By Marivir R. Montebon
I used to tease my New Yorker friends about the “city of scaffolding.” It’s so much a part of NYC, I don’t think I’ll recognize it without (the scaffold)! Seriously ‘though, I appreciate the diversity. Everyone strives to be respectful, harmonious, and culturally sensitive.
New York – As far as Judith Veronica Ramos Guerrero is concerned, life is an endless case of possibilities. And one has to have an open mind to try things out to learn and enjoy.
Formerly a child model for hundreds of commercials in the Philippines, this lovely Filipina takes the life of a Manhattanite to finish her advance studies in Special Education at the New York University. It was many years ago when she decided to step out of the modeling world and focus on her studies. Life paid her off well.
Judith will finish her rigorous 16-month Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education late this year, and will reunite herself with her husband Geran and eight-year-old daughter Sofia in Singapore.
Until then, she lives a fast-paced solitary life in an apartment in the upper west side’s West End Avenue, most often in the company of books and coffee. Like everyone else in New York, she does her own laundry, cleaning, and errands. No complaints.
Born in Manila, Judith decided to leave the modeling world and pursue a college education, upon the encouragement of her parents. She finished Occupational Therapy at the University of the Philippines. Before taking up her Masters in NYU, Judith worked as a pediatric occupational therapist in Singapore.
Smart and humble, life had been blissful for her. Husband Geran is one of the top executives of a London-based communications company in Singapore, and she a successful occupational therapist. She decided to come to New York to study and reinvest in education to further her service-oriented career.
Excerpts of the OSM! Interview:
1. What brings you to New York? What dreams conveyed you here?
Judith: Education. You reach a point in your career when you say to yourself, “What’s next?” You feel limited by what you know and feel the hunger for something more and you go back to a place where you feel you’ll find growth, a place to rediscover yourself and the things that inspire you.
What in New York fascinates you?
I used to tease my New Yorker friends about the “city of scaffolding.” It’s so much a part of NYC, I don’t think I’ll recognize it without (the scaffold)! Seriously ‘though, I appreciate the diversity. What makes diversity differently beautiful in NYC is that everyone strives to be respectful, harmonious, and culturally sensitive. They truly want to make it work. They seem to be guided by this moral compass so much so that they pass it on to their children and hope that the next generation to come will be much better.
Are you going to eventually relocate here with the family? Or where will you rather be?
Ahhh, as much as I love NYC, home is so far away. My family and I have been living in Singapore for almost eight years now. I am studying here while they are back there. It is tough, but a necessary sacrifice. Singapore is so tiny compared to NYC, but my heart is there. It is, however, our third city since 2004, so I won’t exactly scratch it off the list just yet.
You’ve been a fashion and commercial model before. How did this begin? What products did you model for?
I started young. I think I was seven years old when I did my first Colgate commercial. They came to our school and asked us to give our best smiles. After that, someone got in touch with my parents and asked them if it was okay to cast me in a commercial…and the rest is history. I did several ads after that – Palmolive Circle of 10, J&J cologne, and a clothing line – PARTICLES.
Who coached or trained you to be one?
In the Philippines, at that time, there was no training necessary. The director just tells you what to do and you try and do it to the best of your abilities!
My parents were, despite their initial excitement to the idea of having a daughter come out in ads, are quite strict. They wanted me to finish my studies and practice. I had fun when I made the ads, but doing what I do fulfills me in a way that keeps me wanting.
How do you see yourself in five years?
I honestly can’t say where I’d be- geographically, but wherever it is, I will continue to work with children who are differently-abled who find themselves struggling.
You have been away from the Philippines for a long time. Would u go back and work there eventually or retire there?
It’s hard to say. The Philippines will always have a special place in our hearts and so the idea of coming truly home is never off our minds.
Looking at the Philippines from a distance, how should it recover from its own predicaments?
Complete revamp of the Philippine political system? It’s so easy to say what to do, but until our own people realize the need for this- it’s pointless. The same things that have been plaguing us centuries ago are still doing so right now. It’s so deeply entrenched.