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BEGINNINGS: Tina Santos-Wahl remembers “Auring”



TINA models an Aguinaldo Pearl-studded cocktail dress designed by Aureo Alonzo. PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF TINA SANTOS-WAHL


I started modeling for the Aguinaldo Department Store teen fashion shows in 1963, when I was 14. This was followed by luncheon shows with Madonna’s. I was with Joji Felix-Velarde and Chona Kasten.

My first show with Aureo was with Tita Conching Sunico for Beautifont in 1966. I was 16 then and so excited to meet Aureo. It was a huge success at the Fiesta Pavilion. I modeled with Toni Serrano, Perlita Portillo, Trina Yujuico, Tita Sison, to name a few. This also was thrilling because it served as Tita Conching’s basis for her choices for the Karilagan ‘67 models.

I was one of six models for Tita Conching’s ‘Giting Kayumanggi 1967.’ This was held at the Hong Kong Hilton. The couturiers were Aureo, Pitoy Moreno, Mimi Abad, Ben Farrales, Ernie Arandia, Edgar Ramirez — all members of the Philippine Couture Association.

We went with a group of Bayanihan dancers and we stayed in Hong Kong for one month. My co-models were Trina Yujuico, Tita Sison, Tina Artillaga, Toni Serrano and Marilyn Recio. One of the hits of the show was an A-line dress I modeled for Aureo. It had blue Osmena pearls all throughout the dress. I could not sit down once I had it on!

Aureo never told us how to show off his clothes. They were so beautiful, all I had to do was walk with confidence and a bit of a swagger; the clothes spoke for themselves.

Aureo always called me bongga. His infectious giggle and shyness were the traits which were endearing to me. I modeled for the top designers including Pitoy, Ramoning, Mang Ben and all the designers of Pacifica 67 and 68 fashion shows but the minute “Auring” called, I went running.

As told to Jojo G. Silvestre