Inside TCMI Fashion Academy, Philippines - NXUP
Produced by: Myrtle Ruaza
It was a humid 96 degrees in Marikina, Philippines, my producer and I were not looking forward to getting out the air-conditioned taxi. Mercifully, it was just a twenty feet walk from the curb to the glittering lobby of Trend Classic Models International Fashion Academy, Philippines. Nxup Magazine was fortunate to be invited to one of the school’s workshops.
The facility was modestly sized to house training floors, a photography studio, and hair and makeup work stations. Unbeknownst to my colleague and I, the word got out around quickly and the building was full of towering twelve to fifteen-year-old girls and boys with their chaperones, patiently waiting for a reporter from Los Angeles, California. The TCMI staff were hard put to telling the parents of the aspiring models to come back after the training session. Filipinos are very hospitable people and Filipino parents guard their children like a hawk, so we found ourselves cramped together trying to be cool with the air-condition and electric fans barely up-to-the-task in making us all comfortable.
Everyone’s passion was palpable, from the proud parents and wide-eyed teen models to the nurturing modeling directors and personality development coaches. I could not be bothered with the heat as I got lost in documenting the trainees; the young models weren’t complaining, they are the ones continuously perfecting their catwalk and three-point-play poses, why should I?
And then it hit me, these teen models are professionals; some of them may be are as young as twelve years old but they conduct themselves as adults on the job. I could easily see that the coaches are molding their students with the right attitude. No wonder, the staff’s pedigree are quite impressive: Jhay Layson, Founder and Creative director of TCMI, was a celebrity fashion stylist of A.S.A.P. of ABS CBN and Party Pilipinas of GMA 7, weekly Entertainment noon time shows. He was also the top stylist for MEGA Fashion Crew Season 2, a reality show on ETC Channel; Di Marasigan, Director and Head HMUA and model coach, was a Singapore-based international model. She was also the Head Hair and Makeup artist of Best Model Asia Pacific 2015-2016; Randy Escobar, Creative Director, was a Creative Director of Hundred Cutest Faces season series 1-6 Team Fashion Show on SM Malls; Lester Colico, Director, was Mr. Arellano University Runner-up 1995. He was a Keep on Dancing Variety Show dancer. He was also the male trainer for Hundred Cutest Faces season series 1-6.
TCMI caters to 2-28 years old. The goal is to establish at least one satellite school in the three major islands of the Philippines – Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. At the time of this report, TCMI was in negotiation in opening a school in Cebu, a city in Visayas. The concept is to train professional runway and commercial models and pageant contestants. But the basic goal is to give the students confidence.
“We believe in ACT; first, it’s Acceptance of yourselves which will lead to Confidence and then a student will be Trainable,” Randy commented. “It is true that it is important to consider the student’s physical aspect first, but what’s important is to have the right attitude,” Di added. The coaches and directors lead the trainees in their warm-up walk and mantra: “I am beautiful” and “I am a model.”
It was noticeable that a TCMI workshop is cultivating both the body and mind. “Students need to have the right mindset, they need to understand the training and they need to listen…one instruction fits all…and it need not be repetitive. If he can’t get it, he won’t make it.” Lester said with a serious tone.
But nurturing its students is one of TCMI’s objectives. Jhay Layson put together studios for photography, fashion design, modeling, and hair and makeup under one roof, a first in the Philippines for a modeling school. “Its all in here, so the students have everything within arms-reach.” He said.
TCMI is also partnering with the city of Marikina, the Shoe Capital of the Philippines, wherein established clans of cobblers reside since the time of the Spanish colonization of the country. “We want to rejuvenate the designs that are coming out of Marikina. We, here in TCMI, are a group a fashion stylists and directors and I think we can collaborate with the shoe designers of Marikina and put it back in the limelight.” Jhay said with hope regarding the declining competitiveness of the shoe designers of Marikina.
The stylish fashion academy came from a humble beginning. “We didn’t have an office. We trained students in the local sports arena.” Randy reminisced during dinner at a local restaurant; TCMI’s building just opened last March 5th of 2016. “What counts is the attitude that we are trying to cultivate, we want our boys and girls to have the confidence no matter where they are.” Di added. “In my thinking, the world is your arena and the road you take is your runway.” Jhay chimed in.
TCMI maybe just starting but I could see that they are ready to take on the Philippines and reinvent its modeling industry. Its their runway after all.
(R.G. Gallardo is the blogger of RG Los Angeles Stories, author of the young adult fiction Survivors and Survivors Part II: After the Pandemic, and founder of the non-profit organization Filipino Educators of Tomorrow whose mission is to empower innovative and visionary future Filipino teachers www.facebook.com/
Myrtle Ruaza is a freelance hair and makeup artist and coordinator of Filipino Educators of Tomorrow in Manila, Philippines.)