Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Unexpected Visitor

Eugene Silva was born and raised in Tanauan, Batangas, the youngest of five siblings in an upper middle-class family. He went to the Philippine Science High School and then U.P., where he intended to major in applied physics. Eugene is around 5'9, with dark sad eyes, a small birthmark on his nape, and wavy hair half covering his ears. He's six years younger than I am and he has this serious look on his face, but he's really a humorous guy who always takes time to talk to everyone he encounters.

I first met Eugene when I was working at Runway Productions, an events management company filled with hot biracial women. "This is f*cking brilliant – why on earth didn't I do this before," he whispered in my ear while taking photos of Michiko, a gorgeous half-Japanese model he was attracted to. I used to supply Mich with weed and hash. She grew up in Boston and was a funny lap dancer, but that's another story.

Although the idea of becoming a physicist interested him, Eugene had always secretly wanted to become an actor. At the age of 19, after dropping out of college, he took acting lessons at a prominent studio in Quezon City. He worked at Starbucks to support himself since his parents refused to do so. However, after numerous failed movie and TV auditions, Eugene found himself back in Tanauan, living in his parents' old brick house. After more than a year of partying, waking at noon, cultivating marijuana and listening to the same Coldplay CD over and over again, he was finally confronted by his father and asked him to leave. He was homeless for an entire summer, staying with friends and cousins until he found another dead-end job.

There were two faux reality TV shows that he auditioned for in hope of rebuilding his life. One of them was Pinoy Big Brother, and the other one was Survivor Philippines. He didn't tell me what occurred during those auditions, but he did't get in, so I assume it didn't go well. At one point, when he simultaneously lost his fourth job and ran out of sugar mommas who were willing to be financially exploited, he went back to Batangas and lived with his parents again for a while. He returned home without plans and without money. To say that Eugene was confused would be an understatement. He had no clue who he was and he had no hint what he really wanted from life.

After discovering the wonders of photography, he bought a second-hand Nikon DSLR and apprenticed with top-caliber lensmen. It was FHM Philippines' Allan Madrilejos who gave him his first break. Now Eugene works on high end fashion shoots, and his photos have been published in various magazines. When he's not taking pictures of models and celebrities, he flies around the world in search for unusual cultures, weird places, and lesser known festivals.

Eugene came to see me last week and we went on a long walk around Tanauan. It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon. He was visiting his parents and he decided to meet me, explore the small city, and grab a few beers. We talked about several things, including his new gig at ELLE Singapore, my wife and my two-year-old daughter, the new bridge downtown, and how we used to skate at the old liwasan

I'm really happy for Eugene's excellence and prosperity in his chosen career. He will fly to Peru next week and he promised to bring me a couple of Inca Kolas.

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