Megan Camaisa shares her views on working in media and fashion

Megan Camaisa and Kenneth Barlis have been working together on several projects, the latest being the Fashion for Passion Gala in San Diego. After the event, she talks about her philosophy, family, and life experiences.

All looks worn by Megan Camaisa in this photo story are designed by Kenneth Barlis.

Megan Camaisa prides herself on being a wife and mother, but for the past 11 years, she has been the COO, Co-Founder & Publisher of Risen Magazine. The publication is faith and family-friendly oriented, to change the way the mainstream sees Christianity in media, particularly in Hollywood. Camaisa is also an executive producer of feature films alongside her husband, Allan. Their latest film, Lost in America, tackles the issue of homeless youth in America. The film stars Halle Berry, Rosario Dawson, Jon Bon Jovi, Mylie Cyrus, and Jewel.

Faith is a principle of life

Megan Camaisa reveals to HBVN, “My Christian faith has led me to become the woman I am today. It has taught me to look out for those less fortunate than myself, always be empathetic to others, have an open mind about situations, expand outside of my comfort zone, always learn to forgive despite the circumstances, not to keep records of wrongs, and to always look for a positive in a negative situation.” These principles have helped her make the best possible choices as a wife, mother, friend, and in all the roles she plays in her life.

She laughs, “That’s not to say that I get it right all the time, as no one is ever perfect. I truly believe that society needs to drop its standards of perfection in so many ways.”

Charitable works

Philanthropy and giving back to women and children in economic hardship and abusive situations have always been a big effort for  Camaisa. Her husband is a first-generation Filipino-American, thus giving back to the Philippines is a core value of their family. They once supported an NGO called Gawad Kalinga. Their mission was to help Filipinos escape the endless cycle of poverty and lack of education.

She recalls, “We visited a Gawad Kalinga (also referred to as, GK) village that our donations had helped build. What struck a chord with me, and inspires me to this day, is when a woman and her daughter invited me inside their home. Years earlier, this exact woman and family, were homeless, hopeless, and without the prospect of a better future. She graciously, without hesitation welcomed me into her home and quickly offered me something to eat. I was so humbled that someone, who had been through so many trials in life, would welcome, me, a stranger who by all worldly standards had so much more than she did into her home and offer the little food they had. It was the first profound moment of the visit. The next profound moment, that has had a lasting impact on me is when her daughter thanked me for making her education possible. She let me know that she was attending university and that it was all made possible by donors like our family. I then realized the impact that our donation had made all those years ago. It was tangible and palpable to me at that moment what charitable works can mean to another human being.”

Megan Camaisa currently serves on the Board of Directors for both the Meadowlark Lemon Legacy Foundation and the Fil-Am BID, San Diego. She is also a proud lifetime member of both the Pacific Arts Movement and the Coalition of Asians in Entertainment.

The friendship with Kenneth Barlis

You may know Kenneth Barlis from Bravo’s Project Runway: Season 19. Camaisa and Barlis were introduced to each other through a mutual friend many years ago. From the moment they met, they have had a wonderful time collaborating on designs, whether that be for suits, gowns, dresses, or for parties and charitable events. She talks about him with pride, “He is a rare talent, that has overcome so many obstacles to become a leading Filipino high fashion designer. Each day, I am thankful to get to call him a friend as I know he will leave a legacy in the fashion world.”

During the time of Covid 19, she and Barlis raised funds to provide thousands of free meals and masks designed by Barlis to frontline medical workers. Once Covid-19 vaccinations were available, they took their project to the next level and began to encourage at-risk populations to get vaccinated. Her oldest teenage son, Christian, designed an onboarding portal for people to sign up for vaccination appointments.

She concludes, “Many may think that fashion is superficial, however, I see it as an outreach into the community, especially when we all need something to lighten our moods on dark days. I’m very fortunate that Kenneth shares a similar outlook and that together we can collaborate to make a positive impact.”

The 1st annual Fashion for Passion Gala in San Diego

The gala was the brainchild of Kenneth Barlis. Kenneth thought it would be great to not only present his latest collection on the runway in his hometown of San Diego, California but also raise funds for charitable organizations. Thus, the Fashion for Passion Gala was born.

They wanted the event to be something exciting and different for those attending. The addition of live vocalists, dancers, and musicians throughout the evening added that special touch. The evening began with a full piano recital by Edwina T. Sun, a very accomplished young pianist. She was accompanied by Angelina Wang, a conservatory classmate and singer. Singer and actress Aira Bella Luna then serenaded guests during the event.

Kenneth Barlis showcased over 30 looks, all modeled by clients and professional models alike.

The hit of the evening was when guests learned more about the main beneficiary of the gala, Care in Action, USA, through a short film. Care in Action strives to feed, clothe, and shelter the homeless while providing opportunities for betterment. It is led by Gloria Lewis, a waitress, along with her family. She dedicates all of her spare time and financial resources to help those less fortunate in the Fort Lauderdale, Florida community. Lewis has been featured in the star-studded documentary, Lost In America, and has received many awards for her selfless dedication to the homeless.

Megan Camaisa the Equestrian

Camaisa thrives on the energy of the fashion industry both in front of the camera and behind. She has walked the catwalks in Los Angeles, New York, and Paris.

She is also a skillful equestrian. Camaisa says, “I’ve always loved horses. When I was very small, my grandfather bought me my first pony, Pete. From there, I took riding lessons as a kid. As a pre-teen & teenager, I drifted away from horses and opted for classical dance, gymnastics, and cheerleading. However, the love of horses was always still there. She was back to horse riding 11 years ago. She remarks, “Horses have allowed me to learn many things, mostly confidence, patience, strategy, cooperation, and many other valuable life lessons that are all key to becoming a well-rounded leader and overall human being.”

Love and gratitude for her family

Her true loves in life are her husband Allan (married 17 years), and their three sons Christian (16), Asher (14), and Lucas (12). Together, they call the small idyllic equestrian community of Rancho Santa Fe, California home. Megan Camaisa says proudly, “We are a very active and competitive family. All my sons enjoy playing tennis. However, my middle son, Asher, and the youngest, Lucas, are typically playing in tennis tournaments on the weekends when possible. We have a tennis court at our home, so there’s always some type of tennis match going on between my husband, Allan, and the boys.”

Allan also enjoys surfing with the kids and friends. Sometimes they take a trail ride with horses together. Another favorite family activity is to sit down to an alfresco brunch at one of the many great spots near their home. She smiles, “Living in Southern California, we take every opportunity to enjoy the lovely weather and each other.”

‘Don’t judge a book by its cover.’

That is Megan Camaisa’s favorite quote. She explains, “As humans, we are all quick to pass judgment at times based upon our past experiences, likes, dislikes, what we hear from others, and sadly about outward appearances. Throughout my life, I’ve been fortunate enough to experience many events, travel to many places, meet exceptional people, and learn things that were all beyond my wildest dreams thanks to my wonderful husband. With that came many trials and tribulations, where sadly I was put in situations where I felt extremely judged by my outward appearance or age. My intellect and willingness to learn, collaborate, and give from the bottom of my heart were at times overlooked, causing a great deal of inward doubt. These experiences have led me to become more open-minded about how society views one’s outward layers. We should all strive to be less rash to judge based on first impressions and to reflect more on a person’s moral character and contributions to society.”

The team

Muse: Megan Camaisa @megancamaisa
Fashion Designer: Kenneth Barlis @kennethbarlis_official
Photography: Reinhardt Kenneth @reinhardtkenneth
Hair & Make Up: Aira Bella Luna @airabella.opm.artist
Lighting Direction: Van L. Nguyen @shvtter_god & Pamela Lopez @pamlop6
Photo Assistant: Franco Salas @debeserfranco & Deondre Garcia @deondre.shoots
Fashion Assistant: Guen Sagun @guensagun & Amparo Sagun @ro.amparooo

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