Juliana Urbina is one of those free spirt types who looks like she lives on the beach when you stalk her Instagram feed. But in this case, our sun-kissed model does actually live on the beach—in Bali no less. The stereotype of a beach-bound beauty has come a long way, and Jill is a perfect example of the modern woman who decides that if she wants to live and work abroad, she only needs permission from herself and no one else. It also helps a lot when you’re a traveling model that also happens to look like the perfect subject for a summer postcard and swimsuits. The rest of us normal folk with wanderlust dreams can content ourselves with less photogenic jobs in Bali, we guess!
You look like you’ve been hitting the beach hard—and it’s not even officially summer yet!
[I’ve been going] not just summer, but all year round! I started dreaming about living at the beach so first I was at Boracay before new year, after Japan, then I went to Langkawi in Malaysia, then Bali. And after Manila, I’m going back to Malaysia then Bali.
Is this work, play, or both?
Both. I want to work and chase the sun, I guess. It’s nice to move around when you know it’s a new place [like Bali] and an intersection for the whole world—where you can meet people from different places but with the same purpose.
We assume it’s modeling work keeping you busy?
Yes, I’m with Bali Starz (an agency).
Living on the move isn’t a lifestyle most Pinoys are familiar with, what do you think about this?
There’s this book I read, with villagers and nomads. The villagers look at the nomads walking and think, “I feel bad for them, they have no home.” While the nomads look at them and say “I feel bad for them, they only stay in one place.” I feel like I’m the person looking at the village. I need to be spontaneous, that’s my dream. For now maybe, since I’m still young and I can use that energy for something exciting.
So what are some of the cons of constant traveling?
The struggles, first you basically need to reset sometimes, but the real big deal is when I've just arrived somewhere, I get so excited but I have to be careful. There are lots of people that you’ll meet along the way and you always have to think about yourself and safety. You always have to protect yourself when you're in another place.
Not that you’re going to close your self down—what I do is when I meet someone, I trust them easily. When people think it’s so easy for this person to trust someone, then they think you’re stupid and tell you things they think you don’t understand—but deep inside I know what they’re trying to do, so I’ll know who the genuine people are. If you make yourself vulnerable towards other people, they’ll take advantage of that and I can cross out the people na di dapat samahan.
And how about the work abroad?
I went to Bali for work and adventure. I can’t travel just being in a bubble right? You have to do something, you need to make money, support your trips, you can’t just get drunk, eat, sleep, repeat then you’re broke after. You have to go back to the reality that you need to eat, work out, network for the job.
Have you always flied solo or was there a time you traveled with a special someone?
I used to have company when I was a little bit younger, a best friend, group, and a boyfriend. We actually travelled through almost all the islands of the Philippines together—it was seven months of traveling. Mostly diving spots. I don’t surf!
Does exploring with someone make things a lot better?
It’s nice to have company. It was nice to be in love, watch the stars at night, do all the romantic things. Then traveling with my best friend was different, we were just free—when you’re with someone you feel more safe and confident to talk to new people. Then I started traveling alone and I enjoyed being a blank canvas. You want to see how you can handle yourself being alone.
Most LDR’s have two people in two places, not one staying put and another all over the place. How do you deal with a situation like that?
Sometimes you need to feed your soul and not just your heart. I think if your LDR won’t let you be free and have your personal development, then he doesn’t really care about you. I’d explain what I want to do with my life, say that you can call me and I’ll go right away to you.
I think it’ll be a process until you can form a compromise because most relationships nowadays they stop once you put yourself into a commitment, you’ll feel that you are limiting yourself. That’s why they don’t last long, you start to have rules, society doesn’t approve of shit, you get put into a box. I would also want him to be anything he wants to be in return—just no doing things we do to each other to other people.
Is traveling really one of the best things a couple can do together?
It’s actually the best thing. I think I’m more into travel than a gift like a Louis Vuitton bag or something expensive.
What starter travel destinations can you suggest for budding romances?
No electricity night at Apo Island (near Dumaguete). It would be nice to experience going back to basics. It’s soulful, especially when you see the stars and meteors at night. And in the daytime, it’s exceptional diving water since it’s a sanctuary. As for abroad, siyempre Bali, ha ha! Then the mountains of Japan for lovers!
Have you ever done one of those really cliché lovers-abroad things? Love locks on a bridge maybe?
[Not abroad but] I have a little box and, from all the flowers I’ve received before, I cut a little bit off and keep it to remind me about them, ha ha! Also the secret is that I don’t appreciate them if it isn’t my favorite flower. When somebody gives them to me, it means someone really took the effort to know me. It makes me feel weak when someone gives me flowers, ha ha!
Producer Mary Rose A. Hogaza Photographer and Stylist Shaira Luna Makeup Sylvina Lopez Hair Gian Carlo Sipaco