It was supposed to be a career milestone for Kiana Valenciano, the daughter of Gary Valenciano and artist-manager Angeli Pangilinan. But it turned into an eye-opener -- and not the positive kind.
The young singer flew to Los Angeles over the weekend after being invited to open a fashion show last Monday. It would have been her first time to "walk in something this big," she admitted.
But at the night of the event, she was baffled to find out that she, along with Miss Earth 2014 Jamie Herrell and five other Pinay models, were denied access to the backstage.
When asked why, one of the producers allegedly told the group that "no Filipinos" were allowed.
According to Kiana's manager, her mom Angeli, in an interview with ABS-CBN News, they were "puzzled" because the show was to feature works from Filipino designers Rocky Gathercole and Resty Lagare.
The show was part of LA Fashion Week and was in partnership with the AIDS Foundation.
It was held at The MacArthur, and was conceptualized by Jacob Meir, who founded the For the Stars Fashion House in Los Angeles, which regularly hosts showcases for Filipino designers.
Angeli shared that Meir, who was the one who invited Kiana and the other models, was incensed over the incident. He was quoted to have said that he's "where I am because of Filipinos."
Meir, along with Gathercole and Lagare, decided in the end to skip the show altogether.
In a clip sent by Angeli, Kiana was visibly disappointed.
But she kept it modest when prodded for her thoughts over the alleged discrimination, saying: "Whether be kindness, compassion, strength, dignity, the things that you stand for -- no one can take that away from you, no one can tell you that you aren't beautiful."
"The way you look should be the last thing on your mind when it comes to beauty," she explained.
A full statement released by Angeli can be seen below:
"I am so sad that Kiana was not able to participate in the opening day of the prestigious LA Fashion Week as she was invited for a very special cause -- the AIDS Foundation."
"Seven Filipinas, including former Miss Earth Jamie Herrell and Kiana, were not being allowed to walk the ramp for the opening fashion show at The MacArthur at 9pm of Elie Madi, and ironically two top Filipino designers, Resty Lagare and Rocky Gathercole.
"All flew into Los Angeles for the fundraiser from the Middle East and the Philippines. Due to this situation, Jacob Meir, the owner of For the Stars Fashion House, the 'home' of the three designers in Melrose Avenue, refused to allow the designers to continue with the fashion show because he would not allow the show to go on without the Filipino models, Jamie and Kiana. He is planning another event instead.
"I believe however that everything happens for a reason and that God has better plans for Kiana. In behalf of Manila Genesis and Kiana, Gary and I would like to extend our sincerest gratitude to all of those who continue to believe in and support her."