Jojie Dingcong: On faith, friendships & fiestas

WORDSWORTH - Mons Romulo - The Philippine Star
Jojie Dingcong: On faith, friendships & fiestas
Jojie L. Dingcong.

After graduating from the University of St. La Salle in Bacolod City, Jojie Dingcong, now a top talent agent and corporate imaging consultant, already knew his career path

He tells us that us that being in this business was not by accident.

“After graduating with a mass communications degree, I was already idolizing topnotch iconic Hollywood agent Mike Ovitz.” Ovitz is a major entertainment industry stalwart and “rainmaker” during the ’80s and ’90s.

“Ovitz built his own ‘ecosystem’ by handling Hollywood box office stars, topnotch directors, producers and the like, formulating projects using his own solid stable,” adds Jojie.

Being in the business for close to three decades, Jojie has engineered and launched the careers of some of the country’s top matinee idols, like Derek Ramsay and Matteo Guidicelli. His present roster for representation includes Vicki Belo, Hayden Kho, Scarlet Snow Belo, Pops Fernandez and Korina Sanchez, just to name a few.

He is a known celebrity brand-builder and “silent” adviser to many tycoons… and is known to have quite a roster as well of young taipans. He is a sharp strategist on “personality” brand building, heraldry, and amplification.

He also believes in very humanized branding and advocates this strongly in our new, brave digital space and ecosystems.
“JLD,” as he is fondly known in the professional circle, also runs and owns Media Kweens, Inc. with Korina Sanchez Roxas, and ShowBoxx Media, Inc. with Pops Fernandez.

He is also known as “The Chairman” of “Super City Bacolod’s MassKara Festival” by virtue of his appointment by Mayor Albee Bantug Benitez. Currently, the Masskara Festival is the longest “fiesta” in the Philippines, running for three weeks in October.

Jojie with Dr. Vicki Belo and Scarlet Snow Belo.

We asked Jojie his random thoughts about faith, friendship, fun and fiestas.

1. On faith. Growing and nurturing your faith is a very personal journey. I was born and raised in conservative — almost puritanical — Bacolod during the mid-’60s. In my early years, I felt “drafted” into my Catholic religion. I just obligingly followed the dogmas to please my very “Catolico-sarado” grandmother and aunts. I was never resistant, but my young, inexperienced mind felt trapped. I knew then I was different. I knew I was gay. Is there room in Heaven for someone like me? I was curious.

2. On overcoming my perceived limitations. When my grandmother passed away, I felt free. I pursued the arts. I was a disciple of the creatives and artistic forms of humanities — my mind did open. So many quiet thoughts entered and lingered. I could be a visual artist, a theater actor, a broadcaster… a fashion designer? The possibilities were endless… my Catholic faith was on hiatus and in complete hibernation.

3. On rediscovering my Marian passions. Exactly 12 years ago to date, I was away on a vacation in Rome. I met some Filipino priests and one of them was a parish priest from Batangas. We visited the tomb of St. John Paul II. I always had affection for this beloved Pope because he was the very papal figure I grew up with. Anyway, Fr. Chris, while we were viewing the pope’s tomb, asked me If I could help him in the building of his new parish church, Our Lady of Solitude. I just said yes, halfheartedly committing myself… or so I thought.

That very moment changed my life. I was into helping build that very church from then on, up to today. Mama Mary brought me in. I rediscovered my faith and love for the Holy Trinity.

This year 2024 is a milestone year for me as I complete my commitment of 10 Years of Devotion to Our Lady of the Holy Rosary of Manaoag. I love her!

4. On friendships and intentions. I build strong, super-faithful friendships. I personally feel that to build a strong foundation, respect is paramount. No respect, no friendship. Period. Otherwise, it’s just a waste of time and good energy. If your energies don’t match, leave and step away.

5. On friendship and disrespect. Recently, I had to reassess certain friendships with a few people. Perhaps I didn’t know his or her character enough…. or worse, I was in denial and making excuses and “soft landings” for these personas. I was not listening to my “inner voice.” I was dismissive of all the “red flags.” At the end of the day, your gut instinct will win over. I have learned something radical for a people-pleaser. I learned to have “boundaries.”

6. On friendships and boundaries. I am happy to meet my hidden persona. I can say NO to people who I feel just take advantage of our friendship. I am very forgiving. However, reconciliation will remain alien, for in my newfound mantra…. “Just close the door and wish them well’… will still have to wait and see.

7. On fashion and being proudly Pinoy. I love my fashion. I wear my own voice and I love strong statement dressing. l adore the magical aesthetics of Puey Quiñones and he really gets me. Recently I also discovered the magnificence of Paul Cabral — he is awesome with such stellar detailing. I also love the creative vision of Rajo Laurel.

8. On my barong fashion. I love barong and most of all, the adventurous modern barong. We live in the tropics, so wearing a barong is kinder to me personally. I love the barong in all forms, and I have amassed quite a fun, eclectic collection.

9. On my fashion aesthetics. Apart from loving local, I love the Japanese aesthetic… from kimonos to shogun and samurai pants. I love Japonaise anime to Harajuku… oh, yes!! I love very Asian adventurism mixed with European details and flava. I love Yohji Yamamoto, Comme des Garçons, or Issey Miyake, but I will mix them happily with Demobaza, Rick Owens, Louboutin, or Off-White. I love love, love so many fringe Euro brands. I love finding “finds” in unknown brands. As long as I see me in the piece, I will wear it.

10. On fiestas in the Philippines. We are a country that loves fiestas. It is in our DNA. Fiesta culture celebrates the Filipino. It defines us as a people… and truly is a galvanizing force that unites our community and our society in general. Super City Bacolod’s MassKara Festival is the fiesta of my youth and my present. Truly, today, I am just grateful for I am still standing strong and healthy… with a big smile of my face. The best life indeed.



We welcome your suggestions and comments. Please e-mail me at [email protected]. Follow me on Instagram @monsromulo.

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