1. Cris Villonco
Cris was practically destined to perform, with her grandmother, who is none other than showbiz doyenne Armida Siguion-Reyna, prodding her to share her voice with the world at the tender age of nine. This multitalented artist later found her true calling in theater, nabbing plum roles in local stagings of plays like Les Miserables, Fiddler on the Roof, and Hamlet. In 2013, she ventured into another aspect of the industry by teaming up with other Filipino thespians to found Red Turnip Theater, which aims to revolutionize Philippine theater by delivering non-musical plays aimed at a more mature audience.
2. Stacy and Danah Gutierrez
Stacy and Danah, the twins behind the blog Plump Pinay, aren’t just out to make a plus-sized style statement. Aside from demonstrating their superb fashion sense, their website is also a welcome refuge for body acceptance. More than being style inspirations, they also inspire women of all shapes and sizes to love their bodies and care for them properly. For them, being healthy—no matter what size—will always be better than being sexy, and that’s something we should all believe in as well.
3. Thea de Rivera
Thea de Rivera opened the hugely successful The Girl + The Bull with her boyfriend straight out of college, putting an end to the notion that only established restaurateurs can make it in the food industry. While the young upstart admitted that she didn't have much when operations began, even going so far as to take some of the restaurant's decor from her own room, she had had no qualms about pursuing her dreams. To those who want to be young entrepreneurs, Thea says to just just go for it. "As long as you believe in your product, you will give it your all. Do NOT ever do it for the money or credit as those things will follow once you've shed blood, sweat, and tears. Also, starting your own business would require a lot of hard work. Always keep that in mind but don't forget to have fun while you're at it!"
4. Alessandra Lanot
You can count Alessandra Lanot, the woman behind the blog Life After Breakfast, as one of the people responsible for launching Manila’s crafting fever. She’s been passionate about art since she was a kid, and she found a way to share her talents with everyone via her popular watercolor, calligraphy, jewelry-making, embroidery, and rubber-stamping workshops. She also runs two chic hangout spots: vegan restaurant Pipino and Hillside Cafe & Juice Bar.
5. Wowie Meloto Gonzalez
While her sisters Camille Meloto and Anna Meloto Wilk were making headlines as founders of social enterprise Human Nature, Wowie was quietly working in the background, helping expand the venture in the US. More than just introducing proudly Philippine-made products in America, Wowie’s job was to get more Filipio-Americans involved in nation building—one of Human Nature’s core missions. After living in the US for six years and helping drive awareness for the social enterprise’s pro-poor, pro-environment, and pro-Philippines stand, Wowie (together with her husband and children), came home to the Philippines in 2013 to be with family and rediscover the country. Now in charge of Human Nature’s corporate communications, the mom of two wants to reach a wider audience of responsible consumers and future nation builders.
6. Porschia Anne Domingo
It’s hard to stand out in the culinary industry when you’re a girl, and Porschia proved her mettle with her impressive stint at the Raintree Group. After starting out as a junior commis, she quickly scaled the rungs of the culinary ladder, eventually nabbing the chef de partie post at Saboten. The most amazing part is that she hasn’t even hit 30 yet, and we can’t wait to see where her already-impressive career will lead!
7. Tanya dela Cruz
Tanya de la Cruz discovered yoga when she was searching for a way to release stress from her sales and marketing job at a multinational company. She loved how refreshed and re-energized she felt after each class that she decided to become a certified teacher—balancing her office job with her new-found passion. Fast forward to 2013, Tanya decided to take the plunge into the wellness and fitness industry full time. She left her nine-year corporate world stint to help put up OneLife Studio, which specializes in yoga and PIaltes. She says that her first-hand experience on how happy and fulfilled her regular yoga practice has made her inspires her to encourage her students to discover this path to a fuller life. Currently a certified yoga and Pilates teacher and a Nike Training Club trainer, she continues on that mission to help more women feel better about themselves.
8. Lea Angelica Yosalina
Lea was inspired to start her business after watching the documentary Fat, sick, and Nearly Dead, which discusses an overweight guy’s drastic weight loss journey via vegetable juice cleanses. The Skinny Juicery was borne out of Lea’s dream of giving everyone a shot at an effective, nutritious, and all-natural detox program. Thanks to Lea, hitting our daily vegetable intake requirement just became a lot more fun.
9. Sophie Uy
Sophie turned her passion for beauty into a lucrative career: Aside from maintaining her own makeup store, Beauty & Minerals, where she sells her bestselling Charm makeup brush line, Sophie is also involved with Sample Room, a website that allows consumers to sample beauty products before buying them. Whoever said nothing good comes out of being kikay has obviously never met Sophie!
10. Alexis Ventura
Alexis was able to do something plenty of us slaving away at our corporate jobs could only dream to do: turn her hobby into a lucrative career that, as a bonus, also makes a difference in the lives of others. The woman behind calligraphy powerhouse Ink Scribbler was able to make the intimidating art of lettering accessible to a wide audience, and she has inspired hundreds of enthusiasts to follow in her footsteps.
11. Celine de Los Angeles Escaler
It’s somewhat hard to believe that this fresh-faced beauty is the culinary genius behind Stockton Place, one of the most raved-about restaurants in the Manila food scene. Stockton Place serves gorgeously presented cuisine at manageable prices, and hundreds of customers, ranging from food bloggers to hungry yuppies to top personalities, have raved about their thoughtfully executed, perfectly prepared dishes. We’re sure we’re not the only ones waiting hungrily for the ventures she’ll cook up in the future!
12. Sabrina Ongkiko
Sabrina Ongkiko had originally wanted to become a doctor—in fact, she took up BS Biology at the Ateneo de Manila University for her pre-med—but when her mentor asked if she wanted to become a teacher, that's when she realized that she had a different calling. Today, Sabrina is dedicating her life to become the teacher that the country needs, one public school student at a time.
13. Mikka Padua
Seek the Uniq founder Mikka Padua continues to redefine the local e-commerce industry by featuring top-quality Pinoy products such as Renegade Folk and Carioca alongside international finds. With a natural eye for beauty, the former merchandiser and "commander-in-chic" is definitely doing a good job of pushing our homegrown brands to the top and putting the Philippines on the map.
Text: Jennifer Chan, Joy Gavica, Ana Pascual, Marianne Salazar
Photos: (Gutierrez) Mark Chester Ang, (de la Cruz) Dairy Darilag, (Gonzalez) c/o Gonzalez, (Escaler) Angelo Comsti, (Ventura) Facebook, (Uy) c/o Uy, (Yosalina) Facebook, (Villonco) Facebook, (Antoine) Mike Dee, (Lanot) Facebook, (de Rivera) c/o Rivera, (Ongkiko) Facebook, (Padua) c/o Seek the Uniq.