With so many things going on in these past few years, Enchong Dee shares how making himself busy, choosing his battles, being emotionally expressive, and fighting for a freer world entail being a modern gentleman in this generation
Despite his busy schedule, Enchong Dee remains steadfast and excited to share his story about recent happenings in his life. As soon as he entered the room for a casual chat, the atmosphere was filled with his radiant confidence and presence, as if completely in sync with my eagerness to know him better. Between shared smiles and hearty laughter, getting to know the real Enchong Dee behind the screen proved his genuine authenticity and how much of a fighter he is no matter if the world is watching or not.
When our talk commenced, the first thing that Enchong told me was that he takes pride in becoming part of many projects at once, sharing with us that it has always been his personality to bravely try new things. “I’m the type of person who likes doing so many things all at the same time,” Enchong says. “Sanay na sanay ako when I was growing up, I can train for swimming, study at the same time, and work all at the same time. It never stops when you get addicted, ’cause I like making myself busy. But it really gets too much sometimes, so I try to find the middle ground to everything. So now I talk to myself and make sure that I put more quality to it than just quantity in what I do.”
While it is true that most celebrities are busy, not all of them have a say in the matter. But in the man of the hour’s case, taking on these challenges were all entirely of his own volition. Even as a child, he shared that it wasn’t his parents who required him to make it to the top 10 most outstanding students in his class. He, himself, strived to be better all the time. “Minsan, natatawa kami ng handler ko, ng road manager ko, because I say yes to a lot of things na sometimes it gets confusing,” he shares, while letting out a contagious laugh. “Pero slowly, you know, you learn a lot of things as you get older, which I am also happy about. You constantly change and you constantly require yourself to transition.”
Being emotionally vulnerable and expressing himself
Enchong’s constant goal to change for the better, and his freedom to choose what he wants to do with his life from a young age, helped hone the vocal and expressive man that we know today—he who never ceases to fight for a cause. Of all the battles he faced head-on, speaking up against the shutdown of his home network ABS-CBN is the latest. Using his voice, the dapper man called out the injustices and possible unemployment that may befall the employees of the station. “This is our job already, we are constantly being looked at, being judged, but I don’t know,” he opens up. Aiming to serve his country, expressing his stand on most things, and being emotionally vulnerable and sympathetic with those who are fighting for their rights— this is the kind of image that we know of Enchong. Out of concern for his well-being, I open up the issue about the effects of all these on his mental health.
“I observed and I noticed that I have a very strong foundation when it comes to my mental health, thanks to my parents also, thanks to my friends, thanks to the core people around me,” Enchong answers.
Even in the case of mental stability, Enchong remains firm in his answers, brandishing how the power of choice keeps him from falling from grace. “You have to stand, like… make a decision to stand more than any other times you tripped or you fell, you just have to stand more than once compared to that time na nadapa ka. Because wala kang ibang aasahan kung di sarili mo.”
However, despite his unyielding personality, not everything has been a walk in the park in this man’s life. How did this man make these choices for himself, speak for the betterment of the country, even as he breezed through the watchful eyes of society?
In choosing who he wants to be
During our catch-up, I mentioned what I noticed about him: he is strong-willed and has an expressive character. “My god, yeah,” he wholeheartedly agrees, even admitting that he sometimes gets in trouble for his openness and authenticity.
Enchong truly is a show-and-tell kind of guy, especially when he confidently showcased Men’s Club by Avon’s printed briefs, through a series of photos, where he also wore his own fashion pieces and suits.
His confidence and authenticity are what made Enchong the perfect image for Men’s Club by Avon, a brand that honors men who are transcending boundaries. By creating intimate wear and giving the option to pair these pieces with the wearer’s own fashion choices, Avon recognizes that modern gentlemen come from different backgrounds, with varied aspirations and dispositions, and should no longer be bound by the definitions from the past. Through Men’s Club by Avon, a diverse selection of underwear for diverse types of men has become available. And with Enchong as the face of the brand, his influence can create a ripple that can reach many people.
Life in the spotlight
Even though Enchong continuously lives without regrets, it hasn’t always been an easy ride. A strong man all throughout, he had to go through baptism by fire to get to where he is right now. And it all started when he had to make a big decision in his younger years.
“Before moving to the entertainment industry, I was already vying for the Olympics. It was something that was a tough decision for me, because when I started swimming at the age of six, of course, as an athlete, your goal is the Olympics, ‘di ba?” He tells me the story of how he was known throughout the Philippines as a promising young swimmer, although he openly admits to being at a crossroads at the age of 16, not knowing who he really wanted to be.
In the end, Enchong chose show business: “When you’re a top-tier athlete, you can’t do any other things! You can’t be dancing, you can’t be crying on TV, you can’t be doing this. But, no, if you are gifted, if you are blessed with all of these talents, with all of these abilities—I’m not saying I’m that talented, but I’m just saying that if you have a chance to experience all of these things in your life, then just do it.” Enchong believed that he truly became himself in his most authentic state when he chose show business over swimming. In fact, he spoke as if there were no life regrets at all from the beginning of his career up to present time.
Even as he seamlessly made a name for himself in the showbiz industry, Enchong still received discouragement from those that surrounded him—and he still does: “I think we would be hearing a lot of comments such as ‘Acting ka na lang! Stick ka na lang sa dancing!’ or ‘Huwag ka nang makihalubilo sa topics na ‘di mo alam!’” Enchong even tells us that it is not only the noise from the outside world that he fights with, but the noise within himself, which tells him they’re probably right. “I think we are in the time of constantly fighting with a lot of things,” he says. “We are constantly fighting with injustices. And I’m speaking not only in our society in terms of injustice, but also within ourselves.”
The liberty of men and the power of choice
Without regrets, Enchong is able to move forward with his life, still trying out different things, like a walking adventure book in progress, consistently marking areas on his map of decisions. For a man as vocal as he is, it is normal to experience some sort of backlash and judgment for his choices. But Enchong is someone who believes men, or people, should be free to choose whatever they want to be without worrying about the standards set by society.
Enchong passionately tells the story of how he, too, used to hear unpleasant statements regarding his fashion choices because people deemed it “unmanly”. “You know, I’ve been through all of that. From the start of my career, I would try on, like even before, the dangling earrings, the accessories, I was wearing that on ASAP. I was wearing Crocs! Red Crocs! And I will get those [bad comments] from people when I’m wearing those stuff!”
Enchong knows that the gentlemen of today have something that they are fighting for, and that they have a choice to help make a better tomorrow. “We don’t put justice to ourselves when we constrict ourselves to do what we want to really do in our lives. ‘Di ba, if you’re a woman, automatic ‘di ka puwedeng pumasok sa laborious jobs, that’s the automatic mentality. If you’re a man, you can’t study fashion, you can’t study makeup artistry, even if you consider yourself straight.” He shares that he is just glad that this generation is now free to have open conversations about topics and are now willing to open doors to more variations of men.
Enchong is pleased that Filipinos have slowly begun to become more accepting, and he believes that this generation of enlightenment is a result of learning from the shortcomings of the previous generations paving the way for real men of this generation to no longer be bound by traditional constructs. “I noticed that the younger generation is very much open to these kinds of stuff, and doon mo makikita na the world is really changing, the world is really more accepting, which I’m very proud of,” Enchong says, nodding in approval. “You know, every generation is getting better, because the former allows it to be.”
A great way to break free from stereotypes
Through Enchong’s projects, he sends his message loud and clear to the world: men have the right to be whoever they want to be and choose what they want to do.
“Just like swimming and moving into entertainment, I break through all the barriers of all these noises around me, because at the end of the day, it’s me making that decision,” he says. “It’s me going through that life.” This is the same case with Enchong’s partnership with Avon. He shares with me the reasons as to why he chose Avon to aid him in sending this statement to the Philippines and the world.
“I love how Avon is very forward-thinking. I love how Avon represents every person in our society, from their products, through their brand, through their campaigns, and Avon is proud to stand for beauty democracy. The brand welcomes and celebrates everyone regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity,” he tells me, while I tell him how comfortable he is with himself and what he’s wearing during the photoshoot. “I think it’s very healthy for brands to make sure that they’re also constantly changing, constantly adapting.”
Avon’s inclusivity is not only limited to men. Enchong and I even discussed the case of women, when they found the opportunity to earn through Avon even before women won the right to vote in the US. “This isn’t new to Avon—Avon has done it centuries ago with women, and now has extended the same to more communities, like us men—because Avon is open to all.”
Enchong’s cause is in line with Avon’s message through their product line of men’s intimate wear for the Men’s Club by Avon campaign. A variety of designs are offered through brief packs in different prints, cuts, and silhouettes, ranging from hi-cut, bikini cut, and hipster style, to name a few.
Avon offers varying options for different types of gentlemen. The variety of products, from classics, to printed, to a range of colors, mirrors the diverse type of the modern man. The products Ethan, Toby, and Victor are fashionably printed with designs for stylistic coordinates. But if you wish to prioritize comfort without restrictions, then Lucas and Leonard can do the job perfectly. Avon’s inclusivity is even shown in the form of their Andy brand of boxers, the first-ever gender-neutral underwear in the Philippines. In Enchong’s words, “Avon has been doing beauty differently for 135 years—a testament that a company standing for inclusion and diversity thrives.”
The expressive nature of Enchong, accompanied by the campaign and cause of Avon, sets out to revolutionize a new kind of masculinity and a new face of the modern gentleman who is not afraid to make his own choices as he breaks free from the shackles of society. “In terms of the freedom of men, for the modern gentleman, I think it boils down to the inward character of one person. Avon recognizes that modern gentlemen come from different backgrounds, with varied aspirations and dispositions, and should no longer be bound by the definitions from the past. Men’s Club by Avon offers a diverse selection of underwear for diverse types of men.”
Enchong believes that while men aren’t still completely free from stereotypes, the era of breaking boundaries has long since begun taking shape and blending in with the norm: “You cannot only survive life, but you can actually thrive in this world, even if you are not the typical or the stereotype the world told you to be or tell us to be. So, it’s possible and it’s doable and we just have to be excited about what the future can give us because we’re seeing it.
My conversation with Enchong has truly opened my eyes to the underlying truth about the “tough guy act,” and allowed me to see what it was like to view the world through the lense of a different kind of man.
As I hope to see a more open and inclusive community in the future, I ask him: if he could tell Filipinos one thing about making a choice for themselves, what would he tell them?
“Now, people allow you to live a life based on what you want it to be. No one will judge you just because you chose a life that is not the usual or what society told you to be.”
Enchong ends our talk in a hopeful and positive note, “That’s the most important thing: take care of yourself, love yourself first, so you can love other people better. We can serve other people better. So find and choose yourself and worry about other people next.”
Text ALTHEA VILLANUEVA
Photography SEVEN BARRETTO, assisted by GILLIAN CLAUDE VILLAHERMOSA and ERWIN BOTIN of STUDIO 7 MNL
Creative Direction EL PEREIRA
Art Direction NICOLE ALMERO and EL PEREIRA
Styling RYUJI SHIOMITSU, assisted by BEA GUERRERO, PAUL SESE, and JOAQUIN RODRIGO
Grooming PEPS SILVESTRE
Videography OMAR VILLANUEVA
Sittings Editor JANN PASCUA
Shoot Coordination KZ FRANCISCO, MJ ALMERO, and ALYSSA TAN
Shot on Location OKADA MANILA
*Men’s Club by Avon is not recommended as swimwear