Tales of the Taciturn Temptress

first published in Blubook magazine, 2004

Jane Umali proudly answers to the titles of supermodel, single mom, and business woman. But as for temptress, she isn’t quite sure. “I’ve never been put into a situation where I had to tempt someone. I’m not like that,” she admits.

As far as Jane is concerned, getting her guy doesn’t really require that much effort.
“What I do if I like someone is I just look at them, I can get them with a look,” she reveals. “I don’t need to walk, light a cigarette, or flip my hair, my eyes are powerful enough. I believe that even if you’re not a model you can say everything with your eyes.”

And this was exactly how Jane has lured her previous suitors. In fact, she snagged one of her ex-boyfriends using nothing else but her legendary gaze. “We were at a bar that was so full of people, but there was this one moment where our eyes met,” she recounts. “I looked at him without malice, but then he approached me and asked me if I liked to dance. And he told me that the reason why he approached me is because I looked at him. But I didn’t even put any effort into it.”

Jane makes it clear that she’s no predator. “Even if I really like a guy, I don’t make the first move,” she declares. “Maybe I’ll just ask a friend to introduce me. When a guy is already my boyfriend, then maybe I’ll cook for him to show my affection.”

And what type of man does Jane feel deserve to taste her cooking? “The guy should be adventurous and do different things,” she states. “I scuba dive and go mountain climbing, so I like daredevils. But I want to be able to have a nice conversation with a guy. If he’s a man who can teach me things, who can make me mad, and make me curious. Then I’ll find him interesting.”

It’s what’s bubbling inside that matters to Jane, and not the glossy surface. “I’m more into the person. I’ve never been particular about looks,” she reveals. “If you’ve seen my previous boyfriends, they’re not all good-looking.”

Supermodels all have to start out somewhere, and Jane got her first break not far from home. “When I was 17, Bobby Novenario discovered me because we were neighbors,” she relates. “I joined contests, the Mutya ng Pilipinas, Supermodel. From there, I did runway, then print and commercials.”

Striking, statuesque, and game for anything, the vivacious Jane easily conquered the modeling scene. “I guess I was a favorite at the time,” she muses. “But I didn’t let it go to my head. I don’t really know what sets me apart. I never really thought of myself as spectacular. I was just one of the models. Joey Espino said that if you’re a model then every aspect of your life, whatever you do, you have to show to the people that you’re a model, even if you’re just walking on the street or buying something from the store. But I’m not like that.”

Throughout her extensive and colorful modeling career, one incident still stands out in Jane’s memory. “During my time, seniority was a big deal,” she discloses. “Once, all my stockings had runs. And all the other models were trying to scare me that Ben Farrales would scold me because of that. I wanted to borrow stockings but nobody would lend me any. I’d always lend my things to other models but when it was my turn to borrow something nobody helped me. My momentum was ruined, instead of being able to concentrate on stage on how I should project and walk, I was terrified about getting scolded for not having stockings. That was the worst. But from there I learned to be able to stand up for myself. Because if you don’t people will walk all over you.”

Not one to bow down to convention, Jane has always stood tall, and continues to live it up at an age when a lot of women, and models in particular, are content to settle down and rest on their laurels. “I still have a lot of plans,” she shares. “I don’t think you should ever stop. I feel like I haven’t done half of what I want to achieve.” And to her mind, she has little to regret as well. On the contrary, Jane has definitely earned the right to hold her lovely head high. “Having kids is what I’m most proud of,” she declares. “I’m proud of my titles, being a Supermodel of the Philippines, and a Mutya ng Pilipinas. I also have my own business.”

Even Jane’s friends spare no compliments in their admiration of her. “Men love to explore knowing her because she spells excitement, adventure, and stability,” raves a close pal. “She’s a friend for all time. She’s always there for you.”

Although she can certainly pull it off, Jane is no diva, and has no qualms about letting her hair down. “I’m flexible, if you want sosyalan, I’m up for it,” she maintains. “But I can also eat fishballs on the street, even if I’m wearing a sexy outfit. Some people may find me very intimidating in the beginning, but when you get to know me, I’m cool with anyone.”

It may not be evident from Blubook’s phenomenal photos that Jane was recruited for the pictorial on very short notice. But like the consummate professional that she is, Jane stepped up to the challenge and took it to the next level. As far as she was concerned, playing the seductress for us at Blubook was a piece of cake. “At first, I was really excited because it’s been a while since my last pictorial,” gushes Jane. “It’s the first time after my pregnancy that I’ve played sexy and worn clothes and makeup like that again. It was so sudden, and it was at a really weird time. And I had no idea what my outfit was going to look like and how daring it was supposed to be. But it was very fun.”

The alluring vixen who emerged at the shoot surprised us all and even Jane herself. “I may already be a mom but I can still justify wearing those outfits,” beams Jane. “I gave them what they wanted and they got it.”

For Jane, this pictorial has given her the opportunity to prove that a woman can raise her kids by herself and still look good regardless of all the pressure and stress. Despite having to deal with all the responsibilities of a working single mom, “you can still look like a model, and even be a model,” she affirms. And one look is enough to make us all agree.

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