If there's one thing that Nika Madrid has, it's this: staying power. Long before trade shows became the platform on which young women showcased their good looks, there were the titillating films of the 2000s. Nika had been a star in several of those.
But even before the opportunities in those films had dried up, Nika had always recognized that it wasn't forever. So she made sure to beef up her resumé in ways that would allow her to earn a living in other ways. Today, she has a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management.
In the interim, modeling gigs sprouted in the form of car shows and other trade shows. She gobbled those up as well, which includes multiple appearances in FHM. In February 2009, she was our 100% Hottie. In spite of being a constant fixture in these, she never grew complacent, still acutely aware that there was an end to all of this. So she did what she had done before: make herself essential in other ways. She did so by enrolling in culinary school, a course she'll finish soon. And it's not merely because of financial reasons. Nika says: "Gusto ko rin may maipagmalaki sa mga future na anak ko, hindi lang pagmo-model."
That's not to say though that she isn't proud of what she's accomplished in her modeling career. We asked her if she'd be proud of showing her photos to her kids, even if they're a little risqué. Confidently, she answers, "Yes, of course. Kasi dun ako nag start, nakapag-ipon at nakapag-patayo ng bahay."
We answer our own question: And why shouldn't Nika be proud? Few are those who are blessed with a figure that has, by the grace of good genes, stayed as magazine-worthy as this. We're glad that Nika has the admirable mindset of future-proofing herself, but until the passing of time finally takes away her God-given physical beauty, we'd gladly put her on these pages to be idolized—just like many of us did the first time we saw her on the big screen.
Hey, Nika. We heard you’re in culinary school now. Why culinary school?
Mahilig na talaga ako magluto dati pa. I think 10 years old pa lang ako, nagluluto na ‘ko. I am also a Hotel and Restaurant Management graduate so culinary school came naturally. Sumunod na rin dun yung kagustuhan kong mag-work sa cruise ship. I’ll be able to cook and travel. Masaya yun, ‘di ba?
Who taught you to cook?
Tinuruan ako ng ate ko. She taught me the usual Filipino dishes—adobo, caldereta, yung mga gulay.
We’re guessing you’ve expanded your repertoire since then.
Yup. Halo-halong cuisines na ‘yung nasubukan kong lutuin since I began studying. Currently, apat na ‘yung natutunan ko: Italian, Taiwanese, Chinese, Japanese.
Matututunan mo rin ‘yung plating. Dapat may diskarte ka kung paano ka mag-present ng pagkain mo na masarap sa paningin ng tao. Importante ‘yun kasi ‘yun ‘yung unang unang titignan—ang unang makakaagaw ng attention. Iniisip ko minsan na parang painting siya. Gusto ko siya lagyan ng kulay at buhay para nakakagutom talaga.
Which is your favorite cuisine?
Taiwanese, kasi masarap siya. It’s just my personal choice. Actually, I still lean towards anything Asian—pad thai, curry, fried rice, pork sauté and anything with aligue.
Have you learned something about those countries just by their cuisine?
Oo, makikita mo talaga yung pagkakaiba-iba ng panlasa. Kapag Filipino, the food tends to be maasim na matamis. Kapag Japanese, the flavors are simpler pero malakas pa rin yung dating. Nakikita mo yung difference nila. ‘Pag Taiwanese, mahilig sila sa maanghang. Sobra. Italians, they like their food with olive oil.
And would you say that your favorite food comes from a different country now?
Hindi rin. Sa adobo pa rin ako. Ang galing kasi ng adobo eh. Bawat region sa atin, may sariling style. Kaya adobo na rin ang ginawa kong specialty. Masarap ako mag-adobo, and may sarili akong way of preparing it.
Sa ’kin na lang ‘yun. Ha ha! Kapag makikikain ka ng adobo sa ibang bahay, hindi rin naman nila sasabihin sa’yo yung sikreto nila ‘di ba? Bawat bahay, may sariling sikreto kung paano pasarapin ‘yung adobo nila. Ganun din ako!
Point taken. But are you the type who loves to eat as much as she cooks?
Oo. Sa isang upuan, nakakatatlong cups of rice ako minsan. I like to eat. Parang mahirap pagkatiwalaan ang chef na hindi rin mahilig kumain.
Is it hard being a model and a healthy eater—or for that matter, a chef?
Kapag may mga events or shoots, I can control myself. Kapag hindi nakapag-control, may gym naman.
Sa akin, iniisip ko, pagdating sa kusina, nandoon ako bilang chef. And as a chef, pipigilan mo ‘yung model side mo na minsan kalaban ‘yung pagkain. Isa pa, ‘pag ikaw ang nagluluto, nawawala ‘yung appetite mo kakatikim. So nabubusog kana. Pagdating ng kainan, ‘di na ganun kadami makakain mo.
Is it harder to model or to cook? Which gives you more satisfaction?
Magkaiba e. Kasi di ba sa pag mo-model ang tinitignan sa'yo, ‘yung katawan. And I’m proud of that. I’m proud of my body, and thankful ako na I was able to show that side of myself in my modelling career, and earlier ‘yung showbiz career ko. As a model, dapat presentable ka, maayos ka at sexy ka. Sa culinary, parang ganun rin. Gusto mo presentable rin ‘yung food mo, at gusto mong tumatak sa isip nila ‘yung lasa ng ihahain mo.
Kung sa mga events and photo shoots, may pressure na mai-present yung best mo, ganun din sa food business. Nagka-function kami dati for about 400 people. Intense ‘yung pressure na mai-serve ‘yung food ng tama, mabilis, at masarap. Hinde puwede ‘yung petiks ka lang. Trabaho kung trabaho. Pagkatapos naman ng lahat, whether modeling or culinary, masaya ‘yung pagod kapag alam mong nagawa mo ng tama ‘yung work mo.
You said that adobo reigns supreme in your heart. Can you say the same about Filipino guys?
Ay, siyempre. Sa Filipino pa rin ako. Number one sa akin ‘yun. There’s nothing wrong with falling in love with guys of a different nationality. Look at Pia Wurtzbach and Sam Pinto—personal preference kasi ‘yun eh. And attractive rin naman talaga ang foreigners. May mga na-date na rin naman ako na hindi Filipino. Pero parang hindi nila matapatan ‘yung lambing na binibigay ng Filipino.
You’ve been in the scene for a while now. Has marriage ever crossed your mind?
Oo, siyempre. Lahat naman ng girl dream ‘yon.
Pinakamatagal na ‘yung five years. Na-e-enjoy ko pa rin maging model eh. I’ll be here until the projects are coming. Tapos, gusto kong pagbutihin ang pagiging chef para I can set up a business and become stable. ‘Pag na-accomplish ko ‘to, that’s when I’ll settle down.
Photography Fade Longboy Styling Bela Vitug Makeup Cheska Francisco Produced by Gelo Gonzales