CHINITOS have a mysterious power in their eyes that easily catches girls’ attention. This is what Yeng Constantino’s song “Chinito” describes in romantic detail.
But 22-year-old model and TV personality Richard Juan is a tad different from the cookie-cutter chinito. Smart, polite and charm- ing, he is more than just about looks; he has character, person- ality and innate talent.
Now that he has made a mark in fashion and show biz, he is definitely on the road to carving a big name for himself.
Not his Plan A
“Believe it or not, but model- ing was something I never thought I’d be doing,” Richard admits.
Growing up in a very traditional Chinese family, he thought his future was set in stone: grad- uate with a good degree, get a corporate job and then start a business.
When he was still in school, however, Richard tested the waters of modeling, first on campus event posters. Who would have thought that doing something for sheer fun would turn out to be a career where he would dis- cover his true potential?
From campaign shoots to fashion editorials and fashion shows, Richard slowly walked his way into the industry.
“My most memorable experi- ence was my first-ever fashion show for Philippine Fashion Week,” he recalls. “It was my first time to do something live with hundreds of people watching.”
Before that, Richard used to appear in fashion shoots that al- ways allowed for another cam- era shot in case the photogra- pher felt it was needed.
But with ramp modeling, he knew that there was no room for a Take 2. “I still remember being nervous backstage with other models who have been doing this for years,” he says. “I felt so intimidated but, at the same time, it helped build my confidence.”
Hong Kong may be most Filipinos’ top-of-mind choice for a quick getaway but, for Richard, it is the home where he spent his childhood years. He says that life in Hong Kong is very different from the Philip- pines.
“Hong Kong is tiny… There are many places to explore in the Philippines but, in Hong Kong, you run out of places to go to because it’s just a city after all.”
Hong Kong’s cool weather, he adds, is different from the Philippines which is known for extremely dry and wet seasons.
But the biggest challenge that Richard encountered in moving to the Philippines was breaking the language barrier. “I didn’t speak a single word of Tagalog,” he recounts. “I could not under- stand what the people were saying.”
The ‘Isko’ experience
Entering the University of the Philippines (UP) for the first time only added to the confusion of getting lost in translation. During his first few semesters, Richard had to explain to his professors that he could not speak Tagalog and might have a hard time keeping up.
“Some thought I was being maarte, but most of them were really understanding,” he says. But his willingness to adapt pushed him to learn Tagalog and experience the life of an “Iskolar ng Bayan.”
One experience was—much to his surprise—walking under the scorching heat of the sun as he crossed from one building to an- other in the sprawling Diliman campus.
Now on his fourth year, Richard has grown into an “Isko” himself, loving and appreciating many experiences that college life in UP can offer. What he likes most about his school is that he gets to meet all sorts of people from different provinces, socio- economic classes, gender orientations and the like.
Each student has a unique and interesting story to tell.
“In class discussions, the stu- dents are very vocal… You get to hear different perspectives from different people,” Richard says. “I personally enjoy these intel- lectual discussions because they help you understand the world.”
No time wasted
But balancing school and work is no mean feat, more so now that Richard is almost grad- uating and his career is taking flight. To make things work, he sets strict deadlines for himself and follows everything to the letter.
“What I do is I plan my day to the hour. If you look at my plan- ner you’ll see that my week is planned ahead,” he says. “For ex- ample, if I do not have a shoot or a taping today, that’s when I will do my thesis and, if I feel like I can squeeze in gym time, I’ll squeeze it in.”
“I hate wasting other people’s time, and I also hate people wasting my time,” he says. In- stead of mindlessly surfing the Internet and watching videos on- line, he would much rather do something productive.
“Learn a new language, learn a new skill. Don’t just sit and bum around doing stuff that won’t help you grow as a per- son!” Richard declares.
Recently he has been reading a lot of books on accounting. Yet he still enjoys hanging out with his friends and playing football with them.
Young and free
Blessed with good looks and having learned the virtue of hu- mility, Richard can surely steer his life and career to whatever direction he chooses. “My plans always change because they de- pend on the opportunities given to me,” he says.
He’s looking forward to at- tending acting workshops that could potentially land him chal- lenging roles on TV and film. “[Acting] is something I’d want to do besides modeling and host- ing. I want it and I will work for it, but it’s also something I don’t exactly think I can really plan for,” Richard muses.
For now, the biggest role he’s added to his long list of creden- tials is being SM Youth’s newest brand ambassador. “What I love most about the brand is it epito- mizes what it’s like to be young,” Richard says. “SM Youth is not just selling T-shirts, pants and shorts; it promotes a lifestyle.”
For Richard, youth is about having fun, enjoying life and exploring this beautiful world. Doesn’t matter if you’re 13 or 40 years old, because youth is a state of mind.
As the keen adventurer that he has always been, Richard knows for a fact that the world is his oyster and nothing will stop him from chasing after what he really wants—whether it be a new travel adventure or a new life goal.
Photography Toff Tiozon
Styling Luis Carlo San Juan
Grooming Justine del Rosario
Hairstyle Ethan David
Shot on location CROWN TOWERS, CITY OF DREAMS SPECIAL THANKS TO CHARISSE CHUIDIAN