Denise Go-Ochoa is one of showbiz's top makeup artists in the country.
Her clientele includes the hottest names in business, among whom are Toni Gonzaga, KC Concepcion, Sarah Geronimo, Bea Alonzo, Jodi Sta. Maria, and Kathryn Bernardo.
She and her husband, actor Dominic Ochoa, have one son.
But back in 1998, the idea of becoming a makeup artist did not even cross Denise’s mind.
Then twenty-something, Denise was set on becoming a businesswoman.
“I really started out as a salon manager,” she recounted during a one-on-one interview with PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal).
“I really started out getting connected to the beauty industry when my mom franchised a salon.”
Her late mother Veronica Ortiz Go-Aldanese, who was known as VOGA, gave the salon to Denise as a graduation gift so she could own something that would “flourish” with time or “take anywhere.”
The salon business paved Denise's entry into the world of beauty and fashion.
“I had to learn how to cut and color hair because, siyempre, in the salon, I can’t totally count on the staff.
“Merong days na absent sila, merong days na hindi sila bigla dadating o late.
“I had to save the client’s appointments.”
Denise became interested in makeup when she happened to pick up one of her mother’s how-to books.
“I was playing with my mom’s books, kasi she had a lot of books, e.
"She’d use them as reference as in step-by-step books, so dun ako nag-start.
“People saw me playing with makeup. Our clients saw me playing with makeup.
“I didn’t really plan kasi I was set on managing the salon and cutting, okay na ako dun, e.
“And then people saw me, ‘Ay, gusto ko siya mag-makeup.’”
One of the salon regulars who took notice was the former beauty queen and actress, Alma Concepcion.
Eventually, she became Denise’s first celebrity client for her skills in makeup.
Word spread around, and they started coming to her shop: Kapuso host Suzie Entrata; young Heart Evangelista and Maxene Magalona; former singer-actress Carol Banawa; former teen actress Paula Peralejo, and former MTV VJ Shannen Torres.
A few years later, a seven-year-old Kathryn Bernardo was sitting on the makeup chair and getting her face done by Denise.
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HAPPY ACCIDENT. Denise’s start in the industry was more serendipitous than deliberate.
She mused, “I was just really following the step-by-step instructions.
“I was just playing and then, sa kakaganon ko, I didn’t realize gusto ko na pala siya.
“Maybe nakita ng ibang tao na-enhance ko yung features nila.
“Parang ganun ako. Parang bagay sa’yo na ganito kilay mo, so let’s do this.
“I really enjoy, not the craft itself, but bringing out someone’s beauty.
“Maybe I was brought to this kind of path because I didn’t have to force myself to learn.
“It was a happy accident.”
From her clients at the salon, Denise, 23 at the time, made the rounds of the magazine circuit.
Right off the bat, she distinguished herself for her “fresh” makeup looks, which bucked the trendy heavy shades of makeup then.
Denise resumed, “Alam mo yung makeup na parang drag?
"May iba kasi na they want to do that kaya they fell into the makeup industry.
“Ang sa ’kin, it was more of beautifying someone.”
Her preference to enhance a person’s natural beauty gave her a distinct personality from the other makeup artists who dabble in the art.
“It has always been my personal taste.
“You know, achieving that kind of freshness or beauty.
“I feel like that’s really more of my strength.”
True enough, the “fresh” and “natural” makeup style became her signature style.
HER INSPIRATION. Nearly two decades of beautifying celebrities for their shoots, commercials, and appearances, Denise has one person to thank for bringing her into this colorful life as a makeup artist: her late mom, Veronica.
Denise remembered her mother fondly as she looked back on her formative years as a makeup artist, “She’s the one who encouraged me, ‘Oh, you should do makeup.’
“She serves as an inspiration.
“Like, the life that we are living now is mostly inspired by how she showed it to us.
"Ano kasi siya, ma-skill na tao with hands.
“There are people texting us now na, ‘Your mom has always been an inspiration because she would always tell us, you should always do your passion.
“’If you’re into this, you should do that para you won’t feel like you’re working or you’ll flourish there because that’s what you really like to do.’
“I’m just thankful because she’s the one who led me to this road.
“Parang she opened my eyes.
“I graduated Business, major in Computer.
“She’s the one who told me, ‘You know it doesn’t matter. Kung saan mo feeling mo masaya ka and if you think you have the passion for it, then gagaling ka because you’re passionate about it.’”
Veronica Go passed away earlier this year.
Denise and her sister Effie Go-Inigo planned to open a makeup studio of their own, and put one chair to continue serving their mother’s loyal patrons.