Miss International 2013 Bea Rose Santiago typifies the modern-day beauty queen: self-assured, articulate, grounded.
The fifth queen to win the Miss International crown for the country (past winners are Gemma Cruz-Araneta in 1964, Aurora Pijuan in 1970, Melanie Marquez in 1979 and Precious Lara Quigaman in 2005), Bea exudes the confidence of someone who knows her worth while not forgetting where she came from.
She looks back fondly at her happy childhood in laid-back Cataingan, Masbate and gives it much credit for her success as a model and beauty queen.
“Coming from humble beginnings, I learned the hard way about life. It taught me how to be strong, to be independent, to be well, to take care of myself, be humble at the same time have that strong faith in God,” says Bea.
As a way of giving back, she now tours the country to share her story, hoping to inspire a new breed of models.
This model-turned-beauty queen, who’s now setting her sights on pursuing an acting career, was in Cebu recently to walk the ramp in Prestige Modeling Agency’s culminating
activity at Ayala Center Cebu.
Here, she shares with the Play! pool her journey to the Miss International crown, her struggles, and goals. (MRA)
Dr. Francis Xavier Solis
Locale: Ayala Center Cebu
What have you been busy with this year?
A lot! I have been on the cover for different magazines. I am currently doing my fifth. I have been traveling a lot here in the country, checking out places, people inviting me over, a lot of fiestas going on… I do a lot of coaching also for modeling and pageantry. It’s what I have been doing for a long time and I think I am good at it.
Among the places that you’ve been to, which is closest to your heart?
Of course, Masbate. Even if I wasn’t born there that’s where I grew up. Coming from humble beginnings I learned the hard way about life. We are tagged as poorest of the poor, the third poorest community in the Philippines. But when I was living there, I didn’t see it that way… it’s just that we have a simple life. And when I moved out and lived in Canada that’s when I realized that our condition was just far different from what it was. It taught me how to be strong, to be independent, to be well, to take care of myself, be humble at the same time have that strong faith in God.
There were controversies involving you and your family. How do you remain positive amidst all of these?
It’s really hard because the family is your core, your home. And when it’s being attacked, it’s like a tsunami or an earthquake that hits you. But then again when that happened to me I felt that nothing in the future could hurt me because I just felt so attacked early in my celebrity life. I am currently looking at it in a positive way… my mom, brother and my sister were obviously hurt and I just told them that the experience will make us stronger.
How do you deal with bashers?
Sometimes I want to snap and just deal with it right there and then. You just read it in Instagram and your blood pressure just goes up. You read it again and again and you realize that probably this is” just one percent of the people that does not know you. Nakiki-WiFi lang to! I am not going to make patol this person and I will just block them. I am the master of my phone. They cannot tell me what to do, di ba?
What do you usually advise aspiring beauty queens or models?
I tell them that pageantry and modeling are two very different industries but always the common denominator is the personality or the character of the person —what makes them stand out. When the client asks for you, they see that you have the personality that fits their clothes. Also, at the end of the day, it’s always about good manners, your overall character.
Did you see yourself being a model while growing up?
Yes. I was an ambitious kid. The kids in our community would watch local cartoons and I would prefer Cartoon Network or HBO. That’s where I learned my English. I adapt right away. And from TV I saw Miriam Quiambao. That’s where I knew about pageants. That time my heart wasn’t into being a beauty queen. I was more into modeling and I love Kate Moss! I can still remember how I would walk to the music of Right Said Fred’s, “I’m Too Sexy.”
So, I was into modeling. My ultimate goal is to become a Victoria’s Secret model.
Who are your role models?
Coco Rocha. We have the same modeling agency in Canada. She is just amazing. I have heard a lot of great things about her. She is a healthy model, very smart. She is one model that you want to work with, that one model you aspire to be. That one model you want to meet. I just find her interesting.
Modeling, they say, is a cruel industry, that’s only good when you’re young. How do you want to keep your place in the industry?
I think that’s the reason why I bridged out to pageantry because of that phase, they say. But you know what? It’s not really true.There’s this Canadian supermodel, Iman. She came from Ethiopia and moved to Canada with two kids and she was 24 when she became a supermodel. So it’s never about the age, although her case happens once in a blue moon. Modeling agencies would look for girls ages 13 or 14 and mold them to superstardom, like Cara Delevingne. She started out young and look at her now! It takes a long time for the industry to know who you are and to realize that you have what it takes to be a supermodel. Maybe that’s why they say it’s only for the young. And it takes a while for them to discover the next “It” girl.
How’s your love life?
My boyfriend… more of my partner… he teaches me how to handle stress, my money and how to stay positive. In the industry that I am in, it’s just way too competitive, and with pageants, we are replaced every year. If you don’t make it to the international level… well, you are just nobody. It’s an overwhelming experience, never-ending dramas and most of the time there’s a lot of mood swings, lots of insecurities. My boyfriend is a big help in terms of staying positive. He is a very, very positive person—very happy with his life. Unlike other guys my age who are conceited, he is just too responsible, sometimes too naïve, I guess. He is non-showbiz and he is a bit older than me.
What does he do and how long have you’ve been together?
We just celebrated our second year. He survived me. He is a British-Filipino businessman.
Are there other ventures that you would like to get into?
I am saving money for the future. I am saving it for investments. It’s a part of my boyfriend’s advice to me from which most actors missed out on planning what’s ahead for them. Some are so locked up into their present that they forget to plan for the future. There are a lot of teens now who spend so much for the sake of Instagram and followers, a lot of entourage just so they can show off and that’s not going to help you in the future. For me I’ll just use my head and really save up—I want to be a businesswoman.
What are you looking into?
Do you have plans of entering showbiz?
I just finished my intermediate workshop with Viva and I did it along with personalities like Sam Pinto and Mark Bautista. It was very interesting. I had no idea—I’m an actress! Hahaha! And the thing is that I really loved it, and I am also funny, so I’d like to discover more. My agency, which is Viva, sees that I seem to lack that confidence when it comes to the video part.
Who do you want to work with in showbiz?
A lot! Obviously, I have to start small. I grew up watching Filipino movies, and my mom… she is a Vilmanian and she also loves Sharon Cuneta. I would love to work with Maricel Soriano. I love her! Her “Inday Bote” is a favorite and she sort of like reminds me of my aunties who talk too much but can be sweet and caring. She is so funny, very good in drama and she cries easily.
How about your dream leading man?
Johnny Depp and Shia LaBeouf! They are amazing. They really go deeper than just acting… they’re mesmerizing. They really live the part of the character. Oh, and I also love Meryl Streep as an actress. All of them are method actors and they’d really hurt themselves just to be in character.
What would be your dream role?
Probably the hardest part… that would be the opposite of my character. Like a tomboy, because I am just too
ladylike. It was really hard for me doing it during my acting workshop.
If you didn’t get into modeling, what would you be doing?
When I moved to Canada, I became a model right away. That was my source of income. Maybe if I didn’t go to Canada I’d be a pharmacist, like my Mom.
What’s your typical day like?
I’d probably be working out in the morning, and then I would cook, walk my dog, and work. Mostly I have shoots here and there.
How do you unwind?
I’m a home person. I prefer to just stay in with my puppies. I have a new dog and his name is Rosie, a Pomeranian. Also I’m a wine drinker so probably I would be home sipping wine while watching TV.
There will always be that little girl who dreams of becoming a model. What’s your message to her?
That she should live her dream. Finish school first. Listen to her parents. And be in love with herself. One cannot be a strong person if you’re not in love with the self. You really, really have
to be in love with yourself.