I never saw potential in myself to be a model. I never thought I was good looking in that manner. It was never my dream, but somehow, it was destiny, or however you call it.
My father is Japanese, but he was born in Brazil. For me, it was very normal to grow up with this ‘mixture’ in the race. I know it’s an issue right now, but in our house everybody was mixed. My mother is Brazilian but she’s a Portuguese, African, and native Brazilian mix. From my father's side, it’s very Japanese. I always had a very strong Japanese cultural background, especially in terms of food. There was something very different--from my mother’s side, they are very “Brazilian,” very happy, talkative, they love to dance, and they love music. From my father’s side they are very “Japanese”--more quiet, they don’t kiss and hug as much as the other side of my family. They are more affectionate on the other side.
One of the challenging things I’ve gone through is that my parents divorced when I was very young. I was 5 years old. I was raised by my grandmother from my father’s side--the Japanese side when I was 7, up to 14 years old. That time my mother was working in Japan as an expat, and my father was working in Germany. But I’m glad that I’ve gone through those moments.
I was moving houses because of the issue of my parents’ divorce. Some parts of my childhood I lived with my grandparents, some parts with my father, some with my mother. I didn’t like it so much when I was a kid, but today I see that I was able to experience more things when I was younger. It helped me to mature a little faster growing up.
My parents divorced when I was very young. I was 5 years old.
I started studying law in college. I wanted to be a federal police officer in Brazil. But then the opportunity to become a model came, and I went to visit the agency to see how it is. I didn’t know anything about the industry. I never knew there was such a thing as a male model. In Brazil, there are a lot of beautiful people. There, it’s very common for someone to ride the MRT or the subway, or just walk in the streets. An agent sees someone who is good looking, they give their card, they say, “Hey you have the potential to be a model. Come visit my agency.”
I started studying law in college. I wanted to be a federal police officer in Brazil.
So that’s what the agent did. I was going to school in the morning, he gave me his card and I checked it. And I said, OK, it looks like a real agency. I called, and I went there to visit with my big brother. We saw it was a very nice agency, I met all their models. That’s the time I said, oh maybe it’s real. I never saw potential in myself to be a model. I never thought I was good looking in that manner. It was never my dream, but somehow, it was destiny, or however you call it.
When I went there, I met other models who went to China, Singapore, Thailand, and I started to talk with them. I told myself, “Ok let’s try as an experience. If it doesn’t work you come back. At least I went to a new place, I traveled, I learned a new culture.” The agency was paying for everything--for my ticket and my expenses so I thought, why not? I worked really well, actually. I was very lucky that I’m half Asian, and somehow the market for me was really good in Asia. I thought, OK maybe I can stay a little more, earn some more money, and then come back to study. But I never went back, I just stayed, traveling...and I’m here until today.
Traveling really expanded my mind. Also, the effect of leaving your parents’ house--I know that, especially in my generation, it’s very important for the boy to become a man. To leave the safety of the environment of their parents. By that time, I was 17 to 18, for me it was a good experience to go beyond that passage. To live on my own, to not rely on my parents anymore, to not stay in their house. It was a big growth in terms of personality and attitude.
It’s like yin-yang. We both complete each other.
Until now I see some of my friends who are my batchmates in school, some of them still live with their parents. It must be difficult. I know the situation--with the economy nowadays, the inflation is really high so it’s very hard to buy a condo for the young generation. I think as a man, we need the courage to overcome this and just to try, because there’s no certainty in life. You have to try to go beyond, and experience, and see. And learn how to dance in the rain.
I met my wife, Fatima, 12 years ago. We met very young. We were in the same big group of all model friends. It was Thai new year. We were like 20 people, we went to the beach together. We have some common friends. One of my housemates was Spanish, and she was really good friends with Fatima. That’s how I approached her. I said to my housemate, “I like your friend,” and she said that Fatima likes me too, and we started to talk. We’ve started dating since that first day.
I was 20 when I met her, she was a little bit older, she was 23.
Weeks later, her contract with the agency was finishing, and once a contract finishes, usually the model goes to another country. They look for a new place to stay, or they look for new agencies. She had plans to go to Hong Kong, if I’m not mistaken. I had plans to go to Singapore. So that time we had to decide quickly--either we stay, or she goes to another country. But if she goes to another country, we’re not gonna stay together. So I said, if you wanna stay at my place, we can move in together. So she moved in, and we stayed in Thailand for a couple more weeks. After that we decided to go to Singapore. We found an agency there and stayed there for 3 months. Since then we’ve been traveling together everywhere.
You have to try to go beyond, and experience, and see. And learn how to dance in the rain.
Fatima is a very good mother, and that’s very important today. I know most of the young people don’t wanna get responsibility to have kids and to get married and all those things. You really need to find someone whose values are aligned. Fatima and I value similar things. We value healthy, strong relationships, strong spirituality, eating good food, move the body. We relate in the basic things of life in terms of nourishing the body and mind, the soul.
Our values are very similar in those aspects, and that’s what I admire about her. She also helps to keep me accountable. I think most women do that for the men. We sometimes get very distracted, and the women help put us back on track. They see things from a different perspective. Women have a different wisdom from men. We are more task-oriented, but women have knowledge in ways that only they know. It’s like yin-yang. We both complete each other. What I miss, she helps me to complete, and what she’s lacking, I complete for her. That’s what I like. She completes the hole that is in me. The things I lack in terms of organization, she helps me.
I remember when I did “Big Brother,” a lot of young girls were commenting on my picture saying, “Oh no, he’s married, oh no he has a kid!”
Fatima is a very good woman overall. Since we started very young, and we grew up together, we lived a life together. I think that’s also something that helped a lot in our relationship. Our ego, when we started, was not fully formed. I understand some people today, because of the lifestyle, tend to date later in life. It's really hard because the ego is already formed, and when you go out with someone with an ego very different from yourself, you start to get into fights and conflicts. In our case, we were just growing up together and we stayed together, and our values kind of materialized together. I was 20 when I met her, she was a little bit older, she was 23. It's been 12 years now, and we're still learning from each other.
It took me a while to understand women a little bit better. I remember before we used to argue a lot. I would say, don't try to compete. I remember when you are young in the relationship, you’re always trying to compete a little bit. There's no growth in that. Work in unity, have goals, have a vision. And work as a team.
The biggest emotion that we take action on is either fear or desire.
Challenges are always there, and something I see from the younger generation is they are not resilient enough. Every relationship always has its challenges. Younger people give up easily in a relationship--any challenge they have, they wanna breakup or divorce. The challenge is really for us to grow as a couple, or as a person. One of the hardest was when we had Daniella because I was very young at that time. I was 22, and I didn’t have many goals in life so I was not prepared. I didn’t know what to do, I had no vision, but I had to embrace the responsibility. I remember it was a very difficult time for me.
When I came to the Philippines with the hope that I was gonna work, everybody in the industry including the agency, was telling me that I cannot tell anyone that I have a family, that I have a kid, because I will not have so many fans. That was a very big challenge for me because I didn’t wanna lie. It’s not part of who I am. I am very honest and I said I cannot do that. I’m gonna tell the truth, that I have a partner and that we have a daughter.
The pressure was really strong because everybody’s like, “It’s not gonna work.” Of course, there was that anxiety in my head. All those feelings of how I’m gonna be able to support my family, to earn money. But eventually, as I was authentic with my own feelings and intuition, things worked out pretty well.
Sometimes I feel that I don’t get as many fans because I remember when I did “Big Brother,” a lot of young girls were commenting on my picture saying, “Oh no, he’s married, oh no he has a kid!” So it’s really true [my agents] understand the industry. That time it was hard for me because I wanted to work, but I didn’t want to go against my values and my intuition. That’s why I’m always leaning towards more modeling than showbiz.
One of the hardest was when we had Daniella because I was very young at that time. I was 22, and I didn’t have many goals in life so I was not prepared.
On fatherhood--I really enjoy being a father. I actually want to have more kids. It’s really challenging and a very important task because you are really setting the foundation for a new human being. You have to care for and love them, so the kids grow up with a high self esteem and confidence. It requires a lot of energy from the parents, because we have to be present. For me, it’s actually during the first years that we have to be present, because that’s what will build the foundation of their subconscious minds.
You really have to be in a peaceful environment, the children need to feel loved by the parents. They need to see what we want them to become. It’s not about just telling them what to do, they need to see us as a role model. I wanna improve so I can be a good role model for them. I wanna teach them young, things that I learned later in life--to discipline, effort, and to self discover. I wanna teach them to be better, since they are young, so they will make the next generation better than us. It’s a way of living your childhood again, because it’s so fun, especially when I play with the kids. I have so much fun with them.
Everything I wanted to do as a child I can do with them in a better way, because now I have more wisdom, I have more time and resources. That way I can teach them to become a better person, so they don’t have to go through all the challenges I’ve been. Of course they’re gonna go through challenges because it's part of life. Some of the challenges I did, they don't have to go through, and that way they can progress faster. They achieve more, faster.
There's a lot of distractions, entertainment, too much Instagram or Netflix, or people that do not “add” to me. I learned how to cut that from my life.
The easiest part of fatherhood, for me, is to play with them, to spend time with the kids. It’s like I’m a big kid. I think one of the hardest now for the parents in today's society is to find the perfect balance between work, personal life, and family life. It was eye opening for me. I’m really changing a lot in that aspect because I realized we all have 24 hours a day--the poor, the rich--everybody gets the same amount of time. What you do and how you spend your time will really reflect on your present, and on your future as well.
Since I'm talking about challenges with balance, what I learned during this quarantine is really to avoid things that do not add to my life. There's a lot of distractions, entertainment, too much Instagram or Netflix, or people that do not “add” to me. I learned how to cut that from my life. Therefore I have more time to do the things I want, to spend time with the people I like and I love.
You realize, when you start to set goals in your life, that life is very short. I want to do so many things, but I see, wow I’m already 32. I know I'm young, but right now I’m studying TCM, Traditional Chinese Medicine. I want to study chiropractic as well. I have to work, I have to provide for my family, I have to be with them as well. I want to use my time wisely. I really have to cut social activities, and activities I thought I liked. I know it’s hard because most men, we don’t wanna give up our leisure time or time with their friends, the happy hour--or the “football time”--that’s what they call it in Brazil, which is when the men play football and drink beer.
Whatever you fear, whatever emotion you carry, you tend to attract in your life.
As I get older, I mature more and more, I get courage and essential skills. Courage is a very fundamental thing in life in general for us to risk and go beyond our limitations. Us men have to live a little bit beyond our comfort zone. If you don’t have courage, you cannot do that. But the only thing that I’m scared of is to die young, before my kids grow up.
I see Daniella, she’s a very good kid, she’s already 10. I worked a lot with her when she was a young child, and she has a lot of self confidence. I’m sure she will grow up a great human being. With Kenzo, he is still small, so we wanna be present. I try to avoid the news and commercial TV because there’s so much negativity. Not that I don’t care about what's happening in the world, but I’m busy doing what I have to do and I don't want to feed my mind with those things. But everytime I see the changing times, sometimes it gives me a little anxiety with regards to the future--if I can’t provide, if I can’t work, if the economy is gonna be better. But I use that fear as a motivation. I don’t let the fear haunt me at night and stay on my mind, because whatever you fear, whatever emotion you carry, you tend to attract in your life.
You realize, when you start to set goals in your life, that life is very short.
It’s very important to be in a state of gratitude in your life, so therefore you can receive more and you have more abundance. I use the fear as a motivation for me to improve--become a better person, become a more skillful person. I use that as a motivation to be disciplined in the smallest things. We are always looking for the big things, but really what's important is the smallest actions. We should be accountable and disciplined--like the time I wake up everyday, the things I eat, if I move my body, if I meditate everyday--small things that overall in the end add so much. Another thing I realized too--when I had Daniella I was 22--I was pretty active. I’m still active and very healthy, and I don’t know if it’s because Kenzo is a boy, but he requires so much energy. It’s very important for fathers to be fit and healthy.
I use the fear as a fire for me. It is my warrior mentality, and that feeling is always normal when you compete in martial arts. There’s that mixture of fear, because another guy can make you sleep in the mat. You can get hurt, but you also have to keep yourself calm. If you are calm, you make more rational decisions. You have more clarity. Right now, everybody is afraid. Things are so uncertain, you’ll never know what will happen next week.
We really have to simplify our lives.
In Brazil, in the US, everywhere is crazy. Nothing is surprising anymore, anything is possible. Be calm, be present, use that ability to adapt fast, if it’s necessary. Adapting is something I’ve been doing in the fashion industry. There’s no shoots right now, there’s not many things happening. But I’ve been learning photography for the past few years, and now we can offer clients an opportunity because I can shoot from home. I have my equipment, backgrounds, and camera here, as I had to adapt to the market. People send me their products to shoot at my home, and they send me the ideas and I study how I can do it.
The key is really to be flexible, to keep your emotions calm. I was reading a book, and it was saying that we are emotional beings. As much as we think we’re rational, most of the decisions we make are emotional. The biggest emotion that we take action on is either fear or desire. You have to really make up your thoughts, to focus your attention on positive things and the things you desire, not the things that you fear.
Most of the diseases nowadays that you see come from stress, come from emotional patterns.
Whatever feeling you have, the subconscious mind does not judge it right or wrong. Whatever emotion you carry in your body, you attract to your life. It’s a conscious effort to direct our energy to something we desire. The thing that I desire right now is my study, Traditional Chinese Medicine or TCM. I focus my energy to become a better person, father, and husband. That’s where I’m guiding my energy right now. That’s why I don’t have much time for other things because I’m so busy working on myself, working on my family, working on activities that can increase my productivity. That way, I don’t have much time for fear. If I allow the fear to come, it’s a cycle that is always there.
What happens with the fear? When you’re in a fearful state, the fear counts on us to survive. Historically, you have fear because there’s danger out there, like a tiger that’s gonna eat us--or some kind of danger. But today there is no tiger that’s gonna eat you. The fear is psychological, and the fear is 24 hours a day. There’s stress or anxiety. You’re always fearful, but there’s no real danger.
It is important to have goals and dreams, but life has no certainty and the road is always changing
However, the body doesn’t know that. So if you’re fearful, the body goes through biochemical and hormonal changes inside, and that leads to many diseases in the future. Most of the diseases nowadays that you see come from stress, come from emotional patterns. If you learn how to control your emotion, if you learn how your body functions--that’s something yoga has taught me about a lot.
When I started yoga, I was playing professional football. I was active, I was going to the gym. I was saying, “No, yoga is for girls.” That was my mindset at the time. “I don’t like yoga. Yoga is not for me.” But once I started to go deeper and understand the benefits--not only does my body become more flexible, I was starting to avoid injury, I was becoming more aware of my body and breathing, aware of my emotions.
It’s very important to be in a state of gratitude in your life
Martial arts is something that really helped me to be calm under pressure, in the middle of the storm. It’s challenging, but it’s a normal thing to be fearful. It looks like I don’t have fear, but I have fear all the time, but it’s a motivation for me and I try not to pass on the fear to my kids. It’s very important because it’s a habit. If they learn as a child, they’re gonna carry it on in their adult life. There are ways to, but it’s very hard to break the habit of emotional patterns.
That’s something I reflected on during the quarantine. I wanted to do something meaningful, that’s why I studied TCM. I always liked sports. I’m a certified yoga teacher, certified personal trainer, OCR coach. In terms of fitness, I have so many certifications, but now I’m going to a deeper level regarding the emotion and behavior changers. In the near future when I start to work on this, I wanna start with the movement practice because I believe it helps you change your mindset as well. You really need to find out from the person that you’re helping what they like. Do they like yoga, badminton, the gym, or dance? I think that’s an important starting point to physical change.
It’s very important for the boy to become a man. To leave the safety of the environment of their parents.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, we always say that movement is medicine. There are certain movements that you do that’s good for your body, it changes you internally. In yoga we also talk about that, especially the philosophies in Ayurveda. There are certain poses that move your internal organs from the inside out that detox your body. There are poses that help the body become calm. And I think one of the biggest problems nowadays is that people don’t move so much.
Going to work, we sit while driving or in public transportation. In the office, most of us spend 8 or 9 hours sitting on a chair, which is not very functional for the body. And when they come home, they sit on the sofa, watching TV. We are losing a lot of our movement. I’m always paying attention to my boy, he has the ability to deep squat then stand up, he falls then stands up. When we start to get old, we start to get rigid, and if you fall in a simple way, you break something because the body is no longer flexible. We have back or neck pains, because whatever we don’t use, we lose.
That’s what I’m looking for--to share wisdom, not just knowledge and information.
My goal is to help people get active, but I wanna go deeper with their emotions and even the diet. Diet is very important because a lot of the food we eat has hormones. Chicken and cows are given hormones so they can grow fat faster, and the companies can sell it right away, and have more profits. As a consequence, we are consuming that and we are gonna have to live with the results.
I wanna help improve the mind, body and spirit as a machine, and I wanna help improve people’s lives with that knowledge. I see it as a huge need, and I’ve been applying it to myself. Nowadays, data and information is easy to find. You can Google, and there are so many books in every topic. Knowledge is what you “know.” Wisdom is what you know and apply to your life, and it comes out in your own experiences. That’s what I’m looking for--to share wisdom, not just knowledge and information. Information is just by memorizing stuff. People can tell you whatever they want to.
I use the fear as a fire for me.
In this quarantine, we really have to simplify our lives. A lot of opportunities showed up to me. I was really all over the place--I was working as a model, sometimes I’m acting, or a photographer. Sometimes I’m teaching or coaching. I’m trying to trim down the things that I wanna do in life, try to focus on a few things and do those very well.
I'm very glad with all the experiences that I've had. It's for me to become who I am. But I will tell my 20-year old self to start investing early, financially. In the first, formative years I was trying to survive. It's hard to invest when you're just surviving, more so because of the habit. Even if you just invest 5 or 10%, but just create the habit of investing your money. Eventually that will be good for you in the future, especially during times like right now.
It looks like I don’t have fear, but I have fear all the time, but it’s a motivation for me and I try not to pass on the fear to my kids.
I always tell my friends or people who ask me for advice that it’s important to be present and whatever you do, do the best you can. It is important to have goals and dreams, but life has no certainty and the road is always changing--this year is one proof of that. Everybody had so many plans and goals, then suddenly there are so many things happening.
This quarantine was a good time for me to breathe, relax, and reflect on my life. Sometimes I’m so engaged in the present doing stuff, and I don’t have time to appreciate and to really learn and digest all the experiences, and to be more clear as to where I wanna go in the future.