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Here's How This Filipino Expat Started a Modeling Career in Thailand

Hansel Manikan has always wanted to be in the spotlight. Ever since his teens, he would join pageants in his province of Aklan and bring home awards.At the time, K-dramas were beginning to gain popularity in the Philippines, something which fascinated Hansel so much."Nai-imagine ko yung sarili ko na what if ako yung character na 'yon?" he tells Summit Media's OG Channel. "Because of that, naisipan ko na what if ipursige ko 'to? Yung ganitong career?"

Making the big move

It wasn't easy at first to get his parents on board in the pursuit of his dreams. While they were proud whenever he won contests, they were also always concerned about how Hansel would be able to balance his studies with his different activities.

In 2009, Hansel's parents couldn't afford to send him to college. That's when he thought of pursuing work opportunities abroad, particularly in Thailand, where they had a number of relatives. It was definitely a challenging time in Hansel's life, as he tried to adjust to his new life in a new country.

He eventually found a job in the hospitality industry. But because he still had a passion for a career in front of the camera, he started auditioning for modeling gigs on the side until he built connections.

hans manikan filipino model in thailand
PHOTO Courtesy of Hans Manikan

The ups and downs of modeling

When a director was looking for a talent for a music video, a friend of Hansel put in a good word for him. The director liked working with him so much that he cast him in two other music videos.

While the modeling scene may seem glamorous, Hansel notes that it's also difficult for him as he has a full-time job. At times, he needs to file a leave to travel to distant studios and attend auditions with early call times and with shoots which last up to fourteen hours. The sad part is he doesn't always make the cut, especially as he is not a native Thai speaker.

While the opportunities have been once in a blue moon, it pays well, especially for a TV commercial. To date, Hansel has already appeared in a number of TVCs, music videos, and has even guested on reality shows.

"Nari-realize ko minsan na nagsasayang ako ng pamasahe, pagod," he shares. "Pero minsan kasi may mga jobs na kusa na lang din lumalapit sa 'kin. So bumabalik na naman yung motivation ko do'n sa gano'ng career."

"Parang hindi ako makapaniwala nung umpisa, e," Hansel adds. "Dami-daming mga Thai na nasa ganitong industry. Isipin mo 'yon, ibang lahi ka, pero ako talaga yung napili. Siguro para sa 'kin talaga 'to."

hans manikan filipino model in thailand
PHOTO Courtesy of Hans Manikan

Seize opportunities by the reins

Hansel credits a big part of his love for modeling to the friendly Thais he gets to work with. "Mababait ang mga Thais," Hansel notes. "'Pag nalaman nila na Pilipino ka, tinuturing din nila na kalahi nila. Napaka-warm nila."

For those building a new career, Hansel stresses the importance of being a go-getter. "Kapag may dumating na opportunity talaga, grab it talaga," he advises. "Kasi minsanan lang dumating sa buhay mo 'yon. Hindi lagi merong gano'n so 'pag na-miss mo 'yon, pagsisisihan mo na siya, e. Go lang talaga kasi kung 'yon talaga yung gusto mo."

WATCH: This OFW Has Built A Modeling Career In Thailand

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