BUTUAN CITY (MindaNews/14 July) — Andre Libby Pena may not have been born when Gemith Gemparo, an island girl turned model from Siargao won in an international modeling tilt and later became a pilot.
Andre, 22 and standing 5’9” from Butuan City aspires to follow Gemith’s footsteps but on another plane: writing and poetry.
Experts and followers in the local fashion industry believe Andre has what it takes to be an A-list mannequin: A classic Filipina face, long pair of legs and perfect bone structure.
Mytheiuss Models Cebu, a professional model agency based in Cebu has taken her as its signature model, both for ramp and studio. Andre who is a head-turner is recognized too for her discipline and determination.
She had always been tall, the tallest among her peers, way back in high-school. “That made me shy and insecure and I feel I didn’t belong,” she recalls. She only started to believe (that she’s a model material) when friends and family encouraged her, helping boost her confidence.
But reading and writing remained her interest and outlet, her focus. Taking AB English in a teacher’s college, she graduated cum laude. She worked in Metrobank, at the loans section, but pursued her dream to model and to write.
“People say it’s a crazy combination but maybe it’s the adventurous spirit in me. I want to see the world, work outside the office walls and interact with artists, journalists, advocacy-oriented people, etc.”
Writing meant a lot to her that she cried tears of joy when Our Mindanao (MindaNews’ magazine) published her poem last year. “It affirmed me. I could not believe it. Now I’m determined even more.” Every day she writes a journal and runs a blog (www.andremeda.word press.com).
She has certainly gained a lot of confidence now and even long to write for a publication. “It would be nice to write a column for young people like me, but maybe they’ll find me far-out when I begin to talk about serious matters?”
Her titas and titos of the poetry society where she belongs sized her up. “Her poetry reflects her sensitivity and sensibility,” “With her inquisitiveness, she can be good writer, she can be anything!”
Recently, she discovered surfing in Siargao. “I’m obsessed.” She thinks she needs to go to Lanuza, Surigao del Sur, “because that’s where lady surfers go to train. Maybe I’ll do good and train others.”
Who can stop her? This lady drives out on weekends to the countryside and loves to hike. “She is at home outdoors,” her aunt Evangeline says. “She should be in travel/tourism industry.”
Andre who does yoga is also into history and culture and has a strong stand on the environment. “It’s disturbing how we appreciate what nature can do to us but we allow some people to destroy it.”
She is the eldest of three siblings. Her mom manages a private school. Her dad has passed away. She is the official family driver, taking everyone to their appointments and fetching them back.
“My mom’s funny, she texts me in capital letters when I’m still out after 12 midnight.” It gives one the idea she is a normal young lady who likes to socialize, make new friends. “And available!” she declares.
What does she look for in a man? “Someone who reminds me of my papa’s adventurous spirit and selfless love.”
Andre Pena. Her presence will certainly add color and glitz to the fashion ramp. Watch out for this lady. But don’t miss her writings too. (Ramon Jorge Sarabosing/MindaNews)