A Filipino will always have a story to tell. Through PhiliPeeps (@philipeeps), here’s my way of telling theirs.

• The Matriarch • Anecita Estilo • Manila

“Pang-69th kayo na pasahero ko, sir! Isa na lang may bonus na ako”, she says with such vitality, nearing midnight. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

I commented on her quota given the tight deadline for which she replies, “Kaya yan, madami pa tayong oras”, seemingly impossible in the empty Manilascape circumstantially brought about by Maundy Thursday. I guess she knows the nuances of her job more than I do but I was still amazed at her attitude and energy. 

At 60 years old, Anecita Estilo drives an #Uber, continuing a long string of driving gigs spanning over a period of nearly 30 years. “Muntik na nga akong mag drive ng bus”, preferring the long drives, having criss-crossed the country by land as far as Ilo-ilo when she chauffeured people of prominence to support her family. 

The jolly matriarch changes her tone though at the mention of her 5 children and 12 grandchildren but immediately breaks into a chuckle, “Oha, mother, father and lola ako sa dalawa”, referring to two of her apos, who she raises alongside her husband in the absence of her fourth.

I pretended to be lost so I can get as much information on this admirable woman. She opens up like a book and her storyline becomes apparent: a mother diligently on her grind, with utmost dedication to her family. 

Definitely, an #uberwoman worthy to spearhead #philipeeps! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

👤 Anecita Estilo, Manila

• The Lion • Brave Mabalo Singh • Vigan

We outwardly express who we are in the things we create. In a literal sense, his paintings are “pigments of imagination”, but impartial on realism. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

I stood in the middle of a room at Blanc Gallery on the first night of his exhibition and, without having met, got to know him a little better through his paintings. I learn a little later that his work centers around the concept of a singular life and of memories.⠀⠀

“It means ‘lion’…” referring to the name he was given at birth: Ser. I thought this was serendipitous, having just seen the recent movie starring Dev Patel. Perhaps, subconsciously, he has lived through the animal in spirit: solitary but resolute in his care for his siblings, his “pride”.

These days, he is better known as Brave, owing his illustrative namesake to his late mother. At 35, his young career has already flourished locally with exhibits at Boston, Pinto Museum, Canvas and recently at Blanc, entitled, “In the fading afternoon light”.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

👤 Brave Mabalo Singh (@bravemsingh), Vigan

• The Paddler • Victor Tolentino • Laguna

Expertly balancing himself on our bamboo raft, he arranges our afternoon lunch on the table and prepares for the journey across the lake. Everyday, he approaches each tour systematically to ensure his guests will have a safe and leisurely time.

A few minutes later, with the raft docked under a massive tree, I approach him while my friends enjoy the afternoon feast. “Dito ako pinanganak at dito na rin lumaki”, referring to the picturesque and quiet lakeside village of Sto. Angel in San Pablo, now at a distance. It is indeed Pandin Lake at which Victor Tolentino built his life around. He learned to fish for tilapya and dalag for consumption, and for when tourism is lean. “Nagtatanim rin kami ng talong para itinda sa bayan, he replies when asked about other ways to make a living, “Kung minsan, pangkain na rin namin pang araw-araw”.⠀⠀⠀⠀

Even with the promise of city-life, he found himself back home years later, preferring to be with his wife and 5 young children, “Mas-OK na mag sama-sama kami at mapagtapos ko sila”. Because for Victor, it is not enough to be just a provider, but also to be physically present in his children’s formative years to guide them against succumbing to vices: sadly, a growing epidemic amongst Filipino youth. 

👤 Victor Tolentino, Laguna