It’s always been easier to join the fold. We disappear into the sea of popular culture; we break ground by exercising caution. We do what everyone else does, because that seems to be what works. But perhaps that’s not such a bad thing, because it makes those who are different stand out a little more. In celebration of those who dare to do something bold and (sometimes) off-kilter, Young STAR puts the spotlight on some of today’s young iconoclasts. From the kitchen to the stage, these emerging individuals and groups are proving that being sheep is okay, but leaving the herd — and even forming an entirely new one — might be even better.
23, country manager, Team Tripda PH
Carpooling is not a new concept in the Philippines; it’s a revered practice in the south of Metro Manila, where friends who live in Alabang share rides to save on toll fees and gas money. But to ride with a stranger? It’s only natural to be wary of that — we’ve seen enough slasher films to know where it could lead. This is why Tripda, a carpooling app based in Brazil, allows potential passengers and drivers to know more about each other before the ride. Since it came to the Philippines on October last year, Tripda has brought together hundreds of individuals with similar routes, and allows them to carpool and share the cost of gas. Tripda calculates the approximate fuel charge, and lets the driver charge the passengers thusly. Beyond its unique business model (it’s a zero-profit arrangement for Tripda), it’s also run by a team of millennials (the oldest member of the Tripda PH group is 23 years old). It’s certainly an innovative concept in many ways, and it can only get better from here. According to Philippines country manager Erick Coser, it’ll definitely help ease the horrid traffic we just love tweeting about. And even if we do have to suffer through it, we might even get to make new friends. Loners we shall be no more.
22, sous chef at Mecha Uma
Everyone knows chef Bruce Ricketts, the genius behind Mecha Uma, who continues to surprise people with his delectable dishes and grasp of flavors. What people may not know is that he has a team of peers to help him. That’s where his sous chef, Monica Yang, comes in. Formally trained at Enderun College, Monica helps at the kitchen and contributes to the mouthwatering and artful plates served at Mecha Uma. At the ripe age of 22, she says she was only six years old when she started to help cooking around the house. It was just a couple of years ago when Bruce asked her to join the restaurant after she volunteered for a pop-up event. “I worked previously in Bruce’s first restaurant, Sensei. It’s there where I learned to cook outside of my comfort zone, and that you don’t need fancy gadgets to make good food. The same principles apply to Mecha Uma.” Being part of this much-raved restaurant, Monica says the environment is really healthy and collaborative. “I like that we are a very open and casual kitchen team. Everyone gives his or her opinions. I help collaborate to create new dishes and execute them.” In the end, despite all of the success she has charted on her résumé, Monica just really finds joy in being able to not only cook but to cook freely, because “there are no limits to creativity and combinations of flavors.”
What strikes you most when you see Cru’s photos is that you cannot define her subjects off the bat. You will tilt your head, squint your eyes, in an attempt to understand what she is trying to tell with her work. Her work is mostly bathed in pastels and caught in fantastical light — abstract and mysterious. “It took me a long time to figure out my style. I spent an entire year just experimenting with light and composition. I developed it through a lot of shooting. I’d go over everything and cut the work down to something more specific. Not everything goes well, and it’s a struggle to keep maintaining it.” Currently, Cru is enrolled at the School of Visual Arts in New York, but spends her break time in Manila doing intern work for name photographers. Just recently, Cru was published in Grid magazine. “I’m still constantly experimenting with other lighting setups, colors, and materials, especially in my personal work. It’s a huge learning curve.” What Cru likes best about photography is that she is able to suggest seeing the beauty in mundane things, things we normally barely notice in our surroundings. And that is a vision not everyone is bestowed with.
The Strange Creatures
The folks behind The Strange Creatures are the first to admit that they may not sound familiar to the average audiophile. Arguably one of Manila’s hottest emerging acts, the six-person group labels its music as “dreamy-indie-pop,” and have endeared listeners with their boy-girl harmonies and lush melodic tunes in tracks like Stargazer and I Feel Like I’m on Drugs. Since coming together just two years ago, they’ve caught the attention of alternative radio station Jam 88.3 and have even been featured in Time Out Kuala Lumpur. The band has got a lot going for them, even more so after emerging as champs at Wanderband 2015, a musical competition that seeks out the best of the country’s musical acts. The Strange Creatures will be performing at the Wanderland Festival, too, alongside international artists such as Kid Cudi and RAC. The group is set to work on their full-length album soon, and perhaps one of these days, their dreamy, ’80s new wave sound won’t be so strange to the ears anymore.