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Allure

Gem Padilla-Thomas: Woman in love

- Jerni May H. Camposano -

MANILA, Philippines - These days, model and beauty queen Gem Padilla-Thomas is the picture of a woman in love. Although she has always been radiant and gorgeous, she is at her most beautiful now, especially so that she just walked down the aisle with Capt. Nicholas Thomas of Cathay Pacific a week ago.

Still in honeymoon mode, the blushing bride shares her thoughts on marrying the love of her life. Gem, who exchanged “I do’s” with her best friend and the man whom she has a lot in common with, gushes: “Getting married is the biggest commitment I’ve made so far. I asked God for a tall, sexy and funny guy, preferably someone who has a job and who is hopelessly and madly in love with me. And God said, ‘Noted.’ He is the one because he is my best friend.” Nicholas and Gem share a passion for books, the arts and running.

Gem, who has joined several marathons in New York, Hong Kong and countless other places, considers running a big part of her life. “When I trained for my first marathon, I knew that the kind of commitment I had to give was no joke,” she says. She started running in 2007 after her sister Genea encouraged her to be active in the sport. “Running has given me a reason to test my limits. It gave me a new understanding of pain and has helped me redefine the meaning of insurmountable.” Training could be difficult at times but every time she crosses that finish line, Gem feels that it’s all worth it. She recalls, “The marathon I joined in New York was special because it was my first and I was surrounded, supported and cheered on by my New Yorker friends.”

It was in the Big Apple where Gem learned invaluable lessons on independence. She was having the time of her life in Manila when she decided to pack her bags and leave for New York in 1995.

“I was, in a way, lost. I had a good life and a good career at the time but I just knew that I had to do something else. I braved going to New York because I knew that is one place I can survive. The city is so diverse. Once you’re there, everything is accessible and you blend easily.” Living on her own for almost 16 months, Gem worked in restaurants and sales counters to pay for her rent at the Upper West side and other miscellaneous expenses. Recounting those days strikes a chord in her heart. “Living in New York was a humbling experience. I had no one to do things for me, I did laundry and I worked to pay my rent. But I definitely felt alive.”

Gem, a Political Science graduate from the University of Sto. Tomas, was discovered by designer Renee Salud in 1988. “There are just too many memorable stories. I met my best friends through modeling and shared all sorts of adventures with them. We have been through a lot so our adventures are far from over,” she muses.

The beauty queen believes that when one is happy, one looks good. “So I guess it’s important that a woman is happy,” quips Gem, whose beauty secrets are to live life to the fullest and keep things simple. She furthers that one of her favorite makeup items is the magic lipstick from Philippine cosmetic brand Ever Bilena.

As she opens a new chapter in her life, Gem reveals that she still has lots of things she wants to achieve. “I’m not even halfway on my bucket list. There are still a lot of mountains to climb, books to read, marathons to finish and places to explore,” she concludes.

Photography by John Darilag • Styling by Arielle Agasang • Hair and makeup by Ana Abainza for Ever Bilena • Cosmetics by Ever BiIena

ANA ABAINZA

ARIELLE AGASANG

BIG APPLE

BUT I

EVER BILENA

GEM

NEW

NEW YORK

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