Dubai-based makeup artist Ace Sagario.


Meet Filipino nursing instructor turned celebrity makeup artist in Dubai


DUBAI – When nursing instructor Ace Sagario left the Philippines nearly a decade ago to find a new career in the UAE, little did he know that he would trade his books for brushes to become a makeup artist.

But not just any makeup artist. Sagario, 36, is Dubai’s stylist to the stars and he’s on the speed dial of many event organisers and visiting Filipino artists in the emirate, as well as some local celebrities and models.

The Filipino from Legazpi City in the Philippines has called Dubai his home in the last seven years. It’s the best place for creatives like him, he said.

His first job in the emirate? “I started as a call center agent, and then I was promoted as a quality assurance analyst,” he told in an exclusive interview. Dubai, he said, opened up unique opportunities for him in a multi-cultural community he has learned to embrace.

“I never feel homesick here in Dubai. All I need to do is go out, especially here in Rigga where there are a lot of Filipinos, and I see faces that remind me of home,” he said in between bites of Filipino-style barbecue chicken. We’re at the al fresco dining area of Chicking in Dubai’s vibrant Al Rigga, a neighbourhood that is close to his heart.

Sagario recalled that his first year in Dubai was tough, with language barriers as well as financial constraints to contend with. “I learned to be more confident and have a strong personality, especially in dealing with people from various countries,” he said.

“I overcame all of those challenges by tightening my faith in God and focusing on myself, my goal and the reasons why I am here in Dubai,” he added.

Although he is a graduate of nursing in the Philipppines, Sagario dreams of studying in Paris or London to enhance his makeup skills, as well as “travel more and experience life”.

For now, he is happy making people pretty. Sagario said he got into the “art of glam” by accident to help a neighbor look pretty for a big event. When he was a teenager, he used to help makeup artists during fiestas and community pageants. “Seeing them, I got interested in what they did,” he said.

When he moved to Dubai, he used his spare time to do other people’s makeup. The jobs just kept on coming, making it easy for him to turn his hobby into a profitable, full-time venture.

He has been seen working his makeup magic on models of Dubai’s fashion giants, like Michael Cinco, and thriving Filipino designers like Ryan Pacioles, whose work in Atelier Zuhra was featured in the recently concluded Fashion Forward. He also did the makeup and style for modeling shots in ad campaigns for Sephora Middle East and Emirates Woman.

The first celebrity that he styled in Dubai was Filipino actress Carla Abellana. He has also worked with his childhood idols and music superstars Regine Velasquez and Lani Misalucha, among others. In his spare time, Sagario manages talents in pageants such as Mr. Dubai, Man of the Philippines and Miss Super Globe.

Was it difficult to transition from nursing instructor to makeup artist? “Difficulties are just normal in any given situation but if you have the determination and the love for your passion, then everything will go smoothly,” Sagario said. He is the only makeup artist in the family.

Sagario said his family has been supportive of his career choices. Is he happy with how his career turned out? “Super happy because there is no amount of money that can pay if you are doing what you like and what makes you happy,” he said.


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