Ten of Gen Z’s most promising talents today share what creativity, art, representation, and storytelling mean to them and to this generation.
For every generation, culture is determined by the language, values, norms, and symbols of the time. This is largely influenced by the youth of that generation. For Gen Z, they are defined by several characteristics: the first true digital natives, always connected and creating multi-platform experiences; the most creative generation to date, according to a poll; and, as the most diverse generation as well. This generation is the most socially conscious, demanding equity, accountability, and purpose in everything that they do. As more of Gen Z enters society and gains influence, their values and characteristics permeate existing norms, changing culture as you know it.
Vogue Philippines delves deeper into the minds of 32 of the country’s cool kids in fashion, art, music, sports, advocacy, and other disciplines who are molding the zeitgeist of their generation. Ten of them define what creativity, storytelling, art, and representation mean to them: Rod Malanao, Gab Mejia, Antonina Abad Amoncio, Alicia Del Campo, Hali Long, Bon Hansen, Brisa Amir, Daphne Chao, Gianne Encarnacion, and Siobhan Moylan. Meet these cool kids below.
“Fashion is the language that I chose,” Rod says. “By Grade 1, it was something that I was writing down on paper. I wanted to be a fashion designer.” Rod has always been intrigued by the ways a body can shrink and expand, he then interprets these contractions through knitwear, his primary medium. Describing his wares as tender and colorful, he considers the act of creation as a mental release. Over time, the feelings and intentions Rod embeds in each piece shift as new hands touch the garb: “It’s being rewritten every single time you wear it. It’s not just me anymore. It’s about you and how you feel.”
Photographer and National Geographic Explorer
When Vogue caught up with Gab, the photographer had just come from the National Geographic Storyteller Summit where he was announced as one of the Society’s new explorers documenting the climate crisis. Mejia, at 26, gives weight to how transformative storytelling can be. In the Agusan Marsh Project, he found that photography is more profound than just sharing beautiful images. In saving the last Tamaraws in Mindoro, he bore witness to how, through stories that unfold in photographs, legislation movements can ensue, campaigns can be put to consciousness, and beneficial changes in the community can be seen. “It’s not so much that I am telling stories,” Gab says, “it’s like there are stories that have shaped me or are shaping me.”
Antonina Abad Amoncio
“Hi, my name is Nina! I’m a future doctor/editor-in-chief,” read Antonina’s nametag at her high school’s college fair. In retrospect, the designer is glad that her interest in fashion grew dominant as she can no longer imagine herself in the medical field. She landed on an undergraduate degree in clothing technology, which culminated in a thesis assessment of internally-displaced families in war-torn Marawi. “Fashion is really political, I believe in that,” she says, and it’s far from an empty statement: for her thesis, she traveled to ground zero of the Lanao del Sur city to speak to the displaced peoples herself. Unconfined to a single clothing genre, her designs are imbued with personal advocacies and social issues, influenced by Japanese designers and Asian pop culture.
Alisha Del Campo, Hali Long
Philippine Women’s National Football Team
In 2022, the Philippine Women’s National Football Team, or the Filipinas, made history: they qualified for the 2023 FIFA World Cup, a first in the national team’s four-decades-long existence. Though the members are currently training for the tournament, they celebrate the qualification as a triumph of its own. For center back Hali Long, the sport transcends all of them. “We represent something bigger than ourselves,” she shares. “I love my country, and I would do anything for her.” Along with patriotism, forward Alisha Del Campo is propelled by the Filipino values of being masipag [hardworking] and masikap [diligent]. “These guide me as an athlete—specifically, a female athlete—wherein the opportunities in our sport are male-dominated.” These principles are fundamental and shared among the team, reminding them that football is a chance to represent an entire nation to the world and inspire a legion of athletes back home. “Young boys and girls deserve that opportunity to also achieve what we did and more,” reflects goalkeeper Inna Palacios. “The goal is for them to dream bigger than we did.”
Bon flips his camera to reveal his home’s sprawling second-floor terrace, overlooking the province of Rizal. “Nasa hangin ’yung creativity [Creativity is in the air we breathe],” he laughs, confessing the mantra passed around at his alma mater. It started out as a humorous jab at the ingenuity of London-based designers like McQueen and Galliano, but evolved into a way of life. “If you’re not relaxed, how can you come up with something beautiful?” he wonders. Bon’s propensity for ease figures in his menswear pieces, too: they’re structured, but unrestrictive, clean, but fluid. Presently, Bon is proud to be in a place where the public reception to his collections is secondary to the joy he feels for his work.
Exploring mediums like collage, textile, installation, sound, and abstract painting, Amir examines class identity, home, and the urban landscape. Her solo shows include the exhibit “Untitled Blankets,” which received the Embassy of Italy’s Purchase Prize in the Ateneo Art Awards 2021, and a solo show at S.E.A. Focus in Gillman Barracks, Singapore. The UP Fine Arts graduate shares that her experience of growing up in an informal community influenced her art. Her techniques in textile and collage reflect how informal settlers adjust to spaces: “Collage is our way of giving and sharing spaces by arranging personal things to make way for new spaces for our neighbors or for our families to put into use,” she says.
“Hardcore Handmade Crochet” fronts the Instagram bio of Ilyang Ilyang, a brand masterminded by 26-year-old Daphne Chao. It is named after Lola Ilyang, the designer’s tobacco huffing, cerveza drinking great-grandmother. “The original gantsilyo [crochet] badass of the family,” she adds. The brand is a departure from the world of practical wear, as Chao crochets absurdity into wearable garb: “I have some functional pieces for sale, I always make room for the weird, unnecessary stuff in my catalog. The thing I love most about crocheting is that you can make anything out of it.” True enough, she’s sold everything from Nacho Libre-inspired ski masks, to banana-finger bags and fried egg-shaped bikinis.
“I’m decorating my inner world with the beauty of the outer world to entice me to come inside and stay awhile.”
Artist and Illustrator
Gianne’s art is distinguished by her ornate, imaginative, and layered praxis. “I’m decorating my inner world with the beauty of the outer world to entice me to come inside and stay awhile,” she shares. Raised in a family of health professionals, she naturally found biology, botany, and astronomy wildly fascinating. She would eventually incorporate this into her art. Gianne’s artistic roots feel like a familiar story for many other creatives of her generation: the genesis of web 2.0, Tumblr, and her own love for melding fantasy with realism. “As much as I love botanical and medical illustrations, realism just isn’t for me,” she says. “I like sprinkling it with a bit of fantasy, and I look up to artists who have their own little world, lore, and ecosystem.”
If Siobhan weren’t a model, she would be a magazine editor. The 25-year-old Filipina-Irish amassed sartorial knowledge from years of consuming fashion media and speaking to photographers on-set to learn about their creative processes. “Now, in this century, it’s not enough to just look good in front of the camera to be a model. I think you have to be more. I think there has to be something deeper to portray some kind of story or meaning to an editorial or a campaign,” she says. Her secret to landing on the likes of Vogue.com? A background in theater, which she taps into to best achieve her goal in each shoot: to tell an emotive Filipino story.
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