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Preview Creative 25: Meet This Year's Most Promising Talents from the Local Art Scene

by Jamina F. Nitura | Mar 10, 2022
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Amid the tumultuous realities of a global pandemic, these creatives have risen to the occasion and continued to foster hope through their art, one masterpiece at a time.

Art is often born from a myriad of ways: a solemn painting, a movie from decades past, a healing TV show, a melody on repeat in your head, a tablescape of lilies at an intimate gathering, or even a chocolate chip cookie bought from your favorite online store that makes you nostalgic of childhood or at least better days pre-pandemic. Art, after all, is said to be the highest form of hope—one propagated by resilient creatives who know all too well the grueling process of starting and restarting anew.

This year, Preview honors some of the best and brightest Filipino artists who are well on their way to cementing their names in their respective professions. Meet the Creative 25, featuring the local art scene’s most promising talents who, in this seemingly dark age, have still managed to find a light in themselves worthy of passing around.

Preview Creative 25


Zack Tabudlo - Musician


Once a contestant on the first edition of The Voice: Kids, Zack Tabudlo has transitioned from the sweet boy with the guitar on Team Bamboo to the tender crooner of chart-topping songs like Binibini and Habang Buhay. The 20-year-old first rose to prominence with the former track in 2021 and has since continued to make his mark in the Philippine music industry, one soul-stirring, sentimental track at a time. A singer, songwriter, and producer, Zack has been featured on the Rolling Stone, is a constant name on the top of Spotify charts, and also just recently earned the number one spot on Billboard’s newest listing, Hits of the World: Philippines with his single Pano.

BGYO - Musicians

P-pop’s breakout act of 2021, BGYO (composed of Akira, Gelo, JL, Mikki, and Nate) debuted in January of last year with their first single, The Light. The quintet has since quickly surpassed expectations by managing to top iTunes with their debut album, and appearing on global charts during their rookie year. Among their achievements, BGYO soared to the number one spot of Billboard’s Next Big Sound chart last August 2021. Considering their fast-rising popularity, they were also tapped to sing the original soundtrack for the hit Filipino series He’s Into Her, starring Donny Pangilinan and Belle Mariano. Apart from their smooth vocals, commanding stage presence, and undeniable visuals, the members of BGYO are extending their glowing repertoire by dipping their toes into fashion as the first act on H&M’s Music x Me campaign.

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BINI - Musicians

Eight-member P-pop group BINI (composed of Aiah, Colet, Maloi, Gwen, Stacey, Mikha, Jhoanna, and Sheena) first piqued the public’s curiosity with their pre-debut single, a rearranged electropop rendition of Ryan Cayabyab’s Da Coconut Nut. A year later, they finally debuted with an empowering track titled Born to Win, which was soon accompanied by a similarly named album that demonstrates their promising range and dynamic vocal ability. The drop is a mix of infectious radio-friendly tracks, R&B stunners, and a text-book moving ballad written by BINI member Colet. Apart from performing in popular Pinoy TV programs, Bini’s steady trajectory towards climbing the ranks of OPM has earned them a spotlight on MTV Asia, a concert in Dubai, and a history-making cover on Dubai-based magazine XPEDITION, alongside their sibling-group, BGYO.

Denise Santos - Film Composer


Film and TV composer Denise Santos achieved a rare feat last year when she won a News and Documentary Emmy Award for Outstanding Music Composition for her work on the BBC-commissioned project Primates. A proud Filipina, Denise is currently based in Los Angeles, California, and is working under Bleeding Fingers Music, a collective of artists much like herself, as co-founded by legendary film composer Hans Zimmer. In an interview with Preview for her Emmy win, she described being part of the group as “life-changing,” explaining, “There's nothing like being surrounded by so many talented composers and producers. Everyone in the company is at the top of their game, and it is so inspiring to witness that day to day.” Aside from Primates, Denise’s impressive body of work also includes scoring Lifetime’s Death Saved My Life, Discovery Channel’s Apollo: The Forgotten Films, and local films Baka Bukas and Billie and Emma.


Rae Red - Director

Many cinephiles know Rae Red just by her last name alone. It’s no secret she has an intimidating pedigree that precedes her, but in spite of her relation to famous auteurs like Jon Red and Mikhail Red, the director is a force that stands on her own success. After co-writing the award-winning 2016 film Birdshot, Rae began building her reputation in the industry, starting with her solo directorial debut Babae at Baril, which was released in 2019. The thriller film starred Janine Gutierrez and won a slew of accolades including Best Picture at the 2020 Gawad Urian Awards. Rae also helmed the indie favorites Si Chedeng at si Apple with Fatrick Tabada, and Tenement 66, the only Filipino entry in the Bucheon Choice category at the 25th Bucheon Film Festival in South Korea.

Martika Escobar - Director


Martika Escobar has always had film in her blood. Her love for the craft began as a hobby in her school days, but with her talent and innate passion for it, it didn’t take long for the young Filipina to hone this interest of hers into a full-blown career. The creative is best known for her work as a cinematographer—having lent her artistic vision to the music videos of rising Filipino acts like The Juans and Zack Tabudlo—but it was her directorial debut feature in 2022, Leonor Will Never Die, that truly flung her name onto headlines. A drama about a retired filmmaker, the movie competed in America’s famed Sundance Film Festival under the World Cinema category. It’s the first Pinoy film to do so in years after the coming-of-age movie Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros in 2006. Martika’s project was further recognized by the institution after it awarded her the Special Jury Prize for Innovative Spirit.

Petersen Vargas - Director

An earnest champion of LGBT cinema, Petersen Vargas first made waves in the industry with his directorial feature film debut, 2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten, in 2016. It starred Khalil Ramos, Ethan Salvador, and Jameson Blake, and won the coveted Best Picture award at the 12th Cinema One Originals Film Festival. The multi-nominated and multi-awarded coming-of-age drama proved to be just the start of a promising career for Petersen who went on to direct the Busan International Film Festival entry How to Die Young in Manila, and the popular boys’ love web series Hello Stranger. The latter title, which explores a pandemic-era romance, was such a huge hit online that it spawned a full-length movie sequel released a year later. Petersen has also directed a number of music videos, including James Reid’s The Life and Nadine Lustre’s St4y Up.


Ycoy Sitchon - Founder of La Belle Fete


No occasion is complete without La Belle Fete’s magic touch. On the precipice of becoming a household name, the event planning company has been everywhere as of late, most notably on the Instagram feeds of famous personalities like Ellen Adarna, Angel Locsin, and Megan Young. Although a fast-growing brand favored by celebs now, La Belle founder Ycoy Sitchon and her husband, Jeff Sitchon, built their business from the ground up. After laying their roots within their own circle and planning their friends’ weddings, they’re now one of the go-to names for curating the most elegant yet novel of events, like the Encanto-themed party Dr. Vicki Belo threw for Francine Diaz’s birthday.

Gathered Creative - Event and Props Stylists

Event styling company Gathered Creative thrives in the delicate beauty of intimate affairs. Where most professionals in their industry have had to ease their way into all things minimal, Gathered was already ahead of its peers, leading more clients to gravitate toward the brand during these uncertain times. More than just experts at event styling and floristry, though, Gathered, led by co-founder Kay Isabedra, has also found its purpose in educating the aspiring talents of the events world. With their workshops tied under Gathered Classroom, participants can learn the tricks of the trade, from prop styling to floristry 101, and a lot more. A valiant and apt initiative considering that any event is, at the end of the day, a community effort.

Janna Pablo - Founder of Pabys Creates Events

When it comes to celebrating your kids’ milestones, Pabys Creates Events is the one to book. Janna Pablo, the eponymous founder and mastermind of Pabys, embodies her company not just in name but in spirit. A former math teacher attuned to the ins and out of a child’s mind, it’s no wonder her five-year-old business—one that rightfully puts fun and play at the forefront—has found purchase in the heart of its loyal clients, celebrities like Liz Uy and Georgina Wilson included. That said, while kiddie parties are their forte, Pabys, in pursuit of solidifying itself as a full-fledged events planning brand, has also begun to branch out to other types of celebrations and corporate events. A party shop that houses all your festive needs might just be on the horizon as well.



Colin Dancel - Photographer

Observant Preview readers might already be familiar with Colin Dancel, a.k.a. the fashion and arts photographer who lensed Bea Alonzo’s Preview 2020 cover. For Colin, taking photos means telling a story, and her tales have always leaned toward the raw and more vulnerable side of her subjects—think dusty grains, light leaks, seemingly unpolished shots that allow for unbridled authenticity. Colin’s natural talent for her craft has led her to land gigs for several other brands, including Dear Klairs, Recess, Apara, The Library, and famed Filipino designer Rajo Laurel. She also recently exhibited her work with Nude Floor, and helped pioneer a working database for women and non-binary photographers.

Joseph Bermudez - Photographer

Newcomer Joseph Bermudez’s photographs look as if they belong in the spread of a ’90s fashion magazine. Inspired by the era, his work exudes a vintage quality that expertly tugs at our affinity for nostalgic sundries. More than that, though, at the core of Joseph’s portfolio is a celebration of queer culture. As per the creative, there’s a sense of “gayness” that he always aims to show through his images, and perhaps nothing illustrates this best than his Wong Kar Wai-inspired project The Painted Lady—a series of photos that landed him a feature on Vogue Italia’s PhotoVogue archives.

Issa Barte - Photographer


Artist Issa Barte picked up film photography during the pandemic and she’s since turned the art into a calling that’s been recognized by the National Geographic. As a co-founder of the NGO For the Future PH, Issa traverses the frontlines to document and give a platform to the existing climate crisis at a pertinent grass roots level. Armed with her camera, the photojournalist taps into the very human need for community and vulnerability to share the plight of those directly suffering from this often neglected global issue. A true inspiration to the youth, she was named as one of NatGeo’s 25 Young Explorers and changemakers around the globe last year.

Aya Cabauatan - Photographer

Aya Cabauatan looks at the finer things with her photography. With a style hinged on natural and organic elements, her work pushes to the forefront the ordinary and mundane aspects in life that we often miss out on or take for granted. As someone with a penchant for portraying youth and femininity, Aya elevates these universal themes to the surreal, offering dream-like imagery that, at the same time, manages to still capture its subject in a relatable and genuine light. The truth of one’s essence, after all, is often hidden in the most minute and seemingly inconsequential of details.

Aris Magayanes and Duds Inguito - Co-founders of Paradox Films


A rising videography team in the events industry, Paradox is all about thinking outside of the box. In contrast to their peers, this band of creatives are more cinematic in their approach. Where most wedding films appear bright and festive, Paradox gets right into the heart of the matter—that is, they tell the couple’s story for what it is: imperfect, perhaps marred by hardships, yet still one that’s hopeful after having chosen love at the end of the line. Currently, Paradox is working at introducing their brand of wedding videography to the international market, all while continuing to capture more inspiring love stories in their home base.

Mayad Studios - Event Photographers and Videographers

In a world that's always swept up by trends, Mayad Studios remains a constant entity. Specializing in wedding photography and videography, this brand of 15 years has managed to beat the long game, while also slowly but surely establishing their hold in the industry as one of its most sought-after names. For Mayad, a true fairytale must grow only to become a classic, one you can look back on a decade from now and still feel like it happened just yesterday. This timeless elegance they always strive for is evident in their portfolio that includes some of the country’s biggest personalities like Dingdong Dantes and Marian Rivera, Moira dela Torre, and KZ Tandingan.


Jo Arciaga and Christine Roque - Co-founders of Half Saints


Half Saints is comfort and class on one platter. Think of the expensive sensibilities and exquisite taste found at fine dining circles but without all the fuss of a black tie affair. Chefs and founders Jo Arciaga and Christine Roque, after having succeeded in their respective fields, banded together to establish this restaurant of gastronomic delights, and it’s quickly becoming the darling of Metro Manila foodies far and wide. Their ever-evolving menu is a fusion of the foreign cuisine they came across during their travels and the authentic Filipino food they know and love best. Case in point: their best-selling starter Chicharron Teriyaki, a marriage of Japanese nori and our very own bagnet served with a generous smear of cream cheese. In light of their growing popularity and pandemic restrictions, Half Saints has since expanded their quaint space to include a Bake Studio with additional seats that also houses all of their sweet treats.

Anton Miranda - Founder of Old Boy Bakery

Anton Miranda had always wanted to be a chef. It was a childhood dream of his that he admittedly lost interest in once it was time to settle on a career. In the midst of the baking frenzy that broke out at the onset of the pandemic, though, the former menswear writer, having found himself in a limbo, took the opportunity to finally make something out of his first love: food. His Bataan-based cookie business Old Boy Bakery was an instant hit. The chocolate chip cookies he whipped up, in particular, stood out from any other pandemic-born pastry, and before he knew it, Anton’s products were sold out for 18 weeks straight, having gained itself a cult following in no time at all.


Aren Santos - Set Designer


Aren Santos builds entire worlds from scratch. While his sets may exist in the background of editorials fronted by today’s biggest celebrities, there’s no denying that his vision is the final piece that truly pulls together any impeccably styled photoshoot. As someone who allows his work to speak for itself, the set designer boasts of an eclectic portfolio that proves his versatility. From office chic, to ‘90s grunge, to verdant dreamlands, and even sultry blood baths, this creative is a master at birthing picture-perfect scenes from a blank canvas.

Inha Arceo - Visual Artist

In an era of isolation, self-care has never been more pertinent to the well-being of society, and artist Inha Arceo is doing her part to fill in the gap. Once a corporate woman, this digital illustrator single-handedly established her business from the ground up in the midst of the pandemic by selling customizable pieces that champion self-love. Her website describes them as “art prints for the soul,” best characterized by their free-spirited charm and minimalistic visuals. With clients worldwide in over 50 countries, Inha’s artworks honor her Filipino heritage as she sees it in the modern world.

Jethro Ian Lacson - Visual Artist

Jethro Ian Lacson’s Instagram feed is a visual spectacle for fans of pop culture. The young painter often takes inspiration from famous celebrities, movies, and TV shows and interweaves them with his own personal musings. Think portraits of familiar faces dipped into the fantastical: personalities like Anya Taylor-Joy, Timothee Chalamet, and Jung Ho Yeon’s Kang Sae-byeok as they would have been perceived, perhaps, in a world outside of our own. Jethro’s entrancing artworks have landed him numerous professional gigs, including a series of pieces for Netflix in celebration of Pride month, and an illustrated Preview cover for April 2020.


Jellyfish Kisses - Visual Artist

As a queer individual, Anton Belardo, better known under her pseudonym Jellyfish Kisses, knows all too well the importance of safe spaces—how vital they are, lifesaving even, to the LGBT+ crowd. It’s this very air of solace the visual artist aims to recreate with her exhibitions time and again. Eccentric as she presents herself, though, Jellyfish’s paintings and installations aren’t as alien as they look. Her pieces, while flamboyant and otherworldly, actually tackle and bring to light taboo topics that are universal in nature, such as depression and mental health. An artist for Vinyl on Vinyl Gallery, Jellyfish has done several shows and has exhibited her work in ALT Philippines and Art Fair Philippines.


Joel Andrade - Co-founder of Issy and Co.

Joel Andrade may have whipped up the idea for Issy and Co. on a whim, but trust us when we say that nothing about this beauty brand is ill-conceived. On the contrary, they operate under pure intentionality—to make the intimidating landscape of cosmetics more approachable and accessible to Filipinos without stripping away the allure of fantasy often offered by their foreign counterparts. Their slogan, “Beauty made easy,” walks the talk, and it’s evident in the products they develop. In particular, Joel, along with his business partner, Jasmine Ang, revitalized the local beauty scene when they released Issy and Co.’s Active Skin Tint line, which features nine adaptable shades that finally cater to Filipinos’ wide range of skin complexions. This release posed a challenge to other local brands to rise to the occasion, one that can only lead to the celebration of Filipino beauty no matter what skin you're in.

Nicole Limos Morales - Founder of The Beauty Edit


As one of the two journalists who last helmed Town & Country Philippines, former magazine editor Nicole Limos Morales is well-acquainted with the machineries of a lean team. While daunting a task, it’s this very training that’s prepared her to establish her initial one-woman brand The Beauty Edit, home to the first expertly-curated beauty box the country has seen in years. Similar to the famed subscription beauty boxes abroad, Nicole describes these premium releases best as “a discovery box for beauty junkies.” More than just selling products, though, Nicole has also managed to foster a community through The Beauty Edit. What she once started alone within the confines of her home (two months after giving birth, no less) has now grown into a safe space for anyone in the local beauty industry.

Vinas Deluxe - Founder of DeLuxe Wigs PH

In a scene that thrives in social settings, the question for many local drag artists at the start of the pandemic became, “How do we keep the industry alive?” Others, of course, had to find alternative means of work after bars and clubs became defunct during the lockdown. For drag queen Vinas Deluxe, this meant making a business out of her first-ever childhood interest: hairstyling. Thus, DeLuxe Wigs PH came into fruition. Along with learning to stage online shows in her drag persona, Vinas made use of social media’s newfound power to push her wig business. Her most efficient platform? TikTok. With over 40,000 followers, the hairstylist has managed to reach a wider audience far beyond just her fellow drag artists, helping Filipinos transform into their most beautiful yet, one wig at a time.

Produced by Jam Nitura

Art Direction by Bacs Arcebal 

Co-Produced by Nicole Arcano, Em Enriquez, and Reg Rodriguez 

Final Artist Khalil Alcala

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