Young Star's  super sweet 16
Young Star's super sweet 16
- Raymond Ang and Karen Bolilia () - April 13, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - For our 16th birthday, we’re tying up with the Department of Tourism for an exhibit featuring some of Manila’s most talented youth. Taking on the “It’s more fun in the Philippines” tagline, we tapped 16 talents to team up for eight artist-photog collaborations. Head on over to Rockwell Power Plant’s Archaeology section from April 13 to 20 for the full monty.

Bia Catbagan x Tof Zapanta

Bia Catbagan co-directed a full-length film last year, titled Suntok Sa Buwan. A meditation on boxing as the national sport, she brought her signature dreamy soft-focus to the proceedings — the same one she brings to her photography.

Tof Zapanta, on the other hand, has been steadily working as a contributor for international publications like Discovery Channel magazine and Men’s Health Australia. A co-founder of Folk Superlative, Tof has found his niche in the increasingly competitive local art scene.

For their exhibit contribution, Bia and Tof meshed styles seamlessly, playing on the concept of Philippine mythical creatures.

Your Evil Twin x Paulina Ortega

Besides being regulars here at Young Star, the duo’s proven that they’re just as good in front of the camera as they are behind it. Since their first appearance in YS in 2010, the evil twins have had their photo on a Topman shirt, been featured in fashion magazines for their vintage Boy by Band of Outsiders style, and of course, taken photos of unwittingly captivating girls, Polaroids of indie bands (The Whitest Boy Alive), street style bloggers with clout (Facehunter), hair and more hair. Still, nothing lends as much mystery and stirs curiosity like pictures of the twins themselves. It must be the bangs.

Paulina Ortega doesn’t have a twin but is no slouch in the looks department and has talent to burn. Currently an art director at advertising agency TBWASantiago Mangada Puno, she is able at several mediums, even sewing a logo for our sister section YStyle last year. Her “sissy but quirky” style has gotten her her share of praise, even earning a nod for Best Album Packaging in the NU Rock Awards a few years back.

Titled “Five Beaches and a Lover,” their exhibit collaboration features five pieces inspired by Mikael de Lara Co’s “On the Necessity of Sadness.” According to Paulina, “Essentially, it was inspired by the beauty of the beaches in the Philippines and how that beauty could be presented in a nostalgic light. What we did was to sort of present the fragments of someone’s memory, of someone who was longing for a certain time and a place/moment.”

BJ Pascual x Valerie Chua

After a brief sojourn in shirt designing and fashion styling, BJ Pascual buckled down and focused on his primary discipline—photography. After a battery of photography classes in New York, he came back to Manila just three years ago and quickly staked his claim on the local scene with a quickly growing portfolio that thrills, inspires, and demands your attention.

Meanwhile, Valerie Chua’s art takes a different route. This self-taught illustrator works an aesthetic that is built on subtlety and intimacy. Her work doesn’t bang on your door, demanding your attention; it quietly creeps in through the back door, in a series of murmurs and whispers, like a ghost in the machine. When she isn’t accepting commissions for publications here and abroad, she teaches a watercolor painting class in her house.

For their collaboration, BJ photographed supermodel Danica Magpantay in a traditional terno, with Imelda hair to boot. Valerie amplified the image by painting on a print-out of the photo, mermaid tail included. The words “Annie,” “Leibovitz,” and “amazeballs” have been thrown around in the office.

Joseph Pascual x Luis Santos

Joseph Pascual graduated from the University of the Philippines just last year but has been contributing to newspapers and magazines way before that. He stands out in a crowded field of new photographers by specializing in portraiture and a style that places meaning over beauty. He blogs at and has shot for magazines like Rogue and Preview.

Luis Santos grew up around art — a biographical detail that probably aided him when he staged his first few exhibits last year. Although he has always helped out in his family’s gallery (West Gallery in West Avenue), it was only in 2010 when he took up painting seriously.

Their collaboration shows a fine marriage of aesthetics. Joseph’s stab at documenting the balut is mirrored by Luis’s treatment of the subject like a specimen to be examined. I mean, hey, what’s more Filipino than balut, right?

Tricia Gosingtian x Christian San Jose

Tricia Gosingtian’s blog title is more or less a self-prophecy. Tricia Will Go Places. And just like that, she’s been everywhere (from New York Fashion Week to Go Negosyo) and on every list (from Preview’s Top Creative Pinoys in 2008 to’s top 10 — the first Filipino and first Asian to do so). But first and foremost, Tricia is a photographer, beginning from the Cosplay shoots she did in her teens to the more polished shoots for magazines and campaigns she’s done since. She’d be intimidating to partner with if the partner isn’t Christian San Jose.

Christian or CSJ is the creative director of, a design firm he founded in 2011, at the ripe old age of 22. While it seems premature for anyone else, it was just the logical step for someone who was art director at Team Manila Graphic Design Studio by 18 and counts Adobe Systems Inc., Kobe Bryant, The Coca-Cola Company, and Def Jam Recordings as previous clients.

Tricia and CSJ chose to do a deconstruction of the Sto. Niño for the exhibit, CSJ’s trademark typography in stark contrast to Tricia’s typically clean photography.

Gabby Cantero x Cj De Silva

Gabby Cantero is a photographer we’ve seen grow right before our eyes. When Young Star first met her, she was still running her “Daylight Sessions” project, a sort of hipster Headshot Clinic. From there, she became a regular contributor for us and then a roster of publications including Metro and Rogue.

Cj De Silva is a name you know from those Promil Kid commercials — a tag she’s surely lived up to. As an art director at TBWA, she applies those Promil-worthy skills at work. Most recently, she illustrated part of Esquire Philippines’ January issue.

Their collaboration, they say, is about the idea of settling down in the Philippines. “We all yearn for independence — that potent feeling of taking on the world on our own,” they say. “But after fulfilling ambitions and achievements, we also long to go home to what’s familiar and settle down. In the Philippines, the new generation can look forward to a beautiful future, facing it with confidence and without fear.”

Hannah Reyes x Carina Santos

When we say Hannah Reyes is going places, don’t even question it. Just this year, she’s been to 20 local destinations before the first quarter even ended. But hey, she’s just getting started. Apart from shooting this year’s “Fresh Produce” batch, Hannah has also had her photos published all over the world — from Time magazine, The New York Times, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal Asia, International Herald Tribune and, more recently, National Geographic.

Carina Santos is no slouch herself. She’s a triple threat — a good writer, an able designer, and an artist with a defined aesthetic. She’s probably most known to the Tumblr-ing public as “presidents” of and Tumblr fame.

The piece they conceptualized for the exhibit was inspired by a shared wanderlust. This year, Hannah’s been traveling all over the Philippines for work and leisure. Her travel photos serve as the foundation of Carina’s travelogue of a collage.

Cholo Dela Vega x Kristine Caguiat

Cholo Dela Vega is a 24-year-old photographer and creative consultant. As the man behind A Different Cut (, he’s a guy with fingers in many different things, from freelance photography (Esquire Philippines, Preview) to a bespoke fragrance line (Wright Supply Co.).

When she isn’t making art for publications like Rogue and (where she works), Kristine Caguiat says she’s a girl who enjoys making stuff, breaking stuff, and looking at grotesque things for inspiration. She brings her interesting take on beauty to

For their collaboration, they did their own version of the aswang — with top model Pauline Prieto, no less.

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