De La Salle University volleyball player Michelle Gumabao shows off her athleticism in this nude pictorial for sports store Toby's. -- Photo from Gumabao's Instagram page
MANILA -- La Salle Lady Spiker and UAAP MVP awardee Michelle Gumabao is proud of posing nude for a sports store's ad campaign, which she said reflects her advocacy for youth and women empowerment.
The photos, which were unveiled early this week during a press conference, show Gumabao in action shots as if in a volleyball match. In one photo, she appears to be completely naked with splashes of water concealing parts of her body.
The series, taken by lensman Jojit Lorenzo, is part of the new ad campaign of sports store Toby's.
Speaking with ABS-CBN News' Ginger Conejero at the sidelines of the press conference, Gumabao admitted she was initially hesitant to take on the shoot's concept, as she had anticipated her father, a pastor, to raise some concerns.
"Actually my reaction was, 'It's very beautiful.' Because it's something that you don't normally see in a volleyball player or any sports outlet," she said.
Narrating how she ended up agreeing to do the project, Gumabao said, "My concern was really my dad. He's a pastor and I come from a Christian family, so before Toby's released all the pictures, I had to course it through him."
"I said, 'Papa, ito ipapakita sa shoot, this will be plastered on the walls of Toby's,' and he said, 'You know, it's okay, because it's very wholesome,'" she said.
Image of strong woman
As to her apparent nudity and how it may be perceived by the public, Gumabao expressed confidence that her shots were executed artistically.
"It depends naman on how the photographer takes it, and how you look in the picture. It doesn't mean na you're not wearing anything, bold star ka na. It's not like that. It's very artistic, what Toby's did, and I'm very proud to be part of it," she said.
Also featuring San Mig Coffee player James Yap and the Philippine Azkals' Neil Ethridge, the photo series as a campaign, Gumabao noted, also emphasize athleticism. This, she happily shared, is in line with a message she wishes to impart as public figure.
"Maybe one of the major reasons I'm speaking infront of young people right now or I take every opportunity that I can get, is because I really want to impart to them all the advocacies that I've been working on.
"First of all is youth empowerment, focusing on women. Because women have less opportunities in our culture and in our industry, and with sports, it's one step closer to being known as or to be considered strong," she said.