Dream Queen

I am a Red Dot Juanderer. And this is my Singapore Story.

Restaurant manager and model Janina Espinoza has all it takes to rise above the rest. After winning Singapore’s Dream Top Model 2016 competition, Janina started pursuing her dreams gracing various community events, photo shoots, and even auditioning for Asia’s Next Top Model. Weeks before she crowns her Dream Top Model successor, she narrates to us her personal stories — her struggles and successes— while living in the Little Red Dot.

My Singapore Story:

I was only 19 years old when I first came to Singapore (December 2009) for my On the Job Training (OJT) at the Siloso Beach Resort in Sentosa. I was still under the training program when we had our school graduation, hence I wasn’t able to fly back and attend our commencement exercise  although I got my diploma eventually. I was sad because all my friends were there during the ceremony, but what we did to celebrate instead was to create our own little party here in Singapore with all my co-trainees. Six months after my training, the resort hired me as a regular employee.

Singapore for me:

It is a second home. I spent my adult life here. Here, we really work hard but we also know how to have fun.

Greatest lesson I’ve learned here:

To be on your own; no one else will be there for you — like when you get sick, your mom will not be there to take care of you. You cannot be a crybaby. You will meet a lot of people from different countries and there will be a lot of cultural differences you have to accept and learn from.

My insecurities as a model:

I am not tall enough. The head booker of the Singapore Fashion Week told me that I’m too short to be part of their show as they need ladies who are 180 cm and above — I’m only 175 cm! What then is a ‘good’ model? One that is not determined by her height, among other things, but how she can represent a certain brand.

Last time I cried:

Last night (haha!). I suddenly missed my family.

The difference between the person ‘I was’ in the Philippines and the person ‘I am now’ while in Singapore:

Janina then is mostly carefree. And back home, I can eat a lot… really, really a lot. Here, everything is hectic — with work and with my other activities. There’s no much time for eating, that’s why I got so skinny (haha!).

Something interesting about me:

I like to travel and I’ve already backpacked the whole of Southeast Asia (Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam) for 3 months nonstop. I find a different side of me outside the country as I can get crazy while traveling. I like to do adventurous stuff like motorbiking despite the many little accidents I’ve had before. In Laos, while motorbiking, I missed the breaks and the bike I was on flew off.

What if I get stuck in an island — what are the 3 things I should have with me:

Food/water, a camera (so I can capture the moments I have in the island — like if there’s a crocodile coming my way, I can take a photo before it eats me. Haha!). and a notebook & a pen (so I can use it if the camera fails to operate or if it has no more battery).

About the Red Dot Juanderer:

We are constantly on the lookout for inspiring, aspirational, and relatable stories from our fellow Juans living and working in the Little Red Dot. If you know any Filipino in Singapore that should be our next Red Dot Juanderer, email us at [email protected] // Interviews and photos by Paolo Avis; Assisted by Jaypee Quitco

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