From Rags to Riches: How a Viral Photo Turned a Street Beggar Into an Online Celebrity

Four years ago, Rita Gaviola was a 13-year-old street beggar in the Filipino town of Lucban. Since then she has worked with some of the world’s hottest brands as a fashion model, starred on hit reality TV shows and gained over 100,000 Instagram followers. And it was all thanks to a random photo…

Rita Gaviola’s incredible ‘rags to riches’ story began in 2016. Back then, she was asking for alms on the streets of Lucban, to help her family make ends meet. Her father worked as a garbage collector and her mother stayed home to look after her and her five siblings. None of the children attended school at the time and the family barely managed to put food on the table, so Rita often went out to beg for change or food donations. That’s how she was spotted by Filipino photographer Topher Quinto Burgos, who happened to be attending the Pahiyas Festival in Lucban, in May 2016. He was attracted by her natural beauty and posted the photos of her on the internet, changing the girl’s life completely with a single click of the ‘upload’ button.

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