Asian male supermodel Brent Chua is proudly Pinoy

- Nicola M. Sebastian -

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines may have chalked up a couple of Miss Universes and biracial celebrities in the quest for global glory, but what you may not know is that
we’ve produced a winner for an unlikely category in this height and bulk-challenged country — the male supermodel. And he’s not even half-something Caucasian. Okay, Brent Chua does have some Oriental blood flowing in his veins, but then again the Fil-Chinese populace are as Pinoy as siopao and pansit.

Locally made, though he may be, Chua was made — in the industry sense — abroad. “I was studying in Singapore at the time, actually,” shares Chua. “My friends and I were at a club, when Rizal Ahyar, a Singaporean fashion director, pulled me aside and told me to show up the next day to walk for his show. I thought, ‘Why not,’ so I did.”

And the rest is a catwalk in the park. Though if America’s Next Top Model could teach us anything, it’d be that the life of a clotheshorse is anything but easy (though perhaps “teach” is too generous a word). Working the runways of Singapore till the city-state rewarded him with “Male Model of the Year” award in its ’04 Fashion Awards, he stepped out onto the modeling circuits of Asia and Europe. And it wasn’t long before the Big Apple beckoned, where he signed up with Ford Models. Snapping ad campaigns for the likes of the United Colours of Benetton, Motorola, and TIGI Bedhead, while walking the walk for designers like Versace, Boss, and Issey Miyake, Brent boy here established himself as 100-percent legit, truly bona fide, haute stuff.

Time in the big, bad city will turn anyone into a jaded city slicker. Good thing Chua doesn’t pay much attention to his surroundings. “I think that it doesn’t matter where you are, it’s how you react to the situations that come your way,” says Brent. “For me, it’s essentially the same everywhere, whether it’s Manila or New York. I’m pretty easygoing — I just like to hang out with my buddies and skateboard.”

When it comes to the camera, however, Chua operates on anything but island time. The tallest kid in St. Jude Catholic School’s second grade class has grown up, today blazing up a reputation for the energy and intensity he brings to a shoot. Signature mohawk aside, Chua offers raw emotion rather than a blank canvas for the photographer to work with.

For the Supreme shoot, he channels that emotion to the dark side. After all, “There’s a demon in all of us,” exclaims Brent. “As for me, I like to play with people, to disturb them and get a reaction, so I guess I’m a bit of a devil.” With our long-running fascination with demons and vampires, resurrected by the adolescent passions of Twilight and more adult ones of True Blood, the devil today doesn’t represent evil incarnate, or even a sinner. “Today’s devil is the modern-day vampire,” muses Chua. Not the ugly monster of the night, but a worldly, sensual creature, fully alive and completely in control, his power, confidence, and intensity verging on the dangerous — a person who has a place in everyday society but always and forever looms above the ordinary.

For Brent, the future truly seems endless. Like a true Filipino, he jumps between home and abroad with the seasons, forever moving like one of those birds with a serious migrating itch. “I’ll be in the Philippines till later this month, when I head back to NYC to shoot the fall collection of Gap.”

He may not be wishing for world peace, actually working for world peace, or contributing to LSS (singing about world peace, most likely), but Brent Chua is definitely pushing the words “Filipino” and “Asian” in the pop lexicon, and a model character to watch for.









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