The Future Has Begun: These Game-Changing Filipinos Are Redefining The New PH



What lies ahead, we often find ourselves asking now more than ever. With the future up in the air, these barrier-breaking Filipinos are redefining the new PH with profound certainty.

Related: Where Pride Meets Purpose, These 10 Filipinos Are Raising Their Flag To Make A Better Country

It seems that for a word so consolidated with possibilities has been tainted by the uncertainty that has colored our lives from a nostalgia-tinged filter to a palette of gloom and doom. Look, we wouldn’t blame you either, especially since everyone is at some sort of equal footing, figuring out what the next step will be amid the uncertainty that continues to hover and yes, rain on our parade. There is no pressure to have things figured out, too. We are all feeling out of sorts to different capacities, it is perfectly fine to honor the inanity of the entire reality that pulled the rug from underneath all of us.
But it’s not all gray and dark, because just as these swirls and puffs of cloud drenched with rainwater threaten to fall in torrential increments, there exists that sliver of possibility that a whistle of light will poke through. It may not be much, but sometimes that is all we need to get by. Perhaps this is why despite trying to avoid the future and take things one day at a time, there still remains that morsel of hope that we will not only get by, but somehow, all will be well if we go through this together.
This is the beauty of the yearly tradition that has become of the new PH, an annual listing of game-changing renegades and revolutionaries carving out their own space in this great big world of opportunities of ours. And this crop is nothing short of spectacular, too. From the spaces of fashion, youth activism, and politics, there is a lot to learn and live through with these bright young things. Being the source of light to guide and warm us through, they are redefining what it means to be a proud citizen of this great nation of ours with voices clear, crisp, and louder for others to listen better.
Suddenly, the what lies ahead isn’t marred by fear, but rather an opportunity to make things how we want it to be. The future has begun.

the new ph

Esme Palaganas

Listening to Esme Palaganas talk about fashion in a broader sense and perspective is almost hypnotic, and we mean that in a good way. Easing from the cerebral to the candid over brunch in a bustling time pre-pandemic, I sat down with the fashion multi-hyphenate and multi-tasker to talk about what was then an idea in the final stages of gestation. A first of its kind in the Filipino landscape, the PHx Fashion Conference brought together a rich and nuanced range of resource speakers and lecturers that ran the gamut of the style spectrum and business builds. Creative as it was economical, the inspirational and informative experience for Filipino fashion practitioners ultimately expanded the horizons of their trade, tapping into the firsthand knowledge, market opportunities, and best practices that are the currency in a regional and global level. As co-founder of this designer-led initiative with Seph Bagasao, Jennie Contreras, Bea Samson, Ken Samudio, and RJ Santos, Esme Palaganas asserts in equal parts hope and frustration how this was borne out a desire for the local industry to be and do more, anchored of course on the innate design and creative sensibilities we have as a nation.

“Personally, I had several missed opportunities for my brand Basic Movement just [from] not knowing the right way to conduct business outside [of the country],” she explains in an interview with Young Star. “During these situations, we turned to each other, us designers and designer friends, on how they were able to go about this before making a decision.” This in itself is a privilege she and her designer buddies have, “but what about the others who aren’t as fortunate or do not have the same access in other areas but want to build their brands bigger and better,” she asks.

The first PHx Fashion Conference was a success, featuring speakers such as Jason Lee Coates (Fashion Director, H30 Fashion Bureau), Hirohito Suzuki (Marketing and Business Director, H30 Fashion Bureau), Johann Manas (Designer, JMAN), and Giselle Go (Co-founder DAMDAM), as well creative talks led by Amina Aranaz-Alunan, Carl Jan Cruz, Danyl Geneciran, Len Cabili, Mike Concepcion, Pauline Juan, Rik Rasos, Roxanne Ang-Farillas, and Tetta Ortiz-Matera. Over the quarantine, they were also able hold Zoom-hosted conversations titled, Fashion Forward Dialogues. In partnership with the Fashion and Design Council of the Philippines and SoFA Design Institute, hope and innovation was threaded in the discussion which had Rajo Laurel, Reese Fernanded-Ruiz, Kat Bodestyne, and Anya Lim on various panels.

Apart from this, Esme Palaganas is first and foremost a designer with her brand, Basic Movement—although it has been a calling that has evolved over the years. With distinctions in Bench Design Awards 2017 and the AirAsia Runway Ready Designer Search in Kuala Lumpur, she was able to stake her claim in the industry, carving out a market that is uniquely hers, but as discovery and adapting is the name of the game, this time adding more purpose to the mix. A plan she has had in the works for a while, fine-tuning a financial and business model where a percent goes to a CSR fund or project and of course, Basic Movement, it has now come to fruition as a digital marketplace where independent designers, streetwear brands, and other fashion lifestyle businesses can come together as a creative culture and co-exist. Through conscious consumption, she intends for the audience to support businesses, give jobs, and celebrate artistic merit. Esme Palaganas and Basic Movement launched The Masks For Masks Project during the pandemic, where the marketplace commissions from the sales of face masks from the brands under its roof (Proudrace, Ha.Mu, Raxenne, Viña Romero, and Randolf) were used in donating N95 masks to front liners through the Faceshield Drive Plus Team and to the #Aidvertising effort as well.

“Fashion and design has always been a reflection of the times,” she posits on her website, and in these times more than ever, it holds the most truth in a future that is as it stands, uncertain. But if anything, there is a lot to hold on to, a promise of something better, as defined by a generation that is not only accountable, but persistent in making this world a better place, and yes, fashionable, too. —Angelo Ramirez de Cartagena

the new ph

Frankie Pangilinan

In our many conversations with Frankie Pangilinan, both the professional and personal, she would be the first one to crack through the veneer of propriety and hammer of self-deprecation. “I’m so not cool,” she would say as I marvel at the incredible grasp she has of the human condition, as well as of the innate ability to eloquently articulate what her heart feels, all of which honestly, truly belies her tender age.

For someone of her position and privilege, it would have been easier for Frankie Pangilinan to just perch herself on the ivory tower she was born into and watch the world go by. Here she was, accorded an enviable opportunity to educate herself in New York, bask in the first-world liberties of progress, and fine tune her point-of-view from an expanded lens that could conveniently keep everything concerning her motherland in the back pocket of her jeans. But she didn’t. In fact, she was even more concerned with everything that was going on back home, more so when it came to politics and social justice. Understandably, it wasn’t as fully realized then as she was settling into this new chapter of her life she was about to start taking to pen and paper, seeing where it would lead.

This would circle back home, a circumstance expedited and extended by the eviscerating onslaught of COVID-19, which on its own would reveal many things to her as it did the country and the world. From being shaken to the core by the blatant injustice met by the residents of Sitio San Roque who were merely protesting for food and assistance amid the quarantine to bridging the worries of Twitter-dwelling netizens and the government by interceding with her father, Senator Francis Pangilinan on the reservations met with the Bayanihan Heal As One Act that was to be passed then, Frankie Pangilinan was slowly and surely immersing herself in the world that was not only once for grown-ups only, but also one that was rapidly changing at a pace anyone could barely keep up with.

“It was important for me to understand, to have this conversation in order to fully comprehend the value of such decisions before formulating my own opinions or thoughts. To blatantly accept things as they are, without context nor provision, is unacceptable in this ever changing socio-political landscape,” she says. “People my age truly need to fully wake up and gain the awareness that just because things may not affect us personally does not mean they are not of worth. In fact, I believe that from my position of privilege, things that don’t affect me tend to be worth a whole lot more than the things that do.”

This would quickly evolve from well-informed internet conversations to outspoken opinions that were well-considered and fully realized. With the full intention of educating and being educated, Frankie Pangilinan has taken what a lot would scoff at and use it to her advantage, broadening her touch points of understanding and informing her ever-evolving narrative. “I think that my privilege is precisely that—my responsibility. To have these opportunities, like being able to speak up, I think that’s exactly what privilege is. My parents raised us in such a way that always reminds us why we’re here and how we can do better for others,” she explains. It wouldn’t be long before her the fangs of her incisive thoughts would be sharpened by the day, becoming a bold and brave voice from and for the Filipino youth that is so desperately needed and necessary these days.

If anything, she found herself at an opportune sweet spot privilege and passion, coalescing both in order to serve the greater good with the best of her abilities. It is this point-of-view that helps an entire generation (the new PH, if you will) comprehend the goings on of the state, which in turn becomes a point of conversation between her and father. In fact, she has since gone on to represent her father in virtual functions such as the Kwentong Kwarantin,Bayanihan Sa Gitna Ng Kaguluhan: An Online Lecture Series on Anti-Terrorism and Human Rights, as well as an Online Rally and Grand Launching of Alliance of Students Against Militarization and Repression.

Existing in many worlds at once, just as is the norm for this emerging generation to steer us right into the future, Frankie Pangilinan is filling in the gaps of her being with other endeavors such as music, where she has recently been nominated at the Myx Awards 2020 for Celebrity VJ of the Year and New Artist of the Year, and writing, putting up Simone Says magazine, a digital journal, an archive of art, and a culmination of her passions. This self-accessed catalogue of growth and dialogue of expression is her further navigation of the life she leads itself: ever changing, ever illuminating, and ever so wonderful. Unashamed, unafraid, and unapologetic, Frankie Pangilinan is clearly the future we are all waiting for, writing the stories that would soon be our realities redefined.

By the way she is handling things, we are truly in good hands. And as fiercely maintained since day one, she is definitely cool, even if she still thinks otherwise. —Angelo Ramirez de Cartagena

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Hannah Morales

If there is one thing that Hannah Reyes Morales does through her photography, it is capturing the humanity of inhumane moments. A Filipina photojournalist whose work focuses on individuals mired in complex situations created by inequality, poverty, and impunity, she captures just a split second of a lifetime of a person, yet successfully touching thousands of others’ by opening their eyes to the ugly truth of the world and a version of reality we sometimes choose to ignore.

One can only imagine how hard it is to capture these moments so heartbreaking but being there physically? Risking her life to uncover the truth? It is something only a true warrior can accomplish. And that is why Hannah belongs to our list of game-changing individuals who give us a glimpse of what the New PH could look like if we put the spotlight on the right people.

Hannah’s work includes photographing human trafficking at sea, featured in New York Times, reporting on war crimes against Cambodians for Al Jazeera America, and documenting changing indigenous cultures in the Philippines for a grant from National Geographic. Last year, Hannah also had the opportunity to photograph Dior’s Spring-Summer 2020 collection. And if it wasn’t enough recognition, the caption by Dior wrote, “as immortalized by Hannah Reyes Morales just before they emerged on the runway.”

Recently, through a grant from the GroundTruth Project, she documented the lives of displaced Filipina women who wound up in the sex trade after frequent typhoons. Her work is a breakthrough that hopefully challenges—or better yet—inspire other artists and photographers to broaden their minds, step out of their comfort zones, and make a difference for our nation. —Elyse Ilagan

Tung Brothers

If you’ve scrolled through the witty and sensible ad campaigns of the leading local sardines brand, Ligo, then you’ve got to meet the inspiring leaders behind the team. A Tung Chingco Manufacturing Corp. comprises of the Tung brothers—Vice President for Production Mikko Lawrence Tung, Vice President for Sales and Marketing Mark Gregory Tung, and Vice President for Advertising and Promotion Michael Kevin “Macky” Tung. Forget about the endless rifts between brothers who run one company founded by their father because these siblings have the greatest teamwork to continue uprising the left legacy. As one of the formidable businesses in the canned market, the Tung brothers have helped in keeping the success of Ligo, making it a certified Filipino canned food favorite. Up to this day, the Tung brothers have also maintained good relations with global markets, providing continuous international exports for Ligo. Proving only that an emerging type of business perspective is not only what the business needs, but the market seeing the new PH emerge as well.

Wisely using their platform to create a voice during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ligo posted advertisements via their social media accounts which seemed to be reflecting the sentiments of Filipinos during the crisis. The advertisements would state captions and copies such as breakdowns and transparencies of nutrition facts which mirror the demand of the public from the government to provide breakdown to the P275 billion allocated funds for COVID-19. Another notable Ligo campaign states a fun fact where in every canned sardines, quality testing is relatively important. With its seemingly double-meaning, we are reminded of our requisition to provide mass testing. —Alinea Hernandez

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New Breed of Mayors

In the efforts of the Local Government Units to efficiently address the pressing concerns of the Filipino people, we salute these heroes who have been providing their cities with concrete actions to the COVID-19 crisis. Creating positive noise on social media and on the news for actually doing their job with utmost efficacy, it’s only rightful to commend the actions of Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian, Marikina City Mayor Marcelino Teodoro, Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas, and Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto, most especially during the pandemic. Truly, it is but right to see the new PH in their brand of leadership to their consituents. 

With Mayor Vico Sotto’s mobile palengke, fair distribution of cash assistance to PUV drivers, shouldering the cremation of COVID-19 deaths, imposition of barangay codings, loans to buy bikes for workers and more, he has been actively pursuing what Pasig needs while complying to all the directives. From providing food packs to senior citizens to “copying” Vico Sotto’s mobile palengke, Mayor Rex Gatchalian is also a hands-on mayor to Valenzuela. Well, there’s definitely nothing wrong with copying the mobile palengke as long as it’s an effective way to keep people indoors, right? As the Mayor of the city which has successfully curbed the COVID-19 spread, Marikina Mayor Teodoro has been strengthening the efforts through urging businesses to limit the hiring to Marikina residents only while the testing programs continue in their own testing facility. In Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas’s efforts to promote anti-discrimination, not only he prioritized front-liners but also provided financial aids to LGBTQ+ citizens. In Manila Mayor Isko Moreno’s e-tricycles, salary donation to PGH, and more, he even prioritizes food and financial assistance to residents of Manila by allocating the P611 million infrastructure budget.—Alinea Hernandez

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