“Uy ang cute cute naman ng baby mo, mag-aartista yan paglaki.” (Your child is so cute; he will become an actor when he grows up.)

These are the exact same words I often hear when my son, Lulu was still a baby, but I often just shrug it off because I thought it was something next to impossible. Until one day while strolling around Mall of Asia, a guy approached us and introduced himself as an agent inviting Lulu for a VTR. After a thorough discussion with my family, we decided to give it a go since there’s nothing to lose anyway.

He was only 11 months old when he had his VTR file. I remember at that time, I had to carry him while the photographer takes his photos and video file while I introduce his name, age, gender, etc. I thought well that was easy – Lulu did a great job and didn’t have any tantrums. The camera just loved him. We bid goodbye to the agent and we were advised that we’ll hear from them once a project is matched and approved for him.

3 months went by when I suddenly got a message saying that Lulu was scheduled for a PRINT AD SHOOT FOR A REAL ESTATE. I was ecstatic! I never thought he will actually land a project. So that was the first time, my son who was 14 months old at that time got his very 1st paycheck. And the rest as they say is history.

Lulu did not only land several print ad projects after but he also joined and won several modelling contests like Robinsons Model Search, Mossimo Kids CastingCall and our favorite, Gingersnaps Model Search. I never had to buy him clothes during those years because winning these contests meant that he will be given monthly supplies of clothing for FREE. This is most certainly true with Gingersnaps, he was given Php 5,000 worth of clothing which is somehow equivalent to at least 10 pieces of clothes every month.

To say that everything went smoothly during his modelling years will be a lie. There was a time when we had to stop from accepting projects and this was when he was between 3 to 5 years old. He suddenly grew scared of seeing cameras and one time threw a tantrum in one of his shoots. This was the sign for me to stop until he’s ready to model again. If that time will come again was uncertain to me at that time but my son’s well-being is and will always be at utmost importance.

For those parents who are considering joining their children in the modelling industry, here are some tips and advice from me:

  • Evaluate your child if he is really comfortable working in front of the camera and with other people.
  • If your kid is acting out or throwing a tantrum during a shoot, do not create a scene especially in front of the clients; do not hurt your children to make them follow you ( I have personally witnessed some horror situations like this back stage and behind the scenes of some shoots.)
  • If you feel that your child is not interested in modelling anymore, do not push him; rather support him with his other interests.
  • You shouldn’t pay for VTR filing and DOLE permits – these are FREE and care of the agent/ client. (Department of Labor and Employment requires children below 15 years old to apply for a child working permit every time they have a project.)
  • Save your child’s professional fees/ talent fees; after all they are the one who worked for it, NOT YOU. Get him a savings account. (One of the requirements to secure a child’s working permit is a savings account under your child’s name. They check it every time you apply for a new project and make sure that his last project’s talent fee is deposited.)
  • Do not pressure your child; let him enjoy the experience

Lulu eventually returned to modelling when he was about 6 years old. He gained his confidence and self-esteem through the years of doing photoshoots and fashion shows. It taught him to become more responsible, committed and be professional.  It made him develop patience especially that not all shoots and fashion shows finish within the schedule – this is not just a virtue but a LIFE SKILL. At a very young age, he learned that not everything will be given to him but he has to work for it. He values hard work and the rewards and payments that came with it. He was able to learn how to save his hard-earned money. These among many others are some of the things he learned through the years of becoming a professional model.

Lulu at present – photo taken on his 11th birthday

Now that he is 11 years old and stands 5 feet 5 inches, he rarely gets projects nowadays because he is in that “in between stage “wherein he’s not considered a child anymore but not yet a full pledged teenager either. He currently enjoys being a part of his school chorale group and training basketball at the same time.

No one can really dictate what your child should become when he grows up; what we can only do as parents is to support and guide our children throughout his journey from childhood to adulthood.

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