Despite the controversies that divided the country in 2017, several youths managed to stand out—and unite the nation—and serve as huge inspiration to their generation, if not the nation. In the fields of sports, fashion, beauty, activism and education, these newsmakers and achievers proved that no one is too young (or too old) to reach for their dreams and make a difference.
Maureen Wroblewitz is the 19-year-old Filipino-German who became the first Filipino to win the popular reality TV search “Asia’s Next Top Model” Cycle 5. Tiny by model standards, she bested strong contenders from around the region not just with her delicate beauty but also with poise, grace and dignity in the face of catty contestants who dismissed her as just another pretty face.
Today, this sought-after model continues to keep her stiletto-clad feet firmly on the ground.
From humble beginnings, International School Manila (ISM) scholars Romnick Blanco and Jessica Cuadro are off to two of America’s premier universities.
The son of a vegetable farmer from a poor community in Sierra Madre, Blanco was granted a full scholarship to Harvard University in Massachusetts, while Cuadro, the daughter of a policeman, received a full scholarship to Columbia University in New York City.
They proved that anything is possible with hard work, determination and the desire to fulfill a dream.
This list wouldn’t be complete without Shibby de Guzman, the 14-year-old Grade 9 student from St. Scholastica’s College Manila who bravely led protests against extrajudicial killings. For this, she was recognized as one of Time Magazine’s 30 Most Influential Teens of 2017.
Beauty and lifestyle YouTube vlogger Janina Vela has over 400,000 subscribers on her YouTube Channel for good reason. Cute and bubbly, she makes putting on makeup and dressing up look so effortless and natural. “When I started, my goal was to get 5,000 subscribers. I didn’t dream to be super big,” she said in a YouTube Creators meet-up last year. “When people started to comment that I inspired them, I was motivated to make more content.”
Awarded “Top Beauty Influencer in the Philippines,” Vela is set to win more fans with her newest project—her self-penned single, “Hesitate.”
Named after famous pro wrestlers Bret Hart and The Rock, Bretman Rock took social media by storm with his unapologetic, entertaining and hilarious makeup video tutorials. Based in Hawaii, the 19-year-old has gone places, co-hosting the 2017 Miss Universe red-carpet special with 2010 Philippines representative Venus Raj, and also being named one of Time Magazine’s 30 Most Influential Teens of 2017.
When TV and social media personality Marlou Arizala underwent surgical and aesthetic enhancements to become his new and improved self, Xander Ford, his face didn’t just change. His life has never been the same since, being the subject of intense and constant scrutiny to the point that he was declared “missing” for a while, only to resurface and admit that he was just tired and needed some peace. Clearly, while the transformation opened doors for his career, it also came with a price.
In his first University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) men’s basketball finals, De La Salle University’s Ricci Rivero achieved elite club status, as the sophomore forward bagged Season 80’s Most Improved Player award.
Look out for this young gun to be the next big thing in college basketball.