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Her Daughter With Down Syndrome Loved To Pose, So This Mom Got To Work
PHOTO BY courtesy of Joy Liza Formso
  • Parents often wonder and worry about their children’s future. While this is natural, this is especially magnified for parents with kids who have special needs who feel that their child might not have the same opportunities as other children. Joy Liza Formoso and husband Butch, however, chose to continually look on the brighter side of things when it comes to their daughter, Angel, who has Down syndrome (DS).

    Upon learning that their daughter has DS, Joy and Butch knew Angel would have a lot of developmental delays and health challenges brought about by the extra chromosome. But they were able to provide the earliest intervention through different therapy sessions when Angel was as young as 4 months old. They knew they did the first step to make their unique child reach her full potential.

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    Differently-abled child with a talent

    Joy saw that Angel loved looking at her image in front of a mirror or on their cellphones. “She would do some cute poses in the mirror or take selfies on our iPad and smartphones,” says Joy.

    When Angel began schooling, she would join costume presentations on stage and confidently walk the ramp and even dance with her classmates, Joy observed. When graduation pictorial came, Angel needed no coaxing. “She knew how to project in front of the camera with adorable poses.”

    Angel in her costumes for Linggo ng Wika (left) and United Nations Day in 2018


    Seeing their daughter’s enthusiasm for modeling, Joy and Butch encouraged Angel to join school activities to develop her confidence. Then, they started to bring Angel to casting calls, photoshoots, and fashion shows that support the inclusion of differently-abled kids like her.

    “We believe in the saying that behind every confident child are parents who believed in them first. Without any doubt, we believe that she has the skills, and we know in our hearts that she is beautiful inside and out and that she has an innate talent for modeling,” says Joy.

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    Poster girl

    Whenever Angel had a part in events or went to casting calls, Daddy would be the driver and photographer. At the same time, Mommy would be the “personal assistant, aka makeup artist, stylist, and props designer.” 

    To date, Angel has appeared in several pageants, modeling events, and campaigns. The biggest was the one sponsored by one of the biggest shopping malls in the country for its social responsibility campaign of a summer camp event involving children with special needs.

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    “Angel joined their casting call in 2019 and was chosen to be one of their poster girls for the campaign collaterals. We were so happy and proud to see her face printed in posters and tarpaulins displayed in three of the mall’s branches,” Joy shares, adding that Angel is currently part of a pool of models of a talent management company.

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    The rewards outweigh the challenges

    Supporting and accompanying Angel to these events hasn’t always been a breeze, Joy admits. “She can get overstimulated with loud sounds and crowded places.” When this happens, Angel can get agitated that can lead to crying. It’s the sign for Joy and Butch to bring her to a quiet corner to calm her down and get her some snacks in case she is hungry.

    They also make sure to orient the organizers and photographers about Angel. “We would ask them to be patient and explain to them that she may need some time to warm up and feel comfortable before the shoot or a walk down the ramp.”


    Joy says throughout the experience, the rewards outweigh the challenges. “One of the rewards is being able to share her milestones on social media. Almost always, special-needs parents would send a message, telling us how proud they are of Angel and that they hope they will be able to bring out in their children the same strength and confidence Angel has.”

    Joy’s dream for Angel was to be a ballerina, but since children with Down syndrome have a weak backbone and are prone to injury, enrolling her in ballet lessons was not feasible. Joy advises other parents to observe and discover what their special-needs children like and love doing and from there give their full support by enrolling them in classes.

    “Focus more on their strengths rather than their weaknesses so they can bloom in their own way,” she says.

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