Thursday, February 7, 2013

Verns Boniel Buckley: Boholana & Cebuana SuperModel

It was in 1988 when Louella Yap Butalid , my grade school batchmate from the then Divine Word College now Holy Name University paved the way for Boholanas in the competitive Cebu modeling scene where she was one of the favorites among Cebu- based designers and fashion show choreographers.

Weng, along with Michelle del Rosario, Emmylou Rama, Neilbonn Po and AJ Almagro, represented the Visayas in the 1988 Ford SuperModel of the World- Philippine Search. Although a favorite, Weng didn’t make the first cut to the shock of those who were at the contest finals. 

Boholana Supermodels: Verns & Weng

It took almost a quarter of a century before another Boholana made a huge splash in the said competition by winning the national finals which catapulted her to instant fame and fortune

Who is she?  She is none other than Verns Boniel Buckley.  

Beauties & the Best: CalCarries' Joey Espino Jr,
Phil Ford Supermodels Search organizer

Verns  & the Ateneo Blue Eagles:
Fresh from their conquest of the
catwalk & the hardcourt, respectivel

At the age of 18, she won the 2002 Philippines Ford Supermodel of the World competition

She went on to place 8th out of 54 entrants in the Ford SuperModel of the World international competition held at the Barcel├│ B├ívaro Casino Beach Resort, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic on December 7 

INTERNATIONAL BREAK AT 18  She received her big break after her win and joined the world- famous Ford Models - New York.

It was to be the stepping stone in the glamorous world of international fashion. With an income courtesy of a six digit- a- year modeling contract (in US dollars), her modelling career skyrocketed.

Overnight, she became the toast of the town and was pegged as the "It" Girl so to speak.


I first met Verns back in 2000 when she was invited to be a member of the Panel of Judges for the  2000 Miss Bohol Sandugo Pageant along with movie actress/ TV host/ model Angel Aquino, Leo Abaya, movie director Jeffrey Jeturian. 

She easily stood out and mesmerized the Boholano crowd with her mestiza beauty, stratospheric height, charming demeanor and waist- long tresses that were perfect for any shampoo commercial

So why am I saying that she is Boholana? Well, during cocktails an hour before the pageant got underway, I got the opportunity to have a chitchat with her mom Lindy who asked me good- naturedly if Verns could join the pageant in 2001.

I said" sure, if she has Boholano roots"

Without batting an eyelash, her mom replied "Of course, she is Boholana for I was born and raised in Bien Unido, Bohol"

I just found out that her mom's maiden name is Lindy Boniel. Thanks to Verns' cousin Mary Corrine Boniel- Aranjuez who gave me the info after she came across the blog feature. Thanks much Corrine!

From, here's an interesting article on Verns Buckley
"Verns Buckley is the first Filipina after Melanie Marquez to have been represented by the prestigious Ford models after placing 8th in the world and the only Asian in the top 10 in the Supermodel of the World competition in 2002"

She was first discovered at 14 years old walking home from school in the island of Cebu in the Philippines.

She is one of the youngest International Models to have done her first international stint at 15.

By 16, she has been based in numerous Asian countries where she has been on the runways of designers and labels such as Escada, Guess and Max Mara to name a few.

She has also graced numerous magazine covers and editorials as well as TV commercials for prestigious brands such as Pantene, Coca Cola and Johnson &Johnson.

By 17, she had conquered the American and European circuit. Being based in Miami and Chicago and modelling for J.LO swimwear and Betsey Johnson.

She was also based in Shanghai, London and Germany where she modelled for Ted Baker and Marks and Spencer just to name a few.

She also stayed in South Africa working with STORM, the very agency of Kate Moss where she endorsed for Garnier and was the only non African to take part in the South African Fashion Week.

She is one of the top and most successful Asian international models.

She is also believed to be the highest paid model in the Philipines.

Professionals who have worked with her claim that she is very humble and down to earth despite the level of her success and is one of the fastest and skilled models to work with"


Indeed, she is not only humble but also very level- headed and blessed with a generous heart for the unfortunate.

Even while she was at her peak as a model, she had been doing volunteer work for Virlanie Foundation , an NGO that reaches out to street children.

What makes this heartwarming is she did this without letting the world know about it.

Only her close circle of friends knew about this. Verns truly is a beautiful woman inside and out

With her 5' 9" frame, catwalk experience and gorgeous face, she was deluged with invitations to join the country's top beauty pageants.

PAGEANTS' LOSS, MODELING'S GAIN With her 5' 9" frame, catwalk experience and gorgeous face, she was deluged with invitations to join the country's top beauty pageants.

Had she joined the Bb. Pilipinas Pageant, do you think she would have made it?Do I need to answer the question? Of course!

If she joined back in 2003, Bb Pilipinas Ruby Edition, she would have edged out Carla Gay Balingit for the Bb- Universe crown and would have battled it out with Amelia Vega from Dominican Republic who was crowned that year's Miss Universe in Panama!

Well, pageants have never been her cup of tea


Even if she was able achieve what a lot of girls her age can only dream, Verns became restless as she wanted to focus on her other interests outside the fashion industry

At the young age of 23, Verns Boniel Buckley quietly and ,with minimal fanfare, left the glamorous world of modeling to settle into marital bliss with Kettle Cornman Derrick Chiongbian in June 10, 2007.

Aside from being a wife and mother, she is also pursuing her passion in the world of culinary arts and is very hands- on as she helps oversee the operations of their Cafe Juanita restaurant business  that can be found at Pasig, The Fort and now in Alabang.

More on Cafe Juanita but as a blog feature soon

Cheers to you Verns!

Continue to sashay and find success in whatever fields or ventures you may foray in


Photo Credits: copyright infringement not intended

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