40 Under 40: Meet the new breed of game changers in Cebu (Entertainment)

“SunStar Cebu: 40 Under 40” is a campaign by SunStar Publishing Inc. in celebration of SunStar Cebu’s 40th anniversary. The campaign identifies and recognizes 40 Cebuano individuals no older than 40 years old who have greatly influenced and contributed to their respective fields of expertise.

On the days leading up to the anniversary on Nov. 25, these individuals will be featured in separate lifestyle articles that cover each category — from Tech & Innovation all the way down to Business. A special publication release will be scheduled on Nov. 23 covering all categories and honorees.

Today, Nov. 14, meet the five candidates whose works in the field of entertainment have made every day a tad brighter for Cebuanos. They are stars to the stars: Kryz Uy, Kurt Diores Fick, Jerika Teodorico, Victor Villanueva and Ara Chawdhury. All these candidates have proven through their craft that time and time again, there’s nothing like a Cebuano on (or behind) camera.

Kryz Uy, 32 | Digital creator (SKYFAM)

An enthusiastic chronicler of her daily travel adventures, numerous beauty finds, inspirations and the wonders of motherhood, Kryz Uy is the woman behind SKYFAM. She is a digital creator who loves telling stories about her family and the simple pleasures of life since 2009. Her forte started as a school project about creating a “viral” website (before viral was even a thing), which then progressed into Lookbook, Facebook, Instagram and eventually, YouTube.

“I still find it very awkward to claim that I impact lives for the better because simply put, I only do home videos and post them on YouTube. But the response is overwhelming and very humbling. The comments section on my videos is always flooded with the words ‘free therapy.’ I guess in today’s fast-paced world where everyone is competing or striving to achieve so many things, a lot of people take respite in my vlogs and the comforts of home. To see our family content just by living simply in our own little bubble is a refreshing thing to witness. No flexes, no fancy itineraries — just everyday life.”

Victor Villanueva, 34 | Filmmaker

Victor Villanueva has been directing films, TV series and branded content and has been a constant collaborator in many creative projects for a decade now. He is an overseer toward a future where Cebuanos can proudly assert themselves fully in the realm of filmmaking.

He is the renowned filmmaker behind iconic films such as “Patay na si Hesus (2016),” “Ang Nanay ni Justin Barber (2014)” and “My Paranormal Romance (2011).”

“It has always been my dream to make a Cebuano film that everyone can see and relate to and somehow I believe I have fulfilled that with my past Cebuano films. I think what’s beautiful about these films is that it serves as an opportunity to tell our unique Cebuano perspectives and how these films represent our Cebuano-ness. For me, it’s very fulfilling when I hear people say ‘ako mana!’ or ‘dili diay baduy ang Bisaya paminawon’ when a story resonates well with them.”

The young director loves to infuse his films with Cebuano elements, from small nuances or some Bisaya character or phrases, a sort of wink to the Bisaya audience, while avoiding the cliche of Bisaya representation in media. It is a delicate handicraft perfected by Victor, one that, for starters, Cebuanos will enjoy seeing in the film, and secondly, would have a greater pay-off for his local audiences.

Jerika Teodorico, 25 | Vispop artist Musician, songwriter

Jerika Teodorico: 50 percent musician, 50 percent writer—100 percent Sugbuanon.

Jerika has been writing songs since high school but started professionally at 17. Jerika believes that Vispop’s one true aim is to produce quality music written in Cebuano.

“I have no solid data to back this up, but I think my songs — plus the rest of the Vispop catalog — have kept Cebuanos cheerful on a regular basis. In my immediate community, I know music has helped my fans make new friends, and get on with their daily ‘maoy.’ Pampahupay sa kalag, pampawala sa kalaay.”

Jerika believes that the secret ingredient for a balanced authenticity between Cebuano culture and their own personal branding is by “bursting” their bubble and joining the community to discourse and collaborate, instead of just making things on their own and presenting the final product to the listeners.

“So far, we make good on this promise by leaving no stone unturned when producing songs, when writing lyrics and even in live performances, we give our all to make sure ‘way mahay ang maminaw sa among mga kanta.’ We want to make sure that when they hear Bisaya or Cebuano, they’re going to expect quality.”

Kurt Diores Fick, 26 | Vispop artist, photographer and filmmaker | Creative director (Make it PH) | Co-founder (FatBoys Studios)

Meet the voice behind iconic song “Hahahahasula” and the recently released synthpop single “DI NA” which garnered over eight million streams on Spotify. It would not be an exaggeration to say that Kurt Fick is an artist at the forefront of the Vispop Revolution.

Kurt is also a photographer, filmmaker, creative director and the chief executive officer of a startup content and design studio called Make It PH. He also co-founded FatBoys Studios, a homegrown collective that produced Vispop’s most iconic music videos and has been at it for more than 10 years.

“I feel so honored to be part of movements like Vispop, that really help take Bisaya artistry to even greater heights. It’s so inspiring that everything I do is driven toward doing excellent work with the Bisaya people in mind. I always strive to make sure that in the work that I do, whether in music or visuals, I’m speaking to ug para sa Bisaya. Hyperlocal but inclusive.”

Ara Chawdhury, 33 | Producer, director, screenwriter and production designer

Ara Chawdhury has been a filmmaker for over 13 years, starting out as an actress and production coordinator until her debut as a writer/director with “Operation Prutas” in 2015 under Panumduman Pictures.

“I always strive to broaden mindsets with the media I put out. Whether it’s through my own films or through the films I’ve organized screenings for. Cebuano representation is one of my advocacies. As colonized people, unless we see ourselves centered in the media we consume, in stories that truly speak to us about who we are and where we’ve come, we will subconsciously see ourselves as inferior. And as long as we see ourselves as inferior, we lose confidence in our ability to govern/better ourselves as a people.”

The poetry of Myke Obenieta, the music of defunct The Outpost, the history lessons of the late Mads dela Cerna from her alma mater UP Cebu, the exposure to the cinema of Cebuano auteurs Remton Siega Zuasola, Christian Linaban, Keith Deligero, among others — all of these influences became foundations to her voice as a filmmaker.

She has been striving to create opportunities for Cebuano creatives by hiring locals, training locals and collaborating with local artists as much as she could.

“We featured local customs, leaned towards local sensibility and tried to preserve local lore and memory. We also took risks in production and distribution with the end goal of discovering alternative ways of marketing and distributing Cebuano Cinema.”

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