Top Filipina model Grendel Alvarado shares about her Bacolod roots a her fond memories of her hometown, and how her life changed after winning a m and modeling contest
After winning The Philippines' Next Top Model (PNTM) contest back in 2007, Bacolod-born beauty Grendel Alvarado has been unstoppable ever since. After all, PNTM is the local spinoff of the widely popular America's Next Top Model, a show produced and hosted by supermodel Tyra Banks, where aspiring models from all over the US are trained and made over as they compete for a prestigious spot in the fashion industry. And when one's name is put under the "Next Top," category, the pressure of the spotlight will be inevitable as people expect nothing but great things from that person. But for Grendel, being on the watchlist of rising models is only the beginning as she's set to conquer bigger and better projects in the world of fashion. She chats with Urban Living about growing up in Bacolod, the challenges she's faced in modeling, and the lessons she's learned along the way.
Can you tell us about your roots in Bacolod?
I'm from Bacolod city; the city of smiles, the land of the sugar cane, and the land of sweets. My family stays in Bacolod. I'm the only one that lives in Manila, independently for six or seven years now. We're known for the best Chicken Inasal. And we're also known for the sweetest and yummiest desserts, so we're really known for our desserts. When I'm in Bacolod, there are a lot of things to do there. You're very near the beach, it's just an hour away. You can go to Sipalay, which is a white beach resort and there are also lots of dive spots there. For me, it's like a mini Boracay. It's just a small stretch of white sand beach, but there are so many resorts there and a lot of the people that go there are mostly foreigners because it's very relaxing, very quiet, there's not a lot of people. If you want to have a private getaway you can take a boat to the nearby island and then go snorkeling or diving. There are a lot of dive spots there like ship wrecks that you can go and see. There's also Lakawon, it's smaller than Sipalay. I have friends that go there for windsurfing because of how constant the wind is, it doesn't fluctuate. There are lots of places to go, like restaurants and bars. There's this place called Art District and when I'm in Bacolod, I'm always there because I have friends who own bars and restos. Art District is like one big development that has bars and restaurants, it's the go-to place at night. There's a place where you can just listen to live music, and go to a place where you can have different types of cuisines like Spanish, Italian, and Asian fusion. It's a really nice place; it has different art designs on the walls from local artists. Very artsy-fartsy!
What do you miss about your hometown?
I miss the laid-back vibe. It's very relaxing. The time moves slowly compared to when you're here in the city. You're waiting for the time to move, it's very laid-back. There's so much free time, you can do whatever you like—go to the beach, rent a bike, eat, etc. I miss biking up the mountain.
How did you start as a model?
I moved to Manila in 2006 and started doing a few shows here and there, nothing major yet. But I was introduced by [model] Ria [Bolivar] to runway director Robby Carmona. So I was able to join some of the major shows before I joined Philippines' Next Top Model in 2007. The kickstart of my career was really because of PNTM, and I won it. So after that I was able to meet more people and I was included in every single show that was led by major directors like Jackie Aquino, Joey Espino, Ariel Lozada… and that was the start of it.
What were the challenges did you experience while you were in PNTM?
I guess the challenge was being able to stand out amongst 15 other girls because everyone is different and unique. The other girls had their own special qualities, like some of the girls were really good at photo shoots and some of the girls were good at doing commercials. During the first few episodes I wasn't really noticed. So I had to show progress as the show went on. And it was difficult, in a way, because you're friends with [the other girls] and at the same time you're competing with them. That was the obstacle, I guess.
What did you learn from the show?
Well I've learned to be very competitive, though not with other people but rather with myself. Because if I compete with others I'm always going to be at the risk of failure, but if I compete with myself I'm
always going to put myself at a higher standard.
Aside from being part of a lot of major shows, how has your life changed after winning?
After winning, I made a lot of friends and people notice me [in public], in a way. Also I was able to get a lot of projects and I was able to travel abroad without having to pay a single penny. Most of my travels from the time I won up to today were mainly for modeling. It really has opened me to different opportunities in terms of modeling and other fields of this industry. What projects are you doing at the moment? Right now, I'm working for a real estate company— marketing Trump Tower Manila. Aside from that I'm also modeling— I've been doing a lot of shoots and runways. I'm actually waiting for this one project; it's one of the biggest, I think, for this year. I'm going to be on the cover shoot of an international magazine. Although it's a men's magazine, I, of course, don't plan to go nude though. It's not going to be [ published] here in the Philippines, but in Europe.
Can you tell us about your beauty and fitness regimen?
Mainly I do circuit training so I do different routines as much as I can in a certain time. Considering my work schedule is a bit hectic at the moment, I still squeeze in thirty minutes to an hour a day. I also maintain a vegan and vegetarian diet. I used to be strictly vegan but now I am experimenting on the things I've been eating and seeing on how it affects my body. I'm very particular with the things that I eat. I eat organic and a lot of fruits and vegetables. I'm a believer of the organic lifestyle.