By Diana Cavagnaro
Have you ever wondered what being a fashion model entails? I had the opportunity to interview Emilia Espino-Rapinan, who had a successful modeling career for 27 years. She began her line of work when she was only 18 years old. It all started in Manila in the Philippines when she tried out for the ASEAN Model Search in 1993. Coming from a very conservative family, she felt uneasy about the requirement to wear the one-piece speedo swimsuit. Her decision to be brave and wear it enabled her to get into the pageant.
Calcarries International Models Philippines, the top modeling agency, offered her a contract. Espino-Rapinan modeled with them for over a decade, and her contract was always automatically renewed. At the time, it was difficult for Asian people to break into international fashion. She managed to land modeling jobs in Malaysia, Hong Kong and finally Singapore, which is considered an international market. After Singapore, her bookings flooded, and her career skyrocketed.
She did print work and TV while learning to master the runway. During this time, Espino-Rapinan realized that there was so much more to having a career in modeling. Modeling can bring drugs, alcohol and material things, so she felt it was important to use this profession as a platform. Resolving to be a role model, she decided to not go to parties, sleep eight hours every night and pay special attention to her diet.
Espino-Rapinan is very disciplined and starts out the day at 5:30 a.m. by feeding her soul with 30 minutes of devotion. Then at 6:30 p.m. she trains her body with a one-hour work out. Her exercise programs change constantly from stretching to running marathons to kickboxing. She cooks three meals each day and works at having 80% super foods in her diet and giving herself 20% discretion to indulge herself. She said, “If we are healthy, we are wealthy.”
Her biggest critic is herself. She often filmed herself to see her performance through the eyes of the audience. This allowed her to identify what she could improve. She now enjoys sharing information with models and training them how to stand out. She believes if you want to stand out and be successful in this field it is important to put in a lot of time in education, training and discipline. It is a 24-hour lifestyle.
She met her husband Cyrus F. Rapinan, who worked in fashion TV and sports event planning in Manila. They have now been in San Diego for 18 years. Here in San Diego, she went to an open call with San Diego Model Management. Fred Sweet and Linda Comer signed her up on the spot, and she has now worked with them for 14 years. She is petite at only 5’7. To accent her height, she learned to wear very high heels and fashion her hair high on her head.
Currently she is working as a model, wife and mother of three children and concurrently running a business with her husband in commercial real estate. After 27 years in the modeling business, I asked her, ‘What is next?’ She said, “Keep improving myself. You are only as good as your last performance.”
To get in touch with Espino-Rapinan, contact Fred Sweet at San Diego Model Management or go to her Instagram account @ecatwalk.
— Diana Cavagnaro is an internationally renowned Couture Milliner based in Alpine, California. Learn more about our Hat Designer, Teacher & Blogger at www.DianaCavagnaro.com