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Photo from Instagram | @kelseymerritt


Don’t look now but Filipino-American model Kelsey Merritt is breaking new ground for Filipinos in the world of fashion, as she has passed audition to become one of the models of the 2018 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.


On Facebook, an elated Merritt shared a photo of her in tears, while holding a bouquet of flowers. “We did it, Philippines!” she stated. “I’m walking in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show 2018! I can’t believe this!”


The Filipino-American model with Pampango roots, now 21, and stands at five feet and eight inches, went on to enumerate colleagues who were instrumental in “making my dream come true.”


Merritt has long set her sights on participating in the iconic Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, which has featured the likes of Tyra Banks, Gisele Bündchen, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Miranda Kerr, Heidi Klum, and Adriana Lima.


Merritt moved to the US to pursue her modeling career full time, but only after she graduated with an AB Communications degree from Ateneo de Manila University in 2017, according to published reports of ABS-CBN, Coconuts Manila and other media groups.


It was gathered that Merritt managed to finish her course, Bachelor of Arts Major in Communication, at the Ateneo de Manila University in four years while she was flying in and out of the country for her modelling assignments.


The proud Ateneo graduate recounted her ordeal while studying and at the same time modelling. "It was not easy always flying more than 15 hours and then fighting jet lag, going to work the next day, and having to go home after work to finish papers or study for a test. It wasn't easy trying to fight back sleep on the plane because I had so many readings to catch up on,” she stated.


Merritt added: “God knows how hard it was to constantly fly back and forth New York and London while still in school. I had to miss classes, but still make sure that I was on top of every thing. At the same time, I had no right to complain I was having a hard time because I was blessed with work. I was living my dream! People often ask me how I managed to do it, and all I say is that as long as you have your priorities straight and manage your time well, then it really can be done.”



In May 2018, she clinched her first-ever shoot with Victoria’s Secret for its active-wear line. More opportunities with the brand followed, particularly as a model for its online catalog, it was reported.


In what now appears to be a foreshadowing of her casting on the catwalk, Merritt, in June, was photographed by Australian lensman Russell James for the lingerie line of Victoria’s Secret. James is credited as the main photographer of the brand’s annual fashion show. His book “Backstage Secrets” chronicles a decade behind the scenes of the highly anticipated event.


Coconuts Manila and ABSp-CBN reported that prior to Merritt, beauty queen Janine Tugonon became the first Filipino to be featured in a Victoria’s Secret promotional material. She was shown in an advertisement for the brand’s Pink line, for younger women.


Tugonon also auditioned to join the fashion show in 2016, but reportedly failed to make the cut, making Merritt the first Filipino to take the catwalk alongside international supermodels.


Merritt’s accomplishment immediately burned the social media with comments commending her while some questioned her looks as different from those of typical Filipinos.


The comely model said while she is not pure Filipino, she is more Filipino than the “pure” Pinoy who have not even visited the Philippines.


"Pinanganak ako sa Pilipinas at lumaki ako sa Pampanga. Tinapos ang pag-aaral ko sa Manila bago ako lumipat sa US last year (I was born in the Philippines and grew up in Pampanga. I finished my studies in Manila before I left for the US last year),” she wrote on social media.


"Mas Pinoy pa dugo ko kesa sa mga 'pure' na hindi pa nakatapak sa Pilipinas. I love my country and I’m proud where I came from," she stressed.


The Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla starer “The Hows of Us” continues to smash the box office record as its take soared to P519 million from P505,672,777.80 in 13 days.


Already with its big earnings, the movie is one of the top 10 best selling Filipino film of all time.


The good news was announced by producer Star Cinema, the movie outfit of ABS-CBN network.


Star Cinema said the film directed by Cathy Garcia-Molina is still showing in more than 200 cinemas in the country.


The earnings neared P600 million after a $1 million (P53 million) return from overseas was added to the worldwide box-office total of "The Hows of Us." 


ABS-CBN, mother company of Star Cineman, said this means that it is now the most successful Filipino movie to not star Vice Ganda, topping the P556 million worldwide total of John Lloyd Cruz and Bea Alonzo's "A Second Chance" back in 2015.  


Its current gross at P591 million overall put it just behind the P598 million worldwide record of Vice Ganda's "The Super Parental Guardians."  


Although it remains unclear whether that's still the record, given the worldwide total of last year's "Gandarappido: The Revenger Squad" --another Vice Ganda movie-- was not made public.


"The Hows of Us" has outgrossed other box office hit movies of the reel and real partners Kathryn and Daniel. Prior to the movie, their "Can't Help Falling in Love" in 2017 and "Barcelona: A Love Untold" in 2016 grossed over P300 million each.


The exact figure was announced by Star Cinema through its social media channels, with a note from for George, from Primo.


George and Primo are the respective characters of Bernardo and Padilla in the film, which shows the struggles of a long-term relationship.


With its latest milestone, “The Hows of Us” becomes the first film starring KathNiel to breach the P400-million mark.


With international screenings rolling out, — territories include UAE, Papua New Guinea, Brunei, Malaysia, Saipan, and Canada — the Cathy Garcia-Molina film is expected to have another burst in its total earnings in the coming days.


Interviewed by Boy Abunda, Kathryn and Daniel thanked the moviegoers and their fans for patronizing their movie.


Having shared the screen for seven years now as the country’s top love team, and with a tested relationship behind the cameras, the couple said they are ready to take on separate movies after the record-breaking success of “The Hows of Us.”


“Para sa growth naming pareho, darating ka sa point na kailangan niyo muna maghiwalay. Ayoko maging selfish na, ‘Hindi, dapart partner ko lang si DJ,’ kasi maraming naghihintay na magagandang projects for him. Darating at darating na babalik pa rin kami sa isa’t-isa — iyon na lang ang iniisip ko,” Kathryn said in the interview reported by ABS-CBN.


Daniel agreed, adding: “It’s going to be different, pero I think we both need this also. Maganda siya para sa amin. It’s really normal.”

Heart Evangelista etches spot in world fashion

Published in Entertainment

Photo from Instagram | @iamhearte


Yes Virginia. Actress and visual artist Heart Eva­ngelista is now one of most glamorous Filipinas on the world stage.


Heart, 33, who is Lovi Marie Payawal Ongpauco in real life and married to Sen. Francis Escudereo, is, in fact, on a glamorous roll in the global fashion scene with one coup after another, effectively cementing her status a Filipina style icon, Manila Times’ Iza Iglesias reported.


After making the rounds of Paris Fashion Week in July—with no less than “Crazy Rich Asians” best-selling author Kevin Kwan documenting her sorties in Europe’s fashion capital—she headed over to the Big Apple for New York Fashion Week and made a splash anew, according to the report.


Besides landing the very exclusive guest lists to preview the collections of the world’s most famous designers, she also made it to the best-dressed picks of fashion and lifestyle magazines The Cut and Elle when she attended the Harper’s Bazaar Icons party, the report added.


 A hot ticket amid the fashion week flurry, other Hollywood celebrities who made the list were Kendall Jenner, Paris Hilton, Bella Hadid, Adriana Lima, Heidi Klum, Coco Rocha, Christina Aguilera, Cardi B and Nicki Minaj.


The lone Filipina celebrity amid this blinding bunch of global stars, Heart was stunningly—and proudly—wearing a sleek black avant garde creation from Filipino designer Mark Bumgarner.


Iza Iglesias’ report continued: The 33-year-old actress documented what must have been one for the books in her high fashion lifestyle via Instagram, excitedly sharing photos of the star-studded event. One of them saw her beside top model Grace Elizabeth, which she captioned, “With this stunner.”


Indeed, the Filipina’s inclusion in Kwan’s “real” Crazy Rich Asians feature in Harper’s Bazaar has opened many doors for her in the international fashion scene. His article, titled “Crazy Rich Couture,” described Evangelista as the “modern-day incarnation of Audrey Hepburn.”


The day after the issue came out, Evangelista posted on social media that Kwan’s story “[is ]one of the most amazing features in [her]life.” In thanking the best-selling author, she also referred to him as “[now] a dear friend.”


Immediately after the Harper’s Bazaar story, French bag label Sequoia signed her up as endorser, and will have her attending various events in Milan and Paris for the fashion house.

What 'Kumare' Means (Part 2 and Conclusion)

Published in Upside

Upside welcomes following conclusion of guest column in advance of October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

By Nellie Hizon



ALLICE 2018 president Nellie Hizon and 2018 secretary Allen Capalla reach out for healthier interaction at recent Colma PD National Night Out with volunteer Noel Mulato and friends. 


As a Kumare, I gave shelter to my friend Tomoko in her attempt to be free from her abusive husband.  But he filed a missing person report, naming me as harboring her, requiring me and Tomoko to present ourselves to the police station.  We were cleared.  Apparently, the police had to contact the station where the husband made the report to confirm that Tomoko had been located and was no longer missing. 


No sooner had we returned to my home when we heard loud knocking on the door:  the husband, with their child crying, was at the door.  Her husband's voice terrified Tomoko, who dived under the dining table and went into fetal position. I called 911 and the security guard.  The 911 operator guided us while assuring the police was on their way.  I was afraid that the husband could break.

Upon police arrival, I opened the door and have them speak with Tomoko.  The police was the intermediary, conveying the husband’s messages.

The husband threatened her to go home with him that night or she would never see their child again.  That conversation was outside the house but in the presence of the police.

Tomoko agonized.  Bitterly crying and heartbroken, she decided to go with him that night.  

I never heard back from her again, my phone number must have been blocked.  Even years later, on social media, her name does not come up.  I hope she is alive.


These days, in the widely reported sexual abuse by the clergy, the hearts and souls of the faithful cry out with grief.  How can a person of trust betray us?  We grieve.  Yes, prayers and penance will cleanse us as a community of believers.  

But, now more than ever, education on how to recognize abuse early on, what to do, where to go, what resources are available, are essential to the healing process.

Our knowledge, attitudes and behaviors are shaped by the environment in which we were raised. Newcomers in this country come from a culture so different; some may be accustomed to being subservient, until it sinks in that equality is the norm in the adopted country.  

While equality is the law, inequality prevails in many places, even at home where a perpetrator wields total power and control at the expense of the comfort and safety of other members.

ALLICE has, for 15 years, been an advocate, helping educate the community on maintaining healthy relationships, preventing abuse and violence by instilling the dynamics of healthy interaction.  Our group of professionals, civic leaders, resource providers is dedicated to addressing an illness in society.

Our team is supported by longtime donor allies Philippine News, Philippines Today, Positively Filipino,, Holy Child & St. Martin Episcopal Church, Lucky Chances, Moonstar, Cafe Savini, Noah's Bagels, Hapag Filipino, Kuya's Asian Cuisine, Guy Guerrero, Ray Satorre, Francis Espiritu, Kumare Elsa Agasid,Boy & Baby's Pastries, Kumare Ofie Albrecht, Bernard Simon, Jr., Becca Schatz, Joaquin & Matias Moreno instaging the Oct. 12 program.

Join us at our free and open to the public event.   Arming ourselves with information is the first step to protecting our homes and neighborhoods.  


Nellie Hizon is 2018 President of ALLICE founded by Upside columnist Cherie M. Querol Moreno,.  For more information visit

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