Luke Jickain

By Jon Verzosa

The Fashion Trilogy featuring Chris Jasler, Aimee Velasco and Luke Jickain

Part Three

Luke Jickain, Male Supermodel

MODELS.  We’ve seen them everywhere.  They are in magazines, television and movies, fashion shows, walking atTrinoma mall, trying to leaf through hardbacks at PowerBooks, their legs crossed, criss-crossed and high towards their bosom, their abdomens as hard as rocks and their bony, miniature faces looking like corks glued to their implausibly stretchy bodies.  They are the demigods of the fashion planet.  The human hangers who parade in their moping bearing in front of the style ogle, the curious and the beautiful, the perverts and the tasteful, and critiques who checks the clothes, gives it a thumbs up or thumbs down and mutters beneath their breaths, “Slut.”  Yes, we judge them all the time.  We judge ‘us’ all the time but these bone collections have been slaughtered by audiences from ramp to ramp, photo shoot to photo shoot and from the grocery where they procure their organic food and zero-carbohydrates-high protein dietary needs.  We have called them everything derogatory in written and oral language. Why?

Because we are insecure of their perfection.

And deep down inside, we wished we were as picturesque as they are.

So, my meeting that day was with super male model, Luke Jickain.

Height 6’0″ Weight 175 lbs. Chest 38″ Waist 31″ Hips 36″ Shoe size: 10

Eyes: Dark Brown

Hair: Dark Brown

Of French-Filipino descent.

Virtually, a god.

And late!

I never understood the idiom ‘fashionably late’ until Luke Jickain arrived forty-five minutes late at Gloria Jeans in Robinson’s Galleria for the Fashion Trilogy interview.  Fifteen minutes late would have been predictable, thirty would have been staged but being forty five minutes late is just enough for my first coffee to stale uneventfully and to enjoy my me-time to the rim without looking obsessively at the watch clock.  I obviously did not mind his unpunctuality because this particular interview was pre planned three weeks before the Galleria meeting and even before fashion designer slash fashion shaman Chris Jasler confirmed to meet me, I was already set on putting Luke Jickain on the finale for three reasons; he is a top male model who has thrived the fashion business for a decade now, undeservingly no one has written anything remarkable about him and last of all, I am fan.  Fashion was well-defined in the contradiction in terms of such, thus, retracting the overall myth that models are presumably understated.  In a sense, the protagonist chic example that’s batted around is a distraction that obfuscates the mechanism at work. The main oversight is that, like anorexia, the coolest illness of the modelling world, the competitive mechanism being played upon is metrosexual – and the lateness of Jickain put to rights the fabulously tardy to the fashionably trendy.

He came in gym clothes, clean hair and togged up in that wide, resourceful smile.  He immediately picked up my book, a bio bestseller, which was perfectly dog-eared and stained from overuse, and cried out, “Wow, Kurt Cobain!” segueing apologies that I found irrelevant because I actually enjoyed my me-time while waiting for him.  After he was halfway with his coffee and off with the usual pleasantries, we began the interview.  I was sceptical and probing.  He was docile and persistently happy.  His voice was disarming because it had a little boy tinge about it.

“It was over ten years ago, I was an athlete, when an agent came over in the beating Amoranto stadium in the midst of training, asked me to step aside and asked me if I have done modelling before.  I was barely seventeen then and was not at all confident with myself.” Luke said, smiling without difficulty remembering his bantam days.

“So back then you didn’t have a hint of how good looking you are?” I asked minus my usual propriety to which he laughed at heartily and replied, “I really don’t know.  All I am sure about is the fact that it didn’t cross my mind – ending up as a model – because at the time I was a budding sportsperson.  And man, how I love sports!  It started there, some ten years ago and now we are here.”

I looked at him and saw a guy who was nearing his thirties and still looking a day out of his seventeen years.  “What’s the secret?”

“Working hard and drinking with friends every Saturday!” he said, trying to pull my leg. I agreed benevolently knowing that this man is a hardcore party mammal but that did not answer my question to the slightest.  Yes, Luke Jickain was hard to pin down but I saw the gym bag and that served my ache for a more unswerving response.  I presumed that he didn’t want to go by detail his narcissistic sacraments.

“And how are you these days?”  I asked preposterously; at double time with getting it down to cheerfully rake through Jickain’s sandy, very sandy shores.  I asked an impudent question but I want to get away from all the glitz of Jickain and perhaps make me believe that this celebrated model, this beautiful god, was, indeed, human after all.

“I am OK” Jickain began with his watchful, almost infantile voice, making sure every syllable was well-defined, “I have just done a movie and slowly getting my ass out of ramp modelling.  I guess after ten years in the world of fashion, being casted both here and outside the country, doing numerous TVCs and a few teleseryes, it is high time for me to take on the silver screen.  I guess I am ready.  I have been to New York and have done acting and film workshops already and so I guess this is where I am headed now: showbiz.”

“You really want this?” I said.

“Yes I do.  I remember back in the days when I asked my friends if I can pass up being a model and most of them agreed but was not convinced, I had to turn to myself at the end of the day and I ended up being here with you. You know, after doing ramp modelling for a while like I did, a part of you wants to give way to the new models.  The ones that is new and trying to make a name. Of course, this is how the business goes – we all have to move on and move ahead.” he ceased his sentence with an almost-deliberate sip of his iced latté.  He was so undone and yet so organically gorgeous.

It may have been the slacken day of caffeine and the premature rush hour of the coffee shop that made our conversation painless after the next forty minutes (or it may have been my hypnotizing prowess I am not really sure) but surprisingly, Luke Jickain began speaking of his tussle with work and the journey of being a fashion deity.  I even had to mention at the end of the conversation that his penchant for peanut butter and his say on love that “A lot of women hold back their feelings—that’s why falling in love is so darn hard!” was the only interesting thing that was written about him.

Very few people know that Luke Jickain graduated from San Beda College with a marketing degree and finished it off with a special merit award.  “They always say that fame doesn’t last that long” he stated, “and it is correct in a lot of ways.  I mean, in this business where youth and good looks are the chief trade, you must prepare yourself after youth and good looks wear off.  I would still advice models that are in school to study well and finish that degree and for those who are not, to those who think that being a model is enough, to better sign up and get that college education because you will need it!” Jickain counselled.

Luke Jickain took up marketing and graduated at San Beda College

“Tell me about all the things that you went through to get you where you are now,” I asked.

“First, I was lucky,” he laughed behind this phrase, “I was lucky to have been part of a good agency, was lucky to have been casted in top brands and lucky to have been hemmed in a circle of very supportive people who believed in what I can do.  A lot of people will probably think that ramp modelling and photo shoots are staid routines that models pull off in a snap.  It is not.  It is a lot of hard work!  Given the fact that you already look good but during these times – that expectant time when you need to suggest something in front of the lights – you still have to look ‘better’.  In fact, the curriculum starts even before you attend a go see or casting.  First, discipline, you really have to take care of yourself; you have to be clean, your body has to be agile, your skin should be clear, your hair intact or if out of kilter, it should be at least healthy-looking . . . you have to shine is what I am saying.

This is just the basics because when you get up there, you need to remember to push your head slightly forward so that your facial bones will be more defined, your lips should suggest a certain implication and your eyes must insinuate a message that is being called for, whatever that is.  As you walk, coast it – slide – move in technicality – toe-heel, toe-heel, toe-heel.  Your face and your entire body must be impassive but it should be able to represent the five senses to which the audience, the spectators, the readers and the onlookers can deeply relate to.  Remember, you are endorsing clothes, perfume, products . . . it is business.  You are a part of a working force in sales and as the person who was trusted to endorse them; you must not only epitomize your endorsement but also try to make it better.  Also, most of the time, you don’t speak.  In ramp, you don’t speak at all.  So, it is your cosmic duty, as a model, to transmit messages far beyond what has been written about the clothes, the designer and perhaps, even with the show’s concept.  You have to give a heart and soul to the brand.  It is a big responsibility. Imagine being chosen ‘to give your support to’ to that particular trademark?  Kailangan mo talagang mag-deliver otherwise it’s not worth anyone’s time.

Moreover, this is a loaned talent from God.  You need to share this to others if only to share what was loaned to you. It makes your sense of purpose more vital and true to form, more meaningful.”

“Was there even a time when it was difficult for someone like Luke Jickain to get casted?”

He sniggered to my question, “Oh yes.  When I was starting, I was rejected many times.  Numerous times I must say, however, every time I think about those times, I couldn’t help but think about how much it taught me.  I don’t know if I can call them failure at all but yes, it made me stronger.  I guess you’ve got to keep up not only with what’s expected of you but also towards what you expect yourself to become.  In any field of endeavour, I guess you simply have to surge relentlessly to be able make it.  Be hard-hitting and competitive if the occasion called for it.  You have to be mentally and physically strong too.  This job demands long hours and you will be working with a lot of different people.

When I was in college, I had to deal with professors and the fashion people between attending classes and fittings.  It was a juggling act and it was not easy, but like I said, you have to keep up.  There’s no time to slack especially if you chose to hit two birds at the same time.  You simply need to work triple hard.

In my case, I had to work at the time because I was also providing for my family.”

“Let’s go there.  How was your childhood like?  What were the highlights of your life that you found both inspiring and eventually, life-changing?”

Luke Jickain fiddled the pages of my book and started talking with his eyes flying around the room, as if trailing towards a conked out time machine.  He said, “It was an OK childhood.  I mostly played video games and did a lot of sports but also, it was not really as easy as it looked.  There was a time when times were tough.  When I began working, thank God I began working as a teenager because I learned the value of work at an early age; I also had to impart financial assistance for the family.

Before that, when times were harsh, my brother Martin (Jickain) and I, as boys, would save up a plate of siomai(dimsum) that my Aunt would send during weekends.  We had to save the siomais – making them last long in the refrigerator – to be our ulam for the next couple of days because money was scarce.  It was funny back then but relating that with images of my other relatives sleeping throughout the day – jobless – lying around the house doing nothing when I began questioning myself of what I can do about it because surely that wasn’t how I want my life to be.  That’s when I learned about being responsible.

At the time, a rush of responsibility lurked behind all these imagery – coming from fragments of hard reality – and so, from there, I learned the worth of work and that with every penny you earn, you have to regard every drop of sweat you sacrifice.  Again, it is a matter of responsibility and I am glad I went through that lesson because even at work, it is not all passion.  Life choices and career path, even personality formation should stem from being responsible.  Even as a person, being responsible with everything you do will be the outcome of whom you will be in the future.”

“What’s your advice to newbies in the field of modelling?”  I solicited.

“I would say this to models:  always remember to love what you are doing because it wouldn’t work at all if you don’t.  I am not saying that I am a religious person but I am a believer and for that you have to thank your God for putting you where you are right now.  Everyone knows that it is a place where doors are being opened, connections are being made and solidified and it is a place where you can grow both artistically and as a person.

After I graduated from college, I received offers from companies in marketing but I did some soul-searching and realized that I got most of my freedom from completing my studies and at the same time showed me an en route towards what I really want to do and that is to mature more in this line of work.  I flew to New York a few months after graduation and found myself enrolled in an acting school.  After that, I found myself working on the set of ABS-CBN’sImortal and then Star Cinema’s Way Back Home.  So, I guess, if truth be told, I really like this!  And education, be it marketing school, shows, TVCs or acting school, played an integral part in my growth.  It’s a learning park out there, so, most of all, be willing to learn” Luke Jickain chuckled beneath his breath, lounging on his narrative with the truest substance of passion.

“So yes, to those who want to be successful models, be disciplined, love your work, work hard, learn and examine the business closely and have fun because, without exaggeration, it is fun!” he disclosed.

“And how would the Luke Jickain want to be remembered?”

“Whoa! Hard question! I really don’t know . . . honestly.  It is either your question is creepy or I just don’t have the answer for that”, he answered, chortling.

Being a control freak as I am, I insisted, “Try!”

“OK,” he said along with a large guffaw, “I guess I want to be remembered as someone who learned from his mistakes, someone who has survived and someone who worked hard and shared what he can to be a better person.”

After that, I brought Fashion Trilogy to a close and we discussed the music of Kurt Cobain.

The writer with Luke Jickain

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