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Bright Young Thing: Wesley Gonzales |

Young Star

Bright Young Thing: Wesley Gonzales

- Paula C. Nocon of the Philippine Star’s YS -
Today, here on YS, we’re starting a regular column called Bright Young Thing.

Now that all we read, watch and hear is bad news, the Bright Young Thing is a reminder that we’re doing something right, for now, and for the future.

Now that they say that the role model is passe and the image model is on overkill, the Bright Young Thing is a new kind of hero for today’s times.

Now that the youth of today are faced with more choices, more opportunities, more distractions than any other generation before them, the Bright Young Thing is a beacon of how to remain focused, how to stay on track, how to stay centered.

Now that materialism has pervaded the values and culture of the young, the Bright Young Thing is one who has found his or her own deeper purpose in life, and is intent on pursuing that path, even if it may be the road less traveled.

A BYT is about tomorrow. About potential and promise. About hope.

Every week, BYT will feature the best of this young generation: artists, writers, filmmakers, performers; athletes who conquered the odds; young politicians with high ideals; pro bono lawyers and doctors; daring and courageous entrepreneurs; youthful executives challenging old systems; student leaders; rising stars in the field of theater, dance, fashion, cinema, television and the culinary arts. It doesn’t matter what their work is, as long as it’s work they enjoy and call their own.

We don’t meet a Bright Young Thing every day, but the great thing about it is, anybody can be one. If you just put your mind to it.

Young Star
invites schools, organizations and even individuals to nominate deserving Bright Young Things. Send your suggestions to
Wild, Wild Wes
The victory of the Ateneo Men’s Senior Basketball Team this UAAP season was hailed as nothing short of a miracle. Thanks to this, they say, Ateneo now has it all.

And Blue Eagle forward Wesley Olan Gonzales, without a doubt, was one of the team’s miracle workers. Born July 27, 1980, Wes has been an Atenean since prep, has played varsity basketball since high school, and is on his way to his final season as a Blue Eagle next schoolyear. He is in a unique and exciting position, lodged between the vindication of Ateneo’s past defeats, the sweetness of their current success, and the promise of a basketball career in the future.

This 6’4" Management Information Systems graduate wears his jersey number 15 with pride. Sure, he was born with the right height, sure, he was blessed with talent, but it took hard work and perseverance to get him to where he is today. And it wasn’t easy.

"The most difficult period was when I was taken out of the team last year," shares Wes. "That was really a humbling experience. It was even in the papers! I was taken out by our coach then because he said I didn’t fit into his system. I had an attitude problem. I was very hard-headed, really stubborn. I guess the problem was that I was complacent about my talent and my skills."

This experience motivated him to be what he is today. "That didn’t stop me from playing. I wanted to prove them wrong. I kept practicing, and I practiced a lot. What I learned was how to deal with the people around me, how to make pakisama. So now I’m so thankful that I went through that, I’m so glad it happened. I have no regrets."

Wes is an athlete with brains, attitude and a lot of heart. He is on to something big; he is on the brink of having it all. He is, in every way, a Bright Young Thing.

Young STAR: Who are your heroes/icons?

Wesley Gonzales:
My dad. He’s the only one I can think of. I really look up to him.

What’s wrong with your generation?

Kids are growing up too fast. We like to take shortcuts. Because of so many influences and distractions like media and technology, we seem to be in a hurry. I think this is why we seem to lack focus.

What’s the best thing about your generation?

We’re not too extreme. We’re not too much of this, or too much of that. In that sense we’re more balanced.

Given the chance, what would you like to do for your country?

I’d like to be Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman. I’m really obsessed about this city! I want to fix the roads, I want to ease traffic, I want to put those telephone and electrical wires all underground. It’s so frustrating.

What’s the most important thing you learned from older people (parents, teachers, etc.)?

Not to be in a hurry. Sometimes when you take shortcuts you miss out on an important phase or an important step.

What advice would you give the elder generation?

Have more fun! Enjoy life!

What’s your concept of success?

Reaching your goal and having fun while you’re doing it.

How has failure helped you?

You have to keep trying. Through soul-searching and hard work I proved to those who didn’t believe in me that I wasn’t what they thought I was. There was more to me, and I showed it.

What keeps you focused?

My dreams! If you really want something, you make time for it. You focus not on the prize, but on the goal. This was why it was not hard for me to juggle sports, school and a good social life.

In Ateneo the athletes don’t really get a lot of perks. In a way I’m glad it was like that. It’s tiring, but you learn how to manage your time.

You are a frustrated...

Singer! I want to be Frank Sinatra.

Are you religious?

Lately, yes. It started when I went through that difficult period, being taken out of the team. I got into Bible studies.

What’s the best and worst thing about being Filipino?

The best — we’re caring, we have close family ties. The worst — lack of discipline.

You were probably a _____ in your past life.

I was probably a girl in my past life! I’m so maarte, I’m so vain, I’m OC. I like to keep my room, my closet and my car very, very neat.

Finish the sentence: Life is...

A game. You have to be prepared, and you have to give your best.

What is the most enviable human trait for you: beauty, intelligence, talent or charisma?

Charisma. I like charm. And PR seems to get you everywhere nowadays.

Define sexy.

Sexy is so hard to define. It could be the eyes, the smile, the charm...

How do you deal with stress?

I lie down and listen to music. I like instrumental music a lot. Mozart, for example.

What inspires you?

Making other people happy.

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