Janine Tugonon : From being an almost Miss Universe to a successful supermodel

04 Apr 2020 | Angelique Reyes

Janine Mari Raymundo Tugonon from Philippines is a fashion model, television presenter and a beauty pageant title holder. She was supposed to follow a straight path where at the age of 20, she’d go into a medical field like her grandmother, mother and aunt before her. But while studying for Pharmacy from the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, Janine started to develop interest for modelling and beauty pageants. Along with some of her friends, she took parts in school level competitions and she started winning national competitions. She completed her education and became a Licensed Pharmacist in 2010.

Janine’s love for pageantry grew and she decided to participate in Binibining Pilipinas 2011 pageant where she was adjudged the title as 1st runner-up by the end of the event finale. Shamcey Supsup who was Janine’s roommate during the competition was declared as the winner of the title. This little defeat wasn’t going to stop Janine from trying to represent Philippines at Miss Universe stage. She again participated in Binibining Pilipinas 2012 pageant and this time she won the title of Miss Universe Philippines 2012. She finally gained her right to represent her country at Miss Universe stage.



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The diva competed in Miss Universe 2012 on 19th December 2012 at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, United States where she finished 1st runner-up losing the crown to Olivia Culpo of the USA. Tugonon was the only Asian to place in the Top 5. Philippines placed in the Top 5 for the third consecutive year.

After her reign as Miss Universe Philippines, Janine went to the US to try her luck in modelling. She lived in California, before moving to New York last year. She was recently in the headlines for scoring an advertisement for Victoria's Secret Pink and a calendar modelling gig with Nu Muses. "Being in this calendar is a huge opportunity to showcase my beauty and personality, a great exposure for me and hopefully will be the beginning of a long-lasting successful career in this field I'm very passionate about. Hope I'll be given the chance," she wrote.



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The diva who left Philippines to try her luck in the Hollywood as an actress is flourishing as someone who shows immense dedication and determination towards her career. On asking about what inspired her to be an actress, Janine replied that being an actress has always been in there somewhere but it took some time for her to realise that she wants to be an actress. She mentioned, “When I moved to the U.S. in 2013, that was the first time I ever did acting, even just going in front of people and doing a script. So, then I studied, and I really loved it. I wouldn't say there was one particular person who inspired me; it was just me watching a movie and doing what they were doing that stuck in my head, like, that’s really cool and challenging, and I want to do it someday."

The diva also mentioned that she has faced some criticism for being Asian in a North American country. The brands had stereotyped the Asian beauty with dark skin tones but got used to Asian with lighter skin tones after a while. She hopes that Asian beauties would get more opportunities outside their country and would not be discriminated since they don’t belong there.  Janine started taking acting classes in LA and shared that it is a lot of pressure especially when you don't have an American accent, your roles are limited. The casting directors will just be like, 'Okay, it's going to be hard to cast her for this.' Instead of having a huge amount of auditions you can go to, it's limited to a few."



?? @shaunguckian

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Janine explained that she will always keep the identity of Filipina and try to make a difference where ever she participates. "The biggest challenge in the beginning was being able to stay here, because it's always been hard to just move here, especially if you're coming from the Philippines. It's not easy, with all the immigration laws and everything”, she explained.

On asking about what advise she’d like to give herself five years ago, Janine stated, “I would say don't waste your youth. Don't waste it! Start doing what you think you want to do.” And once you've found what you really want, don't waste time start working, start training, start doing everything you can.



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Janine also answered why she thought she was a timeless beauty: "I consider myself a timeless beauty because of the kindness, the confidence, the strong personality, mindset and perspectives I have inside of me. My aura is reflected by what's within me. And that is timeless, the complete package (mind, face, personality) I can give and show from the inside."

Janine has made a name for herself in the world of pageantry as well as supermodel. She walked multiple fashion shows across America. Two of her biggest endorsements are Wells Fargo and Walmart. She is taking on acting classes to learn acting and working as a model simultaneously.

Leaving behind the recognition and job security she had in a pageant-loving culture was a big risk for Tugonon, but she also had to contend with the even greater challenge of breaking into two fields in which Asian representation is still lacking. She has not only made Philippines proud but every girl who aspires to be something different from what society has asked her to be proud. Leaving the comfort of the house and settling down in a foreign country, facing criticism and fighting back to acquire her space in the industry is what Janine Mari Raymundo Tugonon taught everyone.

We wish her all the best for her future and hope to see her on-stage very soon.