Friday, July 13, 2012

Elena Sakai

by Elena Sakai

This is a column to introduce half-Filipino, half-Japanese, who bridge the two countries. My first interview was to Ms. Naomi Kida, a TOP 5 Miss Universe Japan winner of 2011, who is now a freelance model and business woman, working internationally. It’s amazing that such a beautiful woman has so much talent.

Can you give me a short introduction of yourself? 
I'm a Japino. My mom is Filipina and my dad is Japanese. I have an older brother. I was born in Manila and I grew up in Miyazaki.
I joined the 2011 Miss Universe Japan (MUJ), and I was one of the top 5 finalists. After I joined the MUJ, I turned to be a freelance model traveling between Japan and the Philippines and also started managing my own business as a small travel agency.
These days I’m busy at doing my own business traveling between Japan and the Philippines.

Which province in the Philippines is your mother from? Have you ever lived there?
My mom's province is CAVITE. My grand-parent's house is located at Cavite. So when I was young, I always went to my grandparent's house to spend my weekends and also we gather when there is a family celebration like birthdays, Christmas, New Year and so on.

What brought you to Japan? 
At first, my mom only had a tourist visa to stay in Japan, so we always lived in Japan for 3 months in a year until I was 10years old. But then, she could get a permanent visa to stay longer. So, my parents decided to live in Japan so that we could take Japanese education.

Where are you based now?
I'm based in Japan, but recently I often go back to the Philippines to start the new business and also modeling.

How do you feel about having your roots in two countries?
Before, I wasn't happy being a Japino. There were a lot of hard times when I was young. But now, I appreciate being a Japino. Because of the experience that I had in my two home countries, I could have a wider perspective than others and I had a chance to create something new on both sides!! I'm happy of what I am.

Do you consider yourself Japanese or Filipino?
I consider myself ‘s identity to be truly 50/50.

You were one of the top 5 of Miss Universe Japan 2011. How did you start your modeling career?
I started being a model when I was 20 years old. I like challenges. I believe that no matter what happens, having an experience would be the step to success in life.

How did participating in the Miss Universe influence you?
I became confident of myself. I was a positive person before, but when I joined the pageant, there were a lot of hard times competing and acting smart and being elegant. It was difficult for me not to be myself and comparing myself with others. Then, suddenly I became unconfident and negative. But after the pageant, I felt that at last, I could be myself again. I found that, I could shine as who I am!!

Can you tell me about your modeling career in Japan and in the Philippines?
In Japan, I will be promoting the Philippines at JATA Travel Showcase 2012. In the Philippines, I am hoping to join the Philippines Fashion Week if my schedule is open to participate that time.

I heard that you were studying English in the Philippines recently. How was your experience?
I was really impressed about the English and teaching skills of Filipinos. I felt that this would be a great industry to explore our ability to the non-speaking English countries.

What are your future goals?
My future goals are to become a bridge between Japan and the Philippines and to be a mediator or face of the country like a tourism ambassador for both countries.

Can you give a message to Pinoys in Japan?
To all Pinoys in Japan, be proud of your beautiful country! Also, please support me in reaching my goals. And, I hope I could contribute to my lovely country in the near future. MABUHAY !!


  1. Being in the middle is quite an undertaking but it's very inspiring that you have learned to embrace both your roots!

  2. Hello, ate Elena! Just read your article! Keep up the good job!