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THEY'RE FASHION MODELS-AND ROLE MODELS, TOO.

As SM Youth Ambassadors, Kaila Estrada and Erika Kristensen are constantly bombarded with thousands of shout-outs and heart-eyed emojis on Instagram.

Fans flock to their meet-and-greet mall tours all over the country to catch a glimpse of them and score a prized selfie. With campaign spreads to shoot and runways to strut, these girls are living a model's glamorous life.

On Erika: pink denim jacket, pastel-print top, GTW. On Kaila: striped cropped denim jacket, GTW; 'Hustle' statement tee, Tee Culture by SM Youth

As fun and as carefree as their lives sound, Kaila and Erika disagree with media and society's portrayal of their generation as lazy, unmotivated and entitled.

Progressive

'Our generation is constantly thinking outside the box. We refuse to be constricted by the mold that our society has created. You can be whatever you want and nobody will question you for it,' says Kaila, 23. 'I love how progressive and forward-thinking our generation is.'

The daughter of Janice de Belen and John Estrada has chosen to carve her own path, modeling since her school days.

'Dreamer' statement tee, Tee Culture by SM Youth; denim jacket, GTW

Filipino-Danish Erika has been modeling even longer. She was five years old when she appeared in a diaper commercial.

'Modeling has made me become braver and tougher, having to face rejections here and there,' says Erika, 22. 'There are times when pressure and insecurities can get the best of me, but I've learned to grow through that battle.'

With their popularity, both are regarded as influencers, personalities who utilize their digital platforms to promote brands, products or even stances on certain issues (read: #woke). Erika has used her public online accounts to raise awareness on her advocacy for animal care.

Panda graphic tee, Tee Culture by SM Youth; high-waist drawstring pants, GTW

'We need to speak up now more than ever about everything that's happening around us-locally and internationally,' she says. 'Healthy, informative discussions are the way to go. I encourage people to have advocacies that are close to their heart, and actually stand up for them.'

Kaila and Erika are now part of the judging panel of SM Go See, the digital reality show and search for the next SM Youth Ambassadors, now on its fourth season. The platform has not only opened doors for them in the modeling world, it's helped them grow through challenges they have to face and conquer.

'Nerd' statement tee, skinny jeans, GTW

'I feel like our generation feels this pressure to reach a destination immediately that we forget to enjoy the journey,' says Kaila. 'It's okay to not have everything figured out yet. Taking baby steps to reach a goal is okay. I want to continue to inspire the youth to follow their dreams and take risks because you really never know where life will take you.'

'Times will change as we grow older, but it's important to stay true to yourself and be a good example and influence to the youth,' adds Erika.

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:May 4, 2019
Words:595
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