PH Independence Month: How My Filipino Identity Reminds Me Of The Purposeful Work Ahead of Us

By Marane A. Plaza

It’s the 126th anniversary of the independence and nationhood of our dearest country the Philippines, and I’ve never felt more alive again in a long time from finding joy in being a Filipino, until recently when I got reacquainted with my modern Pinoy self who from within is in love through and through with her very own culture, art, lifestyle and identity.

Stylish Magazine through its digital home channel, Style Visionary Network, was invited to the press preview of Likha by the office of the president last week. Likha, an initiative of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., “continues to bridge the gap between our traditional craftsmen and our local designers” with projects and festivities spearheaded by the Philippine First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos.

Philippine First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos with GAMABA Awardees 2024 including National Living Treasure Magdalena Gamayo, a legendary Inabel weaver from Ilocos region

On its third year this 2024, Likha 3 carries the theme “Likha Ko, Lahi Ko” as one of the highlights of the Philippine Independence Day celebration. The opening ceremonies of Likha 3 was attended by the Madam First Lady herself on June 6. Before the opening ceremonies program in the afternoon, the morning was spent by the media members in being immersed into the majestic, some even intricate, work of our dear Filipino artisans, weavers and craftsmen, as well as their collaborative work with some Filipino brand founders and designers.

Shoes from Marikina
Philippine textile “Inakol” by Iranon tribe in Sultan Kudarat in Maguindanao del Norte
Woman from Iranon tribe in Sultan Kudarat in Maguindanao del Norte
Filipp+Inna creations
Filipp+Inna creations
Booth by Filipina fashion designer Ditta Sandico

Through an astounding showcase of more than 70 booths of amazing creativity, innovation, and talent, as well as rich tradition, culture and history, Likha reminds us that there are Filipino weaving techniques and Philippine cultural resources that are at risk to be forgotten in time, if we do not make an effort to pass on the knowledge, stories and traditions of our culture and heritage to the new and upcoming generations. Likha 3 also reminds us the promising, bright future of the Philippine art, culture and fashion, as well as its current standing, milestones and challenges in the global scene.

Creations by Filipina fashion designer Viña Romero
Creations by Filipina fashion designer Viña Romero

Apart from the trade show, Likha 3 also honored 12 GAMABA awardees, who were highlighted at the event for their mastery of traditional Philippine arts and crafts. One GAMABA awardee I personally connect with is Ilocos region’s national living treasure: Magdalena Gamayo. The legendary Ilocana woman is known for being the oldest weaver of Inabel, a woven cloth produced on the Ilocano loom attributing Ilocano Abel made of cotton, well-woven and with straight-neat edges. The Inabel is distinguished from all other Philippine and even Asian textiles “for its sturdiness in construction, stark simplicity of design, and practicality in function.”

Stylish Magazine EIC Marane Plaza with national living treasure Lola Magdalena Gamayo, weaver of Inabel cloth from Ilocos, during NCCA’s Indigenous People’s Month 2023 celebration in October 2023.

I first met the remarkable Ilocana lola Magdalena back in October 2023 at the NCCA, or National Commission for Culture and the Arts’ Dayaw 2023 event in celebration of the Indigenous People Month 2023. During the event, I was told of her contributions to passing on the knowledge and traditions of weaving Inabel in her hometown in Ilocos to the new generation, even at her old age. I also tried to explore our deep Filipino traditions from Mindanao, trying for the first time Tanyak-Tanyak, a face painting custom unique to the Yakan tribal culture and is worn only for wedding ceremonies. I also wore a pair of earrings made by one member from the Tausog tribe from Mindanao.

Tried Tanyak-Tanyak, a face painting custom unique to the Yakan tribal culture and is worn only for wedding ceremonies, in October 2023
Writer’s note: “I tried the Tanyak-Tanyak, a face painting custom unique to the Yakan tribal culture as done by this Yakan woman last October during NCCA’s Indigenous People’s Month celebration. I also wore a pair of earrings made by one member of Tausug tribe from Mindanao. I visibly donned a modern white top from American label Michael Kors, and inevitably paired a modern wear with a meaningful face paint that exudes a lot of heritage.”
The writer with Anne Cabrera, media officer of NCCA
Marane Plaza with Lola Magdalena in October 2023
Lola Magdalena on June 6, 2024 before the GAMABA Awards ceremony

Lola Magdalena is turning 100 years old this year, so the GAMABA Award from First Lady Marcos is just in time to honor her knowledge, experience and skills in honing the Filipino identity from now and hereon. Aside from her accomplishments, Lola Magdalena pulled my heartstrings because my maternal grandparents were also from Ilocos, before they moved as a married couple in the late 1940s to Cembo, or Central Enlisted Men’s Barrio— which is now part of Taguig City legally after being part of Makati City for a long time.

My grandfather Brig. General Froilan Alvior, the father of my mom Marinella, was one of the active soldiers cum writers and historians of the Armed Forces of the Philippines during his service. In fact, a couple of the books he authored about the history of AFP are stored in the Villamor and AFP libraries. Meanwhile, my grandmother Mary, mother of my mom and a military man’s wife through and through, was a very active and passionate social worker and fierce leader of some leading national women’s clubs since the 1950s. She spearheaded numerous fundraisers since the 1960s to fund and help displaced women and children who suffered from domestic abuse, as well as the less fortunate– from organizing tree-planting projects, to grand social balls, to even representing the Philippine women’s club in the opening of the first Jollibee branch in Hong Kong in the mid-1990s, just to fund causes that would help abused women start a new life after dispair. Raised closely by my mother and my maternal grandparents because my dad died so early in my life, I had three parents who honed the way I am now– from my grandfather’s effort to train me as a competing writer when I first showed interest in journalism in 5th grade in elementary, to his sort of aloof personality; to my innate hyper-social and people skills that would only come out should the need arise in some unusual occasions– and obviously only a micro-scale reflection of my maternal grandmother’s big people-oriented persona.

The author’s Ilocano grandparents

I was born in 1987, and growing up as the granddaughter of a former military man post-Martial Law was…interesting. I sure felt the huge respect for my grandparents by the people around us, but now as an adult, I could just imagine how the country was healing from the setbacks of the previous dictatorship, too. No one ever sat us down about it, but I knew that being enrolled in a public elementary school in Makati was an absolute requirement because according to my maternal grandparents, we were children who needed to mingle even more with the community. Plus, Makati school system was at the time and even to this day, has always been the most advanced in terms of teaching system and technology, so the decision has always been a win.

As someone chosen to represent my elementary school in feature writing competitions, I was taught by my teachers that journalism could always shape the future of a country. I would win feature writing contests by merely tackling about what I, a then-10-year-old girl, would do to my country should I become the president of the Philippines in the future. I would always talk about the power of the pen and voicing out your opinions, and how writing about ideals, ills, milestones and opinions of the society could affect the mindset of the readers, and impact their lives, and therefore influence the country. Later on, when I would be taking home medal after medal from feature writing competitions, my grandpa finally took notice, and took it upon himself to get a little more involved in my interest in writing. I must admit, he was too deep a writer for a then-11 year old me, because he was the type to remember historical facts, from dates, people to places from his own memory, because obviously my grandpa never experienced nor heard of the power of the Internet nor Google his entire life. In one of our writing sessions at home together as part of my “training,” I asked my “dade lolo” about the then-short-termed closure of the Philippine Airlines, because I was scared out of my mind that it might be the chosen topic for my next writing competition. My “dade lolo” effortlessly wrote on paper right before my eyes the history of PAL, from important details like its conception date, founders, and milestones — without any gadget nor “googling” on hand. His training as a historian and writer at the AFP must have come handy as he first showed the real depth of his writing skills in front of his young granddaughter, who grew up only just hearing the mere sound of his old typewriter when he was scribbling. The constant reading of Manila Bulletin and other national broadsheets every single day must have sharpened his history and journalism skills too even during his retirement, because for decades, I would watch numerous politicians coming in and out of our ancestral house as they asked my grandfather to be their ghost writer for their speeches. Later on in my elementary years, the government city of Makati would have newspaper editors train us little kids in formal writing workshops before the competitions against other cities, so my “writing sessions” with my “dade lolo” ended swiftly. He was never the type to tell his stories from his military service anyway as he was very aloof, and only talked about things when he was asked. I apparently did not ask as many questions as a youngster because it was only in my late 20s when I learned that my grandfather actually had an early retirement in 1984 due to personal matters. Growing up, I always heard my “mame lola” in their little fights, complaining about how my “dade lolo” was too honest and straight for his own good, that he returned his typewriter and even the littlest of his ball pens to the government when he decided to retire, unlike other generals who were too comfortable of their power and too crooked that they stole lands, cars and properties for their selfish greed. My “mame lola” would always retract what she said during after their fights though, reminding my “dade lolo” that she was always proud she married an honest man.

Post-EDSA revolution, I could imagine that the country and Filipinos were rebuilding economically and morally from ground zero, also partly because of stories I’ve heared from media personalities affected by Martial Law, like the story of Philippine media legend and art visionary Cecile Guidote-Alvarez during our interview with her for this exclusive STYLISH story and interpretative fashion editorial photo shoot here. My grandparents might have done something that connected to the greater cause of the Filipino mass. Because in 1987, when then-OIC of Makati Jejomar Binay and ally of the Aquino’s were rehabilitating the then-municipality of Makati, my grandmother was tapped to be in the social work department of the government of Makati. That same year, my mother also took on a government job, assigned at the civil registrar of Makati– a post she eventually led later on and held on for 30 years ’til her last breath in 2017.

When my dad and grandpa passed away, my mom and grandma “mame lola” raised me and supported my dreams of finishing Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication to become a lifestyle writer or TV show scriptwriter. In mid-2000s when it was the norm for parents to push their kids to take up Nursing so they can work abroad as a nurse, my mama and “mame lola” supported my dream and sent me to the private Catholic school of Centro Escolar University to take up Mass Communication major in Broadcast. I decided to major in Broadcast because I knew already the fundamentals of journalism, having been trained by newspaper editors when I was competing as a writer for regional writing competitions when I was younger. I went that route to pursue a career in lifestyle journalism or TV productions. I never thought I’d be able to do both.

The author with her grandmother during college graduation
The author with her college friends taking up Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication

My education from grade school and high school, having studied at Makati Science High School, honed my journalistic background with the support and benefits of being a Makati girl. The Binays truly revolutionized the local government growing the municipality of Makati into the “Business Capital of the Philippines” that it is today, with the support of private companies too, of course. The strong, fierce women in my life, my mama and “mame lola,” supported my passion and educational path serving the city government of Makati as leaders in their professional endeavors. Additionally, my “mame lola” as a social worker by profession, and as a female leader of a national women’s club and organization of generals’ wives would spearhead many projects connected to environmental causes, fundraising for advocacy against poverty, and fight against domestic violence on women and children. My lola has always been drawn to meaningful causes, and it really impacted how I see the world in terms of what I should give and offer to the society using my skills and interests in writing and media production.

Last year, when it was decided by the court that Cembo would now be part of Taguig City instead of Makati, it stung a little but I had the understanding of the decision I think. After all, my “dade lolo” was sent to Cembo and pulled from his Ilocos hometown when he was trying to be a soldier, and he was trained as a military man in the place specifically made for them: Cembo under the Fort William McKinley, now Fort Bonifacio or commonly known as BGC. Historically, it makes sense to be part of Fort Bonifacio, Taguig. But identity-wise, I still struggle because I remain a girl honed by the advancement and culture brought about by Makati City, a woman who takes pride in having early journalism roots honed by my mentors from Cembo that in my mind, will always be part of Makati. The rich heritage of my grandparents with their Ilocano upbringing, the same upbringing I am guessing that GAMABA awardee Lola Magdalena carries, is something I’d always have in me inevitably. Lola Magdalena, in her own ways, has sustained the rich culture and strong character of Filipinos by passing on to the new generation all she knows about Inabel weaving. I’d like to think that my Ilocano grandparents, along with my parents, weaved in me all the the wisdom and good values system they knew so I can grow into an adult who knows how to uplift other people with whatever skill set and resources I have with a lot of heart and integrity.

If you’ve known the drive behind our work at our indie online mag Stylish, the root foundation of our humble publication was and has always been uplifting the Philippine culture, art and fashion in both local and global stage by putting the spotlight on visionaries, creatives, influential personalities and gamechangers. After 13 years of being a lifestyle writer and editor (at some point, I was even a contributing lifestyle writer for Manila Bulletin’s lifestyle section and Style Weekend Magazine from 2009-2017 — my dade lolo would’ve been proud), I became a content producer for New York-based luxury publication Metropolitan Magazine. It has a publishing history in the Americas dating back to 1895, with a very all-Americana luxury and lifestyle theme in its editorial direction. It was a no-brainer for me to advocate featuring Filipino fashion creatives, talents and designers in its pages so as to have Filipino and Asian representation in the global fashion stage through the magazine’s distribution in Manhattan and The Hamptons, and later on, in Palm Beach in Florida, USA.

Gimjude Oliveros creations as styled and creative directed by Marane Plaza for Metropolitan Magazine
Gimjude Oliveros creations as styled and creative directed by Marane Plaza for Metropolitan Magazine August 2019

The first fashion editorial work I personally produced, creative directed and styled for (I even traveled with a creative team to Laguna to collaborate with the Filipino fashion designer) and submitted to Metropolitan’s EIC Adam Kluger was the premiere collection of Laguna-based Filipino fashion designer Gimjude Oliveros.

I chose to highlight his fashion design pieces because they’re not only made of Filipino textile and weave and hand-painted by a Filipino artist who’s also based in Laguna — but also because the collection was first presented on the runway show of Philippine Fashion Gala 2017 as a tribute to the Filipino soldiers who sacrificed their lives during the battle of Marawi in Mindanao. That’s why the palettes of the collection were of military green and brown hues. The design of the entire collection in itself was impeccable, but the story and inspiration behind it were even more impressive because it represented a facet of the consistent character among Filipinos: bravery and resilience– themes that have always been documented through the years by the media. The fashion editorial was printed and published by Metropolitan Magazine as led by Kluger in its Summer 2019 edition in August 2019– with the then-US First Lady Melania Trump on the cover of the digital and print magazine. Admittedly, seeing the fashion editorial pages I produced for Metropolitan Magazine for the first time still is one of my proudest moments in my life to this day.

Gimjude Oliveros creations as styled and creative directed by Marane Plaza for Metropolitan Magazine August 2019

Gimjude Oliveros
creations as styled and creative directed by Marane Plaza for Metropolitan Magazine August 2019
Gimjude Oliveros creations as styled and creative directed by Marane Plaza for Metropolitan Magazine August 2019

I then traveled to New York, USA in September 2019 for the New York Fashion Week press party co-hosted by Stylista TV (our old TV show airing on Pinoy Xtreme in mid-2018 to early-2019 and springboard of our current one, Stylish TV on TFC), in collaboration with Metropolitan Magazine. The event was also the publication’s casting call for a TV pilot in Manhattan, New York. For the event, I featured the modern Filipiniana with the infamous butterfly sleeves by inviting New York-based Filipina designer Tracy Dizon and three models donning her fashion masterpieces at the event, again to stay true to the goal of Filipino and Asian representation at the New York collab fashion event and the New York-based magazine’s initiatives. The NYFW press party and casting call was attended by Real Housewives of New York cast member Jill Zarin, as well as American fashion designer and Club Kid Richie Rich at the Jue Lan Kitchen at the legendary former ‘Limelight’ space. Richie Rich later on became one of Stylish Magazine’s cover stars as seen here.

An iconic New York landmark, the former ‘Limelight’ space opened in November 1983 and was designed by Ari Bahat. The site is the former Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion, a Gothic Revival brownstone building which was built in 1844-1845 and designed by architect Richard Upjohn. My work trip was sponsored by then-super new and about to be launched brand Juicy Beauty, as featured in one of our Style Visionary features here and Stylish editorial here. The 2019 event initiatives were supposed to be the springboard to our further Stylista TV x Metropolitan Magazine collaborative plans for 2020, but the global pandemic put a halt to some lined-up projects.

The modern Filipiniana with butterly sleeves designed by Tracy Dizon as featured in the New York Fashion Week press party and casting call by Stylish TV (formerly Stylista TV) and Metropolitan Magazine as seen here.
The modern Filipiniana with butterly sleeves designed by Tracy Dizon as featured in the New York Fashion Week press party and casting call by Stylish TV (formerly Stylista TV) and Metropolitan Magazine as seen here.

In late 2021, despite the still existent pandemic scares, we tried to revive the plans, with the short-lived Stylish Docus airing on Cignal TV’s Colours Channel, a cable channel in Manila that would then be closed down anyway — a happening I only found out through a Facebook post announcement after I already made possible partnerships with some lifestyle brands should there be local airing extension for the TV show. The pandemic was sure tough on anyone back then, but a heads-up of the closing of the TV channel before the Facebook post would’ve been nice so as to know which campaigns would work by 2022 should there be airing extension, so at least I could give proper heads-up to possible collaborating lifestyle brands that the channel would be no more. It was understood though, as I was sure everyone was prioritizing their safety, health and life more than anything amidst the pandemic. I was sure my issue was minuscule compared to any TV executive’s plate.

Albert Andrada creations as styled and creative directed by Marane Plaza for Metropolitan Magazine
Albert Andrada creations as styled and creative directed by Marane Plaza for Metropolitan Magazine
Oz Go creations as styled and creative directed by Marane Plaza for Metropolitan Magazine
Sidney Sio creations as styled and creative directed by Marane Plaza for Metropolitan Magazine
Nicole Santos creations, formerly Dominique Atelier, as styled and creative directed by Marane Plaza for Metropolitan Magazine

As I landed in New York in December 2021 to hopefully launch our TV show’s business incubator and fashion show Style Visionary Runways New York, New York once again became the epicenter of the COVID virus, with the surge of the fast-transmissible variant called omicron, a kind of variant that at the was time still unknown to many in terms of veracity. Physical events were understandably not allowed to be organized in New York, and Metropolitan’s Adam Kluger was also of course understandably afraid of the virus in relation of it with his own health condition. Other American TV executives who were also in talks with Stylish for many months, and were looking to pick up Stylish Docus or any possible TV shows of Stylish Magazine and Metropolitan Magazine for American TV channels and streaming platforms, were also sick and affected by the virus, and of course understandably also rescheduled all negotiation meetings to summer of 2022 due to the halt brought upon by the sudden surge of omicron.

Only a few people could understand the situation’s possible danger to our safety and health though. One insensitive fashion designer we sponsored a TV show promotion for even threatened us of legal action the minute we informed that we are rescheduling the fashion show, as if we had no right to prioritize our health and life amidst omicron, including our middle-aged and sick New York collaborators.

On the other side of the coin, I witnessed the genuine kindness of some people because of the ordeal– some advertisers who shed out money to support our project were even the first to tell us that we should prioritize our health and safety more than anything, because fashion shows could wait. I personally knew that the cancellation of the fashion show did feel like a heartbreak for some, and I feel deeply regretful of the casualties of our professional failures amidst the pandemic, but I do not regret choosing to prioritize the safety and health of our collaborators in New York. I admit we could’ve handled things better, but it was also our first time in our lives to postpone a fashion show because of a global virus.

I had to deal with a lot of push and pulls whether I should leave the designers’ creations at a studio in Long Island for a still possible fashion show pick up by February, so they could maybe then be showcased for New York Fashion Week in February 2022. Or I thought maybe I should just come back home to Manila and go back to New York again by February. Ultimately whatever backup plans prepared to push the goal of showcasing runway presentations of three Filipino fashion designers were just not enough to push through with any physical events nor TV show negotiations by February, as the omicron scare was still alive and kicking by February 2022 anyway. Collaborators in New York were prioritizing their safety and health over any type of fashion shows, as they should.

Though it was never an intention, I do acknowledge that some creators and fashion designers were hurt by the rapid changes, failures and adjustments we had to go through as an independent media startup during our humble beginnings running a publishing brand amidst the chaos, trying to mount a fashion show with American collaborators amidst the sudden, strong surge of omicron in New York. Bravery and resilience were indeed all we held, just like what a typical Pinoy has while going through hardships. Adam was not feeling well and did not want to go out nor meet in person even if I was already in New York. Meetings with TV executives and collaborators were suddenly held only on Zoom because of the sudden omicron surge, throwing away months of coordination about the supposed runway show heavily promoted on our TV show Stylish Docus via Colours Channel on Cignal TV. Many financial losses and mental trauma later, we are still crawling back on track from the mishap to this day and unfortunately, the healing is such a long, slow burn.

By the time I was back to Manila from New York in 2022 after facing wild safety protocols for international flights and strict quarantines, I was just glad I was finally home and survived the ordeal– thanks to the help of my siblings who were so worried I might get sick and die alone in New York. Meanwhile, my friends from ABS-CBN Global including a former co-promo producer at the Lifestyle Network Global already pulled strings for my TV show to be picked up by The Filipino Channel (TFC), as well as on its new streaming platform iWantTFC, since our channel Colours via Cignal closed down. By June 2022, our television narrative Stylish TV finally found a more steady cable channel home in TFC, and was airing globally in more than 50 countries. Content from Stylish Docus were integrated inevitably because after all, the theme was always to document the way we were creating the magazine pages, as our television projects Stylish Docus and Stylish TV editions have always been the TV format of Stylish Magazine, and vise versa.

During our premiere episode for Stylish TV on iWantTFC, TFC & MYX Global, Stylish Magazine cover personality was trending for days on X, or formerly Twitter. Stylish Magazine cover girl Francine Diaz gave a new meaning to the influence and meaning attached to the term “power” — which was the central theme of the Stylish Magazine collectible print. By the grace of God, Stylish TV became Top 37 among “Top 50 of the Most Watched Multi-Cultural TV Shows in the USA” based on the viewership from June 2022 to July 2022, according to American survey agency Comscore as reported by an ABS-CBN corporate news pickup which you may read here.

You may order Stylish print collectible here.

By 2023, businesses and corporations in the Philippines were still pretty much adjusting to the effects of the global pandemic when it came to financial losses, especially among F&B and hospitality industries who were hit so hard financially during the pandemic. So much so that venues were simply hard to get signed on as venues nor venue partners for any runway shows. Thank God, SM Supermalls gave a home to the premiere show of the long-overdue Style Visionary Runways, premiering first its Manila edition. Style Visionary Runways New York — a brainchild that I and New York’s Metropolitan EIC Adam Kluger had been trying to soft launch since my first appearance at the New York Fashion Week press party collab and TV show casting call by Metropolitan Magazine in September 2019, finally came to fruition with Style Visionary Runways Manila on April 29, 2023. Along with our first-ever Sustainable Fashion Runways, we put the spotlight on the creations and brilliance of Filipino designers, in partnership with SM Supermalls and SM Aura. You may watch the highlight of Style Visionary Runways Manila on Stylish TV via iWantTFC here.

Meanwhile in New York, Adam continued on helping build American streaming platform Your Home TV, with talks that started about the same time I was stranded in New York during the omicron surge in December 2021. I signed the contract with Your Home TV last year, especially since Adam and other TV executives apart from the Your Home TV team have been trying to build the American edition of our TV cable show project for years. Adam, a former producer of CNN Lifestyle and E! for decades, has always been respected for his TV work, luxury magazine and PR expertise in New York. A business partnership with our TV projects in the Philippines has always been the core of our strategic collaboration since we started working together at Metropolitan in 2019.

Despite the many storms we overcame, we remain true to our vision that Stylish Magazine and Stylish TV will bring to the forefront the best of Asian fashion, art, culture and lifestyle to the Western audience, through our storytelling, global platforms, reach, and hopefully, influence, through our American collaborators. Carrying the same heart that the lifestyle journalism, media and TV production can indeed elevate our ideals, and level up our trajectories as global Filipino people and human beings, Stylish Magazine and Stylish TV hope to follow through with the vision with our young media brands and TV project startups. We have overcome a lot of trials, and we are prepared to turn many ugly failures into fruitful endeavors that can possibly give economic boost and business and job opportunities to Filipinos, Asians, people of color and whoever can resonate to what we are trying to accomplish.

When I started Stylish Magazine with a couple of friends amidst the pandemic in April 2020, all I had was the capital money I saved from my projects from PR clients years before, the financial support of my siblings and a couple of best friends, the collaborative support from Adam and a number of American media collaborators, and my almost two decades worth of marketing communications skills and network of professional collaborators, and the sponsorship support from small Filipino-founded lifestyle brands in the Philippines who have always believed that Stylish Magazine is “your source of self-love, style & inspiration.”

Secret to Couture Confidence campaign for Filipino startup shapewear label Adam & Eve for Metropolitan October 2020

Secret to Couture Confidence campaign for Filipino startup shapewear label Adam & Eve for Metropolitan October 2020
Secret to Couture Confidence campaign for Filipino startup shapewear label Adam & Eve for Metropolitan October 2020
Lee Strachan beauty brand for Stylish Magazine The Beauty Issue
Filipino-founded Ready Set Glow cosmetic brand for Stylish Magazine
Filipino beauty brand Silka for Stylish Magazine

A big chunk of self-love is made of our own perception and understanding of our identity, and seeing fashion, beauty, wellness and lifestyle on a different light as tools to empower ourselves and enrich our lives. Additionally, staying connected to our Filipino roots, along with the ills, challenges, strengths, and weaknesses that come with, is crucial to achieving unapologetic, raw self-love. Thankfully, our global vision had been materialized in our first few months with our collaboration with Singapore’s Digital Fashion Week with virtual talks featuring Asian fashion designers such as Queen of Chinese Couture Guo Pei and more, and our constant collaboration with New York’s Metropolitan Magazine.

One of our campaigns to push the cause is Stylish’s panel talk called “The Self-Love Series” — aimed to pull people to the right direction of self-awareness, sense of pride in one’s self and connectedness through meaningful, supportive discussions of topics that make us track the progress of love we have for ourselves. UNESCO Artist for Peace legend Cecile Guidote-Alvarez recognized the cause of “The Self-Love Series,” giving the campaign a promotional shoutout in her radio show on DZRH and a nod from the UNESCO Artist for Peace Philippines. She expressed her goal to take myself, AsiaTV founder Regine Guevara and Pan-African artist Xander Pratt under her wing at the time to give the new media the guidance we need upon the transition of traditional media into digital platforms.

Cecile Guidote-Alvarez for Stylish Magazine via Style Visionary Network in an editorial story you may read here

Miss Cecile honored our “The Self-Love Series Campaign with an acknowledgement from UNESCO Artist for Peace Philippines organization, as chronicled here. She talked about how the power of art reflects the ills of the society, the same way it heals such. She reminded the readers what the Philippines, particularly the Filipino media, went through during the Martial Law— reminding what the country had healed from, what we continue to suffer from and need to work on, and how we can move forward as a country crawling through real modern-day progress with a better mindset and a stronger heart.

The same message was intact. The media have the responsibility to express the condition of our society — along with its weaknesses, ills, challenges, cries, upheavals, as well as its milestones, successes and miracles. For as long as the goal is to consciously track our progress and the way we overcome obstacles as we move forward to hopefully positive, even slow process of economic and moral win, we should go for it. The important thing is we Filipinos move forward with our sense of self-love, style and inspiration, with pride and integrity rooted in our identity as a race and as a nation.

During this year’s celebration of the Philippine independence, I am drawn to the energy of First Lady Liza’s brainchild: Likha. According to Philippine president Bongbong Marcos during his speech at Likha 1, “To foster the Filipino brand is to spark our sense of pride and reaffirm our strong sense of identity. The creativity of the Filipino is truly world-class. We excel in arts and culture, new media and live events — avenues which generate primary and downstream jobs for our creative and talented countrymen.”

Stylish Magazine and Stylish TV, my brainchild and the extension of my Filipina identity, creativity and human connectedness , can resonate to the vision and cause of Likha.

Likha 3, the celebration of my country’s nationhood, reminded me why I am doing what I am doing, despite unbelievable hardships. It reminded me of why and how we started. It made me recall my own bravery and resilience, my own shortcomings and failures, my own former shattered dreams, my own aspirations for my culture and country.

As we introduce the American edition of Stylish TV on US streaming platform Your Home TV in the fourth quarter of 2024, with the help of my long-time collaborator Adam Kluger and other amazing TV executives in New York, I am bringing with me my Filipino identity I fought and crawled hard for, and my fellowmen’s dreams and possibilities.

To achieve a vision far bigger than my heartbreaks and dreams, a big part of it is to try to set aside differences and overcome adversities.

Do I know for sure that we are finally going to be successful in all our media endeavors and the vision? I do not know, we can only try our best to continuously put the spotlight on the heart of the Philippine art, fashion, lifestyle and culture as it thrives even farther in the global stage.

We also hope that our own efforts can further push the representation of Asians and minority in the global media. Will we be successful finally? Will our failures define us? We do not know for sure. We just know that Stylish Magazine and Stylish TV have enough ingenuity and resilience rooted in the strength of character of the Filipino identity to overcome anything, no matter how slowly and impossibly.

Stylish Magazine is “your source of self-love, style & inspiration” first introduced in June 2020. Our television series format, Stylish TV, once ranked one of the Top 50 Most Watched Multicultural Shows in the USA, can be streamed on iWantTFC and be watched on TFC (The Filipino Channel) in more than 50 countries. Watch it online here.

Style Visionary Network is a lifestyle-business online platform where #WeCreateVisionariesHere. Style Visionary Network is also the digital home channel of media brands Stylish Magazine and Stylish TV.