Writing Portfolio

My official writing portfolio is now at http://leabolante.pressfolios.com/, but you can still have a look at some of my best work here:

WRITE HERE AND NOW: A CONVERSATION WITH IRISH DIZON

What do Baste Duterte, Mocha Uson, Leni Robredo and Colleen Garcia have in common? Not much, at first glance. However at one time or another, you must have read one of their compelling interviews published in our local broadsheets and glossies. For these incredible insights, we have only writer Irish Dizon to thank.

“You would never expect me to be a writer,” says Irish Dizon. Since she started her foray into publishing for Cosmopolitan Philippines back in 2010, she has gained quite the following as a lifestyle writer, writing for publications such as Philippine Star Supreme, Candy, Preview, andCosmopolitan, among many others.

Although Irish Dizon never really saw herself as a writer at first, she admitted that she was an avid reader, counting the Sweet Valley and Goosebumps series as the books that she enjoyed growing up, along with Sidney Sheldon’s works. She loved how Sidney Sheldon’s novels featured strong female characters, and how it made a huge impact on her.

Humble beginnings

Irish Dizon
Image Credit: @heneral.dizon via Instagram

Before becoming a writer and editor, Irish first honed her passion for storytelling through theater. When she did theater growing up, her mother did not like it, so a part of her looked for another channel to show her love and passion for stories. After she had graduated, she worked in various industries, such as government and IT.

Irish Dizon
Image Credit: @heneral.dizon via Instagram

Eventually, she saw a posting about an internship program for Cosmopolitan Philippines. She tried out for the internship with the initial goal of winning a trip to New York. Irish didn’t get the internship; however, the magazine eventually hired her as an editorial assistant. This experience marked the beginning of her career in the publishing industry.  She has since become an established writer and editor. She has written profiles on personalities such as James Reid, Nadine Lustre, Jaclyn Jose, Bea Alonzo, Gerald Anderson, and many more.

Making magic with a heartthrob

Irish Dizon
Image Credit: @heneral.dizon via Instagram

When asked about her most memorable interviews, Irish has five personalities in mind. At the top of the list is James Reid. When she first met the heartthrob, she initially had a hard time writing a story about him. Eventually, when they did a shoot in Alviera at Porac, Pampanga, James gradually warmed up to her. He asked her to continue the interview at his house. She describes it as a “magic moment,” where she is able to see James at a place where he can be his truest self, such as his home.

Irish Dizon
Image Credit: @heneral.dizon via Instagram

Similar to her experience with James, she recounts her interview with Vice President Leni Robredo as one of the most memorable interviews she has ever done. After her interview with Robredo, the incumbent VP invited her to visit their home.

Irish Dizon
Image Credit: @heneral.dizon via Instagram

Although Irish has written about a variety of personalities with diverse followings, she holds a soft spot for a certain group of people. “I like writing about people that people hate,” she said, as she includes Coleen Garcia and Mocha Uson to her list of most memorable interviews. Both Mocha and Coleen are polarizing public figures and her experience with these personalities made her see a different side to them.

Surprising interview

Irish Dizon
Image Credit: @heneral.dizon via Instagram

Meanwhile, she describes her interview with Baste Duterte as a surprise. “Grabe ‘yun! Kasi ‘yun, wala talaga akong interview,” Irish said, as she narrates the whole experience of interviewing Baste.

It was a Monday, and Jobe [Baste’s close friend] texted Irish that Baste was free at four o’clock in the afternoon. At that time, Baste was in Davao, while Irish was in Manila. Throughout their correspondence, Jobe was cryptic towards the opportunity. All she knew was that Baste was free in Davao at 4:00 p.m. and that no other clues were given away.

She first told her editor about the opportunity to interview Baste. After expressing her desire to write a story about the Presidential Son, she was eventually given the go-signal to fly to Davao and interview Baste. When it came time to interview Baste, Baste was so shocked to see her and was taken by surprise that an interview was actually happening. Baste didn’t entertain her at first, but eventually he warmed up to her and told her this: “I don’t want to talk about my life, but you can try.”

Another heartthrob

Irish Dizon
Image Credit: @heneral.dizon via Instagram

Irish eventually took Baste’s advice, and Baste eventually discussed details about his life to her. In his profile for Philippine Star’s Supreme section, Baste, who is known to be quite private, opened up about fatherhood, being known as a “national heartthrob,” and his life as the son of the most powerful man in the country.

Among all these interviews, Irish pointed out two very important insights towards writing. First, is having an awareness that people are not black-and-white, and that it is important to balance the good and bad traits of others. She also mentioned how important it is to believe in your story and trying to make it happen even if it’s not always successful.

On Team Real

Team Real
Image Credit: @jadinenation via Twitter

Irish has a regular column on Philippine Star Supreme and writes for other publications. She also worked on James Reid and Nadine Lustre’s book as its editor-in-chief. Called Team Real, this book chronicles James Reid and Nadine Lustre’s lives beyond the spotlight. They bare their souls and freely talk about their views on life, finance, personal style, and beauty, among many others.

Irish Dizon
Image Credit: @heneral.dizon via Instagram

Ever since the book’s release last June, the book has become a certified bestseller, topping National Bookstore’s best-seller list for July 2016.  According to Irish Dizon, the experience of making a book is very different from writing an article. Making a book requires a team of at least six people.

Consequently, it also requires a certain amount of time to produce one as well, with a timeframe of six months for other celebrity books. When it was time to create Team Real, Irish and Merlito (Pabatao) were given one month to put everything together.

Irish Dizon
Image Credit: @heneral.dizon via Instagram

“I did the job of four people, Merlito (the art director of Team Real), the job of two,” Irish recounted. Given JaDine’s busy schedule and the timeframe to complete Team Real, the stress that Irish and Merlito had to go through was immense.

Irish Dizon
Image Credit: @heneral.dizon via Instagram

What surprised Irish the most during the creation of Team Real was how she and Merlito were able to pull everything off. This is despite the circumstances that they endured while making the book. From that experience, she was able to prove that doing things out of love and genuine passion can pay off, even if the work required to accomplish a goal or a project can be crushing at times.

On dream interviews

With so many incredible personalities on her list, who else would Irish love to interview? First, is President Rodrigo Duterte. She reiterates her love for interviewing people who are hated or misunderstood by the public. The current president fits the bill.

Another person that she includes on her list of dream interviews is Pepe Diokno, her editor atPhilippine Star Supreme. She describes him as “one of the most interesting people I know.”  Finally, she mentions Jessica Zafra, her favorite writer, and hero. Growing up, Irish Dizon collected all of Jessica Zafra’s Twisted series, and her works helped Irish to be the writer that she is today.

Advice for aspiring writers

Irish Dizon
Image Credit: @heneral.dizon via Instagram

Irish even gives useful advice for those who dream to write for a living. “Dapat hindi ka mayabang. Number one [yun].” According to Irish, it takes humility and openness to grow as a writer. As a writer, you need to be open to criticism and editing. Even if criticism can be hurtful sometimes, it is necessary for improvement.

Irish Dizon
Image Credit: @heneral.dizon via Instagram

The second piece of advice that Irish has for aspiring writers is to be true to your own voice. Good writing is very subjective. There will be people who will believe and champion your work. At the same time, some people will tell you that your writing is terrible.

Irish also believes in giving your all to every job, but don’t take yourself too seriously. Of course, she also believes one must have a genuine love for the craft.

Irish Dizon’s passion for storytelling transcends the pages of a glossy magazine or a newspaper broadsheet. Her words inspire people to see others in a different light, empathize with their struggles, and empower them. When you strike up a conversation with her, you can feel her passion right away. She is frank, yet she does everything from a place of love. Her passion will take her to places, and it will inspire many people to live their truths by sharing their stories.

A LIBRENG KOMIKS BOOK IS COMING YOUR WAY!

libreng komiks
Image Credit: Libreng Komiks Facebook

If you are a fan of comics or a casual lurker of the internet, chances are that you might have encountered a Libreng Komiks comic strip or two on your Facebook feed. Libreng Komiks is a Facebook page created by Toto Madayag, which features comic strips that capture everyday Filipino life using angsty, irreverent, yet relatable humor.

Since its inception, the comic strips featured on the page have reached viral status, and has even caught the attention of publications such as Spot.ph and FHM.com.ph.

A year after the page’s launch, Toto Madayag announced that there will be a book compiling the different comic strips from the page called “Pucha, E ‘Di Komiks!”. (How appropriate, right?)

Aside from the comic strips that appeared on the Facebook page, there will be at least fifty new and exclusive comic strips that will only appear in the book! There is currently a fundraising project going on for the production of this book, with a goal to reach 1,000 pre-orders so that the book will be in print. As of April 29, 2016, the team has reached 67 percent of funding for the book.

While we cheer on the team as they achieve their goal, here is a compilation of some of the comic strips that made us feel strongly about things:

Nahanap na yata ang tunay na Carrot Man.

Libreng Komiks Carrot Man
Image Credit: Libreng Komiks Facebook

Dad jokes, please.

Libreng Komiks Fries
Image Credit: Libreng Komiks Facebook

 

Dadating din ang sweldo.

libreng komiks sweldo
Image Credit: Libreng Komiks Facebook

*after reading the comments section*

libreng komiks welp
Image Credit: Libreng Komiks Facebook

Puto, anyone? (Kaso wala nga daw silang puto.)

libreng komiks puto
Image Credit: Libreng Komiks Facebook

Libreng Komiks is indeed one of the web comics that you need to follow online. It’s crazy, irreverent, relatable and hilarious, and these qualities are what makes it endearing to many.

If you want to pre-order Pucha E ‘Di Komiks at Php 300, click this link: http://bit.ly/1qzEeF3. Please add a Php 60 shipping fee if you live in Metro Manila, or Php 100 shipping if you live in provincial areas.

Update: The Libreng Komiks book has reached 97 percent of funding, as of May 24, 2016.

Inspiring
Image Credit: Facebook – Troy Sitosta

A graphic designer’s kind gesture to offer his services for free to a taxi driver selling peanut butter to his passengers in Metro Manila has been making waves on social media, showing how design can improve the lives of others, no matter how big or small.

Troy Sitosta, the owner and creative director of Shao Long Bald first shared his story last April 8 on his Facebook account about Kuya Roderic Almeda, a cab driver who sells peanut butter to his passengers.

RJ's Peanut Butter
Image Credit: Facebook – Troy Sitosta

Kuya Roderic and his wife have been making and selling their homemade all-natural peanut butter to passengers so that they can put their three children through college. In fact, one of them is almost finished with school. They have been growing their business for three years already, and he does it to provide a better and brighter future for his children.

After hearing Kuya Roderic’s inspiring story, Troy offered his services to Kuya Roderic for free by designing the label of his peanut butter. In doing so, Kuya Roderic will finally have a face for his small business, which will eventually contribute to its growth.

On April 12, Troy shared several updates about Kuya Roderic’s peanut butter business: first, he finished the label of Kuya Roderic’s peanut butter, and that he made an additional sign for Kuya Roderic’s car so that Kuya Roderic can have an easier time talking to his passengers about his product.

RJ's Peanut Butter
Image Credit: Facebook – Troy Sitosta

Through Troy’s story, more and more people have volunteered to help Kuya Roderic grow and solidify his business. RJ’s Peanut Butter has now a Facebook page, and a website is now in development.  For Troy, his encounter with Kuya Roderic made him realize how his job as a designer can create a positive impact on other people.

As a result of Troy’s inspiring gesture, Kuya Roderic’s small business is now starting to take off. Kuya Roderic’s story reminds us that good and honest work can reap amazing rewards, and it should inspire us to do the same in our chosen career paths or passions. Much more so, his story also tells us of how we can use our skills and talents to help others. Mabuhay kayo, Troy and Kuya Roderic!


 

You can order RJ’s Peanut Butter by texting Kuya Roderic’s wife, Melody at 09156423958 and Kuya Roderic will personally deliver the peanut butter to you. For more information about RJ’s Peanut Butter, you can check out their Facebook page

Image Credit: Emma Watson Facebook2

The Met Gala is fashion’s biggest night. This event serves as the launching pad for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s annual costume exhibit, as well as a fundraiser for the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute. Bringing together some of the most influential people in fashion, high society, culture, and entertainment, it is considered to be one of the most exclusive events in the world.

The red carpet fashions are widely covered and reviewed by mainstream media, and emulated by fans all over. Every year, the Met Gala has a theme, which also sets the tone for the annual exhibit. This year’s theme, Manus x Machina aims to explore the relationship between creativity, fashion, and technology. For this year’s gala, on-screen heroine and off-screen trailblazer Emma Watson decided to take the Manus x Machina theme to another level.

Emma Watson Calvin Klein Dress
Image Credit: Emma Watson Facebook

In a sea of metallic and high-shine ensembles, Emma Watson stood out in a five-piece, black-and-white gown she designed in collaboration with Calvin Klein and Eco Age.

In an effort to promote sustainability, she shared in a Facebook post that the gown was made from recycled plastic bottles and other recyclable materials! Although major fashion retailers such as H&M have brought the concept of sustainable fashion into mainstream consciousness, Emma Watson’s decision to collaborate with a major fashion house such as Calvin Klein is one major step to promote sustainability in the luxury fashion industry.

Aside from sharing the creation process, Emma also shared her intention to repurpose the pieces included in her gown, as part of the #30Wears campaign spearheaded by Livia Firth of Eco Age. The #30Wears campaign seeks to encourage people to buy clothing that they can wear for at least 30 times.

Although fashion can be seen as frivolous sometimes, it can also be a tool for promoting sustainability. By tapping one’s creative juices and utilizing available technology, it is possible to create something beautiful and timeless out of trash. Now that’s just one more reason to completely justify your girl crush on Emma Watson!

 

Hunger Buster

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By Lea O. Bolante

“Doing business is like falling in love. Real love isn’t a feeling—rather, it is a decision. In business… we decide to do it every day,” says legal management senior and Hunger Buster logistics officer Bret Monsanto. Together with Erika Cantor, JC Carlos, Kenneth Chan and Eries Chan, Monsanto owns Hunger Buster, a John Gokongwei Student Enterprise Center (JSEC) stall that sells simple yet delectable burgers. Their commitment to fall in love with Hunger Buster is remarkable: Aside from gaining praise within the Ateneo community, it has also established a loyal following well beyond the university, thanks to numerous food and entrepreneurship competitions.

Initially inspired by the success of The Galley, Hunger Buster wanted to provide something new while sticking to the idea of serving on-the-go food. “After some brainstorming, we settled for a heart-stopping alternative to sandwiches, [which are] burgers,” recalls Chan. After emerging as one of the winners of the 2014 JSEC Challenge competition, it has since been unstoppable. Their win at Foodgasm, an event hosted by the University of the Philippines-Diliman Economics Society, secured them a slot at the popular weekend food and lifestyle bazaar Mercato Centrale in Bonifacio Global City.

Since its inception, Hunger Buster has participated in numerous bazaars, in addition to daily operations at JSEC; while this can be quite stressful, its owners have emerged from these challenges victorious, thanks to their business acumen and camaraderie. Undoubtedly, their everyday commitment and passion for entrepreneurship and food will take them far.

(Thanks to the folks of Hunger Buster for the help here!)