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My man-crushes

POGI FROM A PARALLEL UNIVERSE - RJ Ledesma - The Philippine Star

I don’t usually admit to having crushes on those with the same set of genitals as myself, but in this case I am willing to make an exception.

I crafted a list of “crushable” men within my general age range, cholesterol level and hairline, whose interests and advocacies and achievements and passions are not only aligned with my own, but men who also find a way to make my testosterone all hot and bubbly. This list is by no means comprehensive or methodological or aesthetically pleasing. There was no lobbying involved, as much as I would have liked there to be. But these are men whom I’ve worked with, or shook hands with, or groveled in front of (in no particular order).


1. Injap Sia. In 2003, Edgar “Injap” Sia II, a 26-year-old college dropout from Iloilo, grabbed a tiny spot in the parking lot of a mall to put up Mang Inasal. In 2011, after having more than 380-plus outlets nationwide, Mang Inasal managed to ruffle the (Chickenjoy) feathers of fast food behemoth Jollibee, who bought out 70 percent of the company to the tune of US$68 million. According to Forbes Asia magazine in 2011, with a net worth of US$85 Million, he is one of the youngest among the “Philippines’ 40 Richest.” He was the Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year in 2010.

Why he’s crushable: Despite his success, the man remains very humble and continues to pay it forward: this college dropout donated US$500,000 to a new public college in Iloilo and is helping build a church in Roxas City. Meanwhile, he continues to break new entrepreneurial ground with “W.H. Taft,” his residential skyscraper in Taft, a joint venture between himself and Jollibee founder Tony Ton Caktiong. I met Injap in one of the Go Negosyo summits. I rubbed myself against him vigorously in the hope that some of his entrepreneurial acumen would transfer to me via osmosis.


2. Alexis Ledesma. Lex is your serial entrepreneur. From doing infomercials on “Breathe Thin” to putting up Karaoke King to setting up renewable power plant projects in Visayas to running Whistlestop Restaurant and Nami Resort in Boracay. But what Lex enjoys the most is running “The One School,” a non-traditional college that he set up because, in his own words, “I was lousy at school, but I knew I wasn’t dumb and lazy. And I felt there were more people out there just like me.” Although I’m not so sure how lousy he was at school considering that he finished with a Civil Engineering degree from DLSU and a master’s degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Stanford University.

 Why he’s crushable: Lex instills in me the importance of continuous self-development. After a decade of being out of school (not to mention the fact that he already juggles several businesses), he has gone back to school to pursue a doctorate in Social Psychology at University of the Philippines-Diliman.


3 Kim Atienza. I am often mistaken as “Kuya Kim” Atienza. I’m not sure if that is a compliment to him, but I wouldn’t mind being mistaken as Kuya Kim especially if it was for a product endorsement. An ex-seminarian who ventured into television hosting — starting off with a hosting a segment on ABS-CBN’s on Magandang Umaga Pilipinas as he eventually worked his way to becoming one of the regular hosts of the morning show, host of his own animal-themed show Matanglawin, resident weatherman on TV Patrol and host of noontime variety show It’s Showtime. Kim is a three-time best educational program host awardee at the Star Awards for Television.

Why he’s crushable: When life can be “Weather Weather Lang,” Kim underscores the importance of living life to the fullest. Despite suffering a mild stroke in 2010, Kim continues to enthrall us with his encyclopedic knowledge while being an avid marathoner, triathlete and cyclist. Kim, let me know if you ever need a body double.


4. Leinil Francis Yu . Comic book geeks slobber at the mere mention of Leinil Yu, a rockstar artist in the comic book world. After getting his big break start on Marvel Comics’ Wolverine, Leinil is now one of the most in-demand artists in the industry, who has drawn practically all the major characters of the Marvel Universe including X-Men, the Avengers, the Fantastic Four and the Incredible Hulk. Of late, Leinil has collaborated with fellow “rockstar” writer Mark Millar (who wrote Kick-Ass and Wanted, which have both been turned into movies) on their creator-owned comics Superior and Super Crooks.

Why he’s crushable: Leinil’s dynamic photo-realistic artwork demonstrates the world class-caliber of our Pinoy artists. His rockstar status has also paved the way for more Pinoy artists (Gerry Alanguilan, Carlo Pagulayan, Stephen Segovia, Harvey Tolibao just to name a few) to break into international comic scene.

5. Arnold Arre. Arnold is a visual storyteller who initially spun his stories through comic books (two of his graphic novels have won best comic awards (The Mythology Class in 1999 and Trip to Tagaytay in 2000) and another (After Eden, 2002) was a finalist in the National Book Awards; together with another local comic book luminary Gerry Alanguilian, he has retold the stories of Lastikman and Darna in comic book form. But his creativity has since burst from the comic book page into other visual storytelling mediums, including short films and animated features. His next story might be told via skywriting.

Why he’s crushable: Arnold’s stories talk to me. I remember staying up until the wee hours of the morning reading his graphic novel Martial Law Babies (2008), because the story felt like my own. I crushed on him so much that I insisted to do a guest appearance in his short film Kaye for Komiks (2010) where I played a twisted version of myself (is there any other version?), voiced several characters in his upcoming animated film Milky Boy (2013) and begged him to draw caricatures of myself for my third book Is It Hot In Here Or Is It Me?


6. Budjette Tan.  I hate Budjette Tan because he is living out my dream. Not the dream to dress in tights and become a superhero. It’s the other dream: to become a comic book writer. And he does this in spite of his day job as executive creative director at MRM Manila of McCann WorldGroup Philippines. Budjette is a founding member of Alamat Comics and has written such titles as Batch 72, the Flying Phantom and Payaso.  Budjette’s breakthrough was The Demon Dungeon, but his breakout work so far is Trese, a “supernatural” CSI-type investigator who helps the police solve crimes involving creatures from lower Philippine mythology (i.e. aswangs, tikbalangs dwendes). Similar to The X-Files, Trese’s stories are often self-contained but build towards an overarching story.

Why he’s crushable: Because he’s got a fertile imagination. It’s so fertile that he was a finalist in the 2012 Campaign Asia Creative of the year while Trese won Best Graphic Literature in the National Book Awards in 2010 and 2012. My new dream is to write a comic book together with him so I won’t hate him so much. 


7. Erwin Romulo. Erwin is a savant. Take his films, for example. He wrote the movie First Time (2003), wrote the song Oo na.. Mahal na kung mahal (1999), won best musical score for the indie film Wanted: Border (2009) in Cinema One Originals Digital Movie Fest, he received glowing reviews in Variety and Hollywood Reporter for his musical score for Erik Matti’s On the Job (2013) which premiered in the Cannes Film Festival, and he wrote, directed and scored Camiling Story (2005). Take his writing: Aside from being a Philippine STAR columnist and the editor at large of Young Star, he has been an editor of Manual, Maxim, Rogue, Philippines Free Press and finally the current editor in chief of Esquire Philippines magazine. He has dabbled as a radio announcer with RockEd radio and even set up his own Music Awards (the QLE awards with fellow STAR columnists Quark Henares and Luis Katigbak). Erwin has taken it all.

Why he’s crushable: Erwin is obsessively and passionately good at whatever he does. And take it from somebody who used to work with him: his single-minded determination to do a great job may drive you crazy, but hey, we could all use a little crazy in our lives.  


8. Chris Tiu. Once upon a time (no, make it twice upon a time), Chris Tiu (by his own description) was a “benchwarmer” for both his high school alma mater, Xavier, and the Ateneo senior’s basketball team. This frustrated him so much that he almost considered quitting basketball. In fact, he went on a yearlong sabbatical in France as an exchange student. But when he returned, Chris was adamant about improving his game. Immersing himself in skills training and intensive conditioning, a renewed Chris’ Tiu led the 2008 Ateneo basketball team to victory in The Finals against their archrivals the De La Salle Green Archers. And the legend of Chris Tiu was born. And Tiu haven’t seen anything yet: Aside from playing basketball for Rain or Shine, he hosts shows for GMA and TV5, he is a second termer kagawad, he owns an advertising supplies company, the Happy Lemon franchise and several Pepper Lunch outlets, and he has more product endorsements than he has fingers. What can Tiu not do?

Why he’s crushable: Chris is a genuinely good guy. He has been involved in several advocacy groups in the past including World Vision, Habitat for Humanity, Pilipinas Eco-Warriors, and has recently set up his own foundation “Charis” (The Greek word for “grace”) to teach the youth leadership skills and value formation. When I asked him why he decided to go the showbiz route, he said he “wanted to create shows that were educational, entertaining and value-laden.” You there, stop slobbering all over Chris and wash up with Master Facial Cleanser. 

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For comments, suggestions or other man-crushes, please email or visit . Follow @rjled on Twitter.

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