By: Daniel Mogato
Shaira Luna defines life step by step on her own. From being the child wonder who mesmerized the whole nation to being one of the most sought-after photographers of today’s generation, Shaira Luna reveals her fair share of life’s ups and downs up to pursuing her true passion.
Shaira Luna was among the “gifted children” who became a household name in the Philippines during the 90’s when she was featured in a popular milk brand’s TV commercials. Topping her elementary class at 2 years old, she was instrumental in inspiring kids and parents that very young children could learn and excel in academics beyond their biological years. Under normal circumstances, the situation could have affected the young Shaira negatively. Fortunately, her mother meticulously guided and instilled in Shaira a resilience that later on shielded the young woman from a lot of pressures that came her way.
Growing up, Shaira always pictured herself pursuing a career in medicine, admitting she’d “watch actual operations when I was 9 years old.” She reminisced observing how Hysterectomy and C section operations are done and noted it was “fun and exciting” back then. This inspired the extraordinary girl to take a course on Human Biology. At 13, she was the youngest college student in her class at the De La Salle University, a prestigious school in Manila.
In the middle of college and in spite of her success in school, Shaira decided to drop out. While everything she has accomplished so far proved that she could become a medical practitioner, something inside compelled her to pursue the arts and photography instead. She realized that the discovery of being gifted at a young age does not prove that her destiny has already been drawn for her. She did not settle for what seemed to be obvious. It was her choice that defined who she is today and it will be her choices in the future that will define who she will become tomorrow.
Shaira, now a 28-year-old professional freelance photographer, shared that going to college at such an early age was no walk in the park. She admitted, “Being immersed in a totally different environment; stepping in college was not a smooth one.” She also remembered getting bullied because of her age and for looking ‘weird.’
Like all teens, Shaira tried to pursue what was expected of her. But like all young adolescents, she also went through the phase of trying to find her self, causing her to jump from one course to another.
While Shaira did excel in all the fields she tried, there was always a longing for something else that led her to finally quit school. Still, she is still grateful for her college experience because it paved a way for her to discover the world in her own way.
“I’ve always been responsible with or without my parents watching me. I just did what I thought is right and try to be a role model.” She credits her parents for playing a significant role in her upbringing by allowing her to excel in whatever she puts her mind to, including the decision to discover a different path.
That spirit of excellence continued to bring out the best in her. Though trained in medicine and the sciences, the same spirit ignited in her the desire and courage to pursue the arts and photography.
Growing up as a household name came with the pressure to excel so when she decided to completely change her path and pursue her passion, criticism was inevitable. Shaira on the other hand, is not the type of person to get affected and carried away with what other people say or think.
“You can choose if you’re going to be affected by the choices others make for you, or just jump there and explore some other things. I don’t understand why you need to put yourself down over anything else. Like others say, it’s a mistake. But what’s a mistake really? I don’t fail in anything. For me, it’s just an opportunity to learn something new.”
Shaira reflected that a career in photography actually never came into the picture when she was younger. “I never touched the camera even if they were always shooting me.” Her passion for music, however, led her take photos of bands’ performances. Eventually, bands and brands took notice of her skills.
Now, Shaira is making waves in the field of photography. She has been around the country and the world taking photos of world-renowned personalities and models, and continues to work with local and global brands for advertising campaigns.
The dictionary definition of a gifted child may lead people to question Shaira’s choices — of giving up college and a career in medicine to pursue photography, something else that’s totally different. But for Shaira, taking on the world and living life is not dependent on what other people expect of you or how they see you. It is about discovering what you really want and sticking with it.
Looking at the bigger and clearer picture of Shaira Luna’s life — she never regretted pursuing her passion. She is a prime example that you can do what you love and excel at it. She broke the mold that others created of her at an early age and proved that each of us are solely responsible for our own happiness. Bravely, she says, “Bring it on!” and keeps living a happy life.