Assunta de Rossi-Ledesma was certainly feeling the “flashback Friday” vibe on July 5, when she attended the launch of the 25 Important Things I Learned From My Bench Shoots coffee table book by Ronnie Salvacion.
Coinciding with the book launch is the opening of a grand exhibit at The Playground inside the Bench Tower in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, where excerpts from the book are on display.
Among the installations was a humongous collage of photos from a shoot that Assunta and Jomari Yllana did back in 2001 for the B/Wood ad campaign.
In the caption written by Ronnie, he said that this Bollywood-inspired series was his first out-of-the-country shoot for the lifestyle brand.
Assunta had very fond memories of the shoot, and told PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal), “It’s really an honor na ma-consider kang parang part ng Bench family.
“Sa dami ng naging endorser nila, di ba, parang feeling ko tuloy baka hindi na rin nila ako maisip. Pero ano, kasali pa rin ako, so it’s really an honor.
“We had so much fun shooting that, e, in India, and then kanina kausap ko si Ronnie, sabi ko, ‘Alam mo kung sino’ng naalala ko? Si Tito Dougs.’
“Kasi kasama namin siya noon, e. Sobrang saya ng grupo namin kaya nakaka-miss din si Tito Dougs.”
The actress was referring to the late talent manager Douglas Quijano, who was responsible for the careers of many of the brand’s original endorsers like Jomari, Richard Gomez, Lucy Torres, and others.
Assunta did not elaborate further on her memories of Tito Dougs, but she did recount how much she appreciated the work of the Indian artist who did her makeup for the shoot.
“We went there August, e, so sobrang init din kaya naku, Diyos ko, super hulas!
“Buti na lang iyong makeup artist ko diyan, ano, Indian talaga, so alam niya iyong mga tamang makeup na gagamitin para hindi humulas kasi nga mainit.”
For the shoot, Assunta donned a traditional Indian outfit and makeup, which, according to Ronnie, got the locals asking if she was a real Bollywood star.
“Siguro akala nila kakaiba pero merong mga tao before na nagsasabi, lalo na iyong mga locals doon, tinatanong nila kung Indian ba ko.
“Sabi ko, ‘Hindi, half-Italian half-Filipina ako.’ E, kasi daw mukha daw akong bumbay,” said Assunta.
In some of the layouts, Assunta and Jomari were only clad in underwear, and it had everyone in Jaipur buzzing that day.
“Iyon naman talaga ang ipinunta namin doon,” Assunta said, “and thankfully hindi naman kami nakulong.
“Pero yeah, conservative nga iyong mga tao doon.
“Hindi ko nga alam kung bakit, e, sa kanila naman galing iyong Kama Sutra ‘no! Tigilan nga ako,” she jokingly retorted.