On the Spot: Ford Supermodel of the World Danica Magpantay

Back in Manila for Fashion Week, the Pinay supermodel talks about life in New York, our unique Pinay beauty, her love for food, and more.

Photo by New-York-based photographers Ned & Aya. Make-up and hair by Hillary Wehrle. Click for more.

 

To say the least, it’s been a whirlwind ride for 18-year-old Danica Magpantay, the first Filipino named Ford Supermodel of the World. Days after winning the prestigious title in January, she found herself in New York shuttling from casting to casting for the Fall Fashion Week while enduring "the worst winter ever" in the city. "May one time na naglalakad ako, bigla akong naiyak." She spent her 18th birthday going to castings and going to bed right after.

But her efforts certainly paid off-she booked shows for labels like Porter Grey, Tim Hamilton, Norman Ambrose, Bensoni, Bibhu Mohapatra and Nanette Lepore. Before the Fall Fashion Week, she appeared on Vogue.com wearing Organic by John Patrick. About two months after, she modeled for Levi’s fall/winter collection preview in New York with friends and Filipino Ford models Charlene "Chat" Almarvez and Charo Ronquillo.

Now back in the Philippines to model for over 10 shows in the Philippine Fashion Week, Magpantay sat down with SPOT.ph for an exclusive interview on surviving the New York modeling scene, working her "mangangain-ng-tao" high-fashion look, having a mom like 1990 Supermodel of the World Philippines Lala Flores, and more.

 

SPOT.ph Exclusive: Danica Magpantay on her high-fashion look.


How does it feel to be a budding Ford supermodel representing the Philippines?

Wala namang pressure. Nakakatuwa kasi people are-well, people don't know me, basically. Out of nowhere, may nanalo, so everybody wants to know, sino ba talaga si Danica? There’s this expectation of people -I mean, I don't want to let anybody down... But it's my first season in Philippine Fashion Week so I'm learning as much as I can. I'm just enjoying the whole experience.

 

How do you deal with these expectations?

’Di naman maiiwasan kasi with every winner, may tanong lagi: Ba't siya nanalo? For me, everybody knows I'm new. It just so happens that Ford found something in me... I'm just learning every step (of the way), and I'm doing my best. I know I’m not perfect, I never claimed , okay, ako ’yong pinakamagaling sa buong mundo. Hindi.

 

At New York Fall Fashion Week, you walked the runway for the likes of Porter Grey, Tim Hamilton, Norman Ambrose, Bensoni, Bibhu Mohapatra and Nanette Lepore. Which one was your most memorable show?

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Nanette Lepore, because it was my first show at Lincoln Center. Doon talaga na-feel ko ’yong parang, "Oh my God. Maglalakad ako. Ako lang mag-isa makikita nila; titingnan nila ako." Lahat ng pinractice mo mawawala. Lalabas ’yong natural na alam mo, so parang adrenaline (rush) talaga siya. After noon, parang, oh my gosh, nagawa ko ’to. So you feel excited.

 

You Tweeted that you got to keep the shoes after a show.

Ah, at Porter Grey. Sabi ko no’ng nagfi-fitting ako, "Oh, I love these shoes. It’s so nice. Are you selling it?" They said, "Oh, you get to keep it." I was like, "Really? Really? Really now?" So, tuwang-tuwa ako na natanggap ko ’yong shoes.

 

What other perks did you get?

Food... cookies, Starbucks, chips, yogurt, water... Sana damit na lang. (laughs)

 

We’re sure you met a lot of personalities in the modeling industry in New York. What were some of your most memorable encounters with them?

Sa models, si Ming Xi... ’yong pinakaunang rising star na nakita ko. She’s with Ford too. I saw her at the agency, tapos nakasabay ko sa elevator and subway. Natuwa ako kasi you get to talk to them and know how it feels-parang, uy, ganyan pala siya in person... (fashion designer) Alexander Wang, at a casting. Natuwa lang ako kasi siyempre, when you're just starting out, you wouldn’t think na mami-meet mo na kaagad sila.

 

Are you good friends with fellow Filipino Ford models Chat Almarvez and Charo Ronquillo?

When I flew to New York, nag-stay muna ako sa apartment ni Ate Charo. Si Chat, na-meet ko na dati, pero pakilala lang. After noon, madalas na akong tumatambay sa apartment ni Chat. So, we're good friends na. Si Charo din. Super-siyempre, Charo Ronquillo. Alam mo ’yong ginoo-Google mo lang (dati), tapos ngayon nakakausap mo na.

 

How did they help you adjust in New York?

Having Filipinos around really helps because you (get to) have a good sense of family, and they really help you. They talk about their modeling experiences, what they have done, how to cope with things and how to present yourself. They’re a support group.

 

What tips did they give you?

Actually, matutunan mo kasi makikita mo kung paano (sila kumilos). Kunwari sa apartment (ni Charo), ganito siya (manamit). Pero ’pag nag-ca-casting siya, nakaayos siya. Si Chat naman, madalas kausap ko siya (on) how to cope (with) homesickness. Kasi napagdaanan na nila.

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SPOT.ph Exclusive: Danica Magpantay on homesickness and adjusting to the NY model lifestyle.


How did you cope with homesickness?

Noong umpisa, mas na-ho-homesick ako. Hindi naman super sheltered, pero close talaga ako sa family ko. Tapos bigla kang i-th-throw sa New York at magiging independent ka. Siyempre unang iisipin mo, "Kaya ko naman ’yon. Naku, ako pa. Adventurous ako. Madali ’yon for me."


But no’ng nag-New York Fashion Week... Ang nangyari no’ng 18th birthday ko, nag-casting ako. Isang booker at isang model lang nag-greet sa’kin. After noon, umuwi na ’ko. Natulog ako. (laughs) So doon nag-start ’yong homesickness. After noon, tuluy-tuloy na ang casting. Una, lima hanggang naging sampu, naging 14. Tapos ang lamig! Worst winter in New York ever. Parang ako, "Awww. Na-mi-miss ko na ’yong bahay. Parang ang hirap naman nito!" May one time na naglalakad ako, bigla akong naiyak.

 

What did your mom say about it?

Pumunta sila nag-ca-casting pa (for) Fashion Week. Excited na excited talaga akong makita sila noon. No’ng day na dumating sila Mommy, ang daming castings noon. Hanggang 9 p.m., nag-ca-casting ako. After noon, dumiretso ako sa kung saan sila nag-s-stay.

Pero ngayon, hindi na masyado sa homesickness. Parang nasanay na ’ko. Sanay na ako how to go to places. Pero noong bago ako, bibigyan ka ng 14 na address, (walang directions at wala) ka pang kasama. Isama mo pa ’yong jet lag.

 

In New York, where do you go to get your Filipino food fix?

Actually, I just found out a month ago na may mga Filipino food pala sa Queens, so  I started going to Woodside and Roosevelt Avenue where they have good Filipino food. Pero siyempre, iba pa rin ’yong lutong bahay.

Kung gusto mo ’yong chichirya ng 'Pinas, ang dami. Mga ube, macapuno, lahat ng kakanin, nandoon. May mga restaurants rin na nagbebenta ng sisig, pinakbet, sinigang, kare-kare, adobo. Although hindi pa ako nakakakain sa restaurant kasi ayokong kumakain nang mag-isa... Ayokong lumabas eh. ’Pag lumalabas ako, gumagastos ako.

 

Where do you love to shop in New York?

Ang daming puwedeng pagbilhan, although walang mall. I must say, ang mga mall dito, mas gusto ko kaysa doon. Doon, shop per shop. Alam mo ’yong nakakatamad? Pupunta sa isang street, may isang shop para sa H&M. May isang shop para sa Forever 21. May isang shop para sa Zara. May isang shop para sa ganito. Parang, ba't wala na lang mall, para andiyan na lahat? May department store, may kainan, may sinehan. Doon, talagang dadayo ka pa. Hassle! Kaya ayoko ring nag-sh-shopping. Kaya pinakamadaling paggastusan is pagkain, kasi lalakad ka, laging may pagkain.

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Have you been doing a lot of test shoots with photographers? Who are your favorite photographers so far?

Maraming mababait na photographer. Iba-ibang style per photographer pero may pinaka-love na photographer dahil talagang inaalagaan ka. David Urbanke reminds me of BJ Pascual. Nung shinoo-shoot ako dito (Philippines) ni BJ, super alaga. Siya ’yong first ever test shoot photographer ko. Si David, 16 years old lang. Kilalang-kilala siya ngayon kasi ang bata-bata niya pero magaganda na photos niya... Ang market kasi sa’kin, high fashion so puro picture ko ’yong parang mangangain ng tao, fierce. Gusto ko ring gumawa ng work na nakangiti. Natuwa naman ako sa kanya (David) kasi nakagawa ako ng parang young lang.

Tapos ’yong isa si Ned Rosen, Ned & Aya Rosen. Noong (Ford) contest, nag-test shoot kami para sa kanya. Tuturuan ka. Nag-test shoot ulit ako para sa kanya, so masaya ako kasi medyo may sense of family sa kanila. Talagang mabait sila sa’yo. Maganda rin ’yong style nila.

 

Is the Asian fever in the modeling scene still going strong?

Ngayon talagang ang daming bagong Asian (models). Pupunta ako sa casting no’ng Fashion Week, lima, sampu kaming Asian doon... It’s a pro and a con na Filipino model ka. Why? Ibang Asian tayo eh... Asian ka pero hindi super oriental... Ang marami sa market ngayon, Asian oriental... I hope maging mas open sila. Siyempre kung may Asian fever, hahanap sila. Indians are also Asians. So it's just a matter of time na dadami rin ’yong ganoong look, iba-ibang look.

 

What are your dream modeling jobs?

Chanel. Vogue Italia and Vogue Paris.

 

SPOT.ph Exclusive: Danica Magpantay on her sister Danielle.

 

How does your older sister Danielle (who also joined the local Ford Supermodel contest) feel about being a supermodel’s sister?

Walang issue. What's good about her is that she knows what she wants. Hindi kami inggitera... Kung ’yong little sister ko may ma-achieve na malaki pa sa'kin, hindi ako maiinggit. Proud ako! We never had sibling rivalry. Siguro may sibling rivalry sa PSP, PS2-ako tsaka ’yong mga little brothers ko. Ako dati ’yong gamer, ako dati ’yong magaling. Ngayon hindi na nga ako marunong mag-ayos ng Wii eh. Tapos ever since natatalo ako ng kapatid ko sa Naruto, ayoko nang maglaro. (laughs)

Si Ate, she's so proud of me, like genuinely proud of me. Wala ’yong parang, nako, shadow of my sister. My mom achieved something big. Kung inisip ko na nakatira ako sa anino ng nanay ko, ano ’yon, drama? Walang ganoon, ever. Promise. She's (Danielle) genuinely proud. And she just wanted to try modeling. Pero ngayon, sabi niya, ayaw na niya. Okay na siya. Pero siyempre baka isipin, nako, baka dahil si Danica ganyan. Hindi talaga. I'm really proud of my sister because she knows what she wants and she doesn't let other people tell her otherwise.

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What advice can you give to Filipino models who want to break into the international scene?

Go lang, you'll never know until you try. May mga online application naman ’yong mga modeling agencies abroad. ’Pag nagustuhan ka nila, they can fund you temporarily. Just work hard. Never think that it's impossible, that you need a miracle. I never said, "’pag ready na ’ko" or "’pag payat na ’ko." Kasi kung naghintay ako, eh di hindi ’to nangyari for me. Sometimes, you just really have to do it.

 

What would you say to the average Filipina who probably has low self-esteem because of her dark complexion and Pinay looks?

Many people say that Filipino people are beautiful. Ba't hindi natin makita? Kasi siyempre, sanay tayo na Pinay, Pinay, Pinay. Tapos ’pag nakakita tayo ng foreigner, "Uy, ang ganda niya." Tapos sa kanila naman, ’pag tayo pumunta doon, "Uy, ang ganda." So lahat maganda.

 

Which Manila designers are you most excited to work with?

Tito Lyle Ibañez, ESAC, kay Tito Audie (Espino). Ang ganda kasi. I also want to do a show  for Inno Sotto and Cesar Gaupo. Gusto ko rin kay Tito Mar, Marlon Rivera. After ko manalo (sa Ford), binook niya ko para mag-shoot. Naglakad lang kami sa mall kahit ganoon ’yong suot namin, pero ang saya.

 

SPOT.ph Exclusive: Danica Magpantay talks art.

 

You were studying Visual Communication at the University of the Philippines before this whirlwind ride. Do you still sketch or dabble in art during your free time?

Kapag kasi nakakakita ka ng mga kasama mo, mas nae-engganyo kang mag-drawing. Na-cha-challenge ka. ’Pag mag-isa lang, hindi ako nakakatapos ng drawing. Hindi ako na-i-inspire, or ’pag may gusto akong i-drawing, hindi ko siya ma-drawing kasi parang, tagal ko nang ’di nag-d-drawing. Pero nag-do-doodle pa rin ako.

Kailangan ko talagang mapunta sa isang classroom environment ulit para mabuhay ’yong pagiging competitive ko. Kasi nung napunta ako sa UP... alam mo ’yong pinagpuyatan mo, 200 percent na ng kaya mo ginawa mo. Pero makikita mo ’yong (sa iba)... parang ’wag ka na lang tumingin. Pero hindi naman ako na-de-depress, more on na-cha-challenge ako na someday, magagawa ko ’yong kaya nila. Ayun ’yong maganda sa classroom environment ’pag hindi ikaw ’yong pinakamagaling. May room to improve ka.

 

What's your favorite medium?

Pen and watercolor. Pencil.

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Do you plan to go back to UP?

Feeling ko, baka sa States na ko mag-continue mag-aral. But, if ever, why not, ’di ba? Maganda rin naman ’yon.

 

Danica Magpantay on SPOT.ph.

 

How do you stay fit?

Before, in Manila, core kinesis. In New York, ’di ako nag-co-core kinesis, pero may gym ako. So I do cardio, weights, then sauna.

 

How about your diet?

Before I was more strict about it. ’Di ako makapaniwala na nakayanan kong ’di mag-chocolate ng tatlong buwan. Favorite ko ’yon. I love dessert, period. Kahit di mo na ako pakainin ng meal, basta bigyan niyo ko ng dessert, okay lang. Pero ’yon ’yong mabilis makataba, ’di ba? Kaya bad trip.

Portion control lang. Walang bawal kasi the more na binabawalan mo sarili mo, the more na iniisip mo siya.

 

You mentioned before in an interview that you like watching reality shows.

Alam mo, ang pinapanood ko cooking competitions like Top Chef-ironic... I have a love for food. I mean, not necessarily na kakainin ko; I just like seeing how it's made. Gusto ko ngang mag-design ng mga cake someday.

 

Watch for Magpantay at the Philippine Fashion Week and on The Ones2Watch, an online magazine part of fashion website Models.com.

 

Videos by Diwa Tiongson of Summit Digital.



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