Thursday, June 2, 2011

How to make it in Manila

How to make it in Manila 
By Ralph Mendoza and Manica Tiglao The Philippine Star Updated June 03, 2011 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - From the first ?moment we ?could string ?a sentence together, we had our idols. We were an impressionable bunch, of course, and “idol” probably meant someone who blasted laser beams from their eyes or mouthed hyper-intelligent alien jargon. Eventually, the idea of social relevance brought us back down to earth, narrowing down our options from superheroes to actual people with actual professions. Still, we had dreamed so hard of being superior versions of ourselves: doctors, lawyers, scientists, and so on.
We would eventually prepare for this transition in college, enrolling in three-hour finance night classes, and poring over which North American university gave the finest short course on this and that, all in the hope of landing our dream jobs someday.

Here at Young Star, however, we’ve taken an unsubtly different route. The questions we’d like to pose to you now are a) Have you been honest enough with yourself as to what your actual dream job is? And b) What on earth are you doing to achieve it?
Such questions are answered by Young Star’s newest roster of modern tastemakers  people who set out to follow through on their dreams despite the lure of the steady-paying but average job.

BJ Pascual, 23, Parsons-schooled commercial photographer
My hair is unruly. People say it reminds them of Morrissey. But yeah, I like it. Because I love The Smiths so much.
I’m freelance so I work for everyone. It’s the way to go. If you’re going to be stuck in one company, nothing’s going to happen with your career.

I mostly do fashion editorials and they’re highly styled. With portraits, magazines always do a glamorized photo of someone and I love how you can encapsulate a person’s identity with just one photo.
I don’t usually ask if it’s a nice magazine.

I always Google myself. I love to hear any comments about my work because I want to improve.

I said something about another photographer on Twitter so naging issue siya. I commented on his work. I wasn’t known back then and when things started picking up, nahukay ulit yung issue. I only said the model didn’t look like herself because of too much Photoshop.
I Photoshop all the time, though. I think retouching is important. In the Philippines, it’s not taken seriously. I think people should retouch with caution. It has to look natural.

I’d like to see more diversity in local photography. I love the work of other photographers like Charles Buenconsejo but he’s not [getting as] much work as he should get because his style is different from the others.

Go with what you like. Don’t be affected by what’s happening around too much. Di lang dapat yung puro uso lang.
It’s too early. I’ve only been in the industry for two years and I think it takes a lifetime to develop a style. I think it’s pretentious for some people [to] say they already have this style.

Ricky Ong, 25, doctor
I didn’t plan on becoming a doctor. I wanted to become a businessman, and my friends and I planned to go to Ateneo together for that, but my mom persuaded me to go to UST for medicine.

I’m a people person. Just the fact that we get to interact with patients and make them happy, not just physically or emotionally, but as a whole person, that’s the best.

When we make patients happy, it’s really fulfilling. The most difficult part is treating patients who don’t have any money  when I was still in UST Med, it was painful, because even when you want to do something... wala.

The best things in life are the smiles you get from interacting with patients and the “Salamat po, Doc” we receive each day.

My mom has been my rock all these years. She’s in the corporate world, which I know nothing about, but she’s the best doctor I had as a kid. She’s the best doctor I’ll have when I grow old.

Mediocrity should never be an option. Any course is challenging, but it’s how you look at things that makes it hard.

Through the years, I’ve realized that my decision to become a doctor was the best I’ve ever made.

Cholo Dela Vega, 23, fashion photographer and creative consultant
My friend and I were talking, “Dude, you should quit your job.” Next day, I quit my job at Publicis Manila. It’s a leap of faith. I’m not really guaranteed I can pay my bills with photography compared to advertising but I still did it.

It just happened and it happened at the right time. Before I wanted to be a doctor and nung nakahawak ako ng camera, parang ayoko na yata maging doctor.

What’s happening now is we’re utilizing the influencers. We talk to one person and they will be the ones to talk to other people. I think that’s the future right now and I hope brands will embrace it.

I don’t believe in television commercials anymore  even though I was doing it for almost four years. You’re spending so much for a 30-second spot and you’re not really guaranteed of your consumer’s trust.

Fulfillment is when Bubble Gang spoofs your ads.

I think what’s interesting for me is the way people don’t see the unglamorous side of the fashion industry. Working with these people made me aspire for better things.

The youth right now, andaming slashes. Parang ang hirap ngayon humanap ng photographer lang. Maganda ‘pag marami yung pinaghuhugutan mo.

You can be the jack of all trades but you can also be the master of all. You can try.

Natalia Moran, 26, Owner, Purple Mustard Food Solutions
I knew I wanted to do this when I got back from Italy.

Starting off was the hardest part, as well as looking for opportunities.
We’re events-based, or by reservation. I wanted to start cooking, and experiment, so I started inviting friends over. After that, friends of friends came, and that’s pretty much how it started.
It’s my dad who teaches me  he gives me ideas.

My goal is to be able to expand the business, and for me to be able to leave from time to time and get to travel. I want it to be able to sustain itself later on, and I want to experiment with other kinds of food.

Whatever your passion is, go for it, even if it seems like it’s hard or you won’t be able to achieve it, as long as you love what you’re doing. You need hard work  you can’t just say, “Ah, I love this” and do nothing. You have to work hard for it.

The best thing about it is the food. And now that we sell at Mercato Centrale, it’s become about the people you meet  you talk about food, and they get so excited. You get encouraged by what they say.

Ziggy Savella, 26, fashion designer
I felt “na ‘uy, designer na talaga ako!” when I finally joined Fashion Week, and when people started looking for me. I used to do it for fun lang, or for my friends lang, but now people go out of their way to find me.

My grandmother made her own clothes, and she taught me how to sew. I learned it in school, too, but not as good as how she taught me.
Up until I had to fill out my college application forms, I had no choice, I had to pick a course  and during that time, I was really into fashion, and so I thought I could make a living out of it.

Inspiration depends on my mood. I don’t stick to one certain object, or just one person  I try to look for different outlets so I don’t become redundant with designs. I get different input every time I create a collection.

When I feel uninspired, sometimes I listen to Korean pop.
Trying to figure out my personal style in terms of designing was the most difficult thing. I spent a lot of time experimenting and figuring out which direction I should take.

I try my best, of course, but I can’t please every client.
If I weren’t a designer, my ultimate dream would be to become a bartender. I like drinking, but I’m not an alcoholic. I just like serving drinks!

Patrick Perillo, 26, lawyer
Everyone in the family was in business, and I wanted to do something different.

I currently work for the Supreme Court. I’m a court attorney.

I’ve always wanted to advocate for human rights  women, children, and gender rights  and at the same time environmental rights, so it’s more fulfilling now that I’m doing public service. And hopefully, I can focus on the rights that I want to advocate later on.

I think people can do more than one thing at the same time. Multi-tasking without letting your quality of work sacrifice is very important.  While in law school, I worked as a part-time frontliner for a local retailer, and that was my window to fashion. I still continue writing poetry, and I write for newspapers and blog.

Just because you have a clear career path that you want to take doesn’t mean that your other interests can’t be a success for you anymore.

If I weren’t a lawyer today, I would probably be a stylist, a retailer, or a designer, or maybe a writer. I still think about that. I’m actually contemplating taking styling or merchandising classes just so for me to have a creative outlet.

Eunice Lucero, 28, associate editor for Preview magazine

I wrote my first poem when I was six. I’ve been creatively writing ever since. All my extracurriculars have always been writing-oriented. I took up business in college but just so I could rein myself in, I had to do something creative so I joined orgs that were about writing.

The first time I was in New York, I was taking a break from college. The second time I was there, I took up a publishing course at NYU. We were all into publishing. Some were into books, some were into magazines. It was just amazing to be able to deal with like-minded people. You don’t have to explain yourself as much. And you basically share a passion, which is inspiring in itself.

You can’t really pigeonhole inspiration. You have to be open to finding it everywhere. But definitely, who doesn’t get inspired by New York, right? Especially if you’re a writer, it’s like the publishing capital of the world.

Publishing for me is the best way to marry the art and business of writing.

There are difficult people to work with. But as in any field, it happens and, of course, there are stories that are just challenging in essence to write about. If I get assigned a story, it’s my responsibility to read up and learn everything I can about the subject matter. The readers deserve a well-researched article.
I don’t have to change the world with one article but if I can do it, why not?

I’m not an authority on fashion. But I guess people should just continue being creative and not give a sh*t about what other people think.

The only thing I’m sure of is you have to be indispensable. I don’t care if you specialize and lose out on some opportunities because of that, but there really is something to be said about being the best in your field. Whether it’s in beauty or in fashion, be a resource that people can trust.

This is the closest thing I’ve had to a dream job. I’ve never really been the kind of kid that wanted to be an astronaut or whatever. I’ve always just wanted to have a voice that was heard. Not that I’m trying to revolutionize anything but at the end of the day, it’s really a passion.

BRYAN KONG, 28, NU Rock Awards-nominated drummer of Taken By Cars/co-owner of Japanese restaurant Crazy Katsu/marketing professional

Ever since I was a kid, I used to tell my parents I wanted to be in music. And you how know parents are, diba? “Okay, if you’re going to be in music, how is it going to support your life? How are you going to raise a family?” When I started playing in a band, it was just a hobby. But I can say that I wouldn’t have a restaurant business if it weren’t for the band and the sound engineer I met.

I don’t consider myself a professional musician. It’s more of a hobby. After a long week of working and stress, it’s really nice to hang out with my friends and make music on the weekends and actually share it with the public.

Shinji Tanaka is a sound engineer and he has really good food in his studio. So I just asked him, “Come on, let’s open a restaurant,” and now it’s doing really well.

I took up Entrepreneurial management in UA&P. Actually, it’s known for ‘yung mga patapon. I think my classmates were more right-brained and creative. Through the years, I learned that you have to hone your left-brain (thinking) also if you want to succeed in life. You can’t all be about creativity.

It’s been a dream to have a business of my own, something I can manage. And I think for me, it’s now a dream come true, career-wise.

For Taken By Cars, we’re going to launch our album in Singapore. We’re also saving up money now so we can play at SXSW next year. And we might be able to play at Laneway Festival. So I hope it goes well.
I think you should never quit. Music is music. If it’s something you love, you should always try to make it better and hone your craft.

There’s no right timing. If you really love something, work on it. As much as possible, try to learn how to improve your craft every day. Same with anything else.

The questions we’d like to pose to you now are a) Have you been
honest enough with yourself as to what your actual dream job is? And b) What on earth are you doing to achieve it?

Xander Lacson, 26, junior architect at Leandro V. Locsin Partners
I’ve been an architect for three years. Recently, I handled a few residential projects that just finished. Now we’re doing a few renovations for the big buildings in Manila.

The biggest challenge was to not be impatient. I think the money was coming in quite slow. The lifestyle that I wanted was coming in slow. And it took three years and now it’s coming to pass.

My job really consumes so much of your time that usually there’s no time to think about other things.

They say architecture is too straight for fine arts and it’s too gay for engineering. So it’s somewhere in between. Like a full circle of things. You’re scientific and then you’re also artistic. The “in-between-ness” appeals to people.

I think interior designers might get mad if I say this, but interior designers can’t become architects but architects can do interior design.

I’m starting to realize slowly now that as long as you make it good and you get the breaks here then you have absolutely no reason to go abroad anymore. So I wish that a lot of our Filipino architects who are my age would experience more breaks here so they don’t have to migrate and adjust to a different culture.

I definitely love my job and it’s something that gets me going. It’s something that when you wake up in the morning, you’re excited to go to work. I always find myself chit-chatting about what I do a lot so I’m really passionate about it.

Repost.  A Philippine Star article at Young Star.  June 3, 2011.  Original article at

No comments:

Post a Comment