L-R MEGA’s Associate Creative Director Mica Santos, photographer Danilo Hess, Deputy Editor Meryll Yan, hairstylist Raymond Santiago, makeup artist Robbie Piñera, model Vanessa Matsunaga, Anne Curtis, EIC Sari Yap, TV100 Head Mike Carandang and makeup artist Mickey SeeFOR A TRIP OF SUCH GRAND AMBITION, OUR INITIAL RENDEZVOUS POINT WAS HUMBLE IN STATURE—THE ORIGINAL AND GRAVELY IN NEED OF REFURBISHING NAIA The scene outside was common enough. A rowdy and emotional throng of well-wishers sending off family members as obstructing the main gate and inside, long queues of departing passengers, mostly would-be overseas workers,bearing life and luggage towards a hopefully better life abroad, were already fastidiously waiting to check in. A pre-prod was impossible as in the days leading up to the trip, the MEGA team was inundated with daily meetings, sewing of a new collection (as was the case with our fashion editor Patrick Galang) and tapings for last month’s Mystique film series. Our very own cover star, Anne Curtis had only flown back from a two-week trip around the US for a TVC shoot and concert, having arrived back in Manila merely a few hours before our meet-up time of 10pm. The vision was simple in theory but difficult in execution: One Community. One World. It is our anthem to how all of us, regardless of birthplace or ancestry, are more importantly being defined as world citizens and how varied culture are being embraced with open arms—best demonstrated by the outstretched arms of Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Kristo Redentor or Christ the Redeemer. However way you coin it, the term ‘One Community’ can be daunting. And yet through these words we found clarity. The destination was South America: land of the beautiful, the ancient and maybe, next to Filipinos, home to some of the friendliest people in the world. Brazil is a rising star in world affairs, having recently hosted the well-publicized World Youth Day and merited a visit from Pope Francis and will be the stage for next year’s World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. Peru, on the other hand, is all about the old world, and bearing a noticeable resemblance to the Philippines with its gigantic Catholic Churches, Spanish architecture and town plazas. Within the team alone, our roots traced all across the globe—the southern hemisphere that is Australia, the global capital 8505 miles opposite us New York, eternal summer and model-manufacturer Brazil, palm treed Los Angeles, conquistador Spain, tropical Manila and urban Hongkong. Among the very diverse ancestries, our common denominator was a link to the Philippines. For most of us, it was Filipino blood and for some of us, it simply is the place we love and call home. At the center of this melting pot was, no doubt, our cover star, Anne Curtis. Every year, the MEGA team holds up an imaginary finger up to the sky, divining which star merits pride of place as the face of the biggest issue of the year. It did not take much to come up with the unanimous decision of Anne. We knew immediately as soon as Anne arrived at NAIA. Alone, but carrying enough star wattage to light up the fluorescent inside the airport, we meet her for the first time as a bespectacled young lady, dressed simply and comfortably in black track pants for the long-haul flights ahead, pushing her own Rimowa and Tumi wheelies. Even if she was devoid of an entourage, the formerly quiet lines of would-be fliers notice in the energy and, turning into one multi-headed collective, suddenly swarms toward her direction. Everyone from airport employees to Filipino construction workers headed to Oman try to stop her for a photo and throughout it all, Anne, bare-faced and beautiful, smiles good-naturedly, greeting each one with genuine grace and leaving with a pert, “Salamat po!” If in fairy tale-speak, there is “a land far, far away,” we imagine that in the real world map its equivalent might be South America. The flight path was an aerophobic’s nightmare (thankfully, all of us were the opposite), taking us from Manila to Abu Dhabi and Abu Dhabi to Sao Paulo, Brazil. It would take us, the Manila contingent, 36 hours to arrive at our destination, albeit made much more comfortable by Etihad Airways, our carrier, and a well-heeled layover in their exclusive First Class lounge in Abu Dhabi. (For a more detailed description of our luxe experience in the sky, see Luxury In The Sky) In this particular lounge, we met one of the first few friends we would make in this trip. Evert, the resident manager of the Etihad lounge in this desert city, rolled out the red carpet for the team—making arrangements for the team’s comfort, ensuring we were well fed, given a massage, and that when it came time to board, there would be an escort to ensure Anne’s privacy. Throughout this trip, wherever Anne would go, especially, in Abu Dhabi, Filipinos would madly rush after her. And yet we knew we had a real star in our presence when in the middle of the Christ the Redeemer plaza, with a Babel of nationalities all seeking a spot to best capture selfies in front of the statue, even a gang of soccer boys on tour from Louisiana wanted to have their photo taken with her.
Read the full story on the September Issue of MEGA Magazine, out now!