly speaking, isn't a model.

Except for a brief stint in Philippine Fashion Week late last year in Manila, she hasn't really modeled, neither on the runway nor for advertising campaigns.

This, even if her mother, Lala Flores, was a top model in the '90s and was a SuperModel winner herself in 1994.

Her mother is now a leading makeup artist for advertising campaigns, whose clients include stars like Sarah Geronimo.

Unusual, striking look

Asked what made Magpantay bag the prestigious and lucrative title, SuperModel Philippines executive producer Joey Espino said: "Mr. Rowland (Paul Rowland, new head of Ford models) and the rest of Ford found so striking the fusion of feminine and masculine features on that face. Hers is a very unusual facial bone structure-squarish on top, but softer toward the chin. And this is the time when Ford, under Mr. Rowland, is going for the unusual, striking look."

Espino added a crucial bit of precedence - "It was Mr. Rowland who discovered Kate Moss."

Global beauty

Indeed Magpantay, who is 5'8 3/4" tall, couldn't have gone to New York at a better time.

In an interview last year with New York Times' T Magazine, Rowland, who had just been named head of Ford Models and tasked with reinventing the "venerable institution," explained where he was coming from"… the idea of beauty [is] not only being classic but being, you know, global. I'm just obsessed with finding these amazing creatures in all these exotic countries." (Rowland, according to T, even opened a scouting center in North Africa.)

In such a short time, Rowland, it is said, was able to move up Ford among the top model agencies in the world, from the fifth to the third (the first being IMG who handles sports celebrities, like Tiger Woods and Roger Federer).

It is interesting to note that the two runners-up in the World SuperModel 2010 are from Lithuania and Poland.


Magpantay's journey from Makati City, where her family lives, to the world's modeling capital, wasn't dramatic, but it was serendipitous. She is second in a brood of five.

One day, her father, Pogs, a businessman, was clearing up some house stuff.

He found the Betamax recording of Lala Flores when she was named 1994 SuperModel of the Philippines.

He had it converted into DVD, and his two eldest daughters Danielle and Danica got to see the DVD.

It was after watching the DVD of their mom that the two approached their parents to say that, yes, they, too, wanted to be models-to be SuperModels.

Until that moment, Espino said Lala never really pushed her daughters into a modeling career. They had to want it first, Espino recalled Lala's stance.


It was then that Lala turned over her two daughters to Espino, who has been the top models' scout in the country for more than two decades now.

He and his brother Audie have put up the industry leader, CalCarrie's, which fields models all over the world.

Espino unerringly saw Magpantay's potential. The older Danielle, 19, and Danica joined the Philippine search for SuperModel 2010, which Danica would win in October last year.

Intense screening

Unlike in previous years, there was no runway show in New York this year to proclaim the SuperModel. Instead, of the SuperModel winners from various countries, five were chosen, Magpantay among them. Only the five were flown to New York.

Magpantay, who graduated high school from Colegio de San Agustin, flew to New York last week. Like the four others, she came upon intense screening, from body measurements to how clothes would fall on her, to how she photographs.

The other four are Kristina Gromovaite of Lithuania, Zuzanna Bronczyck of Poland-the two became runners-up-Rufina Rudenko of Estonia and Natalia Haiden of Brazil.

While this is the first time a Filipino became World SuperModel, the Philippines had runners-up the previous years-Charo Ronquillo in 2006 and Charlene Almarvez in 2009.

Lucrative job

Just how lucrative is a SuperModel contract?

Ronquillo now struts among the world's best in New York, and has worked with top photographers, like Bruce Weber, for the American Living campaign of Ralph Lauren, Vogue photographer Arthur Elgort and Walter Chin.

She has done advertising campaigns of the world's top brands, such as Lacoste, Tory Burch, Armani Exchange, Kenneth Cole, DKNY, and retail giants, such as Macy's.

In short, it's a full-time lucrative job. And if one pursues it with passion, it could be a glamorous life.

Not bad at all for a 17-year-old on a Monday morning.

But one more thing, even as you read this, she'll already be in the salt mines early Monday morning in New York, working the SuperModel job.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Top Beaches

For some reason, I am seeing a lot of news article on beaches lately all over the place - Reuters, National Geographic, etc. This morning there is one sensational piece on Boracay that showed up in Aussie, UK and regional papers. I decided I have to at least give my two cents worth about best beaches in Philippines.

I have to start with some caveats. I have actually only been to a few major beaches here - Boracay, Mactan, Cebu. Its just that you have to fly to most great places and then the cost of staying at resort is not cheap either but I have been to a number of small ones - there are literally hundreds if not thousands in Philippines. I go to the beach for nothing more than simple pleasures of nature and smell of sea air. I am not big on luxuries or parties at the beach although I consider bikini-spotting a legitimate visual sport.

Actually one of the thing that confuses me is how people rate beaches. What is considered a great world class beach? I think while there is commonality, its different for different people. I think most people think a great beach is one which is white sands, clear water and the longer the better - in my book they have to be like 2mile long beaches at least. In the Philippines actually there is only a few of these - the most famous being Boracay which is basically overdeveloped already. Other places are
1). Gamusa Beach, Glam, Southern Mindanao
2) Pugudpud, Illocos Norte, (most famous is Saud Beach)
3) Camiguin Northern Mindanao and
4). Panglao Island Bohol (near Cebu).

You will notice that Palawan does not figure in my list. At first I thought there was none very long contigously but was recently introduced to Long Beach at San Vincente - supposedly the longest beach in Philippines - 14km. Its easier to develop areas with long beaches because govt and developers just gets better scale of economies. San Vincente is in North Palawan - famous for the resort of El Nido and Amanpulo is viewed to have the highest potential for building a world famous large beach-resort industry like Cancun because a lot of the beaches are close to each other. Its likely that eventually the area will be like that when infrastructure are put in beginning with an airport. You can't really do much unless you have a decent airport that can land mid-range jets (737/A320).

BUT, there are so many smaller beaches or the larger beach is not all-white The top of the list for such smaller beaches are actually better in my view because usually there is better diving or surfing etc..The top of my list include
1. Siargao Island, Surigao Del Norte
2. Dakak, Mindanao
4. Malapascua Island Cebu
5. Honda Bay, Palawan
6. Camaroan Peninsula, Camarines Sur (often just locally called Camsur) - this is where they have the Ironman annually and other major beach events.

The closest one near Manila would be in small islands near Batangas like Tilog Island, Verde Island off Anilao/Mabini or Lubang & Ambil Island off Nusugbu. There is one off the nearby Puerto Galera, Mindoro area called North Pandan is like a small fishing village island where you can get freshly caught lobster lunches arranged for you. There is off course my misadventure to get to Potipot, Zambales. Its just that there is nothing else other than the beach in these places. You really wonder actually why most people go to the beach - is because of the beach or the beach is just a reason to make all the things that make people want to go to the beach?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Diving in the Philippines

A number of my friends when diving over the hollidays and I regretted not doing it myself. Dives can be inexpensive here in places that are easy to reach and popular. An introduction dive which consist of lessons in a pool or shallow waters followed by one or two dive with the instructor will cost you P2,500. If you are already certified, each dive can be as cheap as P500 inclusive equipment. Getting certified will cost you P15,000 for a few of days lessons and diving - well worth it compared to an expensive health spa vacation, golf lesson, ski lessons vacation that cost even more.

Obviously Philippine is highly competitive as far as diving vacation is concern. But the problem is that its not really mainstream vacation plan. Actually most people don't know how to even swim (36% in US, 54% in the world). Although you don't have to know how to swim to dive, in the minds of people, they shy away if they don't swim well - that is most people even in developed countries.

If you look at the cost of diving, the product is not that different than skiing. But whereas skiing is a olympic and professional sports with lots of glamour, diving is recreational or for professional vocation. So the main reason why diving is not a bigger industry is simply because it lacks marketing angle to it. You can put skiing on a sports channel and make a movie about it, they only put diving on discovery channel. There are snow bunnies, no dive bunnies. Although you know, making a reality show out of diving is not out of the question...Hmmm wonder if I can interest Oprah with it?

Palawan voted in top 20 sites to visit in 2011 by National Geographic

The article:
Palawan, Philippines
Photograph by JS Callahan, Tropicalpix/Alamy

Palawan’s limestone karst cliffs, coral atolls, mangrove forests, sugar-white sandy beaches, and extensive fringing reefs create one of the Philippines' most biodiverse terrestrial and marine environments. Designated as a fish and wildlife sanctuary in 1967, the Philippines' largest (in total land area) province encompasses nearly 1,240 miles (1,995 kilometers) of coastline stretching across 1,768 islands.

On the main island (also named Palawan) near Sabang, hike the three-mile (five-kilometer) Monkey Trail to Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park's navigable underground river. The five-mile (eight-kilometer) coastal rain forest route is home to long-tailed macaques, blue-naped parrots, and other indigenous wildlife. In the province’s northern Calamianes islands, Coron Island is considered one of the world’s top scuba diving destinations, offering World War II-vintage wreck diving and snorkeling in calm, crystalline waters. Nearby Culion Island, a former leper colony surrounded by sea grass beds and coral reefs, is an emerging ecotourism destination worth a day trip.

The link