CLASS OF 2014: Next in line
Rosalinda L. Orosa (The Philippine Star) - April 4, 2014 - 12:00am

What’s the buzz? Young STAR meets 15 buzzworthy fresh grads who are set to take the world by storm.

MANILA, Philippines - Luna Café at Bonifacio High Street is crowded with an interesting ensemble.  A radio DJ sits cross-legged on a black leather couch, her fingers tapping on her phone. Not so far away, two photographers are getting ready to sit in front of the lens instead of behind it. The rest of the group—a social worker, college debater, and journalist—are sipping on their coffee, chatting with each other about graduation blues and post-college plans.

To the unknowing they may seem like an ordinary crew of kids, but these college seniors are set to march down the aisle and get thrown into the supposedly daunting real world—where they will have much to offer.  Be it in art or the academe, these kids are good at what they do; from shutterbugs to music savvies, leaders to literature lovers, designers to debaters, Young STAR presents youth of today who might just change for tomorrow.

Ellie Centeno, 20

AB Asian Studies

University of Santo Tomas

Ellie Centeno’s love for music began when she was six. Her dad played Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young on the drive home, and she has not stopped listening to music since.  After Centeno interviewed Jam 88.3’s DJ Lambert Cruz for Stache magazine, he phoned her with an offer: A weekly segment on air known today as Ellie’s Wicked Wednesday Mixed Tape. “I wanted to feature all the underappreciated artists, both (from the local)and international arena,” she said, adding that underrated artists are more genuine because they focus on expression over impression.  “I don’t really do this for myself.  It’s just my way of helping other musicians out.” —Regine Cabato

Yana Lim, 21

AB Communications, minor in Sociology

Ateneo de Manila University

The way that Yana writes about people makes her the kind of person worth writing about. As an undergraduate, she had a lot on her plate. On top of her academics, she was the associate editor of The Guidon, Ateneo’s official newsletter, and a contributor to prominent publications today such as Rogue, and, yes, Young Star. Despite all the things she has to do, she always looks for ways to push things further. “I like writing for publications because it’s an outlet. It really pushes me to get my writing done.” —MR

Mateo Escueta, 22

BS Management, major in Communications

Technology Management, Ateneo de Manila University

Mateo is a singer-songwriter musician who hails from the Ateneo Musicians’ Pool. He sings about love and all that comes with it, in the vein of his heroes like John Mayer and Lifehouse. He grew up playing along with his older brother Miguel, but he’s certainly a talented guitarist in his own right. “The plan was always to go to law school, but growing up, music was always my biggest passion. It’s expression in its ultimate form,” he said, “because when words fail, music doesn’t.” He released an EP last January, which you can listen to at —Mariah Reodica

Esme Palaganas, 20

AB Fashion Design and Merchandising

De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde

Four years ago, in high school, Esme worked behind the scenes of Philippine Fashion Week, where she learned the ropes of the fashion industry, which also led her to become a fashion consultant for companies. On the side, she curates young designers, giving opportunities to artists who aren’t backed up by brands. She defines her style as masculine-feminine, where she juxtaposes clothing, proving that you don’t have to be a man to pull off a blazer. Her Senior Graduate Showcase is on April 5, at Le Pavilion, Pasay. —MR

Raiza Poquiz, 22

BS Interior Design

De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde/Philippine School of Interior Design

“My aesthetic is basically function over form, which is very important,” said fashion blogger and interior designer Raiza Poquiz.  Her designs are eclectic, combining styles and textures, like vintage juxtaposed with modern. The interiors are sleek, sexy, and clean—not too different from her fashion sense.  Her blog, which started as a personal project, eventually gained a following. “I actually planned my whole life out,” she laughed, citing Kelly Wearstler as one of her inspirations in fusing fashion and interior design.  Poquiz dreams of setting up her own furniture and accessory line.  “It’s just a matter of maybe taking one step at a time.” —RC

Carla Cucueco, 21

BA Communication Research

University of the Philippines-Diliman

Carla Cucueco, vice president of Tulong sa Kapwa Kapatid, is going to law school. “But of course,” she said, “(2KK) is always gonna be a commitment for me.”  The Payatas-based organization, which provides educational and financial assistance to kids, was a Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO) Awardee last year. Cucueco spoke on behalf of the finalists at Malacañang. “It just gets bigger from here.  What I like about what we do… (is that) we link the privileged to the underprivileged,” Cucueco explained, adding that all provinces have this divide. “What I want is to have a template that we can use in other communities.” —RC

Nikki Ruiz, 21

AB Digital Photography

De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde

“My photography is very focused on the youth,” said Nikki Ruiz.  True enough, her work usually features teens and twenty-somethings, often in the laidback, everyday pieces she cherishes in fashion portraits. Going to an art school plunged her into the world of dress-up and surrounded her with successful peers. “I was intimidated… and I doubted myself na, ‘Am I taking things too slow?’” she said of the time. A conversation with her dad turned her self-esteem around, and in the same year she covered Philippine Fashion Week in what would be her big break. —RC

Billie Dumaliang, 21

BS Management-Honors

Ateneo de Manila University

Prompted by social entrepreneurship marketing project, Billie Dumaliang helped conceptualize Coconelas, footwear made of coco coir—the largest agri-waste in the country—with insoles produced by disadvantaged communities.  The idea won the 2013 Filipino Youth Innovation competition, and Dumaliang went on to be named Most Outstanding Jose Rizal Model Student of the Philippines. Her dream for Coconelas is for the brand to be established globally. “We want it to be, like, a big export product of the Philippines,” she said. “If you think of Havaianas, you think of Brazil; we want people to think ‘Philippines’ when they see the brand name Coconelas.” —RC


Jelito de Leon, 21

AB Digital Photography

De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde

Jelito de Leon had been taking up culinary arts at De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde before he shifted to photography.  His works are organic, reminiscent of Kinfolk Magazine.  Apart from doing portraits and still lifes, he still pursues food photography (garnering him more than 40,000 followers on Instagram), a field that marries his two loves. De Leon’s finest moment so far was when Sydney-based food photographer Luisa Brimble invited him to help her cover a wedding in Indonesia after the two met through Instagram.  “It was (fun) for me because I got to travel for free, explore Indonesia for free, and experience how a wedding photographer feels,” he said. —RC

Audrey Ferriol, 20

AB European Studies

Ateneo de Manila University

For Audrey Ferriol, being appointed editor in chief of Heights, Ateneo de Manila University’s literary folio, came as a surprise.  Stepping up her game, she has since spearheaded projects to break the “elitist” impression of the organization. Under her supervision, Heights released folios themed “Bare It All” and “High on Art,” which used tattoos and drugs as metaphors for experimental works. “(We wanted) the folio concepts — the design especially — to be very attractive to the regular Atenean,” she says.  Ferriol calls the year a rebranding, focused on making literature and art more accessible to a wider audience.   — Regine Cabato

Allan Cabrera, 21

BS Applied Mathematics and Finance

Ateneo de Manila University

Allan Cabrera is graduating summa cum laude this month. He bagged the 15th National Debate Championship too, but he considers his most fulfilling stint to be reaching octo-finals at the World Universities Debating Championships in India last January.  The feat demonstrates that Filipinos can compete internationally. “(It’s) a matter of knowing how much you want it and knowing what you’re willing to give up in order to get that,” he said. “It’s not that easy. I had to give up a lot of sleep, going out—but I think in retrospect it was pretty fulfilling.” — RC

Valeri Inting, 22

BS Social Work

University of the Philippines Diliman

The arena of competitive debate is daunting, but Valeri has conquered it. Part of the first UP Debate Society team to ever have won the Asian title last year at the United Asians Debate Championship, where she was also the second best speaker of Asia. She also holds the highest record of Philippine national championships with four, and the highest number of best speakerships with three of them, making her one of the most formidable collegiate speakers in the country. She also writes for a fine dining blog called 1476 Miles, where she writes about restaurants she’s been to around the world.  — Mariah Reodica

Ian Dazo, 21

BS Business Administration and Accountancy

University of the Philippines Diliman

As an active student leader, Ian founded the UP Guilder Annual and worked in cooperation with the University Student Council. He was also a participant in Philippine Association of National Advertisers Foundation’s Integrated  Marketing Communications Competition, representing UP’s name, and winning the top prize. It may seem unexpected, but he’s an aviation enthusiast with aspirations of becoming a pilot. Whichever way he goes, he’s on the runway to flying sky high.  â€” MC

Jedo Enriquez, 20

BS Business Administration and Accountancy

University of the Philippines Diliman

He’s the president of the UP Advertising Core, or AdCore, which is the top student advertising agency in UP. In 2012, he worked on an ad campaign called the Bawas Bisyo Bill, in light of the Sin Tax Bill issue back then, that amassed thousands of shares. It won an award for excellence at the Philippine Student Quill Awards, and AdSpeak Letran. AdCore was also one of the partner organizations that held the Roots Music and Arts Festival in 2013, which had a crowd of around 10,000 people. Advertising is power, and Jedo knows it. — MC

Abbey Sy, 21

BS Advertising Management

De La Salle University Manila

Typography is a subtle art that’s grossly underappreciated in the Philippines, but it’s Abbey’s forte. “Letters aren’t just letters,” Abbey says, “There’s a visual that it communicates. There’s an art to it.” She learned to navigate the ins-and-outs of kernings, baselines, and other kinds of typography jargon on her own. (Here’s an insider tip: Her favorite fonts are Helvetica Sans Serif and Didot.) She’s worked with different brands like Punchdrunk Panda and Quirks, and has been able to give typography workshops and seminars. Her portfolio of handwritten lettering is up on her blog,  â€” MC


Photos by Patrick Diokno, Shot on location at Luna Cafe, Bonifacio Global City


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