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Street Beggar Turns To Online Celebrity Thanks To A Photo

Rita Gaviola

Rita Gaviola | Photo – Topher Quinto Burgos/Rita Gaviola

Remember the story of Olajumoke Orisaguna, the Nigerian bread seller turned model? In case you don’t lets give you a refresher.

31-year-old Olajumoke found fame while going about her daily business of hawking bread on the streets of Lagos. Luck shone on her when she  unknowingly walked into a photo shoot session of British rapper, Tinie Tempah, by Nigerian photographer, TY Bello, for Nigeria’s This Day magazine.

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During edits, TY Bello found an image of Olajumoke and Tinie Tempah amongst the photos. Bello’s searched for Olajumoke and photographed her.

Everything is history from down there. Olajumoke went on the appear on the cover of ThisDay and her story became so much a viral sensatio that it was reported in various media sources.

The attention landed Olajumoke a modelling contract with Few Model Management, internships and work, despite not being fluent in English Language. She was also awarded a scholarship by Sujimoto Group and Poise Nigeria.

The story of Rita Gaviola, a 13-year-old street beggar in the Filipino town of Lucban is not very different from Olajumoke’s.

Rita’s story began in 2016 when she was spotted by Filipino photographer Topher Quinto Burgos, who happened to be attending the Pahiyas Festival in Lucban, in May 2016.

At the time, she was on the streets begging for alms on the streets of Lucban to help her family make ends meet.

Her father worked as a garbage collector and her mother stayed home to look after her and her five siblings. None of the children attended school at the time and the family barely managed to put food on the table, so Rita often went out to beg for change or food donations.

Attracted by her natural beauty, Burgos posted some of the teenager’s photos on the internet and her life was completely changed.

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A member of the Badjao ethnic minority, she was nicknamed “Badjao Girl” and attracted the attention of several Filipino beauty queens, all of whom did their best to help the girl crawl out of poverty.

Celebrities like Miss World Philippines 2015 Hillarie Danielle Parungao, Miss International Philippines 2014 Bianca Guidotti, and Miss Earth 2015 Angelia Ong all took to social media to praise Rita’s model-like physique and striking facial features and that drew even more attention to the Lucban street beggar.

Her rags to riches story saw her granting interviews, amassing over a hundred thousand followers on social media  modelling for various brands, landing small roles in TV series, and becoming one of the youngest people to be on the international reality show Big Brother.

All thanks to a random photo, her family’s story was changed for the better.

In 2018, Rita uploaded a YouTube video showcasing her family’s new house and thanking a certain Grace Kreutzer, a loyal US fan who had reportedly sponsored the construction of the new home.

 

Like Olajumoke, the hype around Rita has since died down. However, Rita still models from time to time and remains very popular on Filipino social media, particularly Instagram,

She is currently prioritizing her education.

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