Radical, pioneering creatives in this year’s TOFA (Part 3)

Celebrity designer Rocky Gathercole. Photo: Getty Images

Celebrity designer Rocky Gathercole.  

Rocky Gathercole’s inspiring story places him in two extreme points in life: From homeless kid to celebrity designer. His collections have hit the runways of New York and Los Angeles, and the likes of Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, and Ariana Grande have worn his luxurious gowns. He left home as he was coming of age at 14, eventually dropping out of school. He found himself in Saudi Arabia, where his employer sent him to a design school when he saw Gathercole has a talent for drawing. His break came when Mexican singer-actress Thalia reportedly commissioned him to create her outfits for her comeback concert. He would like to help street children and make them beneficiaries of his fashion shows because once upon a time he was one of them.

Ana Julaton is a boxer and mixed martial artist. She is the first to win the Women’s WBO Super Bantamweight and IBA Super Bantamweight titles, hence her nickname “The Hurricane.” Born in San Francisco, she had no interest in boxing at first. But she found work as a Bok Fu instructor in Berkeley and was introduced to boxing through a lecture session organized by her one-time trainer-manager, Angelo Reyes. In 2004, she won silver in the San Francisco Golden Gloves despite having officially trained for just two weeks. By 2007, she was ranked second among all female amateur boxers in the U.S. and took part in the women’s boxing segment of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. She signed a contract with ONE FC to fight in women’s mixed martial arts. She has a black belt in Bok Fu and in Taekwondo

Filbert Kung is a photographer who has mastered the art and technique of the medium through advertising campaigns for clothing and other brands. After breaking ground in the Philippines, he moved to New York and immersed himself in fashion photography creating emblematic images for Miss Universe, among other pageant organizers. He developed his own style and came to be known as a “radical image maker” in fashion. His photos have appeared in publications such as U.S. Vogue and Schön! Magazine London, Tatler, and IN Magazine in Dubai. He shuttles between Los Angeles and New York for assignments.

Christina Laskowski is the president of STAC Silicon Valley, a non-profit focused on tech-driven entrepreneurship. STAC serves as a bridge between the Philippines, Southeast Asia and Silicon Valley. In 2010, STAC presented a strategic plan to the Philippine President which outlined the design of the blueprint for the tech-focused entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Philippines. She serves as an advisor to a number of technology startups in the Bay Area. She is frequently invited to participate as a panelist and judge at various tech events and conferences such as Geeks on a Beach, The Global Social Venture Conference, Haas-Berkeley Asia Business Conference, and the Stanford U.S.-Asia Technology Management Speaker series.

CBS anchor/reporter Hazel Sanchez. Photo: NYCNewswomen

CBS anchor/reporter Hazel Sanchez. Photo: NYCNewswomen

Hazel Sanchez is a reporter/anchor person for CBS New York. Prior to joining CBS in 2000 as a general assignment reporter, she was the weekend anchor/reporter for WBAY-TV in Green Bay, WI. During that time, she also hosted and moderated “Teen Connection,” a live, hour-long show for Wisconsin Public Television in Green Bay. In addition, she also hosted a number of the station’s award-winning documentaries. Sanchez has achieved recognition for her work, earning a Midwest Emmy award, a CINE Golden Eagle award, and an award from the Wisconsin Broadcast Association. She has also received awards for hosting “The Discovery of Dawn,” an emotional documentary on one young woman’s battle with Anorexia Nervosa. She has a B.A. in broadcasting and electronic communications from the Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI. She and her husband Peter Rapciewicz have two daughters.

Sir Francis Sison of the Knights of Rizal

Sir Francis Sison of the Knights of Rizal

Francis Sison is the USA regional commander of the Knights of Rizal. He joined the KOR in 2004 and became a lifetime member in 2007. KOR is an organization whose members are seeking to propagate the life and teachings of Philippine National Hero Dr. Jose P. Rizal. He is married to Registered Nurse Evelyn Chua Sison. They have two sons — Michael Vincent, 36 years old, a graphic artist and designer; and Carl Francis, 28, a former Army captain who served in Kuwait.

Jason Tengco is the executive director of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations, an umbrella organization. Before joining NaFFAA, he was the outreach director for the Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) community for the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. He was previously deputy director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in 2015, three years after joining the office. He managed the first-ever White House Summit on AAPIs. In 2014, he was one of 10 delegates to the Philippine Embassy’s Filipino American Youth Leadership Program (FYLPro), a weeklong immersion in the Philippines. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, he graduated from UCLA with Honors with a B.A. in Political Science.

Amable Yalong is the owner and creative designer behind Y2 Collection, a luxury clothier for the “sophisticated man.” In February of 2015, Y2 Collection introduced its Fall/Winter line during New York Fashion Week. He recently opened his boutique in Englewood N.J., where he and his family are long-time residents. Born in Manila, he grew up surrounded by fashion and music, an early influence from his father’s side of the family. When he emigrated to the U.S. in 1979, he studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology as a Product Development major. He worked as a merchandise planner for top retail brands, such as John Hardy and Coach. He decided, after 10 years, it was time to be on his own. He established Key Music Group in 2008, an entertainment and event design concierge specializing in wedding events. Through Y2 Collection, he is carving himself a place in men’s fashion.

© 2017 The FilAm

Part 1: TOFA 2017 celebrates remarkable FilAms who influence, inspire
Part 2: This year’s TOFA honorees: Profiles in excellence

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