Having spent twenty three summers of my life in a suburb in Iloilo, I always thought living in this provincial threshold meant you are left out from the rest of the world. I remember the time when even newscasts were broadcast a week late on our tv sets and the only sign of civilization you find in the city is the rickety SM department store (Iloilo had the 1st SM outside of Manila in 1979) and a Dunkin Donut store.
Living in a lazy, middle-of-nowhere former Spanish colonial outpost, who would actually think that I'd be rubbing shoulders and spending coffee breaks with future supermodels and super designers who will eventually grace the face of global catwalks? And what more do their first photo shoots?!
Grendel Alvarado, originally from Bacolod City, won the Robinson's Iloilo Fashionista Search. A year later, she tried her luck modelling in Manila and was eventually chosen as a finalist and grand winner of the hit reality tv show The Philippines' Next Top Model - hosted by Ruffa Guttierez.
She is now a regular face on most fashion magazines in the Philippines and globally.
This shoot was for my friend Don's magazine called OWN where we tackled musings and inspirations from the final last days of the Berlin Wall. Pieces by visiting designer Gian Romano who a year before had won the MEGA Young Designer of the Year Award and had just returned from New York on apprenticeship from the fashion collective AsFour.
Military-tinged dresses by barangay-kagawad-turned-jetset-designer Bo Parcon, uber cool and devil-may-care finalist to the Philippine edition of Project Runway in ABC 5. Episodes can be watched via You Tube. Apparently, he is one of the most memorable charcters in the show... and in real life, he really is!
Pieces here are by Yohji Yamamoto and the unimitable Don Protasio - otherwise known in the blogosphere as fuchsiaboy. Don has been designing art (he doesn't design clothes, dear friends - he designs wearable art pieces!) since we were in college and has grown into a fashionable monster since then - regularly showing and capping great reviews in Philippine Fashion Week and has even showed a full collection in Cambodia by invitation from the Kingdom's Silk Forum. Although he is now based in Cambodia like me, he goes home every season to showcase his work. Grab any copy of Mega or Preview and you'll sure to bump into his name!
The team during the Berlin-inspired shoot: Nonoy Mosquera, Bo Parcon, Shoebe, Grendel Alvarado and Don Protasio
Another supemodel who is a familiar face in Philippine and international fashion is Ria Bolivar who Don discovered in a Salbakuta concert in Robinson's Iloilo. Standing out from the crowd like a sore thumb at 5'10 and with an unbelievable body frame, Don asked her to model for him. The rest as they say, is history.
Ria first broke into the Manila scene after winning one of the top prizes in the MTV Fashionista Search and representing the Philippines in Turkey. Now, she is a regular face in Philippine Fashion Week and Fashion TV.
Ria has also appeared in countless ads and fashion spreads in several publications from home and abroad. Her catwalk stints range from shows for Inno Sotto, Monique Lhuiller and even as far as Hongkong. The last time we had dinner with Ria, she was being courted by agents for the Milan Fashion Week.
I did these shoots with them right before they hit it big time - way before when I was still doing my photography on a borrowed analog film Yashica camera...
Now, it's just overwhelming to go back to these and say "Whew, I used to drink coffee with them!"