Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Shaira Luna, the PROMIL gifted child

It was one of those blast-from-your-childhood-days moments. Together with my journalist friend Roel Hoang Manipon, I was able to attend the re-activation of the 90-year old milk brand Milkmaid at the fab resto Felix in Greenbelt 5 (Nov. 12, 2008). Imagine that--a brand from way waaay back! There, I was also able to meet anew Chef Florabel Co, who I initially came to know in 2004 at Le Souffle in Top of the Citi when they participated in the lamb food fest challenge organized by the Meat and Livestock Australia. I distinctly remembered eating and writing about the Seared Australian Lamb Loin in fig sauce. The sweetness of the fig sauce was rightfully complemented by the Rose Mount Shiraz that Chef Co personally recommended.

But what highlighted the event for me was seeing Shaira Luna herself carrying a Canon camera. Shaira, for those not familiar to her, was one of the original Promil Gifted Children, age eight, and titled junior anatomist in that 1995 TV commercial where she uttered the now famous lines "Heart. It is a hollow muscular organ located between the lungs..." I think, because of that TV commercial, every Filipino couple had since fancied about having a genius child in the family. And I do remember uttering those same lines as a comic relief around my friends just when everyone had run out of things to talk about. Shaira was a chubby child then, of course. Now she has prettily thinned out (it must be the heavy camera, hehe) but she retained the dimples and her beautiful eyes. She was baffled that I looked so familiar and was trying to remember where we've crossed paths before (I definitely must be getting oh so famous, haha). I told her that the first time I saw her all grown up was during the fiesta in my hometown province in Gumaca, Quezon two or three years ago, and I very much doubt that she had even seen a shadow of my hair at that time. And so there, happy that we've finally met, we exchanged contact numbers, and now, I'm waiting for her approval in facebook (nope, I have not turned hetero people). Googling her later that afternoon, I found out that she nearly became the youngest doctor at age 19 (taking up B.S. Human Biology at the DLSU Manila when she was 13) before she decided to call it quits to pursue a career in photography. Online info shows that she even hosted a segment in ABS-CBN’s Alas Singko Y Media and produced her own segments for Maganda Umaga Bayan until 2003. Well, the brain knows no bounds, but I'm happy for Shaira that she has, at least, found the center of her heart.

Check Shaira's works at or

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