There’s more to PBB housemate Riza than meets the eye
- By: Rhia de Pablo () - November 7, 2007 - 12:00am

Her gorgeous looks are definitely enough to melt any man’s heart. But after a chance encounter that The Freeman Entertainment had with the former Miss Earth-Canada before she became Pinoy Big Brother Celebrity Edition 2 housemate, there’s absolutely more to Riza Santos than meets the eye.

Twenty-one year old Riza may be born and raised in Calgary, Canada, but she is  a true-blue Filipina. Riza got noticed in the country after her stint in the Ms. Earth beauty pageant in 2006.  But aside from being a beauty queen, not everyone is aware that Riza is also a strong advocate of the environment.

In fact, along with her volunteer-friends from different Filipino communities in Calgary, Riza established a Coastal Protection Foundation, which is aimed at helping the Philippine economy prosper by protecting our waters. Their long term goal is to help reduce poverty in the country.

Through their efforts, they have managed to achieve collaboration with several government offices to further their mission and have sent some representatives from Calgary to help out spread environmental awareness in the country.

 According to Riza, Ms. Earth-Canada title holders can choose whichever advocacy they want to pursue after serving their terms. And she revealed that other beauty queens before her have eventually advocated education and volunteered to teach impoverished children, but she went for environmental preservation as she herself is an environmentalist.

 “I kind of move in a different cause. I used to ride my bike home from school and it made me very cautious about the environment, also joining the Ms. Earth pageant I learned more about the environment then I thought that maybe there is something that I can do to make a significant impact using what God gave me,” said Riza.

Asked why she has decided to dedicate her time to environmental causes for the benefit of the Philippines, Riza said, “I’m doing it to help the Philippines and my fellowmen. The bottom line is most people just want to help and they want to do something for the world.”

After graduating from high school in 2004, she studied in a Christian College. While taking up Bible Theology, she was able to go on a mission trip.

Then she enrolled in a University to take up Biological Sciences as preparatory course for medicine, which is Riza’s ultimate goal. She is also a military personnel and had worked for the Department of National Defense of the Canadian Forces as a military medic for two years.

With her sheer elegance and gentle demeanor, who would think that a lady like her is capable of doing what many would consider a man’s job? “I love it. It’s the best job in the world,” Riza exclaimed.

Riza has finished her military qualifications, part of the requirements to be able to serve in Canada’s Armed Forces and thus, officially qualified to serve her country in case of wars. She is at the moment considered as a military reserve.

Since a lot of people came forward and volunteered, she was not given the chance to serve in Afghanistan, where most of the Canadian forces are deployed. “Most people want to go but not everybody can go on board and fight in Afghanistan. But I’ll be honored if I’d been one of them,” she said. 

Dreaming to become a medical doctor ever since she was young, Riza is determined to do whatever it takes her to become one.

She shared that in Canada, medical schools are highly competitive so much so that only a few students get to be admitted. This is one reason why she ended up joining Ms. Earth-Canada, since a med school aspirant has to be exceptional in extra curricular activities.

“I was approached to compete in Ms. Earth and I got interested because I’m environmentally conscious. I also thought that it’ll be good for me and make me different from all others who are applying for medical school. I want to put it in my resume that I competed for Ms. Earth-Canada. I competed for fun but I ended up winning which really surprised me.”

After winning the title, she had to compete in the international pageant and since she was busy with school, she almost let her first runner-up assume her spot. However, after finding out that the Ms. Earth pageant was to be held in the Philippines, Riza accepted the challenge so she can see her Filipino relatives.

Riza admitted that most of her relatives are already living in the United States and in Canada, but she always had this desire to connect with her roots since both her parents are from Bataan and Bulacan.

Riza said that even with her Canadian citizenship, she is a proud Pinay, inculcated with Filipino values by her parents. She even tried to speak Filipino to prove her point: “Marunong po akong mag-Tagalog at tinuruan po kami ng nanay at tatay ko na maging mapagmahal sa kapwa at sa pamilya, maging magalang at masunurin sa mga matatanda.”

Prior to staying in the country, Riza also served as military news reporter in Canada wherein she’s been assigned to cover Southern Alberta. She’s also been into modeling way back in Canada and here in the Philippines, she graced the October 2007 issue of FHM.

At the time of this interview, Riza appeared very open to exploring a career in the entertainment industry here. “If opportunity comes up, I might highly consider it,” she said, adding that while she is still young, she might as well enjoy and grab all opportunities before she finally devotes her entire life to medicine.

“My ambition really is to become a medical doctor and I will really do that no matter what. But if I finish my undergraduate degree and then went into med school immediately, I’ll be old when I graduate and I would no longer be able to pursue any opportunity in that realm. So if there will be offers here in the Philippines I will gladly consider it.”

Watch Riza Santos, the “Desirable Diva,” every night at ABS-CBN’s Pinoy Big Brother Celebrity Edition Season 2.

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