The Marina Benipayo of the Philippine Fashion Industry
By Edwin Uy
The success she’s enjoying now in her career is well deserved as I have always known her to be kind-hearted and down-to-earth person, yet very professional.
If there is one top model who has been on the top for almost three decades, that could only be Marina Benipayo. She has modeled and had been the finale for all top designers of the country. She was also one of the winners of Binibining Pilipinas pageant in 1992 and represented the country in the Miss World Pageant.
She started modelling way back in 1987 and won the Bodyshots title in 1988. Bodyshots was a project of the Fashion Designers Association of the Philippines (FDAP) for their local search of male and female models. She was actually my batchmate in Bodyshots during that time as I was one of the finalist then. It was the batch that produced so many big names in the fashion industry like Patty Betita, Gem Padilla, Lou Bunyi, Jane Umali, Bong Regala, Randy Salvino, Ferdie Villanueva and Randy Ramos (aka Adonis Laxamana).
She was one of the most active models that time as fashion shows were frequent during those days. Aside from the regular fashion shows in the evenings, there were luncheon shows held in some top hotels of the country. When you have watched those shows, pretty much you can see her and some of her bodyshot batchmates modelling. That was three decades ago. And some of her batchmates have shifted to other careers. But not Marina as she is still a sought after by top Manila designers to wear their finale creation. She still deserves to be on top. If only you can see how good she is in wearing a designer’s masterpiece.
I watched her once modelled the wedding gown creation of Bhen Farrales which seems to be very heavy because of the details of the skirt and had quite a long train. She was walking down the stairs and yet she was very graceful, as if she was just wearing a chiffon like fabric. I asked her how she did that, modelling such a very heavy creation with ease and confidence. She said that before going out the stage, she made sure she studied her every move and how she would show the asset of the gown she is wearing. The confidence part needed not to be questioned as she knew well that she is still the Philippines top model. A legend idolized not just by new models but also the veterans in the fashion industry.
Marina is not just the country’s top female model. She has been very active in show business as well. This has made her famous not just in the fashion world but also nationwide as people watched her in their favorite teleseryes, like Ikaw ang Lahat sa Akin (1992), My Binondo Girl (2011), Princess and I (2012) and the most recent is Our Home (2016).
On the lighter side, Marina is not just a very successful model/actress but also a happy mother of two boys (Mark, 21, and a flight attendant, and Joshua, 18, a varsity basketball player of College of Saint Benilde), who are now active in the modelling world. She is also very happy with her life partner, Richard Go (popularly known as Ricardo Cepeda), a former model and Bodyshots candidate, and now a famous actor, too. He’s also a businessman. And like Marina, he conducts personality development workshops, too. Both of them also write for Phil. Daily Inquirer.