By: Bianca Valerio

Modeling anywhere in the world is a cutthroat industry. America’s Next Top Model can certainly help many understand what goes on in the industry, albeit in a glamorous way. Turning our attention to Asia, it is deeply saddening that local models are struggling for work, due to the high demand for foreign faces. It’s not a battle of the right body type or good genes, but the "right" skin colour and ethnicity.

Oftentimes, the definitive form of beauty in the fashion world is the Caucasian/white man/woman. African Americans of course share the same sentiments with us Asians. In turn, society is brainwashed to believe that that is the peg everyone must aspire to be. Hence, the influx of whitening products on the market.

But that’s not even the issue at hand. We’ve become blind to the real beauty of our own country’s heritage. This is not what we want to instill among the youth as they are the ones who’ll help shape the world with their decisions about cultural changes and concerns.

Well, its comforting to know that Italian Vogue recently came out with an all African-American issue which apparently is their best-selling issue of all time! It definitely gives us Asians hope that one day (in my case), Philippine beauty and heritage will be given the positive attention it truly deserves.

Here are Ana Sideco, Mikee Carrion (my hottie boyfriend of 5 years, hehe) and Girlie Benitez on the cover of Illustrado. It is a Middle East-based magazine and is the only premium lifestyle magazine dedicated to uplift Filipinos outside the country.

This was the cover for Preview Magazine last year as PMAP celebrated its 20th anniversary. Wearing our birthday suits draped amongst Louis Vuitton made it one of the best-selling issues for the magazine.

Rissa Mananquil-Samson, back then was the president. Now, our current, newly inducted prexy is Ariel Atendido.

Recently, I was inducted as a board member of The Professional Models’ Association of the Philippines. In its 21st year, PMAP has come a long way from its humble roots. Now a force to be reckoned with, they are the most in demand amongst the high glossies, designers and photographers in Manila. We are a union, and as with any union, we make sure our members are paid the standard rates and are not exploited in any way.

Because PMAP has become such a strong figure in the industry, we’ve taken it upon ourselves that we are all, in a way, role models to the youth. To do so, an exhibition will be held to uplift and solidify the image of true Philippine beauty in our society, as colonial mentality is growing more rampant and evident throughout our local market.


The cover comprised of not just the current members but includes past members like Joey Mead, Annette Coronel and Wilma Doesnt, and new members like Sanya Smith and Ana Sideco, as well.

A 30-piece photo exhibit will be shot by internationally-acclaimed photographer, Raymund Isaac, to launch its new board of officers and most importantly a social awareness campaign – Mabuhay Modelong Pinoy! (All Hail the Filipino Model!)

“We should be proud of our own and preserve in people’s minds the beauty of the Filipino.”

This is our battle cry, not only to protect livelihood, but also to instill a sense of pride for our culture and our country. We should aim to inculcate in people’s minds that there is strength and marketability in Philippine beauty.

Exhibits runs from 8th-14th December 2008 at Greenbelt 3, Ayala Center, Makati. For more info, log on to


This is one of the photos that’ll be used for the exhibition:

We wanted to show people that besides just models, we also pool talent and resources from our own association. So it was really important to do a great job for this, as PMAP holds dear to my heart.

Many people look up to us for inspiration. Hopefully through this exhibit, we’ll really make a difference however small, to benefit the modeling industry and most importantly, the mindset of our society regarding the true worth of Philippine beauty.