Samantha Bernardo is someone so passionate in pageantry she had bagged Bb. Pilipinas second runner-up the past two years. But before everything, for a good nine years, she was a competitive rhythmic gymnast. In high school and grade school, in particular, she often represented Palawan and her hometown Puerto Princesa in national competitions. Her active background made Sam familiar to the discipline it takes to keep fit and in shape, she says, as it doesn’t just involve not just the body, but the heart and mind, too.
“For me, health and wellness means ‘life’ because everything you do is about your being—your wellness. Most importantly, it’s about taking care of your mindset and everything you put into mind. Everything that flows into your mind becomes habits or actions. In pageants, for me, it’s really a mind game. If you are not mentally healthy, you cannot do pageants because it takes a specific kind of consciousness. Sometimes, you lose yourself along the way, but if you really know yourself from within then no one can break you and no opinions of others can sway you," the 5'8" beauty tells ABS-CBN Lifestyle. "So, it’s more of a mindset as well.”
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Sam attributes her career in modeling and pageantry (and that bikini-ready bod!) to her athletic background. She stresses on how fitness also changed her perspective in general a la domino effect.
“Sometimes people take things for granted—like health—kasi they really work hard or super trabaho trabaho trabaho para mag-ipon. And then at the end of the day, they’ll get sick and just have to spend that money they worked hard to save. Hindi nila na-realize na you just have to find balance in everything. It can be like a quick workout or just walking—especially nowadays diba, we’re millennials, we just want everything to fast? So even a quick 20-minute walk everyday can help you get in shape.”
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Sam's rather refreshing point of view when it comes to discussing what health and wellness translates to nurturing one's mental health and confidence. It's about focusing on your goals and finding satisfaction in achieving them, she says.
“My greatest achievement in terms of health and wellness would be noong nagka-abs na ako!" Sam says with a laugh. "Kasi, ang hirap ha, hindi lahat ng body type, pwede magka-abs. And it’s not my greatest achievement because of the physical attribute of getting abs. It’s an achievement for me because I feel strong. Since my body type is so thin, ang hirap talaga mag-gain ng muscle."
She further explains, "People assume that, ‘Oh, if you go to the gym, you will gain muscle.’ But that’s not the case. You need to burn fat and work out almost everyday until you start gaining muscles gradually. That’s when you gain abs and strong muscles. So, you need to work out like almost every day! So, it’s the biggest achievement—noong nagka-abs na ako—because I feel strong!”
Ultimately, Sam’s approach and way of thinking towards health and wellness ties back to her current journey to being a beauty queen. While she acknowledges that her fitness routines plus her hair and makeup trainings are equally important, she now heavily focuses on reading about current events and global issues. “Being a beauty queen isn’t just about being a pretty face,” she says. “It’s also knowing what’s happening in the Philippines and the world at large. It’s about being able to inspire others. And I can’t feel confident in doing that if I don’t know anything.”
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Produced and directed by Mels Timan | Photography by Vyn Radovan | Cinematography by Xyra Mei Crisostomo | Post Production Editing by Lui Jimenez | Styling by Camille Santiago | Wardrobe from Forever 21 | Accessories by Farah Abu | Makeup by Johnson Estrella and Jeff Bungcasan for Clinique | Hair by Jericho Valenzuela and Red Echavia for Culture Salon | Shot on location at Sheraton Hotel Manila
On Sam: Top, Seek the Uniq; earrings, @farah_abu
On Aya: Top, Forever 21; earrings, @farah_abu