When you think of Filipinos who have made it big on the international stage, you think of Manny Pacquiao and Charice Pempengco. While the two are great at what they do and deserve all the recognition they get, there are plenty more Filipinos who have excelled in fields such as fashion, design, music, science, filmmaking, and many more. These are Filipinos that are also worthy of the attention that mainstream celebrities get.
Below are 10 internationally-recognized Filipinos you might not have heard of, and who prove that there is always a Filipino achiever in every field:
1. Anna Bayle
Anna Bayle is known as the first Asian supermodel, strutting the runway and the fashion scene in the late ‘70s and ‘80s with her dusky glow and trademark walk. She was one of the highest-paid models of her time, and worked with luxury labels Chanel, Christian Dior, Christian Lacroix, Givenchy, Shiseido, Thierry Mugler, Valentino, Versace, YSL, illustrator Antonio Lopez, and photographers Arthur Elgort, Helmut Newton, Paolo Roversi, Patrick Demarchelier, and Peter Lindbergh. Before her glamorous career, she was a scholar at the Philippine Science High School, and studied at the University of the Philippines, where she was part of the college basketball varsity team.
Not a lot of Filipinos know Idris Vicuña, but he is a respected figure in the indie music scene. As Eyedress, he produced “spacey-assed beats” and “beats that didn’t make sense” in his bedroom, which he uploaded online for free. His first album was produced by the British label Abeano, an imprint of XL Recordings known for producing music for Adele, Radiohead, and The White Stripes. He grew up in the Philippines, moved to California, and is now back in Manila.
3. Eugenio Torre
Chess may not be one of the Philippines’ most popular pastimes, but we have a chess grandmaster in our midst. Eugenio Torre holds the title of being the first chess grandmaster from Asia, a title he earned when he was 21 years old. In 1976, he beat Anatoly Karpov, who at the time was the reigning World Chess Champion. And oh, he also starred in a rom-com with Vilma Santos and Coney Reyes.
4. Pepe Diokno
Filipino directors winning international awards is no longer new, but it was new when Pepe Diokno’s film Engkwentro won the Lion of the Future Luigi de Laurentiis Award for Best Debut Film and the Orizzonti Prize for new trends in cinema at the 2009 Venice Film Festival, the oldest film festival and one of the most important. Did we mention he was 22 years old when he won? Since then, he has made other films that premiered in international film festivals. In 2010, Diokno was included in the Phaidon book Take 100: The Future of Film, where he was recognized as one of “the world’s 100 most exceptional emerging filmmakers.” He is also an editor for The Philippine Star.
5. Jose Garcia Villa
If you’re a fan of poetry, you must read Jose Garcia Villa. The Filipino poet is known for introducing “reversed consonance rhyme scheme” and the lengthy use of the comma. His collections of poetry are widely read, and he was once nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. The legendary poet e.e. cummings said of his poems, “and i am alive to see a man against the sky.” Villa was also immortalized in Jack Kerouac’s book On the Road, where he was named Angel Luz García. Villa grew up in Manila, and studied in the University of the Philippines from grade school to college. Through the years, the poet has also maintained friendships with Allen Ginsberg, Gore Vidal, and Tennessee Williams.