Stephanie Retuya, who was recently named first runner-up of reality show Asia's Next Top Model, may not have won the competition. However, for someone who only started modelling barely two years ago and is described as a shy type, her achievement is an impressive feat.
Retuya was the only Filipina in the first cycle of Asia's Next Top Model, an adaptation of America's Next Top Model. The show ended on Sunday, when it was learned that Retuya came in second to Jessica Amornkuldilok of Thailand.
"For everyone who continuously supported me on this once in a lifetime journey thank you so much!!!! God Bless Everyone!" Retuya said in a post in her Twitter account, where she also describes herself as a bookworm and a "soy latte addict."
According to her bio on the show's website, Retuya had never been outside of the Philippines prior to joining the competition, and that she only started modeling in 2011. She is described as a “part-time model and a full-time mother to a baby girl.”
"[Retuya] discovered that modeling is not work to her because she feels completely in her element," her bio said.
"Her budding modeling career was soon interrupted because she got pregnant, and she now feels that surge of desire to continue pursuing what she believes is meant for her," it also said.
The 23-year-old Retuya, who towers at 176 cm (5 feet 9 inches), had an up-and-down competition, landing in the bottom two of the weekly photo shoot challenges five times and making the top three of the weekly challenges five times as well.
An article about Retuya in Yahoo!'s OMG section noted that she was often criticized during the show for playing it "too safe" during photo shoots and for her lack of confidence.
"However, Retuya managed to get two callbacks (out of five) during the go-see challenge, where the models are asked to audition for actual modeling jobs," the story said.
The perception of people regarding Retuya may not be wrong, as her bio on the show itself describes her as "very passive and shy," someone who "grew up thinking she was freakishly tall and did not talk much to people."
Even Retuya's portfolio during the show, accessible through Asia's Next Top Model's Facebook page, noted Retuya's perception of herself.
"Stephanie may see herself as an underdog but 'understudy' might fit better!" it said.
Still, although it can be said Retuya has talent that perhaps she does not see herself sometimes, others can, and in the end that was evidently seen in her moment of victory. — Gian C. Geronimo/BM, GMA News