The face that captured the Universe—and emerged as 1st runner-up—at the 2012 Miss Universe pageant has once again conquered the international scene. This time, as one of Victoria Secret’s models for its “Pink” fashion line, making Janine Tugonon the first full-blooded Filipina to be part of the prestigious brand.

As she ventured into the international modeling scene after her success in the said pageant, she is now making strides and indeed making us proud kababayans.

The ad, released online on Tuesday, Sept. 6, shows Janine and other models as students. Victoria’s Secret Pink is mainly targeted to younger women and/or college-aged women. Featured in its latest TV ad are women celebrating their lives as students. Janine stars with three other models who are shown living through the challenges of college life.

When the ad launched, Janine could not contain her excitement and shared the clip on her social media pages immediately.

“I had so much fun shooting this with you,” Tugonon wrote as she posted the Victoria’s Secret Pink ad on her Instagram page and tagged her fellow models.

Her gig with the iconic fashion brand had drawn praises and support from many Filipinos. Those who have supported Tugonon even during her Binibining Pilipinas days (that includes me) were not surprised to see their favorite candidate continuing her path to greatness.

I know Janine. As I’ve said I’ve always been one of her supporters when she represented the Philippines in Miss Universe four years ago. I was in there in Las Vegas when she competed. I bet she would win and though she didn’t go home with the title that night, being crowned as the first runner-up is just as honorable as winning the pageant.

A few years following the pageant, she moved to the states to continue modeling and is now a ramp model for MSA models.

I still see her once in a while at her former mentor Jonas Gaffud’s events.  I actually invited her to The Beautiful Life Celebration, which is an annual commemorative event in recognition of remarkable Filipino-Americans in the U.S.

Janine also graced the cover of Harper’s Bazaar Vietnam last year and strutted in the high-end runways during the New York Fashion Week / Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. She opened and closed the show for an LA-based designer Erik Rosete.

She also modeled for Oscar De La Renta who closed the Australian Fashion Week this year.

According to her bio, Janine was born in Orion, Bataan in the Philippines. Aside from working as a model, she also did TV hosting in the Philippines.

Janine finished her Pharmacy degree with Latin honours (Cum Laude) at the Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Tomas in Manila and became a Licensed Pharmacist in June 2010.

She also attended the Ballet School of Manila as a ballet protégé while attending university. In 2010, Tugonon was titled Miss Pharmacy and Miss Thomasian Personality 2010 at the Gingoog City Colleges

When Janine won first runner-up to Olivia Culpo of the USA in Miss Universe 2012, she was the only Asian to place in the top 3.

During the final question and answer portion of the competition Tugonon was asked a question via Twitter and read by judge Nigel Barker: “As an international ambassador, do you believe that speaking English should be a prerequisite to being Miss Universe? Why or why not?”

To which our witty representative Janine Tugonon replied:

“For me, being Miss Universe is not just about knowing how to speak a specific language – it is being able to influence and inspire other people. So whatever language you have, as long your heart is to serve and you have a strong mind to show to people, then, you can be Miss Universe.”

The memory was so vivid. I was there when she spoke those words that swept the judges off their feet. I, on the other hand, had nothing but hope; admittedly, I expected her to win the crown.

When the Miss Universe 2012 was announced, I looked at Janine and all I saw was a promising future for this wonderful lady. True enough, I was right. Because even after that fateful night, she is again showing the whole universe that the secret to being recognized for your dedication is to press on (no matter what) and enjoy the ride.

To Janine, you’ve come a long way, dear. Keep on keeping on and stay as confident and wise as you are. You’ll always have my cheers and support.

* * *

Monet Lu is a Marikina-born, award-winning celebrity beauty stylist with his own chain of Monet Salon salons across Southern California and Las Vegas, Nevada. Ultimately, Monet is known as an all-around artiste who produces sold-out fashion and awards shows as well as unforgettable marketing campaigns. Monet is also the founder of the revolutionary all-natural beauty products such as Enlighten, your solution to discoloration. To contact Monet, please visit www.monetsalon.com or email him at monetsalon@aol.com

Monet Lu
Monet Lu

Monet Lu is a Marikina-born, award-winning celebrity beauty stylist with his own chain of Monet Salon salons across Southern California and Las Vegas, Nevada. Ultimately, Monet is known as an all-around artiste who produces sold-out fashion and awards shows as well as unforgettable marketing campaigns. Monet is also the founder of the revolutionary all-natural beauty products such as Enlighten, your solution to discoloration . To contact Monet, please visit www.monetsalon.com or email him at monetsalon@aol.com.

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