You know I’m obsessed with almost anything Japanese. I can’t help but think about Filipinos who look Japanese, but tell you the truth, I had a hard time coming up with ten.
Japanese to me—or at least the ones I’ve observed—have an innate coolness, whether they are teenagers or grandfathers. There are certain things they’ll wear. It can be the simplest top and it will just look cool on them.
The Japanese I’ve observed don’t wear body-fit clothes or short sexy dresses, which Filipinos love. Or maybe I’ve been hanging out in the same areas in Tokyo.
Japanese have nice haircuts and are a quiet, relaxed people.
The Filipinos I’ve chosen here are for the most part shy and introverted. They express themselves through talent and they way they dress or colour their hair. Chances are you’ve never even heard of them if you’re not in the industry.
There are Filipinos who try to look Japanese but some of them look like caricatures or maybe more Korean, Taiwanese or Chinese.
This is just my list. I’m sure there are more out there but I probably don’t know them.
The model: John James Uy
This Filipino actor and model was born in Mountain View, California but now working and living in Manila. I rooted for him in the Be Bench Model Search in 2007 but he won second place. I grabbed his pics on Instagram and I know him as the boyfriend of model Jessica Yang.
Tom Girl: Jo Ann Bitagcol
I first spotted Jo Ann Bitagcol around 1995 when she was just starting out as a model in Manila. I chose her to open and close my first fashion show in 1996. After that her career just took off and she became Manila’s top model. Since then she has transitioned into one of Manila’s most respected, in-demand photographers.
She continues to be low-maintenance in her lifestyle and the way she dresses.
Her personal style is “tom girl” (a girl who dresses like a boy) just like me. Anything I own just looks more fabulous on her but we don’t hate her.
Jo Ann wears Carl Jan Cruz, photographed by Charles Buenconsejo
The obvious: Jujiin Samonte
It’s not difficult for photographer/videographer Jujiin Samonte to look Japanese. He’s often in Japan where his mother is based. His name sounds Japanese. He looks so Japanese that when he’s in Tokyo, people speak to him in Nihongo and they are shocked when he tells them he’s Filipino. I’ve been with him in Tokyo where he easily blends in and even gets stopped on the street to be photographed for street fashion magazines, such as TUNE.
Kawaii girl: Reese Lansangan
Reese Lansangan is an all-around talent who does visual art, graphic design, fashion design, writes music, you name it.
I don’t know how I found her on Instagram but she looks like the girl I would’ve wanted to be if I were in my 20s again. We want to know more about her. She’s so cute!!
The alien: Andre Chang
We don’t know where he came from, but Andre Chang is a Filipino who looks like he’s from another planet. I’ve had my eye on him since 2006 when I started spotting him at fashion events. Good thing I had a style blog; I had an excuse to talk to him and take his picture.
Stylist and fashion editor Andre maintains a Lookbook page that has over 38,000 followers. And while he seems to have broken every rule in the fashion book (while boldly mixing local and international designer brands), we can’t take our eyes off him.
The sister: Daryl Chang
If one has a brother like Andre Chang, what are the chances that the sister would know fashion as well?
I met Daryl through Andre and liked her on sight. Like Andre, I’ve seen her looks transform—physically, hair-wise, fashion-wise. These days she’s second-in-command at Preview magazine where she works as Fashion Editor. I’ve seem her bloom from quiet to confident—all the while keeping her feet on the ground—and we like that.
The Boyfriend: Mano Lotho
Daryl Chang’s boyfriend, Marketing Officer for H&F Retail Concepts, also has his moments of looking Japanese, with some Spanish mestizo mixed in. Unfortunately he is so low-key there are not many photos of him online, so all we have are photos of him with other people. We love the way he can wear a regular Fred Perry shirt and look so good in them. Simple, laid back, Japanese style.
With Daryl Chang in Malate
With Raymond Ang at Lusso
With Ethan Hawkes-Pippen at Univers
Manila’s Herb and Dorothy: Ryan & Garovs Vergara
Ryan and Garovs may look like a non-conventional couple, but deep inside they are very much traditional.
Ryan knew she was “the one” when she spotted her in the hallways of the College of St. Benilde during their school years. And after being together and working together as Everywhere We Shoot, they finally tied the knot in an unforgettable wedding ceremony in 2012.
Of the two, Garovs is the one who looks really Japanese, but when they’re together, we can’t help but imagine Ryan speaking fluent Nihongo, then neither of them would look out of place in Tokyo.
Everywhere We Shoot photographed by Mark Nicdao for HUMAN
Photo: MM Yu
The jack of all trades: Mikko Sison
I’ve known Mikko since high school during the ’80s, when he was one of the few guys who dared to wear a skirt to parties. I’ve seen him grow from Parsons New York student to painter, graphic designer, interior designer, father to Rojo, and head of his own company, MassZero Project Management Inc..
Aside from a sharing a love of Japan, Mikko and I also have a common envy of anyone who is visiting Japan at the moment. It is an envy only few would understand.
(Photos by on Instagram)
The actor: Jake Macapagal
It was my friend Jude who pointed out that Jake Macapagal, who starred in Sean Ellis’ Metro Manila, look Japanese. I mean just look at him with the chiseled nose, Oriental eyes, nice haircut and carefully chosen wardrobe. Not much photos of him online, but hoping to see more of him on the big screen.
Photo: BJ Pascual
Photo: Pilar Tuason