From his photographs alone, this young man’s charm and unique multi-racial looks affords him the adjective best defined by the Japanese word ‘Bishounen’ which literally translates as ‘Pretty Boy’. For any of you who aren’t privy to that aesthetic nuance, there is this cultural penchant albeit curious amusement the Japanese in general have for guys with soft yet appealing features which oftentimes borders on the androgynously attractive [ just look at their male Japanimation or Anime characters and you’ll get what I’m saying ] . It is indescribable at times, yet guys like Ryu Daigo, do turn heads and make some take a second look.
Currently a boy of 19 [and I do mean ‘boy‘ in the impression he gave off], standing 5 foot eight inches, and just about a hundred and forty pounds, Ryu is what we can consider a ’Japinoy’ - a child of that successful multi-racial mix of the Japonois-Filipino persuasion which affords him that look that appealed to me, the first I saw him.
Ryu Daigo’s popularity, by observation, is at its best on the internet. There’s this Korean pop-culture phenomenon called “uljjang” which by etymology takes from the Korean words “pretty” + “picture” = “internet popularity” -this was actually the way Boy Meets Boy and Jenny/Juno star Kim Hye-Sung catapulted himself to fame; the pretty pictures he uploaded of himself gained him popularity and the rest is KPop history. -I’m going stop there, I’m shifting into Pop Culture Analyst mode again… Hahahaha!
But Ryu Daigo’s showbiz path began way before he even knew how to type on a keyboard and upload photos. As he tells me, “My mom told me my first job was endorsing a milk product when I was a baby.” I reckon from a young age, it came naturally to him; for most of his young life has been oriented towards the biz.
It was around early this year when I first chanced upon some photos of him online. But it was not until recently that I began learning about the boy by getting to know him on the social/beta networking sites. Funny thing to mention, and Ryu regales, “There are seven Friendster accounts of me, and I added them all! Hehehehe!” -So if any of you guys have him in your network, be sure you have the real one, okay… Also, after reading his profile online, I noticed that he was once cast as a regular in one of the shows I did for network television, but in the rush of things at the time I never bothered with the talents anyway.
When I asked him what was the weirdest showbiz job he has ever done, he answers, “When I was a regular talent on a show called Kamandag, I was fully covered in make-up that I did not recognize myself.” And he adds, “Weird in the sense that this gay guy who was a wardrobe attendant dressing me up, would try to have his way with me and he couldn’t.” By that, I took it, that Ryu has a good head on his shoulders and he had a sense of humor about the ways of the biz.
So I dared to ask him, “As you are, do you ever get proposed indecently in any way?” To which he answers, “I make sure I tell them I’m not interested.” Then further adds that he often goes, “You are getting on my YM Nerves! Hehehehe…” I never asked him if that works all the time, but I’m going to ask the boy permission to use the second statement if someone is starting to get on my YM nerves. Moving on…
I guess in that pool of many showbiz aspirants, Ryu has gone the way of doing stints that most young people who want to be noticed in the industry have done while waiting for that big break, so to speak. At that, Ryu actually had to forego full-time college for a while and took that path that had him earning from his stints in television and modeling. He knew the value of earning your own way and what it does to the developing maturity of a person.
Of all the online portfolios I have seen of up-and-coming or practicing models of recent vintage, Ryu’s portfolio is what one considers quite versatile. He tries to experiment by himself and/or collaborates with other creative people exploring the many possibilities he can take his visage and form to.
It was when I came upon the artist and photographer Bubum Melgar’s site that I began noticing him with amusement and admiration -Okay, I admit, I’m a fan! Go and hang me! Hahahahaha! My compliments to Mr. Melgar and his creativity for with that, I think, Ryu’s portfolio is never to be the same.
And after confirming from Ryu himself, he nearly got on Mr. Melgar’s nerves for being a little bit of a “pasaway”. Ryu recalls having said something to this effect, “That’s what happens when the model is like a mannequin and statuesque, the photographer just clicks away” -I can only envision Mr. Melgar raise an eyebrow, that eyebrow traveling as far as C.M. Recto Avenue, and having someone pick it up form there and return it -laughing out loud… That’s why I mean by Ryu still being much a boy.
You can accuse him of being a little vain and he knows he’s guilty of it. “My day is not complete when I don’t even get a compliment about the way I look. It feels weird if I don’t get at least one,” he admits candidly. Well, that is forgivable… they say we are at our most good looking from the age of 17 to 27. I do hope Ryu’s not the type that has a pocket mirror being a Narcissus about his reflection or takes a photo of himself on his camera phone checking out how he looks by the quarter hour like some people I know… Hahahahaha! I actually forgot to ask him his vanity quirks; maybe next time.
One of the questions that popped-up in our exchange was how does he deal with being a mixed race kid and if there were any difficulties about it. To which he replies, “Its funny since Filipino's always make fun of it... Well, its okay with me because it makes me different than the others. I love being unique.” That says much about the ‘Pinoy-Mestizo-Complex’ that not unless they are of a mixed Caucasian-Pinoy variety, it’s okay to make fun of the other multi-racials. And it’s really being mean, the playground variety kind of mean. Good thing Ryu is comfortable in his own skin.
At this point in his life, aside from his interest in fashion in general, he is quite engrossed in learning the ways of a photographer. As much as he loves being in front of the camera and getting to play with his looks like the next Zoolander in the room, Ryu says, “I like taking pictures, its my dream to be a photographer and not a model;” with a laugh at that. Well, it looks like he’s enjoying being in front of the camera for now.
Having said that, Ryu impressed me a little more by saying “Having a school degree is still a priority. I can’t model all the time.” -I’m sure it seems a clichéd and ubiquitous answer we’ve heard from some before, but I sensed a bite of reality realized too young there; and it made me think about the many showbiz dreams that sputtered and went into obscurity for some. As I write this, Ryu is back in school full-time, taking up Hotel and Restaurant Administration at the Cavite campus of the Lyceum of the Philippines. Modeling and the biz takes a second priority for now, to which I’m sure he’s going to be a better off person as the pretty boy grows into the man that’s going to be/have more than just a pretty face.
thus spake The Barefoot Baklesa
photos courtesy of Mitoy Sta.Ana, Ryu Daigo, and Bubum Melgar