Seeking success in Phl
DIRECT LINE - Boy Abunda (The Philippine Star) - August 14, 2014 - 12:00am

America’s Next Top Model runner-up Allison Harvard is crossing over. From Los Angeles, California — where she lived and worked for a time — she packed her things and moved all the way to settle in Manila for the foreseeable future.

“Yeah, for sure,” Allison said when asked if she was looking to make the Philippines her base. “I just got back from California, and my lease ended there, so the only apartment that I have is here in the Philippines. So, um, I’m looking forward to devoting my time and staying here for as long as possible. I’ve really been enjoying it and I love my manager and I love the friends that I’ve made, too.”

Allison’s friends and acquaintances in local showbiz include Ken Anderson, the younger brother of Kapamilya star Gerald. But her first brush with Filipino talent came when she wore a Michael Cinco gown for the final runway show of America’s Next Top Model Cycle 17.

Allison has been on the show twice — once on Cycle 12 back in 2009 and was invited back for Cycle 17, the all-star season. Following her runner-up finish on the latter, she came to Manila and signed on to be the face of Impalpable, a perfume created by Michael Cinco for Bench. She has since done more work for Bench, the latest of which is what she calls an “art collaboration.” Allison draws and paints in her spare time, and some of her works will be featured in a new clothing line that will be available in Bench stores this holiday season.

Her latest gig is an endorsement for beauty and wellness clinic Bioessence, as part of its initial foray into the international market. Allison says Bioessence is by far her favorite out of all the spas she’s tried in the Philippines so far — with the oxygen facial being her go-to treatment — and given the chance, she would advise Top Model creator-slash-host Tyra Banks to try it, too. “I would tell her to get a massage at Bioessence. I’ve tried their massages and they’re relaxing. I think someone who’s as busy and who works as hard as Tyra does should try it.”

Allison is looking forward to doing as many things as she can in the Philippines, not just modeling. To that end, she’s learning how to speak Tagalog with the aid of a tutor. She has received quite a few offers, but right now she and her team are still weighing their options. However, she’s too excited about what’s in store for her to be distracted by things like homesickness. She’s actually adjusting really well to life in Manila.

“I’ve always been independent,” Allison enthuses. “I’ve been on my own since I was 17, so I think it’s actually quite spectacular that I’m, like, in my mid-20s and I’m able to be living in another country for this part of my life, you know? Not many people get to do that. I’m getting to live and make real friends here. I do get homesick and I do miss my friends and things like that, but being here and working and being happy with the jobs I have trumps all of that. Because it’s all part of a bigger journey.”

So far, making a splash in the local fashion scene has been easy for her. Could it be because the American and Philippine modeling industries aren’t so different? Allison explains, “There are certainly a lot of similarities, like with every country. The United States is interesting because it’s not just the United States. It’s, like, there’s L.A., there’s New York, and then there are certain things that are in between. Um, as far as projects go, the markets are different… and I think the market, um, there’s more of a centralized market here in the Philippines.”

Despite the differences in the market, Allison is hopeful that Filipinos will embrace her as she works on building a career here — after all, they’ve done the same for many foreign beauty queens and models in the past. When asked how she plans to reach out to the public, she offers, “Um, by just continuing to use my social media, interacting, sharing my projects and things. I’m always going out, I’m making lots of friends here. I just think things catch on like that in terms of networking and meeting new people and then… just the projects that I’ve picked up and being able to share that and as long as I can keep doing that maybe things will keep going well.”

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