My ‘nip slip’

OH MY G! - Giselle Tongi-Walters (The Philippine Star) - April 14, 2013 - 12:00am

With the indie film, Bayang Magiliw, the fashion reality show, Mega Young Designers Competition: All Stars edition on etc and the April 2013 Rogue magazine cover coming out all in the same week, you’re probably wondering how I’ve been keeping my head afloat.

It never ceases to amaze me, however, that with all that is going on with my career since migrating back from Los Angeles a year ago, the local media scene has recently focused on other less impressive or poignant aspects of all that I’ve managed to accomplish.

So as much as I try to keep my head afloat with all that I am engaged with, I feel the constant tugging on my ankles that can’t help but make me feel as though I am submerging slowly under the murky gossip laden waters; perhaps a mentality that can’t seem to be eradicated in this country? It is a gentle reminder that sensationalism and raunchy headlines are definitely not a thing of the past and being the bearer of all the hearsay and talk, I honestly admit that I am affected by the audacity of the direction others have chosen to highlight instead of the many other positive merits I am adept at. I know all too well that media will always have to have a scoop but I seriously question what news items are news worthy these days.

Late last week, I attended a press conference for my first indie film titled Bayang Magiliw directed by award-winning Philippine director Gil Portes that is showing in theaters starting April 16. Prior to this film, I had never had an opportunity to do an independent film, as I have always been part of mainstream commercial films. But when I got handed this script among the many other “indies” presented to me, the film stood out because of its social message on reproductive health. Finally, a film for social change! Just the kind of film I would love to be a part of that educates through entertainment. I was very excited to talk about how I have been an advocate of reproductive health after reading in the New York Times an article titled Bill to Increase Access to Contraception Is Dividing Filipinos published on October of 2009, which was written by Carlos Conde.

It was then that I got in touch with Likhaan, an NGO based in Quezon City, via e-mail to find out how I could help raise funds for Filipinas in dire need of reproductive health. I then got together with Ted Benito, Los Angeles-based producer to help stage The Vagina Monologues at the Aratani Theatre.

The staging of the performances was “conceived” together with some amazing artists who were able to raise awareness in the community as well as substantial monetary funds for the Likhaan organization.

But instead at the press conference, I was asked not about my advocacy work that led me to accept the role of Catherine Tionson for Bayang Magiliw. Instead the discussion seemed to focus on the so-called provocative pictures that would soon be published for Rogue Magazine. Someone had gotten word that there was a “nip slip” in one of the photos, when I had insisted that I personally approved the photos that Rogue had been kind enough to send me as it was agreed upon that there was nothing of that sort to be printed. And yet, I was continuously provoked to give a reaction based on something so unimportant and quite embarrassing to tell you frankly. Nevertheless, it was this incident that made the evening news that night. 

The creative team behind the cover shoot is also (composed of) extremely talented geniuses in their own right. Notable celebrity favorite, lens man Mark Nicdao, revolutionary stylist Pam Quiñones, in demand makeup artist Robby Piñera and hair guru Jing Monis are all artists I admire and respect, because as you can see with their body of work, their work speaks for itself. Now, why oh why can’t the same be said for someone in front of the camera? Plus, this is our first collaboration and I do so look forward to many more in the future. It saddens me, as it is quite unfortunate that with all this bawdy publicity coming out, the exquisite art that we have created has been overshadowed. May I implore that our artistic creations for Rogue speak for themselves?

For the first time ever, the influential magazine has decided to use an extreme close-up for a cover. If I may say so myself, the cover certainly looks edgy and stellar along the lines of international publications such as Interview, W or the now defunct Premiere magazine. And the best part is, it’s the literature and culture issue, which proves that it isn’t just fluff between the pages.

Lastly, this article is a testament to the fact that there will always be talk and gossip mulling around in every industry, but the power to “nip” it in the bud directly by addressing issues FACE on, much like the Rogue April 2013 cover if I may add, through the power of the pen instead of the sword always proves to be a victory.

(You may tweet the author @gtongi for comments, questions or concerns.)

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