Rosalinda L. Orosa (The Philippine Star) - July 18, 2014 - 12:00am

For The Philippine Star’s 28th anniversary, we round up 28 kids who are inspiring other kids. By breaking molds and following their passions, these guys are redefining success and teaching kids to dream bigger.

Martine CajuCoM, 27 @iloveMartine

MANILA, Philippines - There’s very little room to question the It-ness that makes Martine Cajucom one of Manila’s most popular faces today. As one of the girls who brought sexy back — at a time when we didn’t even real- ize it was gone. Martine is fun, hip, and brimming with individuality. But beyond the glitz of being an It girl, she’s also taken her effortless sense of style and innovation to work. Martine happens to be part of Sunnies Studios, a local eyewear brand that is as easy on the eyes as it is on the pocket. As Sunnies’ creative director, Martine is partly responsible for injecting some LA heat and retro kitsch to their ex- tremely covetable specs. As if we needed any more reason to wanna be her. — Margarita Buenaventura

Sam Lee, 26 @giveMesaM

Sam Lee has been out of Manila for a while now, having gone to Melbourne, Australia for grad school. But hers is a face (and existence) that a generation won’t forget, what with her evoca- tive oeuvre (such as her fashion films for Bench and Preview, and the acclaimed documentary Agos in 2011), not to mention her distinctive, gender-defying style. She’s not quite anyone we’ve ever met, which might make her appear intimidating. Daring sideboobs and fierce looks aside though, Sam is the type of girl you’d definitely want to hang out with, if only to absorb some of her natural cool by osmosis.— Margarita Buenaventura

Johan Aguilar, 21@johanaguilar_

Right after graduating from De La Salle University-Manila, Johan went straight to working in the corporate world. That isn’t much of a surprise; as a multi-awarded student-athlete, this is a guy who’s constantly on the go. Johan defies the jock stereotype too; despite his strenuous extracurricular schedule, the ace student managed to graduate magna cum laude. All the work might turn Johan into a super-serious dude, but he’s still got his priorities in check, like knowing his favorite pizza topping. “Hawaiian,” he declares, but after a beat: “No, chicken barbecue.” — Margarita Buenaventura

Alyssa Valdez, 21 @alyssavaldez2

When you meet Alyssa Valdez for the first time, you are struck by two things: her height and her sweet demeanor. At five-foot-nine, Alyssa towers over most of her peers, but also happens to be very polite and soft-spoken. Alyssa on the court is vastly different, though. This tough opposite hitter was awarded Best Scorer, Best Server and Most Valuable Player last season for the University Athletic Association of the Philippines. But this is not the type of girl who loftily rests on her laurels — she does not believe that her success and popularity is solely her own doing. On her Twitter profile, Alyssa reminds her 200,000-plus followers (and counting) how important it is to “be thankful.” — Margarita Buenaventura

Joseph Pascual, 26 @otherjoseph

Posting blogging platform Livejournal as other- joseph, Joseph Pascual took voyeurism to a whole new level. In the best possible way, of course. Snapping shots of kuyas selling street food with the same dedication seen in photos of his university friends, Joseph unknowingly inspired a slew of younger, aspiring photographers to shoot with the same sense of nostalgia and wonder — albeit to less stellar results, oftentimes. Today Joseph is a regular in magazine rosters, this time shooting celebrities and luminaries (Sarah Geronimo and Mai Mai Cojuangco, just to name a few). — Mar- garita Buenaventura

MiChael Martinez, 17, @MMartinezfrost

While most of his peers are dealing with the trials and tribulations of young adolescence — prom, zits, and college applications — Michael Martinez is looking at something else entirely. On the day of the shoot, he’s telling us about how he’s leaving Manila soon to go to Anaheim Ice and Lake For- est in America and train under coach Illa Kulich. After his sensational turn at February’s Winter Olympics, he’s training for October’s Senior Grand Prix, where it’s “the first time for the Philippines ever to be invited in figure skating.” — Raymond Ang

Karpos, 2, @karposMM

The siblings that comprise Karpos are no older than 25 but they’ve already managed to produce some of the last few years’ most exciting concerts. First, there was the Wanderland Music Fes- tival, the now annual festival that, in two years, has brought acts as varied as The Drums, Nada Surf, Neon Trees, and Architecture in Helsinki to these shores. They started this year with a healthy dose of Entertainment by way of French rock band Phoenix and are continuing their streak with English band Bombay Bicycle Club this month. Not bad for kids who just got out of college, right? Despite being rookies in a field filled with hard-boiled industry veterans, they’ve managed to hold their own and prove that enthusiasm, hard work, and a genuine love for music go a long way. If their track record’s anything to go by, expect Stephanie, Nicole, and John Uy to dominate the concert scene in the next few years. — Raymond Ang

Hannah Espia, 26, @hannah_tabitha

On the strength of one film, Hannah Espia announced her presence as one of the generation’s premier film directors. Transit, a sensation at last year’s Cinemalaya, was a film that gave voice to the plight of Filipino immigrant workers in Israel, telling the story of the milieu but also giving a face to Filipino immigrant workers everywhere, a story perhaps any Filipino can relate to. The film has since traveled to festivals as far as To- kyo and Busan, and was even the country’s official representative to the Oscars. “My mom tells me, ‘You have to stop saying it’s surreal because it’s already happening,’” she told us in an interview last year. “But you know, I still can’t believe it.” — Raymond Ang

Mike Concepcion, 23,@MikeConCepts

Mike Concepcion got attention at the end of the 2000s as one of the youngest in an increasingly omni- present “It” barkada that included the likes of Georgina Wilson and Raymond Gutierrez. But as the rest of his clique gradually moved on to showbiz and lives as endorsers, Mike has mostly kept his head down and focused on his work. After putting up Greater Good Apparel in 2010, we’ve since seen him at the forefront of social media marketing for Yabu, his family’s popular chain of katsu restaurants, and Magnum, the much- hashtagged ice cream bar. Early this year, we saw him set out on his own, putting up high-end eyewear store Ronnie & Joe in SM Aura, with a second branch in Rockwell Power Plant opening soon. — Raymond Ang

Anna Oposa, 26, @annaoposa

During the shoot, we ask environmentalist Anna Oposa to put on a variety of faces, from righteous anger to ebullient laughter. She delivers all of them with aplomb and enthusiasm — she was, after all, a theater actress in a past life. She played a mouse in Repertory’s Cinderella and a peppy high school kid in High School Musical, but perhaps it’s her turn as the co-founder of Save Philippine Seas, a movement that aims to promote awareness of the country’s marine resources, that has become her real moment in the spotlight. “I think it makes sense to do something for the seas,” she said in an interview with Rappler. “I mean, we’re a country of 7,107 islands. We’re completely surrounded by water and I don’t think we’ve gotten to the point where we’ve harnessed the potential of what the seas can give us and what we can do for the seas as well.” — Raymond Ang

Soleil Ignacio, 25, @Choleil

Artist Soleil Ignacio announced her presence with a Status magazine cover featuring a beautiful painting of Yoko Ono that seemed to capture the misunderstood icon’s energy and enigma. Since then, she’s steadily built a portfolio and established a style that’s taken her from the pages of Nylon Singapore to promos for Anne Curtis’s recent concert. Soleil specializes in drawing women and her work is distinctive enough that it takes one look to tell if it’s a Soleil woman They’re things of wonder — beautiful, enigmatic women rendered in elegant lines and measured colors. — Raymond Ang


Your Evil Twin, 28, @tracianne @trasienne

Tracianne and Trasienne Estrada always seem to be at the beach. At least that’s what their Instagram accounts say. But when they’re not basking in the sun, they also do photography work for publications and brands. Their most famous photograph would be that of Ornusa Cadness eating a French fry, which eventually made its way to the stores of international retail brand Topman. The twins’ creative aesthetic is not hard to differentiate from others. Whether they’re doing travel videos or impromptu shoots in their bedroom, the sense of nostalgia and wanderlust is always present. —Maine Manalansan

Nix Damn P!, 29, @nixdamnp

“Trust the DJ,” says Nix Damn P!’s Instagram profile. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t because Nix’s work starts even before he sets foot onstage. He takes his time to research before the event, and more often than not, his research pays off. His dedication to the craft opened doors for him to perform across the Philippines, Asia and the United States. (In recent history, Nix brought the house down during the #YSProm by mixing ‘90s nostalgia with modern hip-hop.) Aside from doing shows, he also makes “Nixtapes” — mixtapes of the Nix kind, which you can download from his website. —Maine Manalansan

Pepe Diokno, 26,@pepediokno

Not a lot of young directors get international recognition for their first film. But Pepe managed to do just that with Engkwentro, his debut film that premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2009. Among the many awards he won for the film is the Lion of the Future (Luigi di Laurentiis) award for Best Debut Film. He also received the Ani ng Dangal award from the Philippine president a year later. His latest work, Above the Clouds, set to be released this year, was made possible by grants from France, Germany and South Korea. —Maine Manalansan

Vania Romoff, 27, @vaniaromoff

Being born into a family of fashion designers, it is natural for Vania to successfully tread the fashion path. But it wasn’t always just fashion for her; she also dabbled in interior design. One of her most visible interior design projects is her studio in Makati, which houses her work in fashion. From rompers to gowns, the sense of classic sophistication and elegance she is known for is ever present. But for her, talent in design is just one element in achieving success. Her secret? “The key to lasting in this industry is to be professional above all.” —Maine Manalansan

Luis and Carina Santos, 29 and 26, @lastcigarettes @nothingspaces

Aside from coming from the same family of artists, Luis and Carina have a few more things in common. For one, both already have solo exhibitions under their belt: Luis with five, and Carina with four. They also recently closed “Gathered Narratives,” a well-received group exhibition with the rest of the Santos family in Silverlens Gallery. One of their differences, however, lies in their art styles. Luis experiments with photorealistic paintings while Carina is better known for her unique amalgamation of photography, design, and sometimes, literature. —Maine Manalansan


BJ Pascual, 25 @bjpascual

Did anyone really see BJ Pascual coming? In just a few years, BJ has become one of the biggest names in his field, with a body of work that includes ad campaigns, billboards and fashion magazine covers (he shot the covers of two local fashion magazines this month). There’s no denying that BJ’s photographs are equal parts daring and inspiring, and it makes one wonder: what could be next for this wunderkind? Whatever it may be doesn’t matter. BJ may be young, be he’s ready. — Margarita Buenaventura

Hannah Reyes, @hannahrey, 23

Hannah might just be living the ultimate dream: traveling around the globe to take photos and learn about different cultures and stories. Before landing jobs in National Geographic and Getty Images, Hannah already had her work published in Time, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, just to name a few. Her work is not just about taking photos of beautiful scenery; she wants to capture thought-provoking and evocative stories, whether she’s in Cambodia, India, or anywhere else in the globe. Hannah documents her own story and adventure in her blog Yellow Adventures. — Maine Manalansan

Heima, 5, @heimastore

Creative couple Bong Rojales and Rossy Yabut just got married last year but they’ve been creating a home for creative Manila way before that. Heima is the five-year-old lifestyle brand they first put up in Cubao X — then the creative scene’s epicenter — and then expanded to the LRI Design Plaza in Makati and Brixton St. in Kapitolyo, Pasig. While Heima is primarily a furniture and lifestyle store, its cultural reach is immense. By collaborating with the city’s emerging talent (a pre-Ateneo Art Awards Charles Buenconsejo, for example) and producing the types of gigs and events that invite you to revel in artistry rather than get wasted on the dance floor (though that’s also encouraged), Bong and Rossy have created a home for the creative community at large. —Raymond Ang


As Manila collectively woke up and smelled the third wave coffee, The Curator and EDSA BDG took it upon themselves to educate our palettes and raise the bar, coffee-wise. The Curator is a coffee-and-cocktails hole-in-the-wall in Makati that has become famous (and infamous) for its bespoke drinks, excellent espressos, and strict service (no walk-ins). On the other side of the city, EDSA BDG on, well, EDSA is a retail laboratory that aims to become a collaborative environment, part microbrewery, part cafe, part collaborative workspace. — Raymond Ang

OS Accessories, 3, @osaccessories

At just three years old, Paul Jatayna and AJ Omandac’s OS Accessories has nurtured a cult that’s a continent strong. An accessories brand that specializes in handcrafted skeletal statement pieces — a provocative marriage of punk and S&M — OS Accessories has made fans of everyone from K-Pop superstars 2ne1 to global superstar Rihanna. Locally, the brand’s following seems largely rooted in the city’s subculture but has proven a tantalizing proposition to mainstream fashion magazines and even some showbiz personalities. Anyway, when you’ve got teenagers in places like Taiwan sending you elaborately-staged Instagrams of their barkada OOTDs wearing OS Accessories, you know you’re doing something right. —Raymond Ang

Manila Review, 1, @TheManilaReview

With the likes of Ambeth Ocampo, Sheila Coronel, and Miguel Syjuco on their masthead, a small but cult-like circulation that’s taken them all the way to New York’s famed McNally Jackson, and a perspective that challenges the status quo with good old academic criticism, there doesn’t seem to be anything “young” about The Manila Review. But this one-year-old publication is all the more impressive when you consider that the duo on top of its masthead are only in their 20s. Academic and public intellectual Leloy Claudio and writer and Rogue editor Mara Coson have made it a point to further the Review’s  “intergenerational aspect” — a place where veterans like Ocampo and Coronel can intellectually spar with this generation’s intellectuals. —Raymond Ang

Number Line, 5, @numberlinerecords

Benedicto siblings Micaela, Mike, and Bobby have, since 2009, provided a home for some of local indie rock’s most exciting acts through their label Number Line Records, the Stax to Terno Recordings’ Motown. Outerhope, Similar Objects, Tarsius, and the NME-approved Eyedress — headline names in the local indie scene and just some of the label’s prized signings. Through projects like their 2013 vinyl compilation and gigs like Cubao Z, where the Benedictos literally open their house to the larger community, they’re helping expand the sometimes insular indie community. —Raymond Ang

Proud Race, 4, @proudrace

Riding the wave of ‘90s nostalgia, it’s not hard to see why streetwear brand Proud Race has cultivated a following both here and abroad. Rik Rasos and Pat Bondoc built the brand on memories of that decade’s skate culture, MTV icons, and unlikely film heroes. Proud Race’s appeal, however, doesn’t live or die by nostalgia. Unimpeachably cool, reliably inventive, and consistently distinctive, they’ve become the go-to brand for the Millennial who’s looking to distinguish himself from the pack. —Raymond Ang


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