Her innocent look is the one that would attract you to her. Angelic, as they say and you can feel that the her beauty resonates, within her and radiates in her outside appearance.
She’s Mayo Okawa, a dental hygienist turned fashion model who hails from Kusatsu-shi, Shiga, and now resides at Nagoya-shi, Aichi in Japan. At first glance, you would say that she’s 100% Japanese, only she’s got those slightly round eyes; however she’s a Filipina, too.
Her mother, Gemma, was from Batangas, the land of knives and kapeng barako (strong coffee, a type of Arabica). The eldest of the brood of three, a living doll she is, she made it big in the fashion industry in one of the world’s economic superpowers. She began as a professional model for Sister Models Production in Nagoya, in 2008.
“At three,” says Mayo in a correspondence with this writer, “my Mom usually tell me in her stories that I wanted to be in TV. She made me audition for a show, and I was accepted. But, the workshop’s place is too far, it’s in Osaka, so we didn’t pursue. My Mommy only said yes, to my modelling, when I was in my senior year in college, at AichiKen Dental School.”
Since then, her face had been in billboards and magazines in Japan. She even guested in a television show and had been a frequent view in large car and fashion shows.
A truly beautiful living doll she is, clothes easily fit her. Be it jeans, formal and casual dresses, even simple shirts and shorts.
Everyday, she shares with this writer, she’s busy as a bee. Last February, she had made her way in the colorful pages of the Mod hair pamphlet. She did a shoot for Hoyu Cosmetics. And even did a television commercial for Aeon Mall, Kikuchi glasses and some internet companies.
“I do a lot of hair (styling) shows, bridal shows, wedding photography, and photo shoots for photo companies,” she said, in her email.
A Filipina, lost in the land of sakuras and kimonos
But her fame, does not come with no hardships.
She told this reporter, her first years in Japan is not that easy. Culture shocked, cannot speak the language, and the thought that she left all her friends back in the Philippines, her heart almost break.
“I don’t know what to do,” she shared with noypi.ph. “I don’t know about the language, the culture here in Japan. For 10 years, the Philippines is my home. It was in 2002 that my Mom had decided to bring me here. I was in tears, since my two younger siblings are left behind. I was enrolled in school in 2003, that was April. Coping is not that easy. Fortunately, my sisters followed us here, in August 2003 and here I am now. I am fluent with the Japanese language, but I do speak Tagalog, too.”
Filipina and Japanese in heart and soul
She maintains her Tagalog, yes. And she has the advantage of knowing the Japanese language, too.
“I am a true Filipina by heart. I use the Filipino language whenever I speak to our kababayans here. And this has an advantage. I was hospitalized for 10 days due to hyperthyroidism (goiter). I volunteered, last year on October, to be an interpreter for a Filipina patient that has been confined, there on that same hospital and same room, where I stay. She can’t read and speak Nihongo,” she narrated, adding “My mom was very, very happy since I still use the “po” and “opo”, even if I am here.”
She also said, that many people are amazed when they learned that Mayo, their pride and joy, is a Filipina-Japanese.
“There are instances that people are amazed and can't believe that I am a Filipina Japanese and that I am a fashion model. It’s because I am just a plain and simple lady everytime I encounter some of them. And love ko po ang Filipino foods,” she said.
She loves menudo, kare-kare, and kaldereta. When it comes to Japanese cuisine, she loves eating shabu-shabu.
What makes her a true Japanese? “I am fluent in Japanese both writing and speaking. And I am surrounded with Japanese friends... I love Japan culture and traditions, but not all,” she said.
The other side of Mayo
Asked about her beauty regimen:
“When I got home, I make sure that all make-ups are out, washing my face with a baby soap, rinsing it well, and drying my face gently. I also use some moisturizers and lotions to keep my skin smooth. I am also making sure that I wear no make-up, neither a simple face powder when I’m home. And of course, I never stress myself. I leave all my problems and worries to God, and I think [living] my faith and [constant] praying help me to stay beautiful.”
From time to time, she comes to the Philippines to pay her relatives and friends here, a visit. When asked why not stay here in the Philippines and become an actress or a model. She replied:
“I don't know exactly if I have a plan to enter showbiz. It depends po, if will be given a chance, siguro po... GOD's will po yun.” But you know that she’s been dreaming of Leonardi di Caprio as her leading man?
The weirdest thing that she has done in her life was watching DVDs and laughing alone like crazy. In her work, there’s an instance that she fell asleep in a photo shoot when the photographer asked her just to close her eyes!!!
She has a pet dog, whom she calls Juney, and she says, she loves that Juney very much.
Asked about whom she’s dating, her weird, yet cute, reply was: “Complicated question, kuya!!!”
For her fans, friends and followers at Facebook, here’s what Mayo wants to say:
“To be beautiful, we need to have a heart. Our hearts are important. Kindness and compassion at all times makes a woman really beautiful... Maganda ka nga, bad naman ang heart mo, sayang lang po. The beauty in our hearts, for me, reflects in our face.”
“To all my FB friends, fans and subscribers, I am thanking you all so much for loving me for who I am, for your moral support and unwavering loyalty. Everyone of you is a part of my life. I love you all!!! Maraming Salamat po sa inyong lahat! ♥♥♥”
Mayo Okawa: a beautiful sampaguita, in the land of the rising sun and sakura.