Janine Tugonon rides high in the Big Apple

    2012 Miss Universe First Runner Up Janine Tugonon now holds the distinction of being the first Filipina to be Victoria’s Secret model

    2012 Miss Universe First Runner Up Janine Tugonon now holds the distinction of being the first Filipina to be Victoria’s Secret model

    To be the first Filipino woman to ever become a Victoria’s Secret model has given the nation pride for beauty queen Janine Tugonon. For indeed, this major development in her career has been her biggest feat since almost bagging the third Miss Universe crown for the Philippines in 2012, placing first runner-up to Miss USA Olivia Culpo.

    The 56-secondVictoria’s Secret Pink ad released online on August 30 shows Tugonon with other models acting as students. The all-pink graduation class picture now adorns the licensed pharmacist-turned-beauty queen’s Facebook page as cover photo.

    Meanwhile, today, September 22 (September 21, US Eastern Time), may be another big day for Tugonon who is ranked second via online votes as of September 18 in the search for Nu Muses Calendar. A hundred models are in the running for this global search touted as a celebration of “the forgotten art of the classic nude.” The contest, which will reveal the 12 finalists on September 28, aims to “capture the elegance and romance of the female form, worthy of gracing fine art galleries and walls.”

    Tugonon garnered thus far 14,808 votes for the search.

    “If chosen as part of the Top 12, I’d have the opportunity to work with @davidbellemere in this very artistic and creative project and that would be amazing!” posted the beauty queen at the start of the voting.

    Paris-born David Bellemere is one of the most sought-after photographers in the world, whose works fill the pages of Vogue Paris, Marie Claire Italy, Nippon Vogue, Vogue China, Vogue Spain, Elle USA, GQ UK, Playboy, LUI, Porter Magazine, MUSE, and Treats!

    As such, Tugonon’s excitement is understandable. Besides being photographed by Bellemere at an exclusive location, the 12 finalists will each win $10,000, and will be flown to Miami for the VIP launch at Art Basel. Moreover, they will have access to grace the covers of global magazines, as well as appear in the Nu Muses documentary for distribution.

    In her profile for the competition, Tugonon answered the question why she considers herself a timeless beauty: “I consider myself a timeless beauty because of the kindness, the confidence, the strong personality, mindset and perspectives I have inside of me. My aura is reflected by what’s within me. And that is timeless, the complete package—mind, face, personality—I can give and show from the inside.

    ‘Smiles,’ the beauty queen-model captioned this photo posted on Facebook on September 16

    ‘Smiles,’ the beauty queen-model captioned this photo posted on Facebook on September 16

    On her thoughts on nudity, she related: “Nudity for me is art at its purest form. It is the bare, the untouched and the raw beauty that a woman can showcase and be proud of.”

    She also explained her desire to be in the calendar by going back to her professional journey.

    “I flew to the US from the Philippines with a dream. I wanted to aim higher to be globally known and excellent in this industry (modeling and acting). Being in this calendar is a huge opportunity to showcase my beauty and personality, a great exposure for me and hopefully will be the beginning of a long lasting successful career in this field I’m very passionate about. I hope I’ll be given the chance.”

    The 26-year-old is currently a talent of MSA Models Agency and has done projects for iconic brands like Wells Fargo and Walmart.

    In September 2013, she went to Los Angeles to study acting and pursue modeling but thought New York would have more opportunities for her.

    In an interview for Preview Magazine, the full-blooded Filipina model said of her decision to move to the US: “Moving to another country, staying in Los Angeles, then now being in NYC—it’s a roller coaster of emotions. I moved here with only myself and my faith. I have big dreams, but there are always these uncertainties: What will happen tomorrow? Will I be able to book jobs? Will I be able to pay the rent next month? It’s very challenging, but I am tough. I love challenges and I enjoy them.”

    She explained further, “The competition is tough. I had to go back to square one when it comes to my look. I don’t know if you noticed, but I put less makeup now—like, a lot less! Because in here, they want to see your bare face. The US is way different compared to the Philippines. I had to learn a lot of things and make necessary adjustments. I go to a lot of castings every week and sometimes you just don’t get to book the job. Sometimes the role just isn’t for you.

    “I used to think, what did I do wrong? Why don’t they like me? There were a lot of rejections, and there were times that I even worry about how to pay rent and bills. There’s a lot of struggles but, like I said, I have faith. That’s what keeps me going. This is my passion, and I’m not giving up.”

    While not certain if she can make it to Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show as the casting process is entirely different, the runway stunner said in her most recent post she is praying to get into a TV series and the movies very soon.


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