Lifestyle Asia Game Changers: Have You Met these 30 Millennials Making a Difference in the World? -

The Annual Lifestyle Asia Game Changers list:
Thirty young men and women are challenging themselves, pursuing personal goals, tapping the sun for power, developing a destination from the Philippines’ waves, creating a taste for Filipino flavors abroad, writing new music, technology, designing sustainable architecture and building homes for calamity survivors, preparing to take up the cause for the marginalized to realize a world as close to their dreams with the possibility of exceeding their loftiest aspirations.

Alex De Leon

29, Facebook Product Marketing Head Living in a Suitcase
Photography by Hub Pacheco 

After working at Google, Alex took a sabbatical to work on his MBA which he finished at INSEAD. Answering a call from Facebook led him to work as the company’s Lead of Product Marketing for Southeast Asia. “I was drawn to Facebook’s mission of making the world more open and connected,” he says. Leading multiple markets also allows him to travel extensively. A single week could mean working from a hotel in Vietnam and then immediately jumping between the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand to meet new clients. “My suitcase is permanently packed and ready-to-go.” In five years, Alex aims to continue his work in technology and get more people connected online. “Almost four billion people don’t have access to the internet. It’s a substantial challenge that I’d love to tackle.” Alex notes that although Facebook has more than 15,000 people, it can still feel a lot like a start-up. “When you want things done, you often need to roll up your sleeves and do them yourself,” he says.

Alessa Laurel Lopez

23, Dancing Diplomat
Photography by MJ Suayan

“My interest really lies in diplomacy,” Alessa Laurel Lopez says. The ISM graduate has an impressive resume that will likely have more entries as she enrolls for post-graduate studies in the next semester. She graduated magna cum laude at Mount Holyoke with a Major GPA of 4.0, earning the College Leadership Award and subsequently, a $10,000 scholarship. She has also taken courses at the University of Edinburgh and Yale University. Outstanding academics led to a stint at the Department of Foreign Affairs. She worked as the assistant to Ambassador Manuel Teehankee, and participated in the composition of policy briefs and the appraised tariff policies in China. Her responsibilities involved ASEAN briefs, trade negotiating and education expos in Shanghai.

Brian Poe Llamanzares

24, Budding Entrepreneur Look to Serve and Sail
Photography by MJ Suayan  

Brian Poe Llamanzares had a busy year in 2016. During the presidential elections, he devoted all his time as a campaign manager of candidate Grace Poe, his mother. The Ateneo de Manila graduate was often asked if he had ambitions of entering politics. At that time, it was normal for children of potential presidents to be asked such questions.  “Yes. I want to be in public service, in general,” he replied. Next for Brian is acquiring his Master’s Degree as a student at Columbia University this fall. The former correspondent for CNN has also recently launched Time Master, a timepiece company that creates pieces for the modern, Filipino gentleman. It is the first of many concept businesses Brian has in store for 2017.

Careen Belo

33, Dream Builder and Executive at
Photography by Josef Castro

Careen Belo has always wanted to work for the family business even when she was a child. “Growing up, it was one of the things that we were being groomed for,” she says. But as any good business head knows, keys to the palace is something children of its owners have to earn. The young executive at Wilcon, a company in the business of supplying “the latest building and finishing materials from international and local markets,” admits that there were times when she felt overwhelmed. She knew that there were big shoes to fill. Sitting down with people more experienced than her also took some getting used to. Now that she’s settled in, she ponders that, “not only do I have a responsibility to my job, but I also had to have accountability to the family business.” Her current role in the company is product sourcing and developing product lines. She describes workdays as being filled with meetings with suppliers and key people.

Erin Lane

24, Solutions Specialist with a Global Flair
Photography by Kyla Olives 

Irish-Filipino Erin Lane describes herself as “a melting pot of cultural influences.” She views things with a global perspective, having been raised by an Irish father and a Filipino mother in Australia. She completed her primary education at the British School in Manila and excelled during her college years at Enderun College, where she graduated cum laude. Throughout her journey, she valued the gift of meeting “a massive mix of so many different cultural backgrounds.” It helped her develop a more global mindset and pursue interests like travel, cooking, music and the performing arts. Dublin is the current address of Erin, who is now immersed in work as an Operations Executive and Change Manager in a company that handles moving requirements. She explains, “I had been a Business Solutions Specialist consultant in a relocation firm in the Philippines so I had an intricate understanding of the complexities of this niche market.” Erin offers a simplified definition of her job saying that her role was to offer solutions on how to make “work more efficient and effective, how to use resources better and how to reduce costs.”

Farah Ghodsinia

24, Law Student and Advocate for Children in Mindanao
Photography by Hub Pacheco 

An Iranian father, Maranao mother and growing up as a member of an ethnic religious minority exposed Farah to various social issues at a young age. The first time she realized she could make a difference was when she was elected class president in the sixth grade at Miriam College. “I believe that one does not need a ‘title’ to be considered as a leader,” says Farah. “However, that moment seemed to have been a catalyst for me to be exposed to more roles of youth leadership. Farah served as the President of the 10th National Youth Parliament where she received an award at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from the US Federation of UNESCO Clubs. Today, she juggles a busy schedule with outreach programs for Children of Mindanao, representing the Philippines in various conventions, and academics as a third-year law student at the University of the Philippines.

Gino Santos

27, Young Filmmaker Returning to Indie Roots
Photography by Yukie Sarto

Gino Santos is a visible face in the Philippine cinema circuit. Since the release of his indie film The Animals at Cinemalaya in 2012, he has been considered as one of the talents to look out for. He recalls, “I got a call from Cinemalaya. and really wanted to be part of it.  After [one of the finalist] had to drop out, I was next in line. I asked myself, ‘When will I ever be ready if I don’t take opportunities?’” Gino was only 23 at that time and had just finished working as a production assistant for awarded auteur Brilliante Mendoza. Courage led to the completion of his first motion picture. Following his first independent project were six full-length features including the risqué #Y and psychological thriller Lila. This year, Gino decided to make more time to get back to his independent roots after a string of mainstream films. He joined a workshop with screenwriter Ricky Lee to refine his craft. Out of 700 applicants, only 100 were selected and Gino was one of the chosen few.

Giulia Zahar

23, Barrister from Britain Now Back in Manila
Photography by Yukie Sarto

When Giulia went to study in the UK, she took units in Law and Politics, and realized she was far more interested in Law “I fell in love with the subject; it forms one of the important pillars of the nation, has the power to change an individual’s life as well as affect the integration of people in a society.” Midway through her course, she felt the need to help her country. “I saw the great disparity and inequality and knew I had to come home. The Philippines is not a country to escape, but a country that I wanted to serve,” she says. She completed her Bachelor of Laws in the UK and applied in law schools in the Philippines. While the daughter of an Italian-Filipino heritage is waiting for law school back home, she volunteers at the Arnold Janssen Kalinga Center and the IamSam Foundation, which helps indigent Filipinos get back on their feet. She hopes to take the route of International Law, and focus on Human Rights and Energy Law.

Isabel Francisco

23, Digital and Special Projects Associate Keeping Journals on Paper
Photography by Hub Pacheco 

The publishing industry was something that Isabel grew up in, but was not necessarily too keen about being a part of. She majored in Economics and minored in Political Science at Barnard College. She explains that in any career, knowledge of those two topics is important. “Business know-how, and reading the news and understanding the world will help you in any field you are in,” she says. When she decided to pursue journalism, she cut her teeth interning at Atlantic Media. Her work entailed fact-checking and helping update The Atlantic website. When she decided to go home, there was only one title where she felt she should work: The Philippine Tatler. Isabel is now involved in the digital aspect of the business. “I dreamed of a career which allowed me to travel, meet and work with amazing people, plan events, be creative, use business/economic knowledge, work in marking and journalism,” she says. “I realized that working with Philippine Tatler actually combined everything I was searching for. I no longer had to choose between different career paths.”

James Roman

26, Chevening Scholar and Founding Member of Taguyod Bayan Building Homes for t
he Displaced
Photography by Kieran  Punay

“The land we plant on, we did not get from our parents, but we are borrowing from our children,” states James Roman, an Ateneo University graduate who has dedicated his life and career in the betterment of the nation. Now a resident of London, he is on a Chevening Scholarship, a prestigious program that includes a select number of students from a pool of 18,000. James is currently immersed in studies focused on issues like poverty, inequality in third world countries and international development. James is also one of seven found members of Taguyod Bayan, a non-profit organization that seeks to build disaster-resilient homes for displaced individuals. To date, the team has built sixteen homes with more nearing completion to benefit over 10,000 families. Work in the United Nations or UNICEF is part of his future plans.

Javi Cang

26, Finance Man Climbs Mountains
Photography by Hub Pacheco 

“I’ve always felt at home in the mountains and the oceans,” says Javi Cang. He works in finance but on any other time, he is summiting peaks or exploring the depths of the ocean in some part of the world. Hong Kong was home as child. His parents often took him to less populated places like Stanley Bay, the New Territories and Lantau. The family later relocated to the Philippines where they bonded together on biking and hiking excursions. Javi was enamored by the adventures and discoveries in the mountains and trails. Today, he shares his experiences on social media and uses the platform as a means for promoting Philippine tourism. The finance professional talks about eating only lentils and surviving adverse weather on a recent trip to the Himalayas. Despite the long and tough expedition, he declares that, “the mountains were incredibly gorgeous and epic.” He hopes to attempt a major Himalayan peak or two in the future. Mountaineering is an expensive endeavor, and while some of the most sought-after expeditions could go for a few thousand dollars, at the end of the day, “it’s all about priorities and motivation, and at this point of my life, I work to climb,” he says.

Kara Gozali

25, Medical Student with a Fashion Follow on Social Media
Photography by Hub Pacheco 

Kara Gozali’s social media accounts have a following of 41,300. The posts show her wearing pieces from new collections or taking part in beauty experiments. She has also been featured in several digital fashion platforms where she talks about her trips around the world. At six feet tall, Kara has also done several modeling jobs as part of the Professional Models Association of the Philippines (PMAP). Medical school, however, keeps Kara occupied most of the time. The student from University of Sto. Tomas is an incoming junior intern. Like most millennials, Kara uses Instagram to share snippets of her life. Apart from style and beauty-related posts, she also documents the life of a med student. Her entries include photographs and videos of late night study sessions, coffee runs and post-exam celebratory shoots.

Jeff Ortega

26, Surf Entrepreneur and Advocate of Philippine Tourism
Photography by MJ Suayan

“I call myself a surf entrepreneur,” declares Jeff Ortega. The tanned native of La Union with political pedigree spends most of his time on the waves of his hometown instead of an office in government like most of his relatives. “I was groomed to be in politics. I was learning from my father ever since I was young. I even took Political Sciences in Ateneo as a (pre-requisite) to law school. Then surfing happened to me when I was 19 and I never turned back.” Since he rode his first wave, Jeff has created enterprises anchored on the surf lifestyle. Today, he runs the La Union Surf School and beachside food hub Mad Monkeys Burger Lab. He is also the young visionary behind music festivals in his town like Soul Surf International Music Festival and La Union Surfing Break Music Carnival. Jeff’s every enterprise or project considers the development of local tourism. His music festivals bring in international acts to attract tourists. Since it was conceived two years ago, the annual event has brought many young urbanites and global visitors to his hometown. The festivals are usually on shorelines nearby local hospitality establishment. It is a strategic decision that has generated better business for local hotels and restaurants.

Katherine Barkman

19, The Youngest Principal Dancer at Ballet Manila
Photography by Yukie Sarto 

Katherine is 19 years old, the youngest principal dancer of Ballet Manila. Most of the world’s greatest dancers don’t earn that distinction until they are in their mid-20s. She grew up in the United States and wanted to become a ballet dancer since the age of two. “I begged my parents to sign me up for ballet lessons!” she says. When told that two years was too young, she patiently waited for her third birthday to ask again. She trained with Russian coach Nadia Pavlenko when she was 14 and moved to the Philippines at 18 to dance with Ballet Manila. She chose the company because of its strict adherence of the Vaganova technique. “There is nothing I love more than performing onstage, creating, and dancing for audiences,” she says. She traveled extensively as a guest performer with different companies, which has helped her further develop her skills. Katherine has taken on challenging roles, from Aurora to Juliet and the Sugarplum Fairy. “I dance to positively affect the lives of those who watch,” she says.

Leandro Leviste

24, Founder of Solar Philippines and Advocate of Renewable
Photography by Hub Pacheco 

The son of Senator Loren Legarda, Leandro studied political science in Yale University. While a path to politics might have been the obvious choice, he chose to go into entrepreneurship. His interest in renewable energy started in 2013, when after investing in Tesla Motors and SolarCities, he realized, “If these companies were so successful, why not in the Philippines where power prices are among the highest in the world?” Inspired by Elon Musk, he set up Solar Philippines, a firm that creates solar farms and rooftop panels for malls and in populated centers in capital city. Once an idea that seemed far-fetched, especially in such an electricity-dependent country as the Philippines, Solar Philippines turned SM North into the biggest solar-powered mall in the world. “We built the Calatagan 63.3 MW Solar Farm in four months, with 2,500 people and a lot of hard work, and by the end the team could be proud of completing the first and only 100 percent Filipino solar farm,” he says. The door is wide open to force the Philippines into a more energy efficient mindset, and Leandro is at the front of it.

Luciano James Zanirato

29, Digital Marketer Innovating Old Sch
ool Enterprises
Photography by Jack Alindahao 

Luciano “Luch” James Zanirato can go on for hours talking about digital marketing. He speaks in a manner that most professors with a Phd would. His is a face not unfamiliar in marketing departments in companies, having done several talks on creating digital strategies to promote brands, products and services. The International Studies graduate from De La Salle University has always been interested in all things related to marketing. It was because of this interest that he decided to put up MaxWeb, a digital agency that provides companies with online marketing strategies and solutions. Today, MaxWeb provides customized marketing strategies for companies that wish to transition smoothly into the digital age. “Our purpose is to empower companies and individuals in the digital world who are not yet well-versed on new tools, channels and platforms,” he says. 

Magsy Concepcion

27, Restaurateur and Child of Kettle Korn

Magsy is about to launch a new food concept called, Flaming Dough. “Together with the management team, we conceptualized a quick service pizza concept where we light our pizzas on fire,” explains the restaurateur. The food, beverage and service industry is not something new for Magsy. “My family is in the food business and before I was born, my parents set up a small popcorn business which is now known as Kettle Korn.” Formal training was done at Enderun and she later flew to the US for an internship at the Peninsula in Beverly Hills. She also took up a 10-week intensive course on Wine Sommelier at The International Culinary Center. Experiences and lessons from her journey joining the team of Chef du Partie, Magsy applied in new ventures, including the re-branding of her family’s Joey Pepperoni and now, Flaming Dough. Magsy is also a partner at hip tapas bar in Bar Pinxtos.

Merril Gaisano

29, Gemologist AKA Tiffany
Photography by Floyd Jhocson 

Merrill’s middle name is Tiffany, which might seem like happenstance when you consider that she runs the jewelry brands of her family’s retail corporation, the Metro Gaisano Group of Retail Stores. In the beginning, all she knew was that she wanted to be in the retail industry. After she was asked to work on the retail section of the pawnshop, she decided to take up training at the Gemological Institute of America to equip herself with the technical know-how needed for the work. An interest sparked and now she works on merchandising, and curating collections for the brands like Royal Gem, Mygold and Smythe & Co. Owing to her youth, Merrill has a particular eye for what young customers want today. Although Royal Gems, the group’s premium line is known for opulently designed pieces, Merrill’s design preferences are more feminine, romantic and minimalist.

Mito Fabie

23, Curtismith and F
uture Entrepreneur
Photography by Yukie Sarto 

“Music is therapy,” Mito Fabie shares as his favorite rapper plays in the background. The young man moved his arms back and forth in the air, invoking his music alter ego Curtis Smith. A staple in the Manila music scene, Mito has been making an impact in the local music industry. One of the most memorable moments in his career happened when he performed “Going in for Life”, an original composition, for Richard Branson. The moment was broadcasted during a leadership forum. What the cameras did not catch was Branson’s personal assistant giving Mito his business card. Curtismith is always asked about the origins of his name. The moniker is his homage to movie actress Anne Curtis who courageously sang before a large audience to fulfill a dream, despite falling short of that particular talent. The music man plays in numerous venues from underground clubs to music festivals. He just recently signed a contract to endorse clothing brand Human. Mito is also in the process of completing his college degree and plans to go into business. He shares, “I’m trying to take a step back from using music as an income. That’s why I’m stepping into business.”

Monica Magsanoc

23, Fine Arts Student Behind the “Youth in Revolt”
Photography by Hub Pacheco 

The granddaughter of journalism icon Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc, Monica made waves when, after the announcement of the burial of Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, she and her sister created the “Youth in Revolt” shirt. Proceeds from the sale of the shirts were given to victims of Martial Law. “I was taught at an early age about his acts of injustice toward our country,” she says. “A hero’s burial was completely unacceptable and definitely something that I would not stand for.” A Fine Arts student at the University of the Philippines, Monica saw the need for youth participation, yet noticed that a lot of her peers didn’t really know what to do. Despite dealing with exams and undergraduate thesis deliberations, Monica and her sister undertook the task of designing, and then distributing the shirts all by themselves. “The very first shirt was embarrassingly homemade—silkscreened by hand, and then photographed in my room via tripod and the self-timer option.” She then watched as the orders poured in, and has encountered people from all walks of life wearing them.

Monica Ramos

27, Illustrator Chasing He
r Dreams
Photography by Hub Pacheco 

As a child Monica often doodled on paper. When she ran out, she drew on arms of school friends using markers. She got into painting until she found her medium in illustration, although it was not a clear-cut path. After graduating from the Parson’s School of Art, “it wasn’t about a year out of school that I got a real illustration assignment,” she says. In the last few years of living and working in New York, Monica’s work has been featured in the New York Times, on the Christmas decoration of Jo Malone boxes and the front cover of Alain de Botton’s The Course of Love. She illustrated a few pieces for fashion designer Rachel Antonoff, which debuted during New York Fashion Week. Monica hopes to do a painting residency, participate in more shows and maybe get to do a book assignment. While working in the art industry presents challenges and doubts, her goal is to trust in herself and move forward. After all, art for her has been “a dream I needed to chase.”

Patty Ang

24, Young Fashion Designer Makes Cannes Red Carpet
Photography by Hub Pacheco 

Patty Ang is one of the rising names in Philippine fashion, and she is only 24. Since she first opened shop, her growing clientele now includes young society, editors, movie stars and even Latino music artists. Her trademark cape tops, minimalist dresses and clean silhouette have made it to magazine covers and was even featured in Vanity Fair when a local actress wore her crisp white jumpsuit to the Cannes Film Festival. Patty recalls when she began to create garments. “My friends are my biggest supporters.” Posts on social media of her modern, feminine style sensibilities helped get the word out. She started doing trunk shows and honed her skills, taking a short course in fashion design in London. A new Patty Ang atelier just opened in 2017 and the young designer hopes to reach out to a broader market with this latest expansion. Behind the success, she credits an efficient work staff that she also loves to goof around with. This, she says, helps create camaraderie in the work place.

Natalia Zobel

26, Co-Founder of Lanai with an Insatiable Thirst fo
r Travel
Photography by Mark Nicdao 

“I started because both my parents have always pointed out beautiful things, anything that would catch their eye. They are so good at articulating what was good about it,” says Natalia Zobel of Lanai, the lifestyle store that she, her sister Bianca Warns and friend Maria Parsons opened together. “A new homeowner can come to Lanai. Our price points are great,” she explains of the specialty shop now known for carrying a curated collection of home décor, blooms, accessories and fashion items. A self confessed wander-luster, Natalia has a preference for seaside destinations. She cites Siargao as one of her favorite destinations at the moment. Time spent in the family hacienda down South has instilled an appreciation for the simple life. With the success of Lanai, however, she finds herself spending more time in city. She is occupied with store operations and researching the latest trends in retail. The entrepreneur explains that the unique merchandise at Lanai is a “mix of elements we grew up with together.” The growing clientele of Lanai are taking home a piece of the proprietors’ childhood, which they are happy to share with them.

Rica Plaza

26, Architect Changing the Philip
pine Landscape
Photography by Hub Pacheco 

Rebecca, or Rica to her friends, always knew she wanted to be an architect. Her grandfather was in the cement industry and both her parents were developers. Growing up in that environment, she knew her calling lay in the path of creating buildings and landmarks from scratch. She earned her Architecture degree at the University of Bath, where she won first place at the prestigious Basil Spence Prize, an award given by the university’s Architecture Department. After six years in England, she decided it was time to put up her own firm. “The economy has been extremely robust; the construction sector is booming so I said to myself, ‘If not now, when?’” Plaza + Partners is a team of other young, like-minded professionals who are determined to make a mark in the Philippine architectural scene by building houses, hotels, malls, offices, commercial centers, restaurants, and civic buildings. They have worked on a range of projects from the penthouse at Shangri-La at the Fort to a drug rehabilitation center in Bukidnon. Recently, she received a gold medal at the Asia’s Young Designer Awards. 

Christopher De Venecia

30, A Millennial in the Lower House of Representatives
Photography by Jack Alindahao 

Toff’s campaign slogan in 2016 read: “Kuys ng Bayan.” The tagline was not only just to connect to his constituents. “My (late) little sister passed away several years ago and she called me kuys. Since I got involved in politics, the people I work with have become family to me. There are many challenges in this new chapter in my life and so every time I think of giving up, I remember my sister,” he says. Toff is new to public service but growing up with parents, who both served the country, Speaker of the House Jose de Venecia Jr and Representative Gina de Venecia, helped him ease into the new post he now holds. Committees that he is involved address Food Security, Agrarian Reform, Tourism, Aquaculture and Fisheries Resources, to name a few. “I am learning as I go along. I’ve been learning since I hit the campaign trail. It is interesting and I think my background in journalism and then theater prepared me for this new role.”

Jay Yao

37, Artist in Progress Specializing in Fine Photography
Photography by Jack Alindahao 

Jay Yao is more accustomed to working behind the lens. “Maybe I can take photos of your team as you guys photograph me,” he suggested before the shoot. The spotlight is not exactly his place of comfort although the work he has done since he first got hold of a camera when he was only 16 has resulted in several accolades, special mentions and exhibits around the world. Jay had his first exhibit when he was only 17. This was followed by other expositions not only in Manila but also New York. His work has also been supported by both the Canadian and Mexican embassies. He also interned for photographer Greg Miller in New York. After honing his skill and sensibility, he began taking on independent projects, doing look books and campaigns for international fashion labels. A photo thesis he did while attending Hampshire College, showed depth in the visual artistry of Jay, as he explored “Asian Identity in North America.” In 1998, he worked on a project that shed light on Mexican influences in the Philippines. A project for the Goethe Institut in 2005 called “Art Connexions: SYD-MNL-KUL” reinforced Jay’s distinct take on fine art with focus on cultural ties.

JJ Acuna

35, Wanderlister and Architect
Photography by Paola Aseron Dacanay  

Becoming an architect was not top of mind when James “JJ” Acuna began looking into a possible course for university. An inclination to the arts made him consider painting, fashion design and even comic illustration. “Strict parents told me that I could pursue a creative profession as long as it was architecture,” remembers JJ. He willingly obliged. After graduating from Cornell University and completing a Master’s Degree at Columbia University, JJ relocated to Hong Kong where he began a career in architecture. Since then, he has drafted blueprints to build fine homes and commercial establishments mostly in Mainland China. Just last year, he put up his own firm, JJ.A Bespoke. The company caters to clients from both Hong Kong and Manila. The process that goes into the work with his new enterprise is something he describes as collaborative. Apart from doing architectural projects, JJ is also the author of travel and design blog <>. The site features crisp images of destinations, art and modern spaces accompanied by personal narratives. It has become a reference for both enthusiasts and experts of design, and has been featured in publications such as WGSN, New York Magazine, Monocle, ArtInfo, Vanity Fair Italia and Mr Porter among others.

Mich Dulce

36, Milliner and Corsetiere Living in Different Time Zones
Photography by Floyd Jhocson 

Mich spends most of her time battling jet lag. When she is not in Paris where she is currently based, she is in London. Besides the two cities, she tries to squeeze in a quick trip to Manila and even New York. Mich began to make her mark in the international fashion industry while she was a London resident. After formal training at Central St. Martins College of Fashion Design, she interned for designers like Jessica Ogden and Marjan Pejoski. Her most unforgettable career highlight happened in the English capital when “I was featured in the Selfridges window display last year.” It was not too long ago when she decided to relocate to Paris. There she took on the role as artistic director for French luxury label Maison Michel. “I am a believer in the value of crafts. I think this is why I like to work with my hands. I am drawn to old techniques like creating hats or corsets,” explains Mich., “Slow fashion pieces are made to last.” She is not alone in advocating what most might consider as old school fashion philosophy. Global style figures like Lady Gaga, Vogue’s Anna dello Russo, Leighton Meester are on the same page as she is, wearing her distinct headpieces on covers of magazines or to red carpet events. A recent post on her Facebook page hints at what will be next for the fashion ingénue who says she does not like making plans. It read: “Me thinks it’s looking like LA in mid 2017. Uh-merica I’m coming for you soon.”

Nicole Ponseca

40, Type-A Restaurateur and Founder of Jeepney Filipino Astropub and Maharlika Filipino Modenro
Photography by Hub Pacheco 

Nicole Ponseca was putting Philippine cuisine on the map by renting space in a French restaurant offering authentic Filipino food for brunch. This is the story of Maharlika Filipino Moderno, cited by Time Out New York as one of the Best Restaurants of 2014. “When the owners realized that there was a market for brunch, they kicked us out and started their own service. We didn’t know where to go next. I was telling a friend that we were looking for a space for Maharlika over dinner and someone overheard it. I put it out there and the universe heard me. I was approached by someone who happened to have space and within a few days we were moving in.” Maharlika Filipino Moderno opened in the East Village in August 2011 and was soon at full capacity. The diners who patronize the restaurant are not only Fil-Ams or other Filipinos craving home-cooked specialties in the East Coast. She assesses that a more confident attitude towards presenting Filipino cuisine to the world contributed to the success of her food ventures. “That, and the perfect storm of word-of-mouth, social media and a growing interest in discovering our cuisine.” Jeepney NYC soon opened to offer more casual dining in a city filled with adventurous diners. The second enterprise has been recognized by Time Out New York for its signature Chori Burgers.

Atom Araullo

34, Award Winning Journalist, TV Host, Climate Change Advocate and Citizen Jake
Photography by Jo Ann Bintangcol 

Atom Araullo is a face that is more than just familiar on Philippine television. He became a household name when covered the news of typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in November of 2013. His broadcasts were delivered from amidst debris, heavy winds and rains. While on site, he also got involved in helping save the lives of those affected by the calamity. Overnight, Atom had become the face of bravery. Before the fame and admiration, Atom had already been in broadcast journalism for a decade. The UP graduate began his career at Studio 23’s daily morning show, Breakfast, where he discussed youth-oriented issues. He was also completing a degree in Applied Physics at that time, working as chairperson of the Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights and an active member of the Student Council. By the time he graduated in 2005, he began working for ABS CBN, first as a researcher and later reporter and host. Other interests are now taking up Atom’s time. It was surprising for the TV industry when he suddenly announced his resignation especially considering the applause his work had received just recently. Climate change is an issue he feels strongly about and he took a proactive stance by representing the country in the COP21 (the 21st Conference of Parties). Soon, Atom will star in legendary auteur Mike de Leon’s comeback film. Atom will play the titular role of Citizen Jake. Though not much has been revealed about the current project, work from the grapevine is that the film will focus on journalism and social media.


The first #RSVP Lifestyle Asia of the year celebrated cover girl Kerry Tinga and the Lifestyle Asia Game Changers 

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