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cr ossed MAYMAY ENTRATA AND EDWARD BARBER S CO U T M AG . P H

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Photography by RENZO NAVARRO

in this issue 05 culture Love in modern ink 08 music The anatomy of a love song 12 profile Charlie Lim 16 fashion Falling 22 essay Internet lovers 24 cover story Maymay Entrata and Edward Barber 32 feature Reconstruct Collective 38 culture Love galore 43 beauty Sniff a whiff 44 market What's your flavor? 48 music Naive melodies

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What song reminds you of love the most? W W W . S C O U T M A G . P H

issue no. 34 romance issue

“I like to think of love the way Toro Y Moi’s ‘Blessa’ sounds. Beautiful and confusing.”

LEX group publisher bea j. ledesma editor in chief lex celera creative director nimu muallam associate editor oliver emocling junior designer renz mart reyes editorial assistants giselle barrientos jelou galang rogin mae losa staff photographers and videographers argyl leones, javier lobregat, samantha ong, jp talapian copy editor september mahino contributing artists alagadngsining, felix taaka contributing photographers renzo navarro, bj pascual contributing stylists vince crisostomo, earl dignos, quayn pedroso, contributing hair and makeup artists janica balasolla, rudolf davalos, apple faraon, aimee grey, owen sarmiento interns marx reinhart fidel, aira ydette rivera board chairperson alexandra prieto-romualdez chief investment officer, inquirer group of companies j. ferdinand de luzuriaga chief operating officer, inquirer group of companies atty. rudyard arbolado vp/group hr head raymund soberano

vp/chief strategic planning officer imelda c. alcantara senior hr manager ma. leonisa l. gabrieles hr specialist reynalyn s. fernandez executive assistant/ editorial content planner jill cruz head of operations and business development lurisa ann villanueva avp for sales ma. katrina garcia-dalusong key account supervisor angelita tan-ibañez key accounts officer altheia ordiales sarah cabalatungan senior account executive karl angelo resurreccion account executives kyle cayabyab, rose carina mamonong, allysza maye marasigan, anne medina, kimberly tañafranca, xenia sebial, andie zuñiga sales support assistant rechelle nicdao sales coordinator chloe dianne cartoneros, christine joy galura marketing assistant samantha joyce jaro, stefhanie medina marketing junior designer bianca pilar production and distribution manager jan cariquitan production assistant maricel gavino final art supervisor dennis cruz distribution specialist arnulfo naron senior distribution assistant angela carlos-quiambao liason associate rosito subang

“I feel love when I listen to Metaphors, an album of music from Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s cinema.”

OLIVER

“Spiritualized’s ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, We are Floating in Space‘ reminds me of love the most. It gives off a lot of emotions: bliss, loss, and pain. I imagine getting proposed to in a planetarium with this song playing.”

ROGIN

“Love in its rawest form feels like ‘Twelve Feet Deep’ by The Front Bottoms—fears peeled off, time never wasted.”

JELOU

“Top of mind is ‘Want Me’ by Puma Blue. It sounds warm, intimate, and unraveled, which is what I’d like love to be.”

For general inquiries, email us at scoutmagph@gmail.com scout@hinge.ph

GISELLE

ON THE COVER Photography by BJ Pascual Styling by Quayn Pedroso Makeup by Owen Sarmiento Grooming by Aimee Grey Hair by Rudolf Davalos

@scoutmagph #maywardforscout

“Hedwig and the Angry Inch’s ‘Midnight Radio’ reminds me of love the most. It’s heartbreaking yet oddly comforting.” 4F Media Resource Plaza, Mola cor. Pasong Tirad Sts., Brgy. La Paz, Makati City

RENZ

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Letter from the Editor So, here we are. We’re starting 2019 by putting into focus the infinite, the uncertain, the beautiful and sad and sometimes petty: This issue is about love. We discover the nostalgia of the love tropes we’ve grown up with; we attempt to unpack the different forms of love present in relationships today; and we find out the powerful and ever-present message of love from Maymay Entrata and Edward Barber, a.k.a. MayWard. They are the very first love team to grace the cover of Scout, and for that, I’m very thankful. In the interview with the duo, one thing Edward said stuck with me: “Being young feels like I have the space to make mistakes.” Maybe this is one of the best, if not the best thing, about being young. Love and compassion are easily forgotten in this climate of personal political discourse. Here’s a little story about how I ended up working for Scout: When I earned my bachelor’s degree four years ago, I couldn’t find a job, mainly because I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I found out about Scout when its page was shy of a thousand Facebook likes, and the first thing I saw there was a job posting for managing editor. I didn’t know how I had the guts to apply for a position that asked for at least three years of experience. Obviously, I didn’t get the job, but I did get a job interview for something else in the company: a social media assistant position in another department. I said yes. I got my first legit (read: paying) writing gig when a friend in the editorial department gave me the chance, and soon enough, I joined her and the rest of the Northern Living team soon after. A year and a half after, I thought I was done with publishing, until then editor in chief Romeo Moran invited me to join the Scout team. I had no reason to say no. I never would have thought I’d end up as editor in chief. Scout for me was the magazine I’d always wanted to read. The breadth and scope of its coverage offered me a sense of belonging at a time when I thought, as someone who came from the province and liked what I liked, I was an outsider. Being in charge of the magazine I dreamt working for years prior feels insanely good. Which makes it so hard for me to say that this issue will be my last, and I am officially leaving Scout. I’m thankful for the team that I’ve worked with in this issue, and I’m also thankful for the people who have paved the way for Scout to be what it is today. My time with Scout has definitely changed who I am, and I’m also thankful for the people who trusted my vision. Scout made me feel genuinely cool for the first time in my life, and more importantly, it made me feel understood. I’ve done my best to make others feel the same. I hope this issue accomplishes that same feeling, too. Now I feel soft. Listen, I have a favor to ask from you, dear reader: Share this issue with people close to you when you’re finished reading. Don’t just let it catch dust somewhere. Let other people see it too! This is the first and last thing I’ll ever ask from you. Bawian na lang kita next time.

Lex

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Love in modern ink

Revisiting the magical world of Wattpad, the online platform that changed publishing SCOUT34.indd 5

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culture

Words by Jelou Galang

Here’s how the story goes: A 17-year-old girl with bad hair plays trick on the campus heartthrob, who just so happens to be a bad boy, self-proclaimed “gangster.” When he finds out that the girl he’s been talking to actually isn’t the ex-girlfriend he was pining for (the two girls should have the same name), he puts up the condition that they should pretend as lovers until the gangster’s ex comes back to his life out of jealousy. And guess what? The two find themselves falling for each other instead. Does that sound familiar? Well, in fact, it’s too familiar. This plot has been read three million times online, became a National Book Store bestseller in 2013, and eventually landed on theaters as a Star Cinema boxoffice hit starring Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla, also known as Kathniel. This is Bianca Bernardino’s She’s Dating the Gangster, which was first published on an online forum before migrating to Wattpad. And it’s not the only best-selling romantic story birthed out of this online publishing platform. After all, romantic comedies are an irrefutable element in Filipino pop culture. Top-grossing films in our country are rife with romance and its conventions. It is as ubiquitous as it can get; Inquirer even hailed rom-coms as the “genre ng bayan.” For the past decade, a bulk of these stories are created and serialized in one particular, huge corner of the Internet: Wattpad. As it says on the site, Wattpad takes everything we love about storytelling, and transforms it into a social, on-the-go experience. It serves as a space where everyone can create, talk, and be heard. Ever since its launch in 2006, Wattpad became that vast space tucked in the interwebs where we can pen our own books: characters

and conflicts in worlds we can create in just a click. Louisse Carreon, published author of tearjerkers A and D and Realize puts it this way: “a social media network of its own—but with stories.” This has been the same for Ariesa Domingo, author of nine Wattpad stories that have been published as a book, including Seducing Drake Palma and For Hire: A Damn Good Kisser. For Ariesa and many others, writing wasn’t a viable career, but a hobby: “It wasn’t until I was practically forced by my friend to write a story that I discovered that I actually liked building a world where I can control everything.” Wattpad, as the platform that appealed to most Filipino writers under a certain niche, contributed a huge part in keeping the genre alive and well in the country. For the thenyoung generation of writers that grew up in the community, it was a specific kind of blessing. Reaching an audience beyond our group of close friends felt far-fetched before, but Wattpad handed us a ticket to accessing an audience that is as big as the rest of the world, along with the wild possibilities that offering our words to them could bring. The platform gave us its own brand of bravery. According to Ella Larena, author of Ang Boyfriend Kong Artista and the Kathniel-inspired His Personal Wife, “I made the account to write my experiences growing up. I incorporated real life situations into fiction, so that no one would know it happened to me.” What used to be a reader’s pipe dream—to have an active conversation with the authors of their favorite stories—was solved when Wattpad gave them the chance to leave comments on every chapter of an author’s work. They can even vote for ones they felt for the most. These

votes play a part in how a specific story appears on the site: A high-rated story would most likely attract more readers as its presence in a user’s homepage would say, “because you voted for this story, here are ones similar to that.” As Ariesa describes it, “Wattpad is very interactive. You can leave comments, messages, and private messages. It creates a sense of community that allows the writers and readers to bond more. And it’s also very easy to navigate.” Readers are not just allowed but even encouraged to share their thoughts about their work, which may also influence the development of the story. Louisse in particular enjoys when readers tell her about their favorite moments. “I’m one of those writers who really like reading comments. They are proof that I‘m making someone feel something.” Reading isn’t just one-way anymore: It is a conversation, a form of participation. The writer gets from the reader as much as the latter gets from the former. The continuous positive critique from their followers has encouraged writers to improve their newfound skill as well. “I was able to find my own style, my own preference, and my own voice. I was able to experiment, see what works and what doesn’t,” Louisse says. For her work to be discussed, let alone be read, gives Ella validation as a writer. “I was a reader/writer at a teen magazine’s creative corner circa 2009 to 2011. But honestly, I didn't consider myself a writer because I was never able to finish a novel. I guess Wattpad became the training ground for my writing.” Not only does Wattpad offer freedom by letting people share their stories to the world, it also opens the doors of publishing to budding writers, who in other circumstances would have

Illustration by Alagadngsining

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Not only does Wattpad offer freedom by letting people share their stories to the world, it also opens the doors of publishing to budding writers, who in other circumstances would not be able to get published. a difficult time getting recognition. In Wattpad, a multiverse exists where writers aren’t given only one pair of shoes to fit. “I am a romance writer, but with Wattpad it’s not scary at all to try another genre because there are audiences for different genres. Whatever I decide to write, I know that there will be at least one person who will read my story,” Ariesa says. “I feel like [the readers are] my friends, and some of them my kids, because Three Words, Eight Letters series was published on Wattpad in, I think 2010,” Jade Pitogo, another published author, says. “My readers then were in high school and some in elementary. Now, they are in college and some already have work, and I feel like we’ve grown together. That’s why I am very active on Twitter. I opened my DMs so readers can reach me, and I can personally thank them for reading my stories.” Louisse sees the platform as an expanding entity, “My favorite thing about Wattpad is the community built through it, both locally and internationally,” and Ariesa thinks it “bridged the gap between the writers and readers.” When Wattpad CEO and co-founder Allen Lau visited the Philippines last year, he told the digital marketing solutions company AdSpark Philippines that local readers “embraced the future of entertainment, where technology and storytelling come together to empower new voices.” It’s no surprise that Wattpad’s top users are Filipinos—over seven million monthly Wattpad visitors come from the Philippines, according to Globe’s website. Globe has funded Wattpad in the recent past. In November 2018, Wattpad launched a virtual currency program, Wattpad Next, to help its community of writers get proper compensation for their work. “This program is part of our commitment to help writers earn money from their stories, monetizing stories both on and off of Wattpad,” president Allen Lau said. “Along with opportunities to connect with brands, and work with Wattpad Studios to turn their stories into books, TV shows, films, and digital projects, writers can now make money directly from the fans that have supported them since their first page.” This initiative was first tested in Canada, United Kingdom, Mexico, and the Philippines, before having it was launched in the US.

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This comes as an efficient step not only for the platform, but also for what its users would want to have. “I think like Youtube, Wattpad can probably find a way in order to help their writers be compensated without having to force the readers to pay, since a lot of the readers are students,” Ariesa says. On the other hand, Ella wants underrated Wattpad novels to get more exposure because “sometimes, the best books are the hidden gems.” Given its influence, Wattpad isn't immune to scrutiny. In a study entitled “Effects of Wattpad on Modern Philippine Literature,” De La Salle University Manila professor John Vladimir Espiritu expressed his disapproval of the gender stereotypes imposed in Wattpad stories, claiming that they can be uneducated, and are banked “on idiocy.” If you’re an avid Wattpad reader, you would also notice how plots seem to repeat, like young writers pulling out cliché pop culture tropes. There’s the classic Gangster, the Damsel in Distress, the Lead Dies In The End, or maybe the High School Clan Wars. There’s no longer an original plot, but a good story is made of the nuances the writer communicates through setting, language, metaphor, characterization, etc. The study also places a big concern on how the editing goes for these books, as some still appear to have grammatical or typographical errors. Looking back at the purpose of Wattpad’s birth, we would know it has always aimed to cater to everyone, and give opportunities to writers of all levels, and even those who don’t consider themselves writers at all. Readers are treated the same. Think Precious Hearts Romances, and how it was accessible for us— just like published Wattpad books, we could buy them at arm’s reach, and one wouldn’t need to have a solid literary experience, much more expertise, to appreciate its content. That’s not necessarily something we can condemn Wattpad for. In this time when education is still treated as a privilege rather than a right, Wattpad is a safe space. The writers are still young and still growing along with their skill sets, and an environment that serves as a breeding ground for people in the process of discovery is worthy of respect. Wattpad, as what their vision states, has always stood for people who want to put their work out there. On top of that, we can say that Wattpad has already proved its legacy. In a larger scale, it did pave the way for a more active reception of Philippine literature, and we cannot deny that even the act of acknowledgement can already start a fire. It made us believe that while not all of us fashion ourselves as writers, we can all definitely write if we want to. In the end, it created something vital: a living, breathing community, whether anyone is anonymous, semi-anonymous, or already known by their real names. And for something that’s been rooted on the online grounds, the publishing phenomenon of Wattpad, bit by bit, adds to the continued survival of publishing in a digital era by opening it to everyone.

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The anatomy of a

love song by Giselle Barrientos From the kundiman to the contemporary hugot, what makes a good Filipino love song? SCOUT34.indd 8

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music

“Uso pa ba ang harana?” The opening lines of the Parokya ni Edgar song betrays where the serenade stands in the modern age. The harana seems silly, outdated. Gimmicky, even. “Sino ba ’tong mukhang gago?” frontman Chito Miranda sings, and one could already imagine a scene playing out: A nervewracked man looking up at an expectant Maria Clara-type woman, occasionally fidgeting with his ill-fitting barong Tagalog as his singing echoes through an empty street, his voice full of heartfelt sincerity, if quite off-key. Filipinos are so enamored with expressions of love that we see traces of our romantic nature peppered throughout our culture. Manifestations like the harana are straightforward, but romance is also found in the minutia of our vocabulary, with words like “torpe” or “kilig”—feelings that have no equivalent in the English language but are so commonplace they are seared into our collective consciousness and experiences. Our predilection for romance spills out far beyond the confines of Tagalog and into the hundreds of local dialects and languages. “Pag-irog” is pamalsinta in Pampanga, gugma in Cebu, amor in Zamboanga, pagkamoot in Bicol, and chadaw in Batanes. Even though geography separates us, love still is our common denominator. So what makes a certain love song a lightning rod for a generation’s zeitgeist? The kundiman was a cultural phenomenon that encapsulated the infatuation people felt back then—the kind of love that was grand and sweeping, one that moved you to tears. “Kung sakali ma’t salat / sa yama’t pangarap / may isang sumpang wagas / ang aking paglingap,” sang Sylvia la Torre in a 1952 rendition of “Pakiusap.” It is a desperate, pleading song about a person’s willingness to throw entire lifetimes away for the chance of holding the hand of their beloved. “Pakiusap ko sa’yo / kaawaan mo ako.” The music swells with violins as the singer climbs to a powerful B flat. It feels almost theatrical, like an opera singer cueing the red velvet curtains to close and the applause to ring it out. It’s a slow and painfully doting submission to love, brimming with a do-or-die energy. Following this was the iconic era of Manila Sound that planted the fundamental roots of Filipino pop as we now know it. It was pioneered by the likes of Ryan Cayabyab and Rey Valera, and was dominated by a more down-to-earth and progressively playful approach to romance. Archaic Tagalog words gave way to more casual slang, and pop culture references found a niche within the traditionalist form of ballads. Rey Valera’s “Ako si Superman” is a rising proclamation of devotion. He feels almost superhuman, he sings, when he is with his love. Its recognizable hook is kept in time with a hi-hat against its 4/4 beat, while harmonies patterned after American Motown influences

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nestled in Valera’s vocals. Cinderella’s “T.L. Ako Sa’yo.” features colloquial abbreviations such “T.L.,” which stands for “true love.” The record’s standout element is Cinderella’s airy vocals that elicit a gentle wistfulness—a complete 180-degree turn from the heavy, operatic singing style that prevailed in the previous era of kundiman. The era of Manila Sound was a catalyst for experimentation with foreign styles and novelty subjects. In turn, it also became the breeding ground of formulaic songwriting. In an interview with The Guidon, APO Hiking Society’s Jim Paredes talked about the strong influence of American music: “Everybody wanted to be called ‘The Elvis of the Philippines,’ because [it was easy to] sound like Elvis,” he said. The members of Manila Sound seem to have figured out the secret sauce, because their songwriting worked—and with tremendous success. Bands like APO Hiking Society and Hotdog went on to become a mainstay in the OPM hall of fame, and their creations comprised the roster of classics in Filipino music. Today, the key to a hit love song isn’t the same as an Elvis Presley hit. We’re living in entirely different contexts, and we can choose what to make out of the experiences we have. This freedom, brought about by increasingly accessible tools and a boundless amount of inspiration, keeps birthing new pockets in genre faster than we can label them. The internet age brings with it an infinite landscape of music, the post-somethings of the love song formulas that can before it. If we throw the formulas of the past out the window, what, then, makes the love songs of today tick? The musicians who might know the answer are the music artisans of today—the ones who understand that achieving longevity will require a more thoughtful approach in the newage renaissance of the love song. “Mastery is important,” says Armi Millare. The Up Dharma Down frontwoman, arguably on top of the list where contemporary pop is concerned, has penned songs for the lovelorn (“Oo,” “Sana,” “Tadhana”), and UDD’s singles continue to find their way to listeners’ playlists for more than a decade already—no small feat, given that tons upon tons of new content is fed to the 21st century audience. “If we get that stuff right, then one song could pretty much define the zeitgeist of a generation, and that’s a great contribution to society that nobody can take away from a craftsman,” she says. Contemporary pop love songs are given more space to be fluid, and so the writer is allowed to be. In this age, rules are just a guideline. “I spend more time in refining the form and arrangement. Structure is always a challenge for me,” says Coeli. Maybe that’s why

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To dissect and deconstruct the anatomy of a modern love song, is to understand its songwriter. her music works. She, as a writer, may wrestle with a certain mold, but it continues to come out unbridled and unapologetically her. UDD’s writing style often steps out of the familiar Manila Sound formulation as well, and so it’s interesting to note how their music is so well-received in the mainstream. “Paalis at pabalik / May baong yakap at suklian ng halik / Magpapaalam at magsisisi / Habang papiglas ka ako sa‘yo ay tatabi,” goes their 2006 song “Indak.” Its lyrics flow continuously, breaking free from the verse-chorus alternation that fits the mold of a garden-variety pop song. Sonically, the song registers like a push and pull, much like its narrative. The instrumental’s rhythm is almost tangible, the ebb and flow urging its listener to move in sync with its palpable inertia. It feels almost as if UDD writes from their own world, but instead of abandoning their songs’ intricacies for simpler tunes, people follow suit like orbits. UDD is one of the music groups that sounded the foghorn for a new pop landscape. As they had shown, there was no more need to pander to factory-like standards to gain a following. In turn, one could also assume that it is the listeners who have evolved to be more accepting of something that’s a little different. Different, in contrast to the two extremes of the dramatics of kundiman and the gimmicks of Manila Sound, can be something as simple as sincerity—but at a gut-wrenching level, of course. Diary-confessional songwriting first found its audience with the mainstream in the 2000s. In its first decade, the pop charts of local music channel Myx was saturated with records from the likes of Kitchie Nadal and Hale. Looking

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back at songs like “Same Ground” and “The Day You Said Good Night,” the given structure of a pop song was there, but the words carried with it a severe dose of heartache. This transparent vulnerability has carried onto current music. “My music is raw and honest,” says Coeli when asked to describe her sound. “My emotions are amplified a hundred times within myself. There’s always a need for me to let it out.” This kind of soul-baring seems to mark the recent crop of indie folk acts: Ethereal yet intimate, but never abrasive— like a fresh, green pocket of humanity that is protected from, or maybe stays curiously naive about, the harsher realities in the world. Argee Guerrero, the mind behind solo folk project I Belong To The Zoo, has himself reached sincerity to a breaking point. “It was hard for me to finish the songs because I ended up breaking down during the songwriting and the recording for the demos,” he says about his experience writing “Pity Party” and “Before You.” “I just find it exhausting sometimes because of my emotions,” says Coeli. Vulnerability seems to be a price paid by today’s songwriters. It’s a delicate balance to strike, honesty and impersonality. Armi says, “The most difficult songs to write about are situations I cannot personally relate to, or songs I can relate to too much.” Honed by years of experience, she has the skill of a veteran. Younger songwriters like Coeli are still on their way to acquiring this. “I’m currently learning to know when to step into [being in touch with my emotions] and when to step out. It’s not healthy to always be out of control.” Argee’s tactic is to detach his lyrics from particular details. “The hardest part about

songwriting,” he muses, “is trying to hide certain specifics [like street names, locations, etc.] so as not to disclose whom I’m writing about.” Sincerity, to the point of pushing personal boundaries, reveals itself as the common thread. Anything less than the god-honest truth can evidently be sniffed out. “’Yung ibang mga ‘hugot’ parang wala namang pinaghuhugutan,” observes Shirebound and Busking’s Iego Tan, who writes the way a poet would write a confessional in his journal. Iego’s music banks on the power of its words, in true poetic fashion. “Alamat lang ba ang pahinga ng dalawang puyat sa / Pira-pirasong mga bugtong, nagtatanong / Sagot ay ’di mahalaga / sapat na sa ’king nariyan ka.” The melody cradles each verse as Iego performs the song with the help of a lone piano. “Paumanhin, paumanhin, salat sa kasanayang linawin.” The lyrics sound almost like a secret whispered to a lover under the sheets, and yet here it is, out in the open for all to hear. And we eat it all up. Maybe in a climate where the truth is so often sanitized, selectively presented through filters and screens, we crave sincerity. Technology can be so devoid of soul at times. These screens feel cold to the touch, and so we long for a raw piece of humanity. To dissect and deconstruct the anatomy of a modern love song is to understand its songwriter, which might be why we’re so drawn to understand their stories. It is an elusive authenticity, one that allows us to navigate our own internal turmoil. No wonder then, that while we clutch closely our unsorted feelings, we willingly sway to these songs in time.

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Singaporean singer-songwriter Charlie Lim may just have the right idea on how to elevate the Southeast Asian music scene (if it even exists)

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Charlie Lim has a lot to say, given that you know what to ask. When he talks, you can see his mind light up from the way he thinks over each statement thrown at him. He edits what he says as he speaks, and you can see his measured approach to a certain subject by the way he talks about it at length. He doesn’t just appear careful: He’s also filled with wonder, like he’s getting insights as quickly as he gathers his thoughts. It’s a visible process. His introversion may seem to be in contrast to his musicality, but in actuality, they work hand in hand. Charlie Lim’s 2016 album Time/Space is a record checkered with emotional lyrics and falsettos—a vulnerable doozy. For his latest release Check-Hook he replaces the strings for a drumbeat, but his take on electronic music still carries the same emotional depth. His well-received discography, success through the years, and notable performances in popular festivals and concerts should earn him a spot in our pop culture consciousness. But why isn’t he a household name yet? Is there something wrong with how he is being promoted, or is the market for singer-songwriters already saturated? Or is it something systemic? He might have the answers himself. You’ve been making music for quite some time now. My last album was called Time/Space, and it took about three years to make. It’s a very singer-songwriter style album that took a lot out of me, so I needed time to go away, recharge, rethink, and sort of challenge myself again. This new album is quite different in terms of production and arrangement. At the end of the day, I’m still a singer-songwriter, I can play my songs on guitar and piano. But I really like to challenge myself on the production level as well as the arrangement level, so a lot of the songs use a lot of dance music tropes and kind of subverts them. In a way, it’s kind of like my take on dance music. I always say it’s like dance music but for people like me who don’t go to clubs. So yeah, it’s something like that. I just… I wanted to hear [this kind of music], but it wasn’t really out there. What are your thoughts on how you’re being received in Singapore? Do you agree with being called Singapore’s greatest local musician? No, I absolutely don’t take that seriously. It’s never about you. You know, you’re only as good as the people you work with, the people behind you. I’m just… I don't know, I’ve been very blessed to be in the position where I can just make the music I want to make and not worry about pandering to people. To be respected, to be in that position, like, that’s a real blessing and privilege. I don’t think much about what my place is in the music

Kind of blue by Lex Celera scene in Singapore, in Southeast Asia so much. I just want to keep doing what I do and hopefully, people like it, you know? What’s your definition of success when it comes to being an artist? Since you mentioned you don’t really care much about how you’re received. I think it would be dishonest to say that I don’t care what people think or, you know, that external validation doesn’t make me feel better. Like, everybody wants validation or fame to some extent. But to trust it for more than what it’s worth—that’s a bit dangerous, I suppose. I think success is just being able to do what I love at a very high level and to keep improving in my craft. I don’t think anybody ever arrives or makes it, to be honest. I think you just keep at it, and if you’re able to sustain yourself with people that you respect, then… If I get to travel the world and play to new audiences, I think that would be really nice. What’s the music scene like in Singapore? We’re a very young country with a very small population, unlike places like Manila or Indonesia. But at the same time, we’re very connected, I guess. [We’re all] very supportive, even though the genres of music might be quite different. There’s definitely been a growth spike over the last maybe 10, five years alone, I’d say. There’s also a bit of government support for original music to be enjoyed now, which is nice. We have more venues to play original music, and bigger festivals are letting local bands and regional bands play smaller stages and open for international artists, so that definitely helps boost the profile of bands, gives them more exposure. So I think there’s no better time to do music or, you know, original content than now, especially with technology and everything being so interconnected. I also think, because we’re such a young country, we’re still struggling to find our own sound. But that’s something not worth worrying about because you just do it and then a sound gets formed.

Photography by RENZ MART REYES Styling by OLIVER EMOCLING Grooming by JANICA BALASOLLA Clothes by CARL JAN CRUZ

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14 profile

It would be a bit contrived, I think, to just go, “Oh, I want to sound Singaporean,” or “I want to create a Singaporean sound.” I don’t think that’s how it happens. For me, you can only probably recognize [the sound of a place] after a period of time has passed. Are you familiar with artists based in the Philippines? When I first came here in 2012, my friend Carlos Castaño brought me around and introduced me to a few local bands. He’s a singer-songwriter himself, I think he’s in a couple of bands, so everyone’s really just talented here. I think that’s one thing that Manila—the Philippines—is definitely renowned for everywhere: really good musicianship. I think we in Singapore really look up to you guys. That’s good to hear. You found out about these artists through personal recommendations or by actually being here. And then on our side, we find out about artists from other countries through streaming services, which, you know, are always about the Top 40 hits. It’s always in these top charts where we find out mostly about these Western artists, these American or European artists. What I’m getting at is that in Southeast Asia, we don’t really have much interaction. Is that just me or am I being naive? What do you think? No, not at all. I think what you’re getting at is a very big topic to unpack. It’s not just about music or content, because there is definitely good content coming out of Southeast Asia, right? But at the end of the day, there’s a huge machine behind what drives culture, what happens in Hollywood, that kind of just trickles down. The soft power of the US or the UK can’t be underestimated [in how] so much of that dictates the way we consume music or even the way we make music. I grew up with Western pop, even though I’m Chinese-Singaporean. Maybe in some sense, we are trapped in this system that the West has created, because it has this very strong sense of identity and

this very strong machinery behind the whole system. But then again, there’s more and more attention being given, a few spotlights thrown here and there on Asian artists. You could argue that, you know, it’s a big community, or it’s a matter of tokenism and all that, but we need to take baby steps. All we can do is try to make the best content that we can. And whether it’s a gimmick or we’re just trying to gain attention, at the end of the day, it’s a very tough industry—which is why when you ask me about success, it’s scary. If you base success on validation alone or how famous you are, it becomes a slippery slope because you have to play so many games or jump through so many hoops to get to a point that you think is successful or at a level with some of these Western artists, right? I’m not saying that, you know, we shouldn’t [strive for] it, but we have to understand that there are many variables involved and the odds are against us. So why play their game? That’s what I ask. I think we can be inspired by what they do, but we shouldn’t be discouraged by [the existing system]. It’d be easy to be discouraged, but let’s not be… that’s why we got to support each other. How can we support each other? Coming from my perspective as a listener, I don’t necessarily know what’s going on in Singapore, in Indonesia, and in all these other Southeast Asian countries. The fact is there’s no platform for these interactions to happen. But it starts from somewhere. I mean, the fact that we’re having this interview now is amazing. I’m from Singapore, and I’m doing an interview here now in Makati at nine in the morning on a Saturday. Thanks, guys. To me, that’s probably unheard of 10, 20 years ago, you know? The fact that we’re in our 20s, 30s doing this here and sticking it to the man—that’s really very encouraging. And the younger generation, even they will look at this and go, “Oh, they’ve done that, we can do it, too. We can push it even further.” So we just need to have faith. And we might not see it or, you know, reap the results that we hope to see in our lifetime, but we just need to have the faith that what we do will pave the way for more people. I think also we’re such an impatient generation. We’re just built for instant gratification. I’m definitely guilty of it. It’s probably important to just take a step back sometimes and remember that things take time.

“Maybe in some sense, we are trapped in this system that the West has created, because it has this very strong sense of identity and this very strong machinery behind the whole system.”

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16 fashion

Fallin g

Photography by RENZO NAVARRO Styling by VINCE CRISOSTOMO Makeup by APPLE FARAON of MAC COSMETICS Hair by JANICA BALASOLLA

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RANDOLF rashguards, MIGUEL MANZANERO pants, stylist’s own scarves, models’ own shoes

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ON KEVIN: RANDOLF rashguard, MIGUEL MANZANERO coat, jacket, and trousers ON JV: RANDOLF dress, LIBREA bag

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ON JV: RANDOLF top, dress, and stockings ON KEVIN: ROD MALANAO jumpsuit

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fashion 21

ON KEVIN: RANDOLF jacket and sweater, ROD MALANAO pants ON JV: ROD MALANAO top and pants, LIBREA bag

WHERE TO GET RANDOLF, randolfclothing.com MIGUEL MANZANERO, miguelmanzanero.com ROD MALANAO, rodmalanao@gmail.com LIBREA, instagram.com/libreaaa

feat. KEVIN and JV Shot on location at LAS CASAS QUEZON CITY

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Internet lovers

LEX CELERA calls back to an era before social media, when the internet wasn’t a frightful place and love between strangers online was possible I moved households a few times when I was younger: from my birthplace, Baguio, to the heart of Manila, the coastal part of Cavite, and to a suburb in Bacoor. While some homes felt more familiar than others, I had distinct memories of each. Most of them involved friends. I grew up with the thought that each time we’d move, I’d never see the same set of friends ever again. Sometimes the pangs of being free to visit each place would enter my mind, and I thought it would be a good idea—until the time that I actually attempted to do it. I realized that I could never really return to the homes I had lived in, because they will never be exactly the same as I left them, or vice versa.

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essay 23

Everything was much more innocent back then. Is it strange to hold on to something as mundane as conversations with internet strangers? Did the conversations mean anything to them as much as they do to you? I felt the same way when talking to strangers on the internet. It didn’t matter that we might not be able to talk again. It felt exciting to live in the ephemeral and the anonymous. The first time I had a memorable conversation on the internet was on the official Eragon website circa 2006. As part of its promotional campaign, the fantasy novel series-turned-box-office-flop had this great idea of hosting a website where people who clicked on the same things would fall in the same chatroom, two people at a time. I never was a fan of Eragon, so I don’t remember the specific things I had to do to “match” with someone (the system had something to do with virtues and dragon eggs?), but after a few minutes, there I was, saying my first hello. “Hi,” the person on the other end said. So went a good 30 minutes of our talking about where we’re from (she was from Adelaide), how old we were (I was two years younger), a little bit about the books we’d read (she couldn’t believe I hadn’t read Eragon yet), and then on about how we lived and how it was where we are. Questions you normally wouldn’t ask to someone you haven’t met in person yet. But this was the time of the wild internet, where everything was in an amorphous state, and you never knew if you would end up ever meeting IRL, let alone talk again. Not on this platform. I felt that we were both afraid to give away too much, in case the person on the other end of the line would turn out to be a total creep, but we were also too trusting to become anyone else than who we were. She said goodbye, I closed the window, and that was that. Before social media, the thought of keeping in touch with strangers online for me could only happen in video games. I used to play Endless Online, a janky fantasy online role-playing game that was already outdated even then. It was one of the few games my PC could handle, and with only a few thousand players at the time, it wasn’t that hard to end up striking a conversation with someone. I remember joining a Facebooklike social media platform designed for kids called Matmice, and by the time I shifted to Ragnarok Online, I had joined Friendster and then Facebook. I was about to graduate high school when the Facebook craze started. People treated it the same way they did Friendster: adding strangers and posting on each other’s walls. Poking was still a thing. Everything was

innocent. I don’t remember how it happened, but I ended up becoming an admin of one of those corny Facebook pages that were named after statements. As admins, we treated it like a blog, asking questions and just talking about our day under code names. You know how it goes. We were all in our early teens, curious, young, filled with pubescent angst. Let’s call her M. She’s also from the Philippines, a few months younger than I was, and we liked the same things. That was enough. Very shortly after we met online, she moved to Canada. I would wake up early just to talk to her. She became a constant, and I became her internet boyfriend. To ask about each other’s day every day was enough to send me to the moon and back. I downloaded Skype so we could see each other’s faces for the first time. I’d tell her about the music I listened to and she’d tell me about her struggle to adapt to the cold. I told her I wish I could hold her hands to make them warm. The yearning to meet IRL felt stronger every time we would talk, and when our Skype calls would be filled with dead air, the thought of being with her filled my mind. It burned my heart—or at least it felt like it. Blame it on the hormones. The thought of never being able to meet as internet lovers played a big part in why we broke up. It was a crazy setup in the beginning, one that was never made to last. She ended up dating someone in her area, and I focused on college. But memory on the internet doesn’t work like ours. Every website that we have ever visited, every link that we have clicked, every interaction we’ve ever made online, is recorded. Everything we have ever done is stored in a server connected to all of the servers that make up the network of the internet. The memory of what happens can never be distorted, because what is there will always be there. When I close my eyes, I am reminded of how lonely I really am. How lonely all of us are, despite living together with billions of people. Living in the 21st century, the world may feel as if it were getting smaller and smaller and smaller because of technology, but in truth, the distance is just the same. True connections can be made over the internet, but nothing feels better than having a face to see or a hand to hold. We remained Facebook friends, and after a few years we ended up talking again. There was a pattern: Every six months, we would

catch up via Facebook Messenger, updating each other on what’s going on with our lives. We would share our college woes, and would always wander into the same question: “Are you dating anyone?” Oddly enough, sometimes, she would say yes, sometimes I would say yes, but never both of us at the same time. Of course, I could just check her profile. But I wanted to hear it from her. As the internet found its anchors and became an integral part of everyday life, the connections I’ve made with people via the internet solidified and also translated into real life. The Facebook page community of a decade past is now found in the interest-based Facebook groups of today. Online dating was always and still is a big business, with not just websites but also dating apps available. Meeting online friends IRL, I would argue, has never been safer since the default anonymity of previous platforms is long gone. Which makes the relationships that were made before that much more valuable to me. But back to M. The oddest, craziest thing happened last year: After a few missed attempts to meet in person whenever she would visit the Philippines, a family trip to Canada brought me to her town. Without giving all the details to my parents, I snuck out of the day’s itinerary to meet her. You think you know someone, given the years you’ve talked, but it’s really different when you see each other in real life. We went to one of her favorite restaurants, her university, and an indie bookstore. She was the only thing familiar in a foreign place. But we both knew I had to leave. In the hotel lobby of where my family was staying, I told her we would see each other again. I don’t think she believed me. Despite all of it, I think eight years after we fell in and out of our idea of love was the perfect time to meet. We were on different sides of the world and for one day, our roads in life intersected. Sometimes that’s enough. Sometimes that’s all we can get. Life on the internet can be one big party that doesn’t end, and sometimes you will find yourself looking at the people you miss out of pure subconscious desire. Everything was much more innocent back then. Is it strange to hold on to something as mundane as conversations with internet strangers? Did the conversations mean anything to them as much as they do to you? Was it love? Maybe these aren’t the right questions to ask. Maybe they weren’t meant to have answers.

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Where this flo

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2019’s most dynamic love team reveals a reassuring message of love that trumps the anxieties of kids today

wer blooms

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ON MAYMAY: BALENCIAGA dress ON EDWARD: PALM ANGELS jacket

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cover story 27

Deep down, everyone wants to be famous. By famous, I mean: celebrated, notable, rich but also: well-liked, important, respected. If you look far enough at the traces of celebrities’ online activity, you would see a glimpse of their struggles and hopes. Chance the Rapper used to be one of many “internet rappers” linking their work on YouTube videos. In 2011, Tyler, the Creator tweeted raw musings of “getting big” outside his circle. For someone to rise to fame, someone has to want it bad enough. To dream. At a time when anyone can rise to fame via 24-hour Instagram stories, overnight memes, and daily (if not hourly) posts, Andy Warhol’s theory of 15-minute fame has never been more palpable. But while his fixation on the superficial glamorous lives of the famous personalities he had interacted with fits right in with the current celebrity and influencer culture, today’s celebs experience everything at double the speed, framed within a meme-heavy, clickbait-driven media. As fast as a lot of them have risen to prominence, so many of them have also faded to obscurity just as quickly; 15 minutes have never felt so short. In the Philippines, the dream to make it big is the same. See: Maymay Entrata, 21, and Edward Barber, 18, who ended up together in the Teen Edition of Pinoy Big Brother Lucky Season 7 in 2016. Maymay had auditioned for other shows before ending up in PBB, with the goal of helping her family, while Edward was scouted by a television network representative in Germany; at the time, he was looking for an opportunity to pad up his university application. Both their stories are relatable to the Pinoy audience. Now, Maymay and Edward—MayWard to their fans—form one of the few famous love teams today that are highly visible not just on television but also in movies, in print media, and on billboards, known in almost every household in the country. They have a loyal following of uberfans tracking their every move and making sure their names continue to trend online. Their latest film, Fantastica, came in first in the 2018 Metro Manila Film Festival in terms of gross sales. It’s easy to see why their chemistry has earned them the adoration of their fans. They complement each other well. Maymay’s comedic flair and easygoing personality can make her easily warm up to anyone, and Edward’s boyish looks make him the perfect candidate for everyone’s Internet Boyfriend, especially when he muses about the simplest things in a way only teenage boys can. Individually, their respective appeal is apparent at first glance; together, they have an energy that’s both entertaining and invigorating. The way they talk makes it seem as if they have a telepathic understanding of each other, with the way they build on each other’s sentences fluidly. While Maymay draws people in with humor, Edward drives the point home with a short soliloquy that usually ends in a strong statement. After Maymay shared how she’s currently working on building her dream house and helping her family, Edward closes by saying, “Gawin mo lang ’yung best mo at Siya na bahala.” After first meeting each other inside the Big Brother house, they overcame the initial language barrier between them through gestures. And it still feels easier that way, they joke. Now, they mostly converse

in Filipino, though Maymay still relies on gestures and Edward tends to over-explain. It’s a system that works. “We talk without having to speak,” he concludes. Three years into being celebrities, both admit that the fame still feels unreal and that they never thought they would be where they are right now. After Maymay won their PBB season, the two found themselves guesting for the Sunday variety show ASAP every weekend—and discovered themselves being hailed as artistas before they even realized it. Maymay remembers asking, “Weh, ’di nga?” when fans first rushed to get a selfie with her, just as she was also rushing to get a selfie with Kim Chiu.

“The weight of the world is love,” wrote Allan Ginsberg in his poem “Song.” Joan Didion, in her book The Year of Magical Thinking, said of love, “A single person is missing for you, and the whole world is empty.” True love,” according to The Little Prince, “begins when nothing is looked for in return.” In 1 Corinthians 13:4: “Love is patient, love is kind.” Maymay quotes the same biblical verse when asked what love is. As for Edward, he pauses and thinks about it for a good minute. “I’m 18 years old. I want to give a good answer but I can’t.” He then attempts to explain that there are different kinds of love, and that the “strongest love comes from above,” before finally settling on the word “sacrifice.” When asked if they were together, Maymay makes a funny face and answers with another question: “Ano po ba ’yung nakikita ninyo? What you see [is] what you get.” So no, they are not romantically involved, but their relationship is more complex, more precious: as soulmates. Edward claimed it first in an interview at Tonight With Boy Abunda. “Hindi naman parang fairy tale na soulmates, na nakita na namin ’yung kaluluwa ng isa’t isa nung bata pa kami,” Maymay says. “Naramdaman lang namin. Dahil sa pagka-opposite namin, madami kaming natutunan sa isa’t isa.” “You never know if you’re soulmates [with someone] or not,” Edward adds. “You don’t base it on looks. You don’t base it on experience. It’s not something that you build up to; it’s something that’s there already. And I find myself lucky.” “Malalaman na lang nilang hindi kami soulmates ’pag hindi na nila ako nakikita sa TV,” Maymay quips, laughing. “At first glance, we’re very different individually. Together we manage to express more than just individuals,” Edward says. All the soulmate talk isn’t about them trying to fool anyone. If anything, their message of love is an authentic reflection of who they are: their love for family, God, and their craft. Both stress that being in front of a camera has made them appreciate the effort that goes into the shows that they themselves watch and love as fans, especially the effort of the people working off-screen.

Words by Lex Celera Photography by BJ PASCUAL Styling by QUAYN PEDROSO Makeup by OWEN SARMIENTO Grooming by AIMEE GREY Hair by RUDOLF DAVALOS

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ON MAYMAY: ACNE STUDIOS shirt and pants, CHRIS DIAZ gloves, RANROE platform sandals ON EDWARD: MARTINE ROSE jersey shirt, A COLD WALL pants, RANROE sandals

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“You never know if you’re soulmates [with someone] or

not,” Edward adds. “You don’t base it on looks. You don’t

base it on experience. It’s not something that you build up to;

it’s something that’s there already. And I find myself lucky.”

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ON MAYMAY: COMME DES GARÇONS shirt, BALENCIAGA pants ON EDWARD: CHRIS DIAZ shirt

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cover story 31 And of course, there is their love for their fans. “I don’t want to compare, but I think we have the best fans out of everyone here,” Edward says. “They’re the best because they can read us. They know when we’re tired or not. They can read us like a book. They know when not to react to bad things on social media, which is a very hard thing to do. I’m so grateful.” The world of young celebrities isn’t all fun and glamour, despite what images in social media tell. They wrestle with finding their place in the world in the same time that they aim to rise through the ranks of show business. To quote Rust from True Detective: “Time is a flat circle. Everything we have done or will do, we will do over and over and over again, forever.” What can we do to stand out if there are no more original ideas? The youth face pressure coming at them from all fronts in real time because of how connected they are online, and being a young celebrity is to have that pressure magnified 10 times. MayWard’s struggles are the same ones every young celebrity faces the moment they break the mold and start coping with what is demanded of them, but so far, neither have experienced any career-ending mishaps nor social media nightmares. “Before, every day felt like 48 hours; now, it just feels like two,” Edward says. It took them a month after PBB had ended to finally get a break, but Maymay says it took her a year before the pace of showbiz sank in for her. Their way of responding to the pressure is not with the easy route of jadedness but with love: one that remains open and innocent. Through the littlest, subtlest ways, MayWard’s love—the fearless kind—conquers all.

WHERE TO GET ÁRAW and EAIRTH, Tropa Store ACNE STUDIOS, Homme et Femme, Shangri-La Plaza Mall BERSHKA, SM Megamall BALENCIAGA, Homme et Femme Aguirre MARTINE ROSE and PALM ANGELS, Univers COMME DES GARÇON, One Rockwell CHRIS DIAZ, chrisdiazdesigns@gmail.com RANROE, facebook.com/ranroeofficial REMAKE THE STORE, remakethestore.com

ON MAYMAY:ÁRAW romper, REMAKE THE STORE earrings, BERSHKA bandana ON EDWARD: EAIRTH shirt, REMAKE THE STORE pearl strands

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A vision they shared

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feature 33

Amsterdam-based all-female fashion collective Reconstruct Collective talks about what can be achieved when people work together Reconstruct Collective is a young Dutch allgirl fashion collective who teamed up after finding out that their school wouldn’t fund their graduation show. They produced their first fashion show through the help of crowdfunding, and two and a half years later, their designs have made their way to New York Fashion Week for the second time. Their body of work is a harmonious, versatile blend of functional sportswear centered on a very DIY spirit. All of their clothes are unisex and involve a lot of fabric manipulation that allows them to be reversed or interchanged to great effect. When she visited relatives in the Philippines last December, Reconstruct co-founder Alyssa Groeneveld told us more about the frenetic energy their collective carries while shooting some choice pieces from their collections. i-D described Reconstruct as “extraterrestrial.” Does that idea apply to all of your collections? The interview with i-D [came after] we had released a collection based on outer space. That’s why they said it like that. We are from a country where fashion isn’t really a focus. In a way, yes, we are doing it ourselves. People [who want to get into fashion] have to do it themselves or go to another country. We just graduated and we were super broke, and because we got the opportunity to start our own brand, we thought that if we put all our strengths together, we’d be really strong. Since we’re doing it our own way, we’re different from other designers. No offense, though; we look up to them.

Some of Reconstruct’s designs deal with already existing pieces. What’s Reconstruct’s approach to design? How do you determine what you want? Reconstruct isn’t just a state of mind. [With] how we reconstruct materials, we also thought it would be cool to show brands what we can do for them. We first started with Converse as we know someone who works there; it ended really well. We want to do it with more and more brands, especially with their overstock. That’s usually what we go for. Working together with other brands can work really well [for them] in making new context. Is it intentional that Reconstruct is comprised of all women? I think it’s meant to be, but also all of the boys dropped out of our class. Most designers are men, and we’re really happy to add more diversity. Do you have any insight on how Reconstruct works so well as a collective? We actually started with nine people, then three people left. We are aware that it can be difficult, because we’ve been through so much. We trust people, and I think that’s the main point of working together. We all have different roles in the company. We let everyone do their job. We don’t involve ourselves in each other’s tasks. Do you have any general tips for fashion brands who also have the same dreams as Reconstruct? Just believe in yourself; that’s what we did. We didn’t know how to run our own company, but working together was the key. We all have different strengths: One of us is really good with textiles, another is really good with marketing. With the strengths together, you also really need to be confident. Having a network—connecting people—is also key. You meet a lot of people, and you shouldn’t be scared. Just dare yourself and make the best out of it. And you also need quality to show, of course.

“We are from a country where fashion isn’t really a focus. In a way, yes, we are doing it ourselves.”

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Photography by JP TALAPIAN Styling by EARL DIGNOS Hair and makeup by JANICA BALASOLLA

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reconstruct.nl, instagram.com/reconstruct.collective

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36 feature

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38 culture

In the time of dating apps, sexual fluidity, and brief encounters, what does it mean to be in love?

Love galore

Love is known as a powerful emotion. As sociologist Zygmunt Bauman wrote in the book Liquid Love, “To love means opening up to that fate, that most sublime of all human conditions, one in which fear blends with joy into an alloy that no longer allows its ingredients to separate.” Meanwhile, the philosopher Søren Kierkegaard believed that love is universal. “Those who think they can love only the people they prefer do not love at all. Love discovers truths about individuals that others cannot see,” he said. In 2019, Bauman and Kierkegaard’s words speak of a truth about love. With various forms and channels of love, its shapelessness has become even more apparent. This concept of love, as we discover in these interviews, isn't easily accepted. But the fact remains: Love is love.

GERALD AND LAKAN Interview by Jelou Galang

“I’m telling the story because I do storytelling better than Gerald,” Lakan, who goes by the nickname Kan, confesses. The two met in a fated scene, something that could have come straight out of a teen movie: They had the same route going home. Took the same jeepney. Traffic was heavy, so it was the perfect time for some music. Kan fished out his earphones—and shared them with Gerald. “Now, I share my life with him, charot!” Kan wasn’t out back then, and hadn’t fully realized yet what he wanted. But there was one thing certain: He knew he wanted Gerald. Three years and three months of being together later, they’re glad their serendipitous meeting happened. Before deciding on this relationship, what were the things you thought about? Were you certain about pursuing this relationship? Gerald: Before, I was concerned with how much I would commit to this relationship, because I am not used to having serious ones. I didn’t care much about what others, most especially my family, would think of me. Kan: I had just recently come out when Gerald and I started dating exclusively. I was terribly

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GERALD and LAKAN

unhappy denying and hiding my true self before, so I was determined to find a guy who was ready to go steady. Back then, Gerald wasn’t the type of guy who would settle down in a serious relationship. So no, I wasn’t certain about him at the start. But I still wanted to see where things would go because I have a thing for huggable guys. How do you spend time with each other? Gerald and Kan: We decided to live together just last year. Our special moments are shared in the small things: buying groceries, cooking our baon, hitting the gym, telling each other about our days after a long day’s work, and watching our favorite series on Netflix. I’d say we’ve become domesticated. What should people know about the kind of relationship you have? Gerald and Kan: It’s the same as any other loving, caring, and understanding relationship.

We face the same challenges and issues and triumph over them. There’s no special treatment; there are just two people in love. What is love? Gerald: Love is always a choice. Every day you make the choice to love someone and stand by [that choice] no matter what. Kan: Love is selflessness. There’s love when you consciously put someone else first before yourself. How would you define commitment? Kan: Commitment is a mindset where you think of yourselves as a team. You recognize that you’re always on the same side even when things are dark. You work on problems together. What do you look forward to in your relationship for the months or years to come? Gerald and Kan: We look forward to building a life together: save up for a home, get married,

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“Straight couples don’t see it, but it is a privilege to walk in public without being ridiculed and publicly humiliated.”

and hopefully have kids. We’re looking forward to the ups and downs of our relationship throughout our journey. And we’re looking forward to becoming one of those old couples who would still be holding hands while walking down the street, with their bald heads and weak knees, forever in love and always together.

DANA AND RIZZA

Interview by Oliver Emocling In today’s setting, Dana and Rizza’s first meeting was, in many ways, typical. They found each other on Tinder. Rizza says she accidentally swiped right on Dana and had, in fact, ignored her first messages. “She made me wait for three hours per message,” Dana quips. But after a few exchanges, Dana convinced Rizza to go on a date with her at the Mind Museum. And as they say, the rest is history. The couple have been together for almost two years, but it has never been easy. What was your first impression of each other? Rizza: I thought Dana was a philosophy professor and a liberal arts nerd. She was taking up law then and doing yoga three times a day. Her aura was light and she looked joyful. Dana: When I saw her on Tinder, I always knew that a traveler like her would always have stimulating opinions about relevant issues; I was not wrong. She also looked condescending. What do you like most about your relationship? And about each other? Rizza: Dana is funny and confident. Sometimes, it can be intimidating. One of her craziest traits is that she’s fun to be around with, because she loves spewing out these crazy and brilliant ideas about her work and how she will conquer the world. Dana: My grandparents always say that I should be with someone whom I can talk to every single day without being fed up. They explained that old couples cannot do long walks or do a lot of activities anymore, so a day would normally be filled with interesting conversations. I took this to heart and fortunately found someone who

loves thought-provoking conversations. Every dinner time, Rizza and I tackle how our day went. Her silence is also comforting, and I know that when she's around, I can rest well. Do you think people are more tolerant of queer relationships now? Rizza: I believe people are more tolerant now than before. Dana: At least in our circle, we are not just tolerated but accepted and loved. I can say that yes, they are kinder now. What one thing do you wish people would know about the type of relationship you have? Rizza: As we all know, some kids are still struggling to come out of the closet. Straight couples don’t see it, but it is a privilege to walk in public without being ridiculed and publicly humiliated. The type of relationship that we have has existed for a long time. I think LGBT+ couples want acknowledgement and the same treatment as our heterosexual peers have. Dana: I hope that people would understand that LGBT+ relationships are not all about wanting to have babies, getting married legally, or an endless debate on whether or not we know we’re going to hell. Beyond the legalities and spiritualities, we want to share our lives with the people we choose to spend it with and to love freely. I had to come out to my parents, grandparents, and relatives in different occasions and lucky for me, my family chose to abandon judgment, hate, and bigotry. People don't understand that our families also sacrificed their time and exerted effort to fully accept, understand, and love the kind of people we the LGBT+ are. [With others] accepting the type of relationship we have, it also lifts a huge weight from our families’ shoulders. This question is more for Dana. You used to be part of a church denomination. If you don’t mind me asking, do you still have the same faith as before? If it has changed, what has changed and why? What do you believe in now? Dana: The expression of my faith has been different ever since I left my church. I still love my God but some of the people who serve Him have an alternative approach towards the LGBT+ community. This approach made me feel like a special project. I tried to be open regarding my sexuality and faith, but it just won't work if there are people who would constantly feel unsentimental or distressed about the kind of person that I am. Without this experience, I wouldn’t have had the same courage to explore spiritualities that had intrigued me before. What is love? Rizza: Love is more than just uncontrollable emotions or feelings. Love needs to have commitment and kindness for it to grow. It’s more than just breakfast on Sundays: It has to accept what lies outside your comfort zone. Dana: Love is choosing the person every day. It is never about the fleeting emotions. A relationship manages to stay strong through its commitment to love.

DANA and RIZZA

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40 culture

CAI AND EVYN

Interview by Jelou Galang Cai and Evyn met at a rooftop bar. It wasn’t a planned date. Cai was there to see another girl. But when Evyn asked her for a cigarette and they started talking about books and socio-economic issues, she thought Cai was someone special. Evyn thought their connection was meant only for a day, but they matched on Bumble about nine months later. “I don’t want to say it was fate, but the universe has a way of giving you what you ask for, and I knew I wasn’t going to let her slip away again,” Evyn says. How do you identify yourselves individually? Cai: I would describe myself as greatly passionate and ambitious. More than that, I see myself as always striving to learn from anything and anyone I come across. I’d also say I’m pretty outgoing and friendly. Evyn: I identify as me. I’m not really into labels. On the Kinsey scale, I’m a 4: predominantly homosexual, but more than incidentally heterosexual. Before deciding on having this relationship, what were the things you thought about? Were you mostly certain in pursuing this relationship? Cai: To be completely honest, I've known I was bisexual since I was in the fifth grade. Growing up, I always hindered myself from getting romantically involved with another woman because I didn't want to have to face the hardships that come with that. I'd sleep with some girls here and there, but I never let it get too far because of that fear of adding more issues to my already dramatic life. However, Evyn turned out to be someone who fits extremely well with me. We jumped into this pretty quickly, but what we always tell each other is that it feels right. It doesn't always feel good, but it feels right. I wasn't certain about pursuing this relationship but as every day passes, I feel that sense of just knowing—when you know, you know. You can't necessarily explain it, but you feel as though you just know. Evyn: Just finding someone who could understand me and allow me to understand them. No real expectations. From the moment we let each other in, it wasn’t about anything other than us: Two souls that just get each other and find ways to make it work despite any obstacles. There are definitely cultural differences, different family dynamics, and other things that may affect a normal relationship, but we understand each other and we listen well. We are able to just talk things out and make it work. It was never a question about what I needed to be certain about; I was always certain that I liked this person and that she understood me on that deeper level. When you connect like that, certainty isn’t a factor. You’re already in it. What should people know about the kind of relationship you have? Cai: We’ve got a whole lot of differences, from cultural to generational. I think one thing that makes us work is that we found a deeper connection because of those differences. If there is anything I'd like anyone to know about our relationship, it’s that finding common ground amid differences is foundational in forging a relationship that both challenges you and brings you forward. Evyn: It’s not perfect, and that’s the beauty in it. It’s not supposed to be. We take the time

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to understand one another and embrace the differences that bring us closer. Is it scary to date someone different from yourself and what you are used to? Yes, of course, but the benefits of growing and learning new things with someone that you are just naturally drawn to is unlike any other boring average experience. Never judge a book by its cover. For you, what is love? Cai: Love transcends. It transcends norms, boundaries, and hard-set ideas. It challenges your beliefs. It tests your limits. Love is a transcendental phenomenon that is powerful enough to go against the flow of custom and convention. Evyn: Giving someone unconditional access to your mind and heart at all times, even when you don’t feel like it. Being part of something greater than yourself and living for that journey. Forgiveness, graciousness, and patience at the highest level. To quote the best girl group of all time, I see love as [what happens] when “two become one.”

CAI and EVYN

RY AND KAIA

Interview by Jelou Galang The song “Sunflower” by Rex Orange County started to play as I began talking to Ry and Kaia inside a coffee shop along Pedro Gil. Right then and there, I knew they were best friends. Everything was easy: banter, eye rolls, light slaps, and endearments. After 10 months of being together, they know the right words to say, and often complete each other’s statements. They still have a long way to go to be completely settled with the universe, but so far, what matters is they are looking forward to it. How did it start? Can you tell us a bit of a background story? Ry: Actually, through the UP Manila Musicians’ Organization. We met during the first general assembly where the applicants were included, because we were both applicants that time. We became friends because of the band. How would you define love? Ry: You can say love is a feeling, it’s a state of

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being, it’s an experience, it comes in so many forms, ’di ba? You can’t really define what love is. But in general, I think it’s something that makes you happy, right? It makes you want to be alive. Kasi that’s what emotions are for. It makes life bearable, I think. When you’re out in public, do you hold hands? Kaia: Ah, oo. Walang nakakakilala sa‘min eh. (laughs) Walang uneasy feeling? Kaia: Wala. Masaya. Comfortable. Ry: Pero alam mo ’yun, parang we’re still gauging how to control the reactions kasi that’s the world we live in. You can’t avoid it naman din. There are a lot of things that are dependent on it, stuff like that. You have to make sure na you’re somewhat in control. After all, you want the best possible outcome. How would you define commitment? Do you have rules? Ry: Wala naman. In terms of commitment, it is a choice. You want to be with that person. Both of us were looking for [something] longterm. It’s serious shit. (laughs). So, it’s about communication. You have to know what you want. How far are you willing to go, how do you want this relationship to be? Kasi ’di ba you want to enjoy each other’s company? So you have to talk to each other and figure out what you want. If you’re looking for something longterm, I guess you should be that comfortable [with each other]. Last question: What do you look forward to in your relationship in the coming months, years? Kaia: Parang years agad, ’no? (laughs) I-claim natin ’yun. Ry: Mag-travel. Kaia: Get married. Ry: Pwede rin.

JANINE*

Interview by Oliver Emocling In a conservative country like ours, we are led to believe that sex is confined within the sanctity of marriage. To an extent, love is something that you have to wait for. Janine had believed that her first sexual (or even romantic) encounter must be special, like how Princess Mia Thermopolis of “The Princess Diaries” believed in a foot-popping first kiss. But in her 23 years of existence, she had never locked lips, dated anyone, gotten involved in a romantic relationship, nor knew anyone through their bodies until she made the first move. In 2018, she revived her inactive Tinder account and found unnoticed matches. As if it were a make-or-break moment, she engaged in a sexual encounter with a stranger, followed by numerous casual contacts without the intention of actually falling in love. These encounters are like cramming a whole paragraph into one clause, but still, brief as they are, she found solace in the beds she’d never sleep in again. So how did this start? I used Tinder. Doon talaga muna. Started talking to a few of my matches from two to three years ago, and this one guy stood out. We got to talking for a few days until I finally asked if he could do me the “favor” of having sex with me.

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RY and KAIA I think a person’s first sexual encounter is something that they’d be afraid of. They’d feel intimidated or have fear. Did you have any fears when you first did it? Before, I was exactly that kind of person. I had so many doubts and I had a lot of expectations too. I wanted my first time to be special. ’Yun na ’yung na-shape sa utak ko. I just really realized na walang mangyayari if I don’t put myself out there. Hindi ako matutuwa sa first experience ko if I had high expectations. At that moment, nawala na talaga ’yung expectations ko and fantasies. Kung ano ’yung nangyari, I took it as it is. What do you look for in your partners? Kapag naghahanap ako ng partner, I look for something positive. Hindi naman ako makikipag-sex if wala akong kahit konting feeling involved. And that feeling comes from looking at their positive side. To some extent, there’s still some form of connection between the two of you. If I’m going to meet a guy, for me, it won’t be hard to notice something nice about him, like his sense of humor or facial features—I’m weak for guys with nice eyes and brows—or if he’s thoughtful and respectful. May slight feeling? I guess the fact na rin na nag-se-sex kayo. The body contact—that makes you close. In a way, ’yun na ’yung pinagsamahan niyo. Intimate ’yung body natin. And there’s always something to like about someone.

“You have to know what you want. How far are you willing to go, how do you want this relationship to be?”

In the future, are you open to having a relationship? Yes. But you prefer to know them first? On a deeper level? Yes. When you say on a deeper level, do you mean you can start as casual partners? Yes. Kasi kung magiging casual kami at first, mas magiging comfortable kami with each other, right? This is definitely not what everyone

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42 culture prefers. The fact that we shared our bodies with each other, that’s kind of a big step already. When you’re comfortable with each other’s bodies, parang madali nang maging comfortable with other aspects kasi a lot of us are insecure [about our bodies].

Do you believe in destiny? No. Love is something that you have to pursue, work on.

And I think when you engage with that kind of arrangement, there’s a need for trust. How do you build such trust with a stranger? Mahirap siya. It’s risky. Until now, I still have trust issues. What if talk shit [type] ’tong taong ’to? Or may masamang intention? Coming from someone who hasn’t been on a date, it was a big risk to put myself out there. Also, I’m the kind of person who follows their instincts. If I feel like may something sketchy, hindi na ako nakikipagkita.

Jason is in a polyamorous relationship with John* and Troy*. This kind of arrangement was something he never expected. Jason got together with John first. After a while, he thought of making the relationship open. John agreed on the condition that Jason always tells him whom Jason decides to entertain. But Jason broke this promise numerous times until John decided to leave Jason for Troy. Eventually, John and Jason reconciled. This time, Troy remained in the picture. Several talks and difficult decisions later, all three decided to engage in a polyamorous relationship.

How do you handle attachment? Honestly, hindi ako magaling mag-handle ng ganon. But I try not to put too much meaning on the sex or their gestures. So, what do you do to not fall in love? I think kailangan ng discipline. I try not to be touchy kasi ’yun ’yung love language ko. In a way, I talk to other people para hindi lang siya ’yung focus ko. How would you know if you’ve found love? I think it’s when I go beyond my limits. I have boundaries I set for myself. When I break it, that’s the time. And when I’m not asking anything for return, I think that’s it. What will make you stay in love is the emotions for each other.

JASON

Interview by Jelou Galang

How do you identify yourself as an individual? I label myself as bisexual, but leaning towards men. How long have you been with the first guy and the second guy? ’Yung first guy kasi, I’ve been with him for around three years. Within those three years, may six months na nag-break kami. Tapos ’yung second guy naman, around nine months na. How would you label your relationship? I would identify ourselves more as an exclusive polyamory. Hindi kami open relationship. Kaming tatlo lang talaga.

What should people know about the kind of relationship you have? Many people still think this arrangement impossible. Polyamory is not just having sex, having orgies, or threesomes. It’s a relationship. We still have the same problems as any normal relationship. Ang mas mahirap lang is to open up to our families. Kasi this is really taboo. If it doesn’t work out, it’s fine, move on. If it’s not your cup of tea, e ’di ’wag. Don’t mind other people’s choices if they don’t negatively affect you. What they do in their personal lives is theirs to deal with. For you, what is love? It’s immaterial, it’s more than a feeling. There are different kinds. Ang general term of love is more than a feeling, pero you can sense it by feeling. Mahirap siya i-explain. You can love just about anything. Just like Jesus said, “Love your neighbors as you love yourself.” ’Yung romantic kind of love, I guess, it starts out as a feeling. Kinikilig ka, masaya ka, then you always feel so much better when you’re together or ’pag naguusap kayo. Pero it comes with its own sets of challenges, na kapag hindi na nangyari ’yun, wala na ’yung feeling of love. Pero it can develop in a much deeper sense of love eh. It’s not about how much time you spent together, the gifts you receive, the “I love yous.” and all that shit. It’s more of…it transcends to a deeper connection. Just knowing that there is someone supporting you in whatever you do, someone you look forward to being with for the rest of your life.

[Love]…it transcends to a deeper connection. Just knowing that there is someone supporting you in whatever you do, someone you look forward to being with for the rest of your life.

JANINE*

*Name changed upon subject’s request

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beauty 43

Sniff a whiff Words by OLIVER EMOCLING Photography by JP TALAPIAN

Wear these fragrant juices anywhere you go Scent plays a big role in social interactions in the animal kingdom. Pheromones, in particular, are essential for certain species to find their mate. Despite our ability to recognize a trillion scents, it’s still not clear whether humans release pheromones as strong as those of animals or not. It’s a complicated discourse, but one thing is for sure: The olfactory is also essential to human connection. The sense of smell isn’t easy to please, but certain odors can stimulate attraction. There are fragrances that evoke memory, and there are odors associated with certain people. To ourselves and the immediate world around us, there’s a certain scent that signals our identity. If you haven’t found the compound that fits your chemistry well, here are five homegrown perfume brands for your consideration.

WHERE TO GET BARE MNL, Beauty MNL SIMOY NG HARAYA, Common Room WHIFF, Retail Lab, Power Plant Mall SCENTSMITH, Greenbelt 5 SCENT SWATCH, Retail Lab, Glorietta 3

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48 music

Naive melodies

This playlist is meant to set butterflies fluttering in your stomach with every sweet melody and sentimental lyric A classic romantic comedy begins with a meet cute: Imagine bumping into someone in the school hallway, accidentally brushing your fingers with the cute barista’s as they hand you your drink, or falling in love with a beautiful stranger during a hectic commute. The rom-coms of the ’90s thrived on these fated meetings, and we followed suit. Bustle points out that the underpinnings of ’90s rom-coms have also become our standards for the beginnings of a relationship: “the breadth of ’90s rom-coms represents the gold standard [of the genre].” They are cutesy, cheesy, and an all-around formulaic gush fest, and we fell for them hard. Through this curated playlist, let’s relive those smitten moments that our rom-com fantasies gave us. Here’s a list of songs that can take us back to a time when we passed secret love notes in between classes, the nerves of finally confessing our feelings, and commuting home together after realizing that the feelings were mutual all along.

Itchyworms - “Love Team” Tanya Markova - “Picture Picture (Acoustic Version)” The Cardigans - “Lovefool” Sixpence None the Richer - “Kiss Me” Letters to Cleo - “Want You to Want Me” New Radicals - “You Get What You Give” Cuco - “Melting” Carol Banawa - “Bakit ’Di Totohanin” Hannah Diamond - “Hi” Ang Bandang Shirley - “Sa Madaling Salita” Jolina Magdangal - “Panaginip” The La’s - “There She Goes” Deep Blue Something - “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” Semisonic - “Closing Time”

By Rogin Losa Art by Renz Mart Reyes SCOUT34.indd 48

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YOUR GUIDE TO MANILA’S NEIGHBORHOOD HOTSPOTS, COMMUNITY GATHERINGS, AND CULTURAL EVENTS

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