Monday, August 3, 2009

Finding Bea

Finding Bea
by rick olivares

I don’t know Bea Soriano. All I know is that she’s studied in the Ateneo while doing modeling on the side. I know her older sister Charo a little better since she was a volleyball player for the blue and white for five years and I’ve written about her team’s exploits in their quest for athletic glory.

In case you’ve noticed, the Bea I know is Charo Soriano’s younger sister.

As I see her up close for the first time outside a magazine pictorial or a television advert she tells me that her full name is Maria Bianca Mae Soriano or simply “Bea” for short. I notice that she’s tall at 5’9” with long and silky jet-black hair perfect for those shampoo commercials where models like her throw their hair back while flashing those pearly whites.

Almost immediately, what’s maybe even more arresting are those deep and expressive brown eyes of hers. They’ve got that disarming doe look that alternate between probing eyes that speak plenty of her desire to learn to a look that constantly ruminates her place in the firmament. “Yes, I do like to lie down and think a lot,” she laughs as if caught in an unguarded moment. And those eyes light up.

With a more popular (for now) sibling in Charo, the inevitable question crops up – why didn’t you play volleyball too since you’re just as tall? Turns out that she played in high school with her sister while also seeing some time in the softball diamond. That confirms the presence of an athletic bone in her body.

“I played volleyball because it was my sister’s passion,” she admitted. “I tried whatever she was into like photography which is very interesting because it’s like looking at the world through different perspectives. I love volleyball too which sounds like a strange thing to say since I’m hardly visible at my sister’s matches. It’s not that I don’t support my sister or the Ateneo teams, but when I’m there, I get caught up and I’ll want to play. It brings out the competitive urge in me – I feel I can contribute and help. But I want to find my own passion.”

“As of now, I try to do everything while I still can.” she revealed. For quite some time she considered going to medical school before planning to go to the London School of the Arts where she plans to take up Cosmetic Science. “I thought that being a doctor would give me a chance to be a productive part of your community where I would be able to give back. However, my plan changed. Chalk it up to being young.”

“It’s best to adapt to change. I thought that it’s not something a lot of people in this country become. So I wanted to become a specialist if you can call it that.”

Yet even as she goes for further studies, she has no plans of hanging up her burgeoning career as a commercial talent (see KFC and Cream Silk among many others) and the catwalk.

She pictures in her mind the demands of two diverse and opposite careers and laughs, “You know me, I will always try. But right now being a Cosmetic Scientist is my goal.”

And true to her creed of trying to do as much as she can in her lifetime, she loves music and deejays every chance she can. “I’m not good at it yet, but I will be,” she coos playfully.

For now she’s a student and a part-time model who clearly knows her priorities. “My agent gives prospective clients my schedule at school so anything else I do has to be worked around classes.”

Growing up in a house under the watchful eye of her father, Police General Jefferson Soriano, there were rules but the children were given leeway to find themselves. “My parents – most especially my father – give us freedom to be ourselves. It’s hard to break that trust.”

When the opportunity to model came up (a scout gave her a business card inside a comfort room at the Power Plant in Rockwell), Bea mulled it over for two weeks before showing up for a VTR. She soon landed a spot in a Nescafe commercial – something she watches on youtube from time to time to pinch herself that its was for real never mind if she appeared for a few seconds only. She followed that up with some commercials for KFC and Del Monte and some runway modeling.

“For me, modeling helps me to be more focused on things,” she reveals. “When you’re on the ramp, you focus on doing what the director wants of you and presenting the designer’s clothes in the best possible way. You cannot think about the crowd or the photographers because then you become distracted. It’s an approach that helps me in my studies too.”

And the opportunity to earn money while in school has given her a new perspective on education and work.

“You can see what you can apply what you learn at work in what you learn school and vice versa,” she notes with pride. “It’s a jump start to life outside school. And it provides as good balance. Modeling taught me the value of hard work and the value of money. And it also taught me to make the most out of your life.”

Even as she has graduated from Ateneo with a degree in Psychology, in between modeling gigs, she busies herself by reading a lot of books and saving up to go back to school in London.

“I just have that thirst to learn more about life. As for school, deejaying, and modeling -- who says you can’t do all three at the same time? That’s the fun part of being young; you have the energy for that. And I guess we’re all going to find out how successful I’ll be at that.”

So that was Bea Soriano, full of promise and potential. And ready to conquer the world.

Oh, and she has an older sister named Charo.

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