JESSY Mendiola is the sexiest woman in the Philippines according to men’s magazine FHM. Not everyone agrees though and violent objections are all over the Internet.
All the same, the 23-year-old actress has chosen to rise above the bashing, and instead encouraged women of all shapes and sizes to end habits of body-shaming and be confident in their own skin.
On Tuesday, the ABS-CBN artist faced the press for the first time since FHM Philippines announced she received the coveted title on June 30, which had previously been given to the likes of Jennylyn Mercado (2015) and Marian Rivera (2014).
Over the summer, Mendiola suffered endless online bashing that she looked fat when she posted her bikini-clad photos from Boracay. Now that she is FHM Philippines’ sexiest, how does she feel?
“Vindicated is a strong word, I think [what I feel is]more of self-love. I think it’s about time we welcome something different, I mean we always look at sexy as being this or being that, looking like this or looking like that, para sa akin it’s nice na someone like me, who’s very curvy to represent a different kind of sexy,” she declared.
“Like last Jennylyn [Mercado] won and she represented all the hot mommas out there. So I think there are different kinds of sexy so I don’t feel I’m vindicated; I am just very grateful and thankful,” she added.
According to Mendiola, she never allows herself to be overly offended when she reads hateful comments and bashing on social media. She knows being in the spotlight requires a certain kind of strength since showbiz can be a cruel world.
“I’ve gotten used to it,” she simply said.
According to Mendiola, the first thing that came to mind when she was named FHM’s sexiest was not the bikini brouhaha on Instagram, but the fact that she doesn’t have the kind of solid fan base, which second and third placers Nadine Lustre and Jennylyn Mercado, respectively, can depend on.
“Actually surprised ako nung nalaman ko No. 1 ako. Kahit nga Top 10 lang nagulat ako like, ‘Talaga?’ ‘Sure ba kayo?’ tapos naging Top 5 then Top 3. But to be honest parang wala lang. I just brushed it off kasi alam ko I don’t have the chance to win. Kumbaga parang ‘OK, pasok ako, wow,’ ganun lang,” she said.
“Tapos nung tumagal na—come on let’s all be honest—nag shoot up lang naman siya nung nag-Boracay ako. Kasi hindi lang naman ako yung nag-post, because of course nasa Boracay ka, mag-swimsuit ka. Tapos yun bigla na lang pumasok ako [all the way to the top]. Hindi ko siya ine-expect. Pero yung pag post ko sa Boracay hindi about this. I didn’t know about the list until may mga nag-sabi lang sa akin na I’m trending, and may mga memes, or leading na ako sa FHM. I didn’t know that after I posted the pictures. I wasn’t expecting this, because I know I didn’t have a chance,” Mendiola related.
For the actress, being tagged as the No. 1 sexiest is a big achievement not just because of the recognition itself, but because she realized that the public accepts as who and what she is. Mendiola added she now gives her all in working out to become a role model for women like her who do fall under the norm of what is sexy.
“That alone is a big achievement for me, being someone who can inspire others to love themselves more. Surprisingly, I decided to change my lifestyle. Kumbaga kasi parang yung mga tao iisipin nila ay kailangan ko mag diet to meet a certain goal or magmukha akong ganyan. But it’s really [one’s] lifestyle,” Mendiola said.
“I work out sa condo, mga 15 minutes or 30 minutes. My trainer taught me how to work out under pressure. If may shooting ako and I have to work out, I bring my yoga mat and my jump rope. Those work outs, I do them for 30 minutes, and that’s it—I feel energized, I feel healthy,” she added.
However, when it comes to feeling sexy, Mendiola pointed out that it is all about the journey of accepting one’s self fully no matter her size.
“When people come up to me and say, ‘Hey you’re so sexy’, it feels unreal. Parang ako, ‘Why?’ It’s the way you carry yourself. So hindi lang siguro sa physical appearance like most of us think. Yun yung lagi natin sinasabi na sexy nga, oo sexy physically, pero I think it’s still about the personality and how you carry yourself that makes you sexy. When you know yourself and when you know that you are strong enough to stand out and stand up for something,” she confidently shared.
Although topping the sexiest list is a big pressure for Mendiola, she also sees it as a perfect venue to encourage people to be healthy and become better versions of themselves.
“Tayo lang naman ang makakatingin ng sexy sa sarili natin eh. It’s a big responsibility kasi you’re a role model—hey see you as someone to look up to. So yeah you should be fit all the time, but the only other thing that changed is that mas mahal ko yung sarili ko, yung thunder thighs ko,” she laughed. “And parang mas natutukan ko yung sarili ko. So masaya ako at napili nila ako because of all this,” she said.
Besides being blessed with more projects and opportunities with this new title, Mendiola admitted she also feels fortunate she has rumored boyfriend Luis Manzano.
Without confirming if they are together—even if Manzano had admitted on TV they are indeed going out these days—Mendiola simply said, “Any girl will be lucky to be with Luis. He’s very mature. He’s a gentleman–such a gentleman–and very kind-hearted. Lahat ng nakakakilala kay Luis will say sobrang bait niyang tao,” she shared.
Asked how they became close, she replied, “Ang tagal tagal na niyan, dati pa yan. Pag nag A-ASAP [the ABS-CBN Sunday noontime show]ako palagi siyang nangangamusta. So lagi kaming naglolokohan, siya yung friend na, ang tagal tagal mong hindi nakikita pero pag naguusap kayo about life, ang daming niyong napag-uusapan, nagka-catch up kayo. Naging mas close kami nung not so good incident last year. Nangangamusta siya from time to time kasi alam niya kung gaano ako ka depressed nun eh, pero as a friend talaga.”
The “not so good incident” Mendiola was talking about was a commotion caused by Enrique Gil in an airplane during a flight of Star Magic talents to London in 2015. Gil admitted he was drunk on the flight, causing him to harass Mendiola. It was Manzano who gallantly stepped in to protect her.
Meanwhile, sharing some of the spotlight during Jessy Mendiola’s press conference was GMA Network artist Rhian Ramos who is FHM’s cover girl for July—her first time to grace the magazine after years of wooing from the men’s magazine.