Amanda Griffin,Cher Calvin,Daphne Osena Paez and Angel Aquino with Fashion Stylist Millet Arzaga and photographer Jake Versoza during shoot at the Sofitel hotel in Pasay. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/JIM GUIAO PUNZALAN
I’m not going to host with these two, mga Inglisera ’no (they’re English-speaking)—no way!” Model-turned-actress Angel Aquino was reported to have said this as she was being cast on the lifestyle TV show, “F.”
The show’s sample script had required plenty of bantering with co-hosts Daphne Oseña and Cher Calvin, whose flawless English came with growing up in Canada and the US, respectively, and working in the broadcast industry. But Aquino, a journalism graduate of UP Baguio, need not have worried at all about measuring up to them.
The “F” girls would have natural rapport, and the team-up clicked with audiences. The now-defunct show pioneered in the genre when it debuted in 1999. It made household names of the cast, which would later include model Amanda Griffin when Calvin joined a US news network.
Inquirer Lifestyle got exclusive access to the recent reunion fashion shoot of Aquino, Oseña, Calvin and Griffin. (The “F” girls got together again when Calvin flew in for a family affair.) It was a milestone—all four have never been together, because “F” had only three hosts at a time.
Held at Hotel Sofitel Philippine Plaza, the shoot called for the latest collection of South Sea pearls from Jewelmer and glamorous threads from fashion designers Joey Samson, Louis Claparols and Hindy Weber-Tantoco.
Every bit a mannequin
Aquino, whose closet staples are marked by comfort over style, looked every bit a mannequin when she stepped into Samson’s edgy lace-and-striped-canvas ensemble. Yet, when asked if she still accepted modeling gigs, the 39-year-old mother of two mimicked a look of horror and said: “Do I really want to be walking alongside those skinny, very tall models? They’re half of me!”
Being less active on the ramp has not deterred Aquino from pursuing a healthy lifestyle, though. The tight schedule of her TV projects doesn’t allow much gym time, but Aquino compensates by doing plenty of walking. She has been on a beef- and pork-free diet since 1997.
Her gauge of weight gain or loss is the fit of her jeans. She said she cuts down on food when the pants become tight. “I don’t like anything staying too long in my body, and feeling too heavy,” she said.
Aquino believes it’s just common sense to eat more veggies, keep hydrated, sleep early, train yourself not to gorge on food, and not be idle.
Aquino’s career did not take a sluggish turn when “F” wrapped up.
The actress could be seen on TV soaps as well, recently starring in the Pinoy adaptation of Spanish telenovela “Maria la del Barrio.”
She has also worked with indie filmmakers such as Mark Meily (“Crying Ladies,” 2003), Adolf Alix (“Donsol” and “Kadin”), and Brillante Mendoza (“Kaleldo”), whose latest project with the actress is “Captive,” an entry in the 62nd Berlin Film Festival which also stars French actress Isabelle Huppert.
“Indie films are really popular and a lot of people just want to tell their story but… sometimes they (filmmakers) think an edgy story is good enough to be indie,” said Aquino. “For me indie is not at all that simple. It can be the simplest story but it’s the execution that gives it an indie flavor, that’s why I really choose my material.”
Her career role model? “Daphne,” she said without hesitation.
“I’ve seen how she has packaged herself and made a brand out of her name,” Aquino said of her former co-host.
“I don’t know if I could ever do what she has done, but I hope to also be successful doing something outside the [entertainment] business, or creating something of my own.”
Daphne Oseña-Paez, 42, had not imagined becoming the celebrity-entrepreneur she is today. It was not even a career path she had imagined in her youth.
After taking up Urban Studies and Fine Arts at the University of Toronto in Canada, she went to the Philippines to start a career, although with a deadline looming over her head. Her parents told her to come back if the success she was seeking in Manila didn’t materialize in a year.
“But I was falling in love with (broadcast journalist) Patrick (Paez),” she said, referring to the man she would eventually marry and with whom she would have three kids.
At the time, Patrick was a management-level director and in a position to green-light shows in ABS-CBN. He proposed to make a show for his future wife.
“F” not only gave Daphne a reason to stay in the country, it also became a launchpad for endeavors that would benefit from her writing, producing and design skills. When the program went off the air, she created her own weekly show, “Urban Zone,” about homes and interior design, which was right up her alley.
To cut production costs, Paez eventually turned to the Internet, where “Urban Zone” is presented as a series of webisodes. The online medium, she discovered, also served her well in developing a lifestyle brand.
“It all happened organically,” said Paez, whose venture into product design started with bed linens.
She admires Cebuano furniture designer Kenneth Cobonpue, and hopes to emulate how he has taken care of the creative and brand-building aspects of his business. “Being a furniture designer isn’t just being a furniture designer; you have to establish a brand,” said Paez.
Daphne, the brand, now consists of a collection of linens; a line of furniture, including whimsical chairs which were featured in Vogue Italia; faith- and vintage-inspired jewelry; and her latest collaborative effort, home scents for Bench.
“When I put all the products together I realized they represent one look, an Old World charm, so I revamped my blog (Daphne.ph) to have the same characteristic,” said Paez, who still considers herself “traditional media” because of her on-the-job training in broadcasting.
“With the digital age, everybody can self-publish, so the edge [of being trained as a journalist] is that you’re not just ranting and raving. There’s still discipline.”
When she’s not occupied with building her brand, Paez co-hosts the TV5 talk show, “Cocktales,” with Vic Agustin.
Her own lifestyle involves moderation, such as eating healthy—despite being around her children who happen to love fried chicken—and doing exercises, such as running and Barre 3.
Among her goals for the brand, Paez said, “is to one day be in a place where it doesn’t matter where you live and you’re able to have business.
“I have two worlds… I have a family in Canada and I have a home here, so I always feel so split,” explained Paez. “If I could dream big I would love to have a global brand. Globally, designers are all about collaborations, so I hope it’s not done to death because I hope to have a chance at it.”
Cher Calvin believes luck had landed her a job at KTLA. After seven years in the Los Angeles news network, she has proven her mettle.
In 2005, she won an Emmy for co-anchoring the “KTLA Morning Show,” and took home three Golden Mike Awards, Southern California’s prestigious prize for excellence in broadcast journalism.
Calvin, now a primetime anchor and the only one with Filipino heritage on the evening news in LA, talked about being a single, career-oriented woman without a tinge of regret.
“I’ve just been focused on my career ever since I left ‘F,’ trying to make sure that I hone my craft,” she said.
“I’m really happy where I am. The network has been very loyal to me, which I respect. It’s like a family where we work. There’s so much support.”
Calvin believes she is in a position to make a difference, especially with the upcoming US elections. “This is the time to really just try to get the truth out—that’s our creed [as media men], to deliver the truth behind everything and make sure people are informed,” she said.
Diane Sawyer is one of the people she looks up to in the industry. The veteran news anchor, said Calvin, “is one of the smoothest women on television, calm, collected, elegant, excellent at what she does.”
With rarely any downtime, Calvin tries to cope with stress by working out and running, going to the spa, or doing all three activities if time permits.
Calvin’s style staples are dresses. “Throw them on and you’ll look put-together,” she said.
Her clothing sponsor in LA, Black Halo, has been satisfying her sartorial obsession with outfits that can be worn from day to night.
Unlike with fashion, Calvin said she has had to apply a little more self-control when it comes to food. It could be quite a struggle, she said, considering her parents hail from Bulacan and Pampanga, provinces easily associated with good food.
“I try not to binge because it’s hard at this age to keep the weight off… although, I did have crispy pata and aligue,” she said, confessing the previous night’s indulgence with a sheepish grin.
Calvin clearly has a healthy sense of humor. Upon entering the prep room in Sofitel, clad in a corporate-casual shift that hugged her curves, she was the perfect image of a tough anchorwoman—until she expressed her urge for chocolate.
During the interview, she showed us a video of her puppy, and laughed with gusto at the part where the little dog whined, barked at and attempted to attack its reflection in the mirror. In the shoot, Calvin would stretch her arms forward (“Who has arms this big?”), poke fun at her lack of model-training, and ask the other “F” girls to help her strike a good pose.
It seems the dedicated career woman can be a goofball, too.
Amanda Griffin-Jacob has taken on a lifestyle she could not have imagined for herself back in the “F” days.
“I used to smoke and drink before I was married, which is all part of youth,” said the model and TV host. She claims to have come full circle, having embraced motherhood and the holistic lifestyle.
The vegan diet, Jacob said, was something she had stumbled on inadvertently, when Peta sent her the book “101 Reasons Why I’m Vegetarian.” She ended up pursuing the diet through her pregnancy.
Jacob eased herself and her family, including two-year-old firstborn Kieran, into the holistic lifestyle. They use natural, paraben-free products for skin and hair, and young Kieran is vegan as well.
What began with a diet overhaul has led the svelte mom to the raw food movement, which led her to raw food preparation classes at Dahon Kusina in Manila and Rawthentic Food in HK.
As a newlywed, Jacob shuttled between Manila and HK for work and husband David, whose insurance job is in HK, but at one point she decided to focus on married life and starting a family. “I didn’t want a long-distance relationship,” she said.
The downshift in lifestyle allowed Jacob to enjoy her pregnancy and motherhood, and her passion for the latter is manifested in Glam-o-Mamas (glamomamas.com), a comprehensive website dedicated to motherhood, raising children, and everything else in between, from behavioral problems to top trends, health and fitness for moms.
Her focus on family has not waned, but Jacob said she has maintained varied interests to keep herself inspired and productive. “I believe you can’t just lose yourself in one thing,” she said.
“It happens to a lot of moms. We all love our kids so much, but I think it makes you a better person and mother when you’re well-rounded, and feel contented and fulfilled.”
Jacob is what one might call a multi-hyphenate: mother, blogger and magazine writer, website facilitator, model, skincare endorser, and host. Her latest weekly TV project is “The Amanda Show, Loving Life,” a lifestyle program geared toward motherhood.
Jacob hopes that any further career progress would be related to her website. “I’m CEO of the company, so I’m looking into ways I could [explore its potential], such as the book direction, or an editorial magazine. The possibilities are endless.”
Just like her “F” girl friends, Jacob has finally come into her own.