Why Daniel & Vanessa Matsunaga have made the Philippines their home
Despite the influx of Brazilian models taking over the Manila modeling scene the past few years, two names still stand out. What would drive two siblings with zero Pinoy blood to live halfway across the globe, and, are Brazilians and Filipinos really so different? Here are 10 things you should know about Daniel and Vanessa Matsunaga.
1They moved out of their home in Brazil when Daniel was 16 and Vanessa was 18 to pursue modeling around the world.
â€œEvery two or three months we would move country. As models weâ€™re always looking for the right season. When we were in Hong Kong, a lot of people were telling us, â€˜Why donâ€™t you go to the Philippines? You guys will work very well there,â€™â€ Vanessa says. â€œâ€™Itâ€™s your market, and Filipinos are very nice,â€™â€ Daniel added. Before 2009 ended, Vanessa and Daniel moved to Manila to pursue modeling but only for two months.
â€œIâ€™ve lived in over 25 countries,â€ Daniel shares. â€œYes,â€ Vanessa adds. â€œWeâ€™ve both filled up four passports with stamps because of modeling.â€ They lived the longest in the Philippines, Hong Kong, Thailand, Korea, and Singapore. â€œMy dad Paulo was born and raised in Brazil, but he is actually pure Japanese. He looks Pinoy though! My mom Geralda is Brazilian,â€ Vanessa says.
On the decision to settle in the Philippines: â€œWe are both Christians, and our pastor in Brazil advised us that there was a purpose here for us. I was in Hong Kong at that time and work was good for me. Vanessa said that we have to go to the Philippines because we have a purpose there. In the beginning, I didnâ€™t believe it and I told her that itâ€™s hard to leave something that is concrete, versus something that is not,â€ Daniel recalls. â€œWe were working here in Manila already, and then when we were about to leave, I met my husband. How was I gonna leave, I was already so in love with him,â€ Vanessa gushes.
â€œNine years of modeling, it can get boring. When I also entered showbiz, I found it more exciting. Step by step, Iâ€™m trying to improve. All the purpose that we were told we had here, it was true. Itâ€™s been almost five years and we havenâ€™t left,â€ Daniel says.
2On their fondest memory as kids: â€œWe were so mad at each other that our dad made us hug till we loved each other.â€
â€œWe used to fight a lot!â€ Daniel says. â€œProbably about things that were really stupid. I remember one day, Daniel punched me in the stomach, and I punched him back. Our dad got so mad that he made us kneel down,â€ Vanessa recalls. â€œâ€¦and made us hug each other!â€ They said in unison, laughing. â€œWe were hugging for hours until we loved each other again,â€ Vanessa says. â€œThatâ€™s worse than standing in the corner. Itâ€™s so hard when youâ€™re angry at each other then you have to hug each other,â€ Daniel adds. They were four and six years old then.
â€œI remember our little brother Gui used to love cooking even if he was so young and so small he could barely reach the stove. Daniel was always like, â€˜Gui, cook me something!â€™ and all the time, Gui would cook for him. So bossy,â€ Vanessa says about Daniel as a kid.
â€œThe funniest is when she starts talking to animals. She would start speaking this other language that nobody understands, and itâ€™s this voice thatâ€™s really funny,â€ Daniel says about Vanessa when they were growing up. â€œFor her, the animals really understand her,â€ he adds. â€œAnd they do, I believe they do! I should be an animal trainer,â€ Vanessa says with a laugh.
3Their favorite Tagalog expressions are â€œTalaga,â€ â€œSyempre,â€ â€œOo nga,â€ â€œDiba,â€ and â€œAno?!â€
â€œWhen I bought Lumi (their pet bird), I wanted to name her Trixie. Then our yaya Ate Alice said, â€˜Maâ€™am! Baka lumipad,â€™ pointing to the bird. And I said, â€˜Ate, Trixie na lang, mas magandang pangalanâ€™ â€˜Hindi maâ€™am, lumipad yan!â€™ â€˜Sige, Lumipad na lang.â€™ I didnâ€™t know what the word meant! So thatâ€™s how her name became Lumi,â€ Vanessa shares giggling.
â€œWhen I first came here, at work I was always surrounded by beckies (gays), and they always teach you the bad words. And they taught me to say bakla, they would say â€˜O, call him bakla, call him bakla,â€ Daniel recalls.
On peopleâ€™s biggest misconceptions about them: â€œEveryone says Daniel is so serious, but for me he is very silly! He makes me kulit all the time, heâ€™s like a kid,â€ Vanessa shares. â€œIf not for events or birthdays, Vanessa doesnâ€™t like clubbing or partying. She doesnâ€™t drink. Bahay lang â€˜yan, she can watch six movies in a row,â€ Daniel says.
4The first time Vanessa met her husband Jun Sunga, she didnâ€™t like him right off the bat; and at one point even teased him about being a stalker.
â€œOne of the few events I went to, in Embassy, he was there and we met. He was tipsy. I was like, â€˜Uh, no,â€™â€ Vanessa recalls. â€œBut we met again at a shoot. I was the model and there were two photographers. And every time I would step in front of him to have my photos taken, he would give the camera to the other guy. I thought, â€˜What was wrong with him? What was wrong with me?â€™ But I already found him cute then,â€ she adds. â€œHe was sending flowers to the house all the time! Whatâ€™s this? Again?â€ Daniel reveals.
â€œHe proposed after five months of dating, and five months after, we got married,â€ she shares. â€œI just wanted to get married under a tree! That was my dream. And it was so hard to find a tree. And I remembered in Bellaroca in Marinduque there was a beautiful tree, so it was perfect.â€ Jun and Vanessa are now three years married. â€œWe donâ€™t have kids yet, so we have our dogs and birds for now.â€
On what she loves most about Jun: â€œHeâ€™s masipag, very organized, down to earth. So many! Heâ€™s very sweet, very gentlemanly.â€
5 Daniel has been in five serious relationships (four were Brazilian and one was Pinay) and he believes he will probably end up with a Filipina.
He is currently single. â€œI told myself that I want to really focus on myself first, on work, I told myself I wanna stay single for at least two years and itâ€™s already been two years,â€ Daniel says. â€œI learned a lot in my relationships, including the one with Heart (Evangelista), I learned how to deal with myself.â€
â€œHe is waiting for the right one,â€ Vanessa says. â€œDaniel looks all tough, but he believes in these kinds of things, that thereâ€™s one right person.â€
On the differences between Brazilian women and Filipina women: â€œYou guys are more conservative, more family-oriented, and more malambing,â€ Daniel says. â€œBrazilians are more fiery and more independent,â€ Vanessa says. â€œAnd more open,â€ Daniel adds.
â€œIâ€™m not gonna say that I for sure will end up with a Filipina, because you never know. But yes, I do expect to, because I love this country, I love everything about the people here. And since she has not arrived yet, I will have to wait,â€ Daniel reveals.
6Vanessa has a pretty low maintenance beauty regimen:
1. â€œI never sleep with makeup on, and I only put a bit of makeup on when I need to. I like EsteÃ© Lauder.â€
2. â€œAlways moisturize.â€
3. â€œI love home massages, we call for that a lot, Jun and I.â€
4. â€œFor my hair, I like everything organic. I love the products of Healthy Options, they smell so good and I like them because they are not animal-tested.â€
5. â€œFor my nails, I love Orly. I actually do my own nails! I enjoy it.â€
7Daniel says his physique doesnâ€™t only come from good genes; in fact, he works out every single day. â€œIt really takes a lot of work.â€
â€œI play football every day for two hours, so thatâ€™s a lot of cardio, running. I do gym also, every day, for two hours. No trainer because since I was 14, Iâ€™ve been working out, I learned everything about fitness and food,â€ Daniel shares.
His tips? â€œLess carbohydrates and sugar; instead, have fiber and protein. I usually eat a piece of chicken breast with broccoli and mashed potato, a lot of beans, fish fillet, salad, fruits. Itâ€™s not actually the genes, I was chubby before,â€ he reveals.
His favorite cheat day indulgence? â€œIce cream. Anything sweet,â€ he says. â€œHe always has snacks or chocolate beside his bed,â€ Vanessa reveals. â€œWhen we used to share a room I would wake up in the middle of the night to this loud sound! It would be Daniel, opening the bag of Layâ€™s or something.â€
8The perfect day in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil:
â€œPeople normally wake up early, at 7 or 8 a.m., then eat breakfast with fruits and bread. Then you head to the beach, to Copacabana or Ipanema. Then you play football or hang out at the restaurants and cafÃ©s all over,â€ Daniel says. â€œThen have lunch at a churrasco, thatâ€™s eat all you can and they have the best cuts of beef! Then afternoon, you wanna sleep, after you eat. Basically people stay on the beach the whole day, and drinking in Brazil is the whole day. Either beer, or caipirinha,â€ Vanessa shares. â€œSunset is beautiful at the beach. Then dinner, there are a lot of restaurants with live music, so depends on what you like, thereâ€™s bossa nova, or pagode, or samba,â€ Daniel adds. â€œPeople can party till 5 a.m.! Midnight or 1 a.m. is early.â€
9Daniel and Vanessa Matsunaga in numbers:
5â€™8â€: Vanessaâ€™s height
6â€™1â€: Danielâ€™s height
1,000+: number of DVDs in Vanessaâ€™s collection
12: jersey number of Daniel for his first division football team, Kaya FC
10: number of pets at home. There are two birds and eight dogs, all Alaskan Malamutes
2: number of times a year they usually go home to Brazil
10On what Brazilians can learn from Filipinos, and what Filipinos can learn from Brazilians:
â€œI think from Brazilians, Pinoys can learn that criticism is not always a bad thing,â€ Vanessa says. â€œIn our culture itâ€™s very normal for people to tell you these things, but Filipinos are very non-confrontational.â€
â€œWhat I think is most captivating that Brazilians can learn is, you guys are such a happy people. Kahit may problema, you guys are very happy with what you have. Even after Yolanda, people were still laughing and smiling, itâ€™s very touching,â€ Daniel says.
â€œOne thing that both cultures have is that thought to never give up. When a challenge comes, believe in yourself, and trust God,â€ he adds.
It took Vanessa, 27, and Daniel, 25, a trip halfway around the world and four passports before they decided to build their dreams and their future here in Manila, which they now fondly call home. â€œYou really donâ€™t have Pinoy blood? Not even a bit?â€ I had to ask. â€œWala talaga,â€ they said with their thick Brazilian accents. â€œSa puso, Pinoy!â€ they say with a smile.
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