From championing collaboration and multi-platform experiences to promoting individuality, these young creatives are molding today’s artistic landscape.
The youth has long been recognized as the barometer of society, influencing the direction and culture of a generation by sparking ideological change, driving economic growth, and leading technological innovation. As the first generation of true digital natives, Gen Z is defined by their always-online nature: information and fact-driven, often collaborative, with the desire to integrate physical and digital experiences.
Moreover, Gen Z is driven by purpose. Whether it’s celebrating individuality and culture, promoting diversity and inclusivity, or raising awareness on environmental threats and championing sustainability, today’s youth is instigating change through initiatives that demand purpose and accountability across all industries and practices.
The May issue of Vogue Philippines introduces you to 32 emerging creatives who are defining the zeitgeist for their generation. Below, meet five of the next generation of Cool Kids: Matt San Pedro, Cheska Cortez, Sai Versailles, Dinesh Mohnani, and Sean Bautista.
Matt San Pedro
During San Pedro’s undergrad years in the mid 2010s, he, along with longtime collaborator Sean Bautista, started a handful of brands that would make the fiber of Katipunan’s zeitgeist: Tetsuo, a chicken joint, and Transit, an independent concepts company known for its electronic music label. Now he’s busy with his umbrella brand Lowlife Units, through which he’s launched La Corte Furniture with architect Brian Ver and Fatima Sound Practice, a high fidelity audio system built with Ver and musician Patrick Casabuena, designer Clara Cayosa, and writer Lia Savillo. Collaboration, it seems, is his secret weapon. “I’m happy I have people around me who give me the space to put myself into the things that I do,” he says.
“Overlay is a pandemic baby,” Pat tells Vogue. The ever-lively Cortez sisters then bring out a spray-painted chair, a joint ergonomic project serving as a symbol of the brand’s beginnings and, in some ways, an epiphany of how two contrasting halves can work together. Functionality sits at the core of Overlay. With help from their artist Gelai Penales, Overlay is now identified by their hero product: a baguette bag with a detachable strap that can be used as a belt. Just as overlaying adds another layer to a base, Cheska believes that, in using Overlay’s products, one’s personality can shine through without being overpowered. In her words: “Nandun pa rin yung essence nung image [The essence of the image is still there].”
Multimedia Journalist and DJ
Before completing her masters at the University of Oxford, Sai claimed to be a different person, running a fashion blog called “Odyssai.” Then, she was more concerned with the prestige of fashion, until Sai’s immersion in her education and the UK’s ethnically diverse club scene would change her mindset. Since returning to the Philippines, she founded the radio show and newsletter Cultural Learnings, joined the independent not-for-profit streaming platform Manila Community Radio (MCR), and established herself as a DJ in the nightlife circuit. MCR decided to showcase budots, a grassroots genre citing the electronic dance music known for its incorporation of indigenous Badjao beats, and sharp whistle hooks. “The future of nightlife is just in your backyard,” she says, “and platforming those that don’t have resources rather than sticking to what you’re comfortable with.”
Founded by multimedia artist Enzo Razon, photographer Gio Panlilio, and producer Dinesh Mohnani, the Manila-based gallery and creative production group Tarzeer Pictures is known to be a proponent and catalyst for the Filipino creative. With a team of nine, they strive to build a home and platform for the arts within physical and digital spaces. In a combination of the investigative and the creative, the founders impart that they gravitate toward projects they can “really get inside of,” as Dinesh says of its agency side, and works that have “a craft or handmade approach,” as Enzo says of its gallery side. In reaching out to wider audiences, Gio shares that Tarzeer’s goal is to find within it “that small fraction, that small group who are really interested and who really want to know more about specific topics.”
Transdisciplinary Designer and DJ
If one were to map out Sean’s life, it would look a lot like a tapestry of independent lives. When asked about his transdisciplinary title, Bautista explains that he works in the intersection and conjunction of different disciplines while making clear that no correlation need exists between them. To Sean, transdisciplinarity connotes “a more holistic interplay of the different aspects of the human experience.” Although Sean uses design methodologies to approach his work in music, DJ, and radio platforms such as Manila Community Radio and Transit Records, and in creating the visual identity of Japanese restaurant Tetsuo (which he co-founded), he explains that, when he creates something for one field, he takes reference points from a place that’s non-native to it. “If you take ideas from the same discipline,” he says, “you’ll end up with an iteration of the same thing anyway.”
Concept & Photographs by Sharif Hamza, Styling by Daryl Chng & MJ Benitez, Fashion Director Pam Quiñones, Makeup: Angeline Dela Cruz, Bryan Cuizon, Gery Penaso, Japeth Purog, Rochelle Lacuna, Twinkle Bernardo, Vince Leendon of Estée Lauder. Hair: Christian Bojo, Dale Mallari, Jocelyn So, Mark Ibarrola, Misty Gabriel, MJ Rone, Patrick Cristobal of Estée Lauder, Gerelyn Valentino of Toni&Guy (Gabbie Sarenas). Talents: Agatha Wong, Alisha Del Campo, Antonina Abad Amoncio, Brisa Amir, Bon Hansen, Cheska Cortez, Christian Tantoco, Daphne Chao, Dinesh Mohnani, Elijah Canlas, ena mori, Enzo Razon, Gab Mejia, Gabbie Sarenas, Gianne Encarnacion, Gio Panlilio, Hali Long, Hideki Ito, Inna Palacios, Jason Dhakal, Juliana Gomez, Mariton Villanueva, Martika Ramirez Escobar, Matt San Pedro, Max Gutierrez, Pat Cortez, Rio Cuervo, Rod Malanao, Sai Versailles, Sean Bautista, Siobhan Moylan, Zild Benitez. Art Director: Jann Pascua. Producer: Anz Hizon. Casting: Andrea Ang, Marga Magalong, Raymond Ang. Multimedia Artist: Gabbi Constantino, Tinkerbell Poblete. Production Design: Constance Events Styling, Justine Arcega-Bumanlag. Production Assistants: Adam Pereyra, Bianca Zaragoza, Patricia Co. Photographer’s Assistants: Artu Nepomuceno, Choi Narciso, Sela Gonzales. Stylist’s Assistants: Marga Magalong, Renee de Guzman, Ticia Almazan, Zofia Agama. Production Design Assistants: Gabrielle Mantala, Junior Bondoc, Rodel Bondoc. Photo Retoucher: Grace Sioson