• Solenn Heussaff brings ‘sparkle’ to Samar


    GMA Network artist and multi-slashie Solenn Heussaff is known for her wild and adventurous side, which always finds her game for any challenge. Not one to worry about embarrassing herself, the statuesque beauty never hesitates to take on crazy antics, just to make people laugh and enjoy herself.

    Her free-spirit, despite her privileged background, is among the traits that endeared this lady to the public, gaining herself an “It Girl” status in high society, side by side with a thriving movie and TV career.

    Moreover, her apparent choice of being more Filipino than French, this time despite her 50-50 genetic make-up, earns her a thumbs up where ever she goes this side of the world.

    In fact, Heussaff’s Filipino pride is especially evident in her passion to travel around the Philippines, where she constantly finds inspiration for another one of her many talents in the visual arts. Her much talked about second solo exhibit in October 2017 precisely had for its theme her rendition of street life as she saw them across the country in a collection aptly entitled, “Kalsada.”

    The adventurous beauty

    In an interview at the exhibit opening, she had said, “I’m the type of person who when I travel likes to discover the city by the streets instead of going to the fancy places. There’s so much more going on there that it becomes so colorful and authentic.”

    Devoid of any stereotypical signs of balikbayan by now, Heussaff gamely takes on another role in promoting the province she fell in love with most during her travels in 2017.

    On March 9, Heussaff was launched as tourism ambassador and official envoy of the Philippines’ third largest island, Samar.

    “I went to Samar last year and I fell in love with the place so much that I posted a lot about it [on my Instagram]. Part of my exhibit last year is based on photographs I took in Samar.

    “I also wrote an article on the things I love about Samar, and I guess they just picked it up because they were looking for someone to help them with tourism for the province and they wanted someone that truly loves and knows their place, and not just any celebrity,” Heussaff shared with The Manila Times on the sidelights of her big day.

    “Aventurous talaga ako from ‘Survivor’ days pa lang,” she added, recalling the GMA Network reality show, which became her springboard for show business.

    “I love the outdoors and Samar gives me everything I look for when it comes to relaxing, trekking, hiking, beaches, rappelling, rock climbing, cave exploring,” she ennumerated. “And sobrang raw yung experience so you’ll really feel the adventure.”

    Clearly an authority in Samar by now, Heussaff rounded up, “There are so many things to do talaga, and I haven’t even started talking about their delicacies that are delicious. So you can see, there’s really so much to learn about Samar and the rest of the Philippines for that matter.”

    On the surface, Heusaff indeed looks like the socialite whose idea of a getaway are five-star hotels and fancy restaurants, but in reality, she prefers exploring mysterious caves, wild rivers and unspoiled treasures.

    More Filipino than French, the newest Samar tourism ambassador tries her hand at banig-weaving (left) and enjoying the island’s natural wonders (right)

    She also likes to immerse herself in the life and culture of places she visits, and cited as an example for Samar her experience in banig weaving—a popular livelihood in the province.

    “When I tried banig weaving over there, I realized it’s so much harder to do than tapestry-making! They’re very artistic really, and I was also impressed with their flair for style and fashion in general.”

    Excited to discover more about Samar what with shoots she is scheduled to do for the province’s tourism and investment promotion, collectively dubbed “Spark Samar,” Heussaff said she also hopes to show her Argentinian husband Nico Bolzico around her adopted second home.

    “I want to bring Nico there, also my brother Erwan [the celebrity chef and blogger and husband to Anne Curtis]because we’re an adventurous bunch,” she enthused.

    “I also like five-star hotels with a beach front, but I’m really more the type of person that prefers to get out there and explore a place on a deeper level—appreciating it raw rather than too curated,” she added.

    Finally, the Kapuso actress and “All Star Videoke” host encouraged her fellow Filipinos who are now tra­veling more than ever to first and foremost explore their home country before disco­vering other nations.

    “I only visited Samar last year for the first time and I’ve been living here in the Philippines for 30 years and I am half Filipino!” she admitted, ashamed of herself. “My mom grew up here and never went to Samar either. That really has to change because there are so many beautiful places in the country that a lot of Filipinos don’t know about.”

    Candid as ever, Heussaff zeroed in on the problem she sees among Filipinos that prevents them appreciating what the country has offer.

    “I think that in our culture, many Filipinos tend to think countries abroad are so much better than ours, which we all know isn’t true. I also see the value of going to other countries and learning about other cultures, but won’t it be more intresting to do that when you know as much as you can about your country first?” she ended, her rhetorical question truly full of spark.


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