Helena Belmonte was the perfect cover girl. She had a beautiful face, a rich family, a solid set of friends, a loving boyfriend, and a life that every teenager wished to have. She grew up in the fashion industry, her mother being a part of the most acclaimed fashion magazine publication in the Philippines.
When I first heard about Helena, I saw her as the perfect muse of what Meg magazine used to be; posh, girly, and perfect. Because her mom was the creative director of MEGA, little Helena would always be around the office, dazzling people with her charm and beauty.
I was told that Sari Yap, the CEO of One Mega Group Inc. found inspiration to making Meg because of Helena and her generation.
“She was a child at 15 and when she turned 16, she suddenly grew up,” recalled Sari.
Raised in a privileged lifestyle, she could have anything she wanted with a snap of her finger. Everyone loved Helena. She was always invited to parties, transferred from one prestigious school to the other, became an actress, a model – you name it.
But despite all the glitz and glamour, what I saw in her was a young girl who was just trying to find enlightenment. Beneath the façade of happiness, maybe she was someone deeply conflicted.
Helena was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at a young age. At that time, having a mental illness wasn’t widely accepted. In fact, even she had a hard time accepting her condition herself.
When she died, people were devastated. How could a girl who seemed so perfect and happy suddenly take her own life?
Behind closed doors, every one of us has a battle.
Helena died on this day four years ago. Her death was truly tragic, but in my journey to finding Meg again, I don’t want us to remember her as the model that took her life. I want us to remember Helena as the first Meg girl; beautiful, flawed, and strong.
I want this new version of Meg to be accepting. “I think now we are in a better place to do what Meg has always tried to do, which is to help young people,” Sari said.
Times change, and perhaps it’s for the better. This is the generation where we advocate acceptance.
Let us be the generation who chooses kindness over hate. Let’s be the generation that makes a positive difference. #WeAreMeg