104 101 PEOPLE YOU MUST MEET RIGHT NOW
Success comes in many shapes and forms, and can Strike at any age. on the following pages, we Salute the triumphs of filipinos here and abroad, as they exemplify the passion, grit, creativity, craftsmanship, intelligence, and beauty of our people.
Our annual round-up of newsmakers and movers and shakers in various fields. By Pierre a. Calasanz
1 CHRISTINE ALLADO The 26-year-old singer and actress is on a roll, landing a coveted role in the West End production of Hamilton, right after starring as the lead in In the Heights, another acclaimed musical by Lin Manuel Miranda. And not too long ago, she shared the stage with pop opera singer Andrea Bocelli at his concert in Manila. Hard to believe it now, but Allado didn’t get very far when she joined “Are You the Next Big Star,” back in 2008.
2 JACOB BATALON Producers took a gamble when they cast Batalon as Ned Leeds, the sidekick of Peter Parker (played by Tom Holland) in the recent hit Spider-Man:
Homecoming, but it paid off, as the duo’s natural rapport was vital to the film. Though raised in Hawaii, both of Batalon’s parents are Filipino and his heritage is something the actor is quite proud of. He’ll portray one of literature’s most famous sidekicks in his next role, as Sancho Panza in The True Don Quixote.
3 MIKE CURATO Born in New York to a Filipino father and an Irish mother, Curato recently visited his dad’s homeland to meet fans of his successful Big Elliot children’s book series. The first, Little Elliot, Big City, was published in 2014 and won for Curato the 2015 Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator honor the following year. A new book featuring the adorable baby elephant has followed almost every year, with the latest, Little Elliot, Fall Friends, being released in late August.
4 &5 SUNSHINE DE LEON & JESSIE LICHAUCO De Leon, a freelance journalist who has written for the
Guardian, Forbes Asia, and Time.com as well as this magazine, has found great success as a documentarian. The film Curiosity, Adventure &
Love, which she co-produced, wrote, and directed with Suzanne Richiardone, has done exceedingly well on the festival circuit, most recently winning the Best Documentary honor at the Soho International Film Festival in June. The star is no other than her 106-year-old grandmother Jessie whose sense of adventure is described as a combination of Scarlett O’Hara and Amelia Earheart. 6 & 7 LAV DIAZ AND BRILLANTE MENDOZA The veteran filmmakers are among the newest members of Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the organization behind the annual Academy Awards. While based in the United States, the academy is strengthening its global presence and now has members from all over the world. Mendoza shot to international prominence when his film Kinatay earned him Best Director honors at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival; he directed another kind of production last year: the first State of the Nation of President Rodrigo Duterte, and did it again in 2017. Diaz is best known for his art-house films which can run for many hours; in recent years his films have done quite well critically as well as commercially, with 2016’s Ang Babaeng Humayo garnering widespread acclaim.
8 NATHAN GO Born and raised in Davao City, the Filipino-Chinese writer recently won the David T.K. Wong Creative Writing Fellowship, awarded by the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom. The fellowship, which is granted to a fiction writer who wishes to write about the Far East, comes with a £26,000 prize. Go is the third Filipino to earn this prestigious grant, following in the footsteps of the eminent Butch Dalisay and award-winning writer Bing Sitoy.
9 RACHELLE ANN GO The 31-year-old singer—who now plays the role of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton in the West End production of Hamilton— has been in the spotlight for 20 years, having won a national singing contest on a noon-time television show when she was just 11. She struck gold again when she shifted to musical theatre in 2011, when she
debuted as Ariel in The Little
Mermaid; within three years she was cast as Gigi Van Tranh in the West End revival of Miss
Saigon, and shortly after, as Fantine in the 30th anniversary staging of Les Misérables.
10 RAMON IBANGA JR. Better known in the music industry as Illmind, Ibanga is a 13-year production veteran who’s worked with the likes of Drake, 50 Cent, and LinManuel Miranda. After the
Hamilton star heard Illmind’s work with Joel Ortiz (they collaborated on the 2015 album Human), Miranda became an instant fan and asked Ibanga to produce tracks on The Hamilton
Mixtape album (which reached number one on the Billboard chart), and then they collaborated again on the song “You’re Welcome,” featured on the Moana soundtrack.
11 MOOKIE KATIGBAK-LACUESTA
The closing event of the recent Poetry International Festival held in Rotterdam derived its name from the line “No one’s letting go of anyone tonight who hasn’t already left,” from a poem of Katigbak-Lacuesta. It was a proud moment for the Filipina poet who participated in the 48th edition of the festival, as her poem was set to music and sung by a choir, gospel-style. Katigbak Lacuesta has two poetry volumes to her name, The Proxy Eros (2008) and Burning Houses (2013).
12-14 - RIckY LEE, kARA MAGSANOcALIkPALA, AND ROLANDO TOLENTINO They made the news after a dispute caused by the direction the annual Metro Manila Film Festival was taking. They voiced their support for independent film producers and expressed their belief that independent films could be box-office hits, too, contrary to the rest of the committee’s position. Lee is a screenwriter, journalist, novelist, and playwright, with more than 150 screenplays under his belt; Tolentino is the dean of the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication and professor at the University of the Philippines Film Institute; Magsanoc-Alikpala is an award-winning broadcast journalist and documentary filmmaker, and is also well known for founding ICanServe, a foundation supporting issues related to breast cancer.
15 EvA NOBLEzADA Born in the United States to a Filipino father and a MexicanAmerican mother, the 21-year-old theater actress was recently nominated for a Tony award for her role of Kim in the Broadway revival of
Miss Saigon. Though she grew up in the U.S., the Filipino influence was always strong. When she was young, “My Filipino grandparents would always put me on the table and say, ‘Sing, sing, sing for everybody,’” she revealed in a recent interview.
16-19 SARREAL BROTHERS WIND QUARTET The musical group
was formed in 1998, when the ages of the brothers ranged from 6 to 14. It recently reunited after a 17-year break, during which time, each of the brothers engaged in other pursuits. John Raymond, who plays the flute, started playing at 7, and has won prestigious competitions, including the National Music Competitions for Young Artists, several times over his career. Joseph Gideon, a.k.a Guido, plays the trumpet when he’s not busy being the managing partner for hiking tour provider Trail Adventours and co-founder of Kawil Tours. Roberto Gonzalo, a.k.a. Panggo, is a multi-instrumentalist, playing clarinet, saxophone, and flute. A music educator and arranger, Panggo has degrees in both Political Science and Music. Jacob Gabriel, a.k.a Coby, plays the soprano saxophone, which he took up when he was six. Like brother Guido, he enjoys climbing mountains, and is striving to become the second Filipino to scale the Seven Summits of the world, climbing the highest peaks on every continent, including Mount Everest.
20 JHETT TOLENTINO The 39-year-old’s rags-toriches story is worthy of a Broadway musical—perhaps something the five-time Tony Award nominee (with three wins) might consider producing in the future. Born to poor parents, Tolentino earned a scholarship grant from Tokyo’s Sophia University, which enabled him to get a college degree in Iloilo. After doing several odd jobs in the United States, he found a business partner, Joan Raffe, and they mounted their first Broadway play in 2012, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.
It won a Tony the year after, and the rest is history.
ART, FASHION, & DESIGN
21 PIO ABAD If you’ve been to London recently, you may have gotten a pleasant surprise while making your way through the city’s vast underground train network. The London Underground commissioned Abad to come up with artwork for the second edition of the Night Tube Pocket Map, and the artist responded with a piece inspired by an unusual discovery in the Tube’s lost and found section. Eddie, a painting of a gorilla in a Hawaiian shirt, is Abad’s playful interpretation of a stuffed gorilla left behind at a train station, “a mascot of the unexpected encounters of nocturnal London.”
22 HAPPY ANDRADA The 32-year-old fashion designer is among our brightest rising stars, turning heads here and abroad for her innovative wedding gown designs. On the international scene she’s made quite an impact this year, parading her couture gowns at Mercedes Fashion Week in Amsterdam, Toronto Fashion Week, and London Fashion Week. She revealed her next collection will be inspired by the pintado tattoos of our ancestors, “showcasing who we are.”
23 MARTHA ATIENZA
The experimental filmmaker and visual artist continues her ascent to the higher echelons of the international art scene as her latest opus, Our Islands 11°16’58.4”N
123°45’07.0”E, recently won the Baloise Art Prize at Art Basel in Switzerland. The jury was quite impressed with the video work, which depicts a surreal ati-atihan parade conducted underwater. Atienza, born to a Dutch mother and Filipino father, is a two-time Ateneo Art Awards honoree, and was one of the CCP’s Thirteen Artists picks in 2015.
24 ROCKY cAJIcAN Based in Baguio, the 29-year-old multimedia artist and writer might not be a familiar name to the Manila art crowd, but after being named one of the winners at last year’s Ateneo Art Awards, that’s sure to change. His exhibit “Museumified,” was described as “22 assemblage pieces and sculptures made up of found objects and pseudo artifacts, remnants of Cordillera and colonial cultures that are set within a retable of a larger story.” Shown at the Blanc Gallery, it was inspired by a “nostalgia for indigenous history,” in the artist’s own words.
25 NATHALIE DAGMANG The 24-year-old artist was a winner at last year’s Ateneo Art Awards for her exhibit “Dito sa may Ilog ng Tumana,” an inter-media installation dwelling on the relationship of people residing near the Marikina riverbank with their frequently flooding landscape. Dagmang, who earned her Fine Arts degree (majoring in Sculpture) at the University of the Philippines, recently completed her artist’s residency at Liverpool Hope University and just before that, one at Artesan Gallery in Singapore, as part of her Ateneo Art Awards prize. She’s now pursuing her master’s in Anthropology.
26 JAIME PONCE DE LEON The amiable de Leon had a previous career as an interior designer before finding great success as a gallerist and lately, auctioneer. The auctions held at his Leon Gallery have been breaking Philippine records— at the recent mid-year auction, pieces by Ang Kiukok and Fabian de la Rosa achieved their highest prices ever. The international art website Blouin Artinfo listed Leon Gallery as one of the 250 Best Auction Houses Worldwide for 2016.
27 RODNEY FUENTEBELLA
If you’ve ever stayed behind in a movie theater waiting for the secret ending to various films in the Marvel franchise, from Spider-Man to The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy to Captain
America, you may have come across Fuentebella’s name as a concept illustrator in the film credits. Since 2010 he’s been with Marvel Studios, and is currently their senior visual development illustrator. Fuentebella studied at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, where he earned a degree in Product Design with emphasis in Entertainment Design.
28 GINO GONzALES Often heralded as the successor of the late National Artist Salvador Bernal, Gonzales is certainly doing his mentor proud. The set designer recently won the Silver Medal at the 2017 World Stage Design awards, organized by International Organisation of Scenographers, Theatre Architects and Technicians. Gonzales was honored at the quadrennial event for his work on the 2014 production of Hakbang sa Hakbang (Shakespeare’s Measure
for Measure) by Dulaang Unibersidad ng Pilipinas.
29 JOHN HERRERA
The fashion designer was named Britain’s Top Designer this February, besting five other Londonbased candidates. Hosted by the fashion event company Fashions Finest during London Fashion Week, the competition is a search for the best emerging fashion designer in the United Kingdom. In partnership with Epson Philippines, Herrera presented his Agila collection, inspired by the Philippine eagle and indigenous tribal art. In an interview, he mentioned it’s a celebration of “our cultural heritage and historic past.”
30 ARSENIO LIzASO The Cultural Center of the Philippines has a new president in Lizaso, who takes over the post long held by Dr. Raul Sunico. Lizaso is no newcomer to the CCP, as he has been on the Board of Trustees since 2010. During his introduction to the press, Lizaso revealed his lifelong love of art, with theater being his burning passion. Steeped in Western and Filipino literary classics, Lizaso is well known in art circles as a theater actor, director, producer, and educator.
31 & 32
LANI MAESTRO AND
MANUEL OcAMPO Representing the Philippines at the 57th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia is the exhibit “The Spectre of Comparison,” featuring the works of Maestro and Ocampo, curated by Rizalina Cruz, director of the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design. Maestro was born in the Philippines in 1957 and now resides in Canada, where she continues her explorations in installation, sound, and video art. In 2012, she won one of Canada’s most prestigious art prizes, the Hnatyshyn Award, for outstanding achievement in the visual arts. Ocampo, who divides his time between Spain, Belgium, and Manila, enjoys acclaim for his unsettling pieces rife with religious, political, and cultural themes.
GENE PAUL MARTIN A graduate of Fine Arts, majoring in Painting, at Far Eastern University, the 27-year-old artist has been flying under the contemporary art radar for some time, but many believe it’s his time to shine. Said to be influenced by Todd Schorr, James Jean, Pop Surrealism, and Japanese comics, Martin’s works are often a mix of the cute and grotesque, with simple and familiar themes that somehow entrance the viewer.
Pamintuan translated his childhood love for drawing portraits into a thriving career as a children’s book illustrator. Hailing from Davao, Pamintuan studied at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco where he earned his Fine Arts degree in 2003. It didn’t take long before he found his groove, doing illustrations for various series such as Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew, Alien in my Pocket, and Flat Stanley. Among his latest titles is Kisses
for Kindergarten, about a young child (inspired by Pamintuan’s daughter) and her loyal dog.
ISABEL ROxAS The New York-based children’s book illustrator and artist was recently in town promoting her latest project, Let Me
Finish!, written by Minh Le. Like her whimsical sketches, the award-winning artist’s bio is equally quirky: born in Manila, Roxas says she was “raised on luscious mangoes, old wives’ tales, and monsoon moons.” Roxas works from her studio in Brooklyn; when she’s not producing illustrations, she’s at work on her small ceramic pieces.
36 RYAN RUBI
Did you enjoy the stunning visual effects in Spider-Man: Homecoming?
Thank Camarines Sur native Rubi for that. Only 30 years old, the Bicolano heads the technical animation team of Method Studios, an animation and special effects firm from Vancouver. It was tapped by Marvel to provide the effects for the blockbuster, which raked in $117 million on its opening weekend. Rubi worked previously for the Singapore branch of Lucasfilm and already has more than 20 films on his CV, among them, Transformers: Age of Extinction, Star Wars: The Force Awakens,
and Jurassic World.
37 & 38
BEA zOBEL JR. AND
PALOMA zOBEL The mother and daughter tandem have made the move to Palawan after taking the reins of the development of Kalye
Artisano, an artists’ village in the vast Lio Tourism Estate, a project of Ayala Land subsidiary Ten Knots. Bea has been involved in arts for most of her life, and for a long time was known as a champion of Boholano arts and culture. Paloma is similarly inclined, with design being her focus. She has a degree in Business Administration from the Strategic Design and Management Program at Parsons The New School in New York, and further studies at Imperial College London. Paloma is the creative force behind Piopio, a line of local crafts, available at Lio.
39 - 41 TOM cUNANAN, GENEVIEVE VILLAMORA & NIck PIMENTEL The three Filipino-Americans are credited with the success of Bad Saint, acclaimed by
Bon Appetit magazine as the second-best new restaurant in 2016. It all began with a Kickstarter campaign initiated by Villamora and Pimentel, which promised backers “a 25-seat restaurant taking a fresh and seasonal approach to traditional Filipino food…The restaurant will showcase what Filipinos are famous for: food obsession, warm hospitality, and good times.” Chef Cunanan earned his culinary degree from the Art Institute of Washington in 2005, and has worked in some of the DC area’s finest restaurants. In 2012, he set up Tarsier Catering. Villamora was a social justice crusader for a decade before entering the restaurant business. At Bad Saint, she handles front of the house operations. Pimentel’s strength is in graphic design and visual branding, also specializing in restaurant design. He takes charge of the restaurant’s visual identity, from menus to its social media campaigns.
42 & 43 AILEEN PAYUMO
AND MONIcA MENDIOLA Think kale is over as a food fad? The duo behind Take Root will beg to disagree, as their kale chips continue to find more fans, as they’re now exported to Hong Kong, with Singapore, the Middle East, and more countries in Asia in the pipeline. Both Payumo and Mendiola spent a lot of time in New York, but it was only in Manila where they met and bonded over their love for healthy food, describing themselves as “… two health nuts and former New Yorkers on a mission to provide healthy and delicious snack options to Filipinos.” Take Root won in the best snack food category of the 2017 Katha Awards; besides kale chips, it also makes garliccauliflower chicaron, trail mix, and bliss balls chewy snacks.
44 cHARLEEN cAABAY
Filipinos who frequent San Francisco’s Bay Area have surely heard of Caabay’s Filipino restaurant, Kainbigan, but after her win on Food Network’s Chopped, she introduced herself to a wider audience. The dishes she presented had a strong Filipino influence (from laing to our barbecue on a stick), and she was pleasantly surprised that the judges enjoyed them. “This is my culture, this is my heritage. I’m Filipino, so you’re going to taste some Filipino,” she told the Asian Journal.
45 & 46 NIccO SANTOS AND
QUENEE VILAR As 2016 drew to a close, virtually everyone who loved food and eating out had Hey Handsome on their list of best new restaurants for the year. Santos and his protégé Vilar are the star chefs in that venture, a collaboration with influential restaurateur Charlie Paw. It’s not Santos’ first taste of success, though, as Your Local, a collaboration with chef Denny Antonino that opened in 2014, has a devoted following and was heralded as one of the “greatest restaurants around the globe” by Condé Nast Traveler not too long ago. Vilar started as a line cook at Your Local, but quickly worked her way up to sous chef. Now, the duo combine their talents on food R&D; everyone’s excited to find out what they’re cooking up next.
47 DALE TALDE The FilipinoAmerican chef burst onto the culinary scene when he joined the cast of Top Chef:
Chicago in 2008, followed up by another stint in Top Chef:
All Stars in 2010. While many of his dishes draw inspiration from Filipino cuisine, Talde’s the first to admit they’re not the most authentic, as the title of his 2015 book, AsianAmerican: Proudly Inauthentic Recipes from the Philippines to Brooklyn, declares. With his stable of restaurants on the East Coast (Talde in Brooklyn, New Jersey, and Miami; Massoni and Atlantic Social in New York, with a rooftop bar and lounge called The Heights opening soon) Talde is helping get Filipino and other South East Asian cuisines the broader audience they deserve.
T&c Jessie Lichauco and Sunshine Lichauco de Leon
Rachelle Ann Go
T&c coby, John Raymond, Panggo, and Guido Sarreal
Jaime Ponce de Leon
Bea Zobel Jr. and Paloma Zobel