Saturday, June 6, 2009

Davao's top commercial model

"Davao’s top commercial model"
Sun.Star Davao, June 6, 2009

With three popular television commercials currently airing on TV, you can’t miss pretty model Meriette “Mapet” Palaruan Aquino as she swiftly serves up luncheon meat for her hungry family—Kung Fu style; protects her brood from the “basura monster” by drinking immuno active-packed iced tea and surprises her daughter with a homemade fruit cocktail birthday cream cake in class.

Born and raised in Davao City, Mapet is the only daughter of Rey and Letty Palaruan who also have two sons, Arman and Arnel. She studied grade school at the University of the Immaculate Conception, high school at the Philippine Women’s University (PWU) and college at PWU and Ateneo de Davao University.

Get up close and personal with this young Dabawenya as she shares her story on how she became the city’s top television commercial model in this one-on-one interview.

Did you always wanted to be a model?

Yes, I always wanted to be a model ever since I was a little girl. I would always look at the mirror and pretend that a director was instructing me to act/model.

At what age did you start modelling?

I started as a ramp model in Davao when I was 13 years old.

Who would you consider as your most important influences as a model?

I would say Kate Moss, Paulina Poriskova and Cindy Crawford. In the local scene, it would be Tweetie De Leon as a commercial model. I was fascinated with the Heno De Pravia commercial of Ms. Tweetie before. It was such a classic. “Ang ganda nun”. I said to myself, “Magkaka-commercial din ako balang araw”. Then, I started accompanying my mom to the gym, salon and spa. I learned proper skin care and got valuable beauty tips from my mom.

What were your most memorable experiences as a model in Davao?

When I was chosen to model for Renee Salud and Randy Ortiz in 1995.

Who are some of the Davao designers that you’ve worked with in the past?

Juliet Pamintuan, Alfonso “Boy” Guinoo, Bamba Limon, Bobby Castillo, Otoi Mercado, Melvin Lachica, Rooney Tan, Silverio, Don Don Maceren and Aztec and Popoy Barba. We had shows in Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei and Malaysia. I would like to extend my sincerest thanks and gratitude to all of these talented designers for giving me the chance to shine as a model when I was just starting.

Why did you decide to go to Manila to become a model?

I got a lot of offers for Manila. I decided to go there because I could get a lot of exposure there, which means more projects and not to mention, bigger talent fees.

Please share what was your experience like when you were starting out as a model in ramp, print and TV.

Doing ramp is difficult because it is a live show. You can’t afford to make mistakes. On the other hand, print ads/TV commercials have several takes. Both are tiring considering the lengthy practices and shoots. Normally, television commercials take 2 to 3 days to shoot. Early call time is at 4:00 a.m. or 5:00 a.m. whether it’s in the studio or on location. We usually finish our shoot by early morning.

What was the first TV commercial you did? How did you feel “making it” in the competitive modelling world in Manila?

The first television commercial I did was for Gold Eagle Beer. It was with professional basketball players. Of course, I was overwhelmed that I was able to compete with other commercial models in Manila. To be chosen over them gave me more confidence which enabled me to get bigger projects like the Vaseline Shampoo commercial. That was one of the biggest breaks I had not only in terms of endorsing a product but also a big talent fee.

Please list what were the other memorable commercials you have done in the past.

I had a lot that I liked. One of them is the TV ad for Alaska milk with Janice and Gelli De Belen in 2007. Actually, I have a long list of memorable ads.

For television commercials, they include: (2001) Gold Eagle Beer and Kohler; (2002)Vaseline Shampoo and Alaxan; (2003) Pantene Shampoo (Hair Talent For A Famous Celebrity) Hush!; (2004) Nido Milk and Mitsubishi; (2005) Downy, Bonakid, Owtel Hong Kong Telecom for USA and Hong Kong airing and Sari Sari for Sari Saristore webpage—USA television commercial airing for The Filipino Channel and Aji Ginisa Mix; and (2008) Carnation Milk.

Print ads and billboards: (2002) Globe Telecom and Whirlpool; (2003) Sony and Megaworld; (2004) Fox’s Candy, Robinsons Mall and Maybank; (2006) Lee Kum Kee; (2007) Sara Lee,
Ariel, Ayala Malls, DMCI Real Estate; (2008) Ayala Land Avida and Smart Telecom web ad.

Which do you enjoy most--ramp modelling, print or TV?

I prefer print and TV ads because it is more challenging to do. It requires more skills like acting, posing and being creative. Despite the hectic schedule, it has a bigger audience thus I get a lot of exposure which would lead to more projects.

What are your current commercial shows being shown on TV?

For 2009, I have Eight O’ Clock Juice/Iced Tea with print ads and billboards, Del Monte Fruit Cocktail and CDO Luncheon Meat Style. I also have existing print ads with DMCI Real Estate and Avida Ayala Land as well as Smart Telecom print ad/website collaterals.

The Eight O’ Clock TV commercial shooting was so unforgettable. My call time was at 6:00 a.m. and we ended at 8:00 a.m. the next day. The last frame we did was with me being suspended with the help of a harness. I was not allowed to eat from dinner till 8:00 a.m. because of the mid-air stunts. “Parusa because the food at TV shoots are always catered at ang sasarap pa--from breakfast to midnight snack. Naiyak talaga ako after that frame!”

What are your interests other than modelling?

Gym, yoga and boxing. I hardly go out at night. I like to eat, as in eat a lot! I play badminton. Now, I am currently enrolled at Maquillage Professionel (MUFE), a European/French make up school at the Fort.

I also intend to enroll in hair styling and hair cutting courses and thinking of going back to culinary school. In addition, I plan to venture into real estate and finish what my mom has started. I want to go into the retail business in the future, too.

What qualities do you think should a successful model have?

Many people think that being a model is all about looks and that is very wrong. Although you really have to take care of your body and appearance, to be successful you should also have to make the right decisions in your career. Carefully choose your projects and you also have to set a very good rapport with the people in the industry.

Did your being a Dabawenya prove to be an advantage/disadvantage as a model in Manila? Why?

It has been an advantage for me because growing up in Davao gave me unique qualities. We have a mix of the urban and rural environment. It made me flexible because I am a modern person yet traditional at the same time. These are very good attributes of being a model or an artist.

What do you miss about life in Davao?

I miss my family very much especially my mom and there's still no place like home. I miss the natural beauty of Davao where the hills and beaches are just 15 minutes away. Davao is still my home!

What do you like about life in Manila?

The big city atmosphere in Manila is a perfect fit for my work. Time is fast. Work is fast. I can easily have access to the essentials for my work like salons, boutiques and other model necessities.

Lastly, what is your advice to fellow Dabawenyos who are interested to pursue professional modelling outside Davao?

Follow their hearts and dream. As a model from Davao, we should embrace the diverse lifestyle and culture of Dabawenyos. We should not change it. We should bring our being Dabawenyos wherever we go. Do not try hard to be ultra modern. We should be proud of being adaptive with the new and traditional way of life of which Dabawenyos are known for.


My two-year old blog,, is currently unavailable so I’ve created a temporary blog,, which will contain my “Mom-About-Town” articles starting from May 30, 2009. To all my loyal blog visitors, thanks so much for your messages of concern.

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