Life begins at Seventeen.

But I was eighteen then.

When I was a litle girl, about 6, my grandparents would ask me what I wanted to become. I came up with a different answer everytime. A nurse. A flight attendant.I had so many things in mind, but I was too young to worry about things like that.

The next year, I was so inspired after watching Aladdin that I wanted to look like
Jasmine. I designed an outfit myself, and
had it sewn to my Grammy. The year after that, I found myself arranging my closet according to clothes I would least wear to the ones I adored the most. I started disliking the clothes my Mom would prepare for me on Sundays, and the ones my relatives would give me on Christmas. I started telling my Mom that my white maryjanes didn't go with the orange gown I was gonna wear when I was gonna parade around Palawan, representing my class as their muse. That same year, I continued designing clothes for myself and I'd wear them to school events and parties.

My passion for clothes and dressing up grew stronger as I aged. I then realized what I wanted to become.

I was flipping through a magazine and saw this ad. A model search. I stared at it for hours, thinking, "Could that be me?". And for some reason, I started asking for signs from God. I had photos taken. When I saw that they came out good, I wrote an essay, and I didn't re-write it until it felt right. I sealed the envelope, kissed it, prayed and had my Grammy drop it off for me.

Two weeks later, I anxiously called the publishing office to ask about the details. Whoever I got to talk to was heaven-sent. She was so nice while she explained the mechanics, and even asked my name. As I hung up, I kneeled and prayed that God would make this one come true for me.

On the way home from fetching my Aunt from the airport, my phone rang. The number wasn't saved on my phonebook.


Is this Abbie Almasco?

Yes. Who is this please?

This is Donna, from Summit Media.

I figured I should go there as myself, I wore this off-shoulder top and some bermudas and paired it with chucks.

The other girls were so suplada they didn't even bother to smile back at me when I gave them one. I ignored it. In my head I was conversing with God. Clinching my fists and tapping my feet while we were waiting for our turn.

It was just like my first day in school. I had more than a thousand butterflies in my stomach. Definitely not the zsa zsa zsu.

Miss Donna comes in and mentions five names, including mine. We all follow her and talk on the way there. We were lead into this room, and there were four people inside. I recognized the woman sitting far left.

Miss Mia Fausto.

They ask us a series of questions. One of them were "Who do you want to see on the next cover on Seventeen and why?"

" Dawn Balagot. Because she's already accomplished her dream at a young age, and she's even younger than me, so I look up to her for that"

I saw Miss Mia nod and smile, as she jots down notes on this small notebook that was held by the person sitting next to her. It was Tata.

After the interview, I was shaking, but I managed to say " Nice meeting you " and smiled before I walked out of the room. I gave out a big sigh. Before I left, I saw Miss Donna and thanked her. The results would be out in a few weeks.

I had just gotten home from Boracay, suffering from stomach ache (ew, must be the airplane food!). I dragged my bags and dropped them on the sofa. My Grammy greets me.

" May tumawag, hinahanap ka."

"Sino daw po?"

"Donna daw eh"

"Ha? Wala naman po akong kakilalang Donna. Sigurado po kayo?"

"Oo, basta ang sabi Donna."

In a split second I was jumping, like I was on a trampoline. I figured it out.
I was shaking as I scrolled for her number on my cellphone.

She picks up.

"Hello Miss Donna? This is Abbie Almasco."

"I was trying to call you, you were out of reach, I heard you just got from Boracay."

"Yes, I'm so sorry!"

"Okay, so... I'm texting you the details of the shoot. You're expected there at 10:30. Do you know Toto Labrador? He'll be your photographer."

"Wow! Yeah he does sound familiar."

"You're one of the finalists."

And then I lost it. I thank her, she thanks me and we laugh. I hung up, and that's when I totally went bonkers.

The rest was history. Sort of. Its only been two years since. Ha,ha.

My first photoshoot ever. I had fun with all the professionals I got to work with plus I have 8 new friends. This was the booklet that came out with the August issue. We were all psyched at the shoot. I bonded with Saab the most the first time. I sat beside her, but was too shy to start the conversation, even if there were just two of us in the couch. Thankfully, she did. I've been in love with her since. Ha,ha.

On our second shoot, we worked with Sara Black, and we met Chelsea Co, she was an intern for Seventeen at the time. Its funny though, my abs were no where to be found when it was said to be my asset in this issue. For our third shoot, we had to shop at SM Makati under a PHP1,000 budget. It was fun, and I spent time with sharon and Yen the most, raiding the clothes. It was such a fun day we ended up having dinner and bonding more in Shakey's at Glorietta after the shoot.

We did TV guestings for 1. Wazzup Wazzup, 2. Y Speak, Breakfast and appeared on 3. MTV Get Spotted during our Presscon.

The winner was announced in November, with Camille appearing on the front cover with Hale lead singer, Champ Lui-Pio. Afterwards, we had a Presscon on the same month. Out clothes were sponsored by TopShop! Ack! This page was on the December issue.

Photos from the Presscon. 1. Me and Jing backstage before the show. 2. Me and Saab after the show. 3. Photo op! Wearing the poker face. Ha,ha. 4. Me and Yen hung-over from doing the poker face. Hahaha. 5. Me and THE winner, Camille! 6. Changing...changing. With Zuv.

One of the benefits we got from being finalists is that Elan gets to pick girls they'd like to be a part of their agency. So God blessed me with this one, too. On December 16, we were launched together with Mika and Mamu's (Miss Cecille Carpio) clothing line, EBONY AND IVORY at the People's Palace in GB3. 1. That's the Seventeen girls one of the displays in the exhibit. I get to be part of two of the exhibits, but was able to take a photo of one of them lang. That's me far left. 2. Me and Andi at the New World Renaissance Hotel getting ready. 3. Me, Syg and Nans. 4. Me and Bubbles at Music 1 before heading to the event. 5. That's ME! Ha,ha. Imagine, Nans and I and the rest had to walk from the hotel room to Greenbelt in shorts! Ha,ha. What a fun night.

Some of us also got to appear in Inquirer, first for Lora Gahol's article (top) and the rest for Bianca Consunji's ( I so love her ) articles for 2BU! in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Thank you Bianca, for always believing in us!

My first fashion editorial. Tata told Cindy about the shoot we did before this and Cindy booked me for it. It was fun working with Chrizenda and Vince. Plus we were in swimsuits. Ha,ha. Outdoor shoots are totally fun.

Tata booked me for this shoot, but it came out a few months after it was first scheduled to. These girls are fun, too! Corinne and I still keep in touch (that girl rocks) while Sara flew off to Europe. She was here vacationing. I love that I came on time that day and Tata was happy! And I get to work with Kai Huang! Woohoo!

Totally one of my favorite spreads ever. Cindy booked me for this too, but Laureen Uy styled this and it just..ROCKED! Ha,ha.

One of the most embarassing experiences of my life. Mika Lagdameo styled this, and I rode with her on the way to Wesley's studio, but I got there (at the Town, where we met up) 20 minutes late! And her Dad was driving. I was soooo embarassed! I wasn't even in the right mind to make beso even when she opened her door the time I arrived! Gah, could I be any more...stoopid? But I swear I left Cavite early. Ha,ha. I hate hate hate traffic. I got to work with Cham here, too. We ate at the Town after, Cham's treat! Hello, CPK. Ha,ha. Ee, sorry again Mika!

HERE! The coolest, greatest and nicest people I got to work with. 1. The legendary Isha Andaya, who styled us for the first two Seventeen shoots. 2. Bianca Consunji, who I will always love for always trusting me. 3. Mika Lagdameo, one of the few UBER down-to-earth professional models. I totally adore her, and when I tell her that, she'd just go "Ha,ha! You're funny!" and "Aw, that's so sweet." She's so adorable, you can't NOT love her! 4. Xeng Zulueta, this was the first time I got to work with her, always through Bianca! Yay. She makes you feel so at ease and makes chika like you've known each other for years. 5. Katrina Sy and Cathy, Kat who owns Sy-Kat Couture. Worked with her for the Elan exhibit. 6. Kat Dy, one of the people I run to for fashion advice sometimes. 7. Sara Black, who is so used to our "tradition" after photo shoots. Ha,ha. I love her! 8. Cindy Go, who I bumped into a few months ago at the Town. I love how she dresses up. 9. Jigs Mayuga, who I will forever love for being SO nice to everyone. He makes you feel SO welcome. I love the warm vibe he always gives off. 10. Wesley Villarica, I learned a few photographer "signs" from him. Cool! 11. Laureen Uy. Yet, another UY who knows just what to wear. I believe it runs in the blood. I wanted to raid her closet. You would too if you saw her that day.

That's why I was so sad on missing all those shoots I was booked for four months ago. This has all been just FUN. And I love every single minute and every single camera flash of this whole experience that I am stil hoping to be a part of when I get back home.

Now that I'm out of college, I might really focus on this and see where it takes me. I'm praying God allows it, because this might not be what I'd be doing in the next ten years (or who knows, right?), but at least I know its what I want to do right now. Because its what I've always wanted to be, as shallow as you think it is.

And you know what, if you're aspiring to be one, GO FOR IT. No one should tell you that you're not capable of becoming one. Stand up for yourself. And as long as you know what you want, and not step on anyone's toes, you're ready. Just remember that once you're out there, the world will judge you. But that shouldn't stop you. If you have God and you know you can go through it, don't stop. Don't stop until you get there. I'm telling you, I might not be there yet, but its all worth it. And don't ever let anyone's opinions affect you. Its your dream, and your life. Prove them wrong. Just make sure you don't lose yourself on the way and take the wrong road.People will always point fingers and you and put you down. That's part of it. As much as I hate it, its will always be there. Belittling will always be a part of the show.

But that's exactly what's making me push harder.