Inspiration
18 Filipinos Who Are Shaping the World of Art, Fashion, and Design
Part of our list of 101 People You Must Meet Right Now, here are the notable names and faces who have contributed to the world's art, fashion, and design industries.
IMAGE COURTESY OF JAIME PONCE DE LEON/ NATIONAL BOOKSTORE/ CULTURAL CENTER OF THE PHILIPPINES/ RODNEY FUENTABELLA
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1. Pio Abad

Posted by Pio Abad on Friday, March 31, 2017

If you’ve been to London recently, you may have gotten a pleasant surprise while making your way through the city’s vast underground train network. The London Underground commissioned Abad to come up with artwork for the second edition of the Night Tube Pocket Map, and the artist responded with a piece inspired by an unusual discovery in the Tube’s lost and found section. Eddie, a painting of a gorilla in a Hawaiian shirt, is Abad’s playful interpretation of a stuffed gorilla left behind at a train station, “a mascot of the unexpected encounters of nocturnal London.”

2. Happy Andrada

Hi friends Tune in to Monster RX 93.1 10 p.m. tonight I will be guesting in Heard On Thursdays show, Hosted by Rafael Reyes and Hazel. ?????? #monsterrx931

Posted by Happy Andrada on Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The 32-year-old fashion designer is among our brightest rising stars, turning heads here and abroad for her innovative wedding gown designs. On the international scene, she’s made quite an impact this year, parading her couture gowns at Mercedes Fashion Week in Amsterdam, Toronto Fashion Week, and London Fashion Week. She revealed her next collection will be inspired by the pintado tattoos of our ancestors, “showcasing who we are.”

3. Martha Atienza


Filipina-Dutch artist Martha Atienza; rebuilding in a marine protected area in Cebu

The experimental filmmaker and visual artist continues her ascent to the higher echelons of the international art scene as her latest opus, Our Islands 11°16’58.4”N 123°45’07.0”E, recently won the Baloise Art Prize at Art Basel in Switzerland. The jury was quite impressed with the video work, which depicts a surreal ati-atihan parade conducted underwater. Atienza, born to a Dutch mother and Filipino father, is a two-time Ateneo Art Awards honoree, and was one of the CCP’s Thirteen Artists picks in 2015.

4. Rocky Cajigan

Posted by Rocky Acofo Cajigan on Sunday, June 23, 2013

Based in Baguio, the 29-year-old multimedia artist and writer might not be a familiar name to the Manila art crowd, but after being named one of the winners at last year’s Ateneo Art Awards, that’s sure to change. His exhibit “Museumified,” was described as “22 assemblage pieces and sculptures made up of found objects and pseudo artifacts, remnants of Cordillera and colonial cultures that are set within a retable of a larger story.” Shown at the Blanc Gallery, it was inspired by a “nostalgia for indigenous history,” in the artist’s own words.

5. Nathalie Dagmang

PASADO AKONG BIRDWATCHING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ITO NA TALAGA!!!!

Posted by Nathalie Dagmang on Friday, June 5, 2015

The 24-year-old artist was a winner at last year’s Ateneo Art Awards for her exhibit “Dito sa may Ilog ng Tumana,” an inter-media installation dwelling on the relationship of people residing near the Marikina riverbank with their frequently flooding landscape. Dagmang, who earned her Fine Arts degree (majoring in Sculpture) at the University of the Philippines, recently completed her artist’s residency at Liverpool Hope University and just before that, one at Artesan Gallery in Singapore, as part of her Ateneo Art Awards prize. She’s now pursuing her master’s in Anthropology.

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6. Jaime Ponce de Leon


The amiable de Leon had a previous career as an interior designer before finding great success as a gallerist and lately, auctioneer. The auctions held at his Leon Gallery have been breaking Philippine records—at the recent mid-year auction, pieces by Ang Kiukok and Fabian de la Rosa achieved their highest prices ever. The international art magazine Blouin Art, listed Leon Gallery as one of the 250 Best Auction Houses Worldwide for 2016.

7. Rodney Fuentebella


If you’ve ever stayed behind in a movie theater waiting for the secret ending to various films in the Marvel franchise, from Spider-Man to The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy to Captain America, you may have come across Fuentebella’s name as a concept illustrator in the film credits. Since 2010 he’s been with Marvel Studios, and is currently their senior visual development illustrator. Fuentebella studied at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, where he earned a degree in Product Design with emphasis in Entertainment Design.

8. Gino Gonzales


Often heralded as the successor of the late National Artist Salvador Bernal, Gonzales is certainly doing his mentor proud. The set designer recently won the Silver Medal at the 2017 World Stage Design awards, organized by International Organisation of Scenographers, Theatre Architects and Technicians. Gonzales was honored at the quadrennial event for his work on the 2014 production of Hakbang sa Hakbang (Shakespeare’s Measure by Measure) by Dulaang Unibersidad ng Pilipinas.

9. John Herrera

A post shared by JOHN HERRERA (@johnherrera) on

The fashion designer was named Britain’s Top Designer this February, besting five other London based candidates. Hosted by the fashion event company Fashions Finest during London Fashion Week, the competition is a search for the best emerging fashion designer in the United Kingdom. In partnership with Epson Philippines, Herrera presented his Agila collection, inspired by the Philippine eagle and indigenous tribal art. In an interview, he mentioned it’s a celebration of “our cultural heritage and historic past.”

10. Arsenio Lizaso


The Cultural Center of the Philippines has a new president in Lizaso, who takes over the post long held by Dr. Raul Sunico. Lizaso is no newcomer to the CCP, as he has been on the Board of Trustees since 2010. During his introduction to the press, Lizaso revealed his lifelong love of art, with theater being his burning passion. Steeped in Western and Filipino literary classics, Lizaso is well known in art circles as a theater actor, director, producer, and educator.

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11-12. Lani Maestro and Manuel Ocampo

Our representatives to the 2017 Venice Biennale: artists Lani Maestro and Manuel Ocampo with curator Joselina Cruz. The...

Posted by Philippine Arts in Venice Biennale - PAVB on Thursday, May 11, 2017

Representing the Philippines at the 57th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia is the exhibit “The Spectre of Comparison,” featuring the works of Maestro and Ocampo, curated by Rizalina Cruz, director of the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design. Maestro was born in the Philippines in 1957 and now resides in Canada, where she continues her explorations in installation, sound, and video art. In 2012, she won one of Canada’s most prestigious art prizes, the Hnatyshyn Award, for outstanding achievement in the visual arts. Ocampo, who divides his time between Spain, Belgium, and Manila, enjoys acclaim for his unsettling pieces rife with religious, political, and cultural themes.

13. Gene Paul Martin

A graduate of Fine Arts, majoring in Painting, at Far Eastern University, the 27-year-old artist has been flying under the contemporary art radar for some time, but many believe it’s his time to shine. Said to be influenced by Todd Schorr, James Jean, Pop Surrealism, and Japanese comics, Martin’s works are often a mix of the cute and grotesque, with simple and familiar themes that somehow entrance the viewer.

14. Macky Pamintuan


Pamintuan translated his childhood love for drawing portraits into a thriving career as a children’s book illustrator. Hailing from Davao, Pamintuan studied at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco where he earned his Fine Arts degree in 2003. It didn’t take long before he found his groove, doing illustrations for various series such as Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew, the Alien in my Pocket, and Flat Stanley. Among his latest titles is Kisses for Kindergarten, about a young child (inspired by Pamintuan’s daughter) and her loyal dog.

15. Isabel Roxas


The New York-based children’s book illustrator and artist was recently in town promoting her latest project, Let Me Finish!, written by Minh Le. Like her whimsical sketches, the award-winning artist’s bio is equally quirky: born in Manila, Roxas says she was “raised on luscious mangoes, old wives' tales, and monsoon moons.” Roxas works from her studio in Brooklyn; when she’s not producing illustrations, she’s at work on her small ceramic pieces.

16. Ryan Rubi

A post shared by Ryan Rubi (@ryan_rubi) on

Did you enjoy the stunning visual effects in Spider-Man: Homecoming? Thank Camarines Sur native Rubi for that. Only 30 years old, the Bicolano heads the technical animation team of Method Studios, an animation and special effects firm from Vancouver. It was tapped by Marvel to provide the effects for the blockbuster, which raked in $117 million on its opening weekend. Rubi worked previously for the Singapore branch of Lucasfilm and already has more than 20 films on his CV, among them, Transformers: Age of Extinction, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Jurassic World.

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17-18. Bea Zobel Jr. and Paloma Zobel


The mother and daughter tandem have made the move to Palawan after taking the reins of the development of Kalye Artisano, an artists’ village in the vast Lio Tourism Estate, a project of Ayala Land subsidiary Ten Knots. Bea has been involved in arts for most of her life, and for a long time was known as a champion of Boholano arts and culture. Paloma is similarly inclined, with design being her focus. She has a degree in Business Administration from the Strategic Design and Management Program at Parsons The New School in New York, and further studies at Imperial College London. Paloma is the creative force behind Piopio, a line of local crafts, available at Lio.

This story was originally published in the September 2017 issue of Town&Country.

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Pierre A. Calasanz
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