Janine Tugonon thought she was destined to be a pharmacist but fate had a different plan for her.
Janine Tugonon is once again making headlines
years after she became the first runner-up in the Miss Universe pageant in
The beauty queen turned model, who is running
after her dream to become a Victoria’s Secret model, recounted to Elle.com
how her plans of following in her parents’ footsteps changed when she
represented the country in the most prestigious pageant in the world.
“Growing up, I knew about models; I knew about
beauty queens. I've seen bits and pieces, billboards and TV shows of former
Filipino beauty queens, but I didn't know there was a career in that. I was
ready to be a pharmacist and in your head that is your plan: You graduate, you
work, get a family. Maybe go abroad and earn more money. But I felt like I was
meant to take a different route,” she said in her interview.
“When I won Miss Universe Philippines then
joined Miss Universe in Las Vegas, that was really my first time in the U.S.
After getting first runner-up, I wondered, what now? Was I supposed to go back
to pharmacy? It's not in my heart what I really wanted. I did on-the-job
training in the Philippines and decided that I loved studying about pharmacy, I
learned a lot, but I didn't want to do it forever. I got endorsements in the
Philippines but I kept wondering, what's the next step? I love new challenges
and I wanted to really, really try it in the U.S. I love my country, obviously,
but some people are just meant to fly away, you know what I mean? I feel like
I'm one of those people who are really meant to go out and try something else,”
Janine shared she always wanted to live in the
US because she has been watching American TV shows. When her mom got a flier
during the Miss Universe pageant about an acting program at the New York Film
Academy, Janine felt it was a sign so she eventually ventured out to the US in
Los Angeles, got an agent and a job as a model.
“So after a few weeks, I flew to the U.S., got
signed to my agency, MSA, got my green card, and that was it. I really risked
After learning Victoria’s Secret models were
booked in New York, Janine took another gamble and settled in the Big Apple.
“If I'm going to pursue modeling, I want to be
the best in it. I want to really get there; I wouldn't just settle for mediocre
jobs. I know you have to love the small beginnings. But in the end, you want to
get there!” she said.
Entering the modeling world was also tough for
her, she was used to being picked always but this time, she had a difficulty
“That's so hard to take sometimes. I do four
or five castings a day, then I don't get the jobs. You wonder: What did I do
wrong? Am I too fat, or what? Should I even be here? Those things come into
your head and get the best of you and you feel discouraged. When is the break
going to happen?”
Janine was the first Filipina to model for
Victoria’s Secret where she got a part in their Pink ad.
“I didn't expect the crazy reaction I got from
the Philippines [as the "first full-blooded Filipino VS model"].
There's this Facebook page called "NowThis" and that's an American
publication; they did a video on me in the commercial—it got 10 million views!
I'm like Wait, what? I wasn't even the lead—a lot of people were asking if I'm
a VS Angel now.”
The former beauty queen also admitted she
feels pressure now that her countrymen are rooting for her but added she just
tries to focus and do her best.
“I do still
feel a lot of pressure from my country because that would be huge for them, but
at some point you've just got to let that all go. Just do your best. I'm
starting to get back on track again. Let's work hard and forget about the past.
Just do this now,” Janine stated.