The host and interior designer talks about her design sensibilities, her travels, and the importance of taking risks
If you want to know what mantra host Maggie Wilson-Consunji lives by, just take a look at her back. Tattooed in cursive along her spine are the words, “Feel the fear and do it anyway.” She was fearless as a child. “My parents made sure that I was competitive,” she says, recalling how athletic she was as a kid, trying out swimming, tennis, and volleyball while living in Saudi Arabia. “I was fearless in making decisions so it was kind of practice for me.” She was fearless at 14, when she decided to stay in the Philippines to model after being scouted while on vacation, and in her every decision since.
Her life has been a series of bold steps and her daring has landed her multiple titles: Actress (Encantadia, Darna, and Beauty Queen, among others), beauty queen (Miss World Philippines 2017), MTV VJ, host (Philippines’ Next Top Model, Beached, AXN’s Project Go), and more recently, interior designer and businesswoman of the Acasa Group. Perhaps the best representation of her dauntlessness can be found on the fifth season of The Amazing Race Asia, which Maggie joined in 2016 alongside fellow beauty queen Parul Shah. Her grit and courage allowed her to tackle the most physically-challenging and mentally-daunting tasks, including eating a plate of critters. “I had to eat a plate of exotic food like rats, bats, scorpions,” she recalls. “In that moment, I sort of just said, ‘Don’t think, just do it,’” she continues. It’s no surprise that they eventually won the series.
“Life is all about taking risks, being willing to step out of your comfort zone.”— Maggie Wilson-Consunji
Maggie lives by this mindset on the regular, whether she’s swimming with tiger sharks, responding to bashers on social media, or switching careers to pursue her passions.
She once ran a marathon in Antarctica because her husband, construction scion Victor Consunji, was going and invited her to tag along. Though she had never run a full marathon prior and initially had no intention of joining, her competitive nature took over. “I was a little apprehensive at first because it was minus 40 degrees and running 42 kilometers on ice and snow didn’t sound very appealing to me,” she recalls. “But when I got there the organizers were like, ‘Listen, if you do it, you’ll be the first Filipina to do it.’” So she signed up.
Before meeting her husband, Maggie didn’t travel much as her schedule as an actress didn’t afford her time off. When she quit acting after getting married at 21, that’s when her streak of adventures began. She says, “I was like, screw it. I want to see the world.”
“I’ve been to 40 or 41 countries already and I’ve been to all continents. You can tell from my Instagram that I love to travel,” she says, laughing. It’s true. Her Instagram feed is a curated list of travel photos, most of them depicting her swimsuit-clad in some island. (Yes, she has a rockin’ bod, and no, she doesn’t do fads. At most, she works out thrice a week, has recently gotten into reformer pilates, and believes that “abs are made in the kitchen.”)
Maggie, who says she loves “being photo ready above and under the water,” has a pre-travel beauty regimen down to a science: a visit to her dermatologist, her hairstylist (for a keratin treatment every month and a half), and her nail and lash stylists (for the Goddess Lashes treatment and retouching every two to three weeks). “I always get my lash extensions and gel mani and pedi done with Ayumi. I normally do it the day before I fly out,” she says. She’s even on a first name basis with her favorite lash technician (Isabel). During her trip, her essentials include sunscreen, a face mask, purple shampoo, and lash serum. “Taking beautiful photos is my way to look back at my trip,” Maggie notes. “When I get older, life will slow down but till then, you’ll see me traveling and taking photos as much as I can.”
“Traveling makes you a more well-rounded person,” she continues. “You become more understanding because you’re trying to adapt to all the different cultures of the places that you’re visiting.” To fully immerse herself in her destinations, she tries to do as the locals do. “I like to eat the food, to learn how to cook the food, shop in local shops, from local designers. I’m definitely not a touristy kind of girl. I will go to the concierge and say, ‘I want to eat where you guys eat.’” But though she’s all about trying the local food, she says, “At some point we need to cook sinigang already or we need to make adobo because I just can’t live without Filipino food for more than a week.”
Maggie Wilson-Consunji has a list of destinations she wants to visit. “Once I visit one, I cross it out and add another country,” she shares. But despite her list, she doesn’t plan trips to heavily populated big cities and she doesn’t plan them too far ahead. Instead, she fills long weekends in and holidays as she goes. “I figure out when I have free time and then I’ll text my husband, ‘I’m thinking of doing this country,’ and then he’s like, ‘Yeah, OK. Let’s go,” she says. “I’m thankful that my husband is also very adventurous. We’re a really good combination when it comes to adventures, traveling, and sports.” Her favorite places include the Bahamas, Morocco, and Iceland.
She has become somewhat of a go-to travel guru for friends visiting the country, which makes sense. She hosted Beached, a travel show with Marc Nelson, and knows a thing or two about the Philippines’ most prized locations and has ready itineraries to send to anyone who asks. “I have a list on my Notes [app] that I copy-paste and send to my friends, a list of restaurants, what to order, things to do and see,” she shares. She enumerates what she loves about the country—the food, the pristine beaches, the hospitable nature of the people, as well as how the country is linguistically-diverse.
She also mentions that she loves the way Filipinos are willing to help when the community is in need—something she witnessed first-hand when she raised money for PPE production at the beginning of lockdown. She and her husband raised over P19 million and donated PPEs, masks, gloves, and more. “We distributed [the goods] at four or five different hospitals across the Philippines,” she says. Though she doesn’t like posting about their philanthropy unless she’s trying to raise money, she maintains that “It’s our civil duty as individuals who are able to donate.” The couple tries to instill the same philosophy in their son, Connor, who is now an adoptive father to some endangered and hunted animals, including an elephant in Kenya.
Aside from generosity, it’s taking risks that Maggie Wilson-Consunji would like to impart to her son, even in the simple act of trying new dishes. “I tell my son this everyday, ‘How are you going to know you like it if you don’t try it?’” she shares.
“I think that taking risks is so magical because you never really know what to expect when you’re trying something new or starting a new passion,” she continues. “So if I’m given an opportunity, I grab it by the horns and just go in head first. Life is so bloody short.”
Continue Reading: Maggie Wilson-Consunji: A Design For Life