5 Ways SB19 Is Ushering In A New Era Together With Their Fans

Reaching new heights.

This 2023, SB19 has made some big changes and hit several milestones as they continue to blaze their way through the world. As their 5th anniversary nears, here’s how they’re coming into an exciting new era.

Related: What The Launch Of 1Z Entertainment Means For The Future Of SB19

There’s no doubt that five-member Filipino pop group SB19 continues to be an unstoppable force of nature. Championing Filipino talent going global, the group is achieving milestone after milestone as they continue to chase their dreams and pave the way for local acts.

This year, from the release of their second EP Pagtatag! to their new, personal podcast, SB19 has embarked on another journey as a unit and as musicians—and they show no signs of slowing down. Half a decade in the business has not dulled their artistry, their love for their fans, and their desire to tell their story. As they near their fifth anniversary, the group is reaching towards new heights while remaining grounded to who they are. So this October, Pablo, Stell, Justin, Ken, and Josh promise an entire month of events celebrating how far they’ve come, and how much farther they’re going to go.


@officialsb19 1 day ‘til the release of PAGTATAG! EP. Mag GENTO GENTO muna tayo while waiting. 🫣 #SB19PAGTATAG #PAGTATAG #SB19 #SB19GENTO #GENTO ♬ GENTO – SB19

What else signifies going bigger and bolder than SB19’s absolute hit Gento? The song, which went staggeringly viral, was covered by a whole slew of K-Pop idols and reached two Billboard charts. There’s no doubt it marked a full-circle moment for the group given that they were inspired and influenced by global acts. The success of Gento was also accompanied by the success of their second international tour across the Philippines and North America.


In a video all about the new direction SB19 is taking to achieve their dreams, the band explained that starting their own company 1Z Entertainment was a move to take control of their work and their future. The band has always been hands-on with their projects, and this move ensures they have more of a say in their craft. 1Z Entertainment isn’t just something for SB19, though—they envision it as a way to make changes in the Filipino music industry.


It’s fitting that one of SB19’s events this October was Pepsi Pulse 2023, a launch aptly themed Be Part Of A New Era. The group headlined the event, performing in their usual explosive manner. As they celebrated a new era with the brand, one can’t help but think about how the band itself was celebrating their own new era after they left old management and started down their own path.


One of the major October events the group has in store is the One Zone: SB19 Half a Decade Celebration Fanmeet! On October 28, 2023 at the Araneta Coliseum the band will host a special anniversary fanmeet for their beloved A’TINs to celebrate all that they’ve achieved in the last five years and everything more to come.


SB19 podcast


As fans, we mostly see our idols performing or joking around in variety shows. It’s always special when they take time to share their honest thoughts and opinions, perspectives, and advice, whether through a livestream or episodes from Mindset by DIVE Studios. Similarly, another October special from SB19 features a peek into the members’ lives and minds as they start their own podcast, Atin Atin Lang, where they’ll be having open and honest conversations about “life, career, and everything else amongst themselves” every Monday this October on Spotify. The first episode is all about “Finding and Losing Relationships,” a relevant subject befitting those of us who are embarking on new journeys ourselves.

Continue Reading: Songs To Listen To On SB19’s PAGTATAG! EP Based On Your Mood

How This 23-Year Old Self-Taught Handpoked Tattoo Artist Found Her Calling

Value the learning curve.

Young tattoo artist Mjeng went through several hobbies that didn’t click until she found her love for handpoked tattooing. While still deep in the process of learning, she’s dedicated to growing in the craft, and picking up some life lessons along the way.

Related: 13 Filipina Tattoo Artists Inking Their Way Around the Philippines

Those of us who have ever tried a few hobbies knows that not everything will stick. You’ll leave a crochet project tangled and unfinished, a paint-by-numbers half-empty and rolled up in a cabinet somewhere. For some of us, we discover that one niche that we spend our days doing—as well as the peace and contentment that comes with it. And for others, we want to turn our hobbies into a source of livelihood because if we love doing it and are good at it because why not?

Mjeng, a 23-year old writer and self-taught handpoked tattoo artist based in Metro Manila and Los Baños, is finding her way as an artist slowly but surely, guided by her dedication to her craft. Easygoing and relaxed, but harboring a deep passion for the work, she’s committed to growing, and she’s got some pretty big plans. Here’s how she turned a niche hobby into a dream worth pursuing.


While there still exists prejudice against tattooed people and the negative notions attached to tattoos, the constant popularity of getting inked, not to mention its cultural and historical significance, make them a staple in human cultures.

Tattoos are all about art and self-expression, and immediately reveals something about a person. They could be meaningful and sentimental, or they could just be something cute and fun. Mjeng says, “I like that a lot of people are embracing that idea na if you want a tattoo, go get [one].”

Handpoked tattooing is a manual method of tattooing where a tattoo needle is dipped into ink and pushed into the skin. Also called stick-and-poke tattooing, it requires artists to manually create a line using dots. It takes some more time, but offers unique art permanently placed on a person’s body. It’s tedious and often perceived as impractical in the day and age of machine tattooing. But for Mjeng, while she wants to learn machine tattooing as well, as of now she doesn’t have a dedicated space for it nor the money to purchase equipment. But tattooing with a machine isn’t her ultimate goal.

“Parang gusto ko gawing niche yung handpoked tattoo, kasi may sentimental value siya for me.” The handpoked tattoo experience, Mjeng elaborates, is more intimate and personal. “I like how when I tattoo, nae-enjoy ko talaga either yung silence or yung opportunity na makausap yung client to get to know them.”

While the method and materials are slightly different between handpoked tattooing and the indigenous Filipino practice of batok, Mjeng referenced the dedication and commitment of mambabatok Apo Whang-Od and wanted to embody similar characteristics in her own work. “I want to follow that kind of dedication to a certain craft,” she shares.


mjeng handpoked tattoo artist
boltcutters handpoked tattoo

During the pandemic, Mjeng tried out several hobbies that didn’t stick. Crocheting, embroidery, and the like were not for her, and while she’s not artistically inclined in any other way except in writing, one day she finally found it. After watching plenty of YouTube vlogs like the rest of us, she stumbled upon the practice of handpoked tattooing. At first, Mjeng reacted the way most people do and thought to herself “isn’t that unhygienic?” But she thought back to what she did when she was younger and realized how well the art would fit her.

“Nung high school at elementary ako, siguro universal experience to pero for me kina-reer ko talaga yung pagddrawing sa arms ng katabi ko. So parang foreshadowing na meant to be yung handpoked tattooing.”

So, given her affinity for drawing on her classmates’ arms, Mjeng got curious and tried it out. She researched and practiced—on herself first, then on her friends. She got into a groove—a hobby finally clicked. Now, she wants to build her business, find her art style, and dedicate her time to handpoke tattooing. Short term-wise, she’s saving up for a dedicated space for tattooing, perhaps a converted area in an apartment. For now, she’s taking her time, saving up money, and learning as she goes.


Throughout her learning journey, Mjeng has picked up a few things. “You won’t ever get better at something unless you consistently do it, unless you persist at doing it,” Mjeng advises. As with any thing, you need time to grow and get better. Your first work or first draft won’t always be good, she said. “I try not to be too upset na di ganoon ka-perfect yung mga una kong works of art.”

She’s also grateful for all the faith people have in her. Tattoos are a permanent commitment, and her friends letting her tattoo them is a show of trust. She finds that “Someone out there will really be there for you [and] support you.” Besides the people you already know, she believes that someone out there will recognize your craft and all the heart and soul you put into it.

Unfortunately, it’s not all smooth sailing—nothing ever is! The young artist still struggles to find her art style because she isn’t able to practice it well, instead following her clients’ wishes of dainty tattoos. She also has work, so she doesn’t have enough time to practice. But she advises not to get caught up in being upset that things aren’t coming along or that other people are doing better quicker. She’s got the time and she’s putting the work in—things will be alright.

The way she talks about the craft—the preparation, the process, and the little details—and her optimistic demeanor are clear indications of how much she loves doing what she does. Mjeng is as knowledgable and enthusiastic as anyone who’s passionate about something, and while passion isn’t the only thing that gets people to achieve their dreams, she is wholeheartedly committed to it.

Continue Reading: This Upcoming Documentary is Giving Filipino Tattooing Its Deserved Spotlight

How This Gen Z Artist Captures What It Means To Be Filipino Through Painting

Sining para sa bayan.

Through her paintings of everyday life, culture, and resistance, 21-year-old artist and student Raya illustrates her own understanding of what it means to be Filipino.

Related: Meet This Filipino Queer Artist That Creates Ethereal and Otherworldly Paintings

There’s much debate going on about what Filipino identity truly is. It’s been long discussed, whether in social media or the academe: what does it mean to be Filipino? Our history and culture are amalgamations of influences brought about by trade, travel, colonization, and globalization. Whether in cuisine or art, unearthing what it means to be Filipino is a daunting task that, perhaps, has no reward satisfying enough for everyone.

But for one Filipino Gen Z artist, to be Filipino means a shared experience of the everyday, a culture of diversity, and resistance. It’s about “recognizing the culture, arts, cuisine, homeland, and countrymen as integral parts of [our] identity” and fighting for our nation and its people no matter what.

Twenty-one-year old Raya is a freelance artist and fourth-year student at the University of the Philippines Baguio, taking up a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Her work amasses thousands of likes on social media platforms X and Instagram because of her distinct style and subject matter. An artist working with both traditional and digital tools, Raya paints with warmth, memory, beauty, and a love for her country and its people.


Dapit hapon, raya

Dapit Hapon / Raya (biyaheniraya)

Raya’s art often features themes of youth, girlhood and womanhood, and Filipino life, culture, and identity. Most of her works exude an air of days-gone-by, evoking a sense of deep-rooted familiarity. For instance, her digital painting Dapit Hapon depicting Filipino children playing Chinese garter on the street is a warm, beautifully-lit piece encapsulating the simple joys of a Filipino childhood. Similarly, Tampisaw shows children relishing the rain, umbrella forgotten. You know they’re aware of the scolding they’re bound to get from their parents for playing in the rain, but they don’t mind.

Tampisaw, raya

Tampisaw / Raya (biyaheniraya)

The feelings evoked by Raya’s art is her attempt at capturing the distinct experience of mundane Filipino life. Referencing how sad it makes her to hear how many Filipinos want to leave their country for better opportunities, but knowing that it’s not their fault, Raya shares, “That’s why I make art about Filipinos, so that I can remind people in subtle ways that there’s a lot more to be proud of as a Filipino, even the mundane life.”

More of Raya’s work include women dressed in modern or traditional Filipino clothing, city staples like the tindahan or landmarks like Session Road, and artwork inspired by Filipino films like Liway (2018) or Goyo (2018). Womanhood is also often the subject of her work, an important aspect of her art and advocacy. In relation, the student-artist is also working on the beginnings of her thesis, which she hopes will delve into the role of women, particularly homemakers, in Philippine society.

Remedios by raya

Remedios / Raya (biyaheniraya)

Raya Filipina sketches

Sketches / Raya (biyaheniraya)

Indios Tagalos - Raya

Indios Tagalos Redraw / Raya (biyaheniraya)

Whether through traditional or digital methods, Raya’s artistry shines through. She was initially inspired by Disney and Studio Ghibli art styles, as well as artists like Sibylline, Aeonix, and Hong Seung Wook. “But as much as possible,” she says, “I want to exude the aura of local style.”


Aside from Filipino life and culture, a distinct theme that’s woven through Raya’s artworks is one of resistance.

“Whether we like it or not, our political views are a part of what makes us Filipino,” she says. Plenty of her paintings reference Filipino struggle and the systemic issues that plague the nation and its people. An untitled piece, for example, depicts a young girl painting a mural similar to Botong Francisco’s Filipino Struggles Through History, a visual representation of how art serves as immortalization of memory and a reminder to resist oppression and fight for freedom. It’s a work of art that celebrates the unyielding Filipino spirit, shared across history and generations, even in the face of adversity.

Raya's untitled mural artwork of an artist

Raya (biyaheniraya)


Raya elaborates that “It is our duty as Filipinos to consider the implications of our decisions and what would be best for our nation. As it is our right to voice our concerns in various types of media, it is best to use art as a powerful instrument to inform and communicate.”

Raya uses her art to amplify calls for change and stand in solidarity with her fellow Filipinos. Last year, she opened art commissions to assist the victims of Typhoon Paeng, and created artworks supporting Leni Robredo for president during the elections. She’s able to craft clear, impactful messages through her art, criticizing injustice as she does.

Sa Ritmo Ng Buhay Estudyante-Manggagawa / Raya (biyaheniraya)

But in struggle comes optimism, and a spark of hope is also set alight by Raya’s work as she highlights important themes and opens discussion on intersectional issues. She aspires to be a children’s book illustrator, telling stories involving issues of “mental health, the environment, and history” to a young audience—an effort to change things for new generations who can learn a thing or two from history. Her favorite project is one done with author Lacy Bussey, a yet-to-be-released children’s book about keeping one’s dreams alive.

Her love for the Philippines and its people is clear as day in every painting, and her ultimate ambition is to be “an independent artist who promotes Filipino culture and traditions.”



Hindi Pasisiil / Raya (biyaheniraya)

Of course, like with any artist or creative, it wasn’t easy for Raya to pursue her ambitions of being an artist. Often, the art and creative industry faces plenty of judgment for not being lucrative. Raya doesn’t believe that’s true.

“There are a lot of career opportunities related to arts because a business cannot function without it. People who don’t understand how difficult it is to create art are the ones that make us feel inferior.”

However, even though the young artist always loved art and was passionate about creating things, there were times where she no longer found the process enjoyable.

“I’ve been putting so much pressure on myself to succeed, comparing myself to others, and depending my value primarily in terms of the things I produce,” she shares. She had to learn how to see her work “with the innocent perspective of a child” and to “focus more on the process than the final product.”

Tindahan Ni Raya

Tindahan Ni Raya / Raya (biyaheniraya)

In finally finding her style, what she’s fighting for, and what art truly means to her, Raya creates with and exemplifies what it means to be artista ng bayan.

“I came to understand that creating art isn’t just about beauty; it’s also a way to express oneself and create memories.”

Continue Reading: This Filipino College Student Drew Regular Street Vendors as Superheroes

Ylona Garcia Is Having A Great Year So Far

She's all that and more.

Armed with a love for people and music, the young singer-songwriter is on track to living her best life.

Related: 7 of Ylona Garcia’s Best Songs That You Need to Add to Your Playlist ASAP

Ylona Garcia’s career has always been on an upward trajectory. At 21, the Filipino-Australian artist has made waves not just in the Philippines, but internationally. As a member of American record label 88rising, managed by Paradise Rising, she’s released several hits over the last couple of years like All That, Don’t Go Changing, Entertain Me, and Vibin.

This year, she’s achieved several milestones for her career, spent time with good people, and started working on new music. Hear all about her wins in 2023 below!


Ylona’s recent win let her start August off with a bang. In honor of Filipino Heritage Night on August 2 US time, she performed the Philippine national anthem Lupang Hinirang in front of a crowd of thousands seated for a baseball game at the Dodgers Stadium. With a strong voice, wearing a baseball jersey in the colors of the Philippine flag, Ylona definitely made Filipinos everywhere proud.

@ylonagarcia nagkaroon ako ng pagkakataong kantahin ang Lupang Hinirang (Philippine National Anthem) sa palaro ng @Los Angeles Dodgers !! medyo kabado ako nung una na kantahin ito, dahil hindi ito ang sarili kong kanta. pero kahit na ganumpaman, ito ang kanta na nag-rerepresenta sa aking sarili at sa aking bansa. sinigurado ko na nasa tamang tono, tamang oras at higit sa lahat galing sa aking puso ang pag kanta ko nito. sana’y napasaya at napahanga ko kayo, mga kababayan. sana ay proud kayo, Pilipinas !! #fyp #dodgers #pinoypride ♬ original sound – ylonagarcia

Filipino Heritage Night is a special event done during sports events to honor and celebrate Filipinos and their culture, and Ylona was ecstatic, grateful, and admittedly a little nervous for the opportunity to represent herself and her country.

Medyo kabado ako nung una na kantahin ito, dahil hindi ito ang sarili kong kanta. pero kahit na ganumpaman, ito ang kanta na nag-rerepresenta sa aking sarili at sa aking bansa,” she wrote in her caption for Instagram and TikTok. “Sana ay proud kayo, Pilipinas !!”


In February, Wanderland Festival announced Ylona as part of their March lineup, joining artists like Carly Rae Jepsen, Rico Blanco, and No Rome. Aptly titled Wanderland: The Comeback, the festival marked Ylona’s return to the Philippine stage after four years.

“it’s been almost 4 years since the last time i performed back home,” she posted. Ylona was scheduled to perform a set on 88rising’s Head in the Clouds Manila festival in December 22, which was unfortunately canceled due to bad weather. Thankfully, she was able to take the stage at Wanderland this 2023. After the festival, Ylona took to Instagram to admit that she was nervous about the performance, as well as express her love for what she does: “This moment is why I keep doing what I do.”


Ylona is known to be very humble and down-to-earth. In a press event and reported by Vice, she mentioned that one of her goals in 2022 was to buy a house for her family. When she went back to Australia early on in the pandemic, she went back to studying and even took a job at McDonalds! Described as “a literal embodiment of an extrovert,” she loves making connections with people—like her fans.

This year, she got the opportunity to meet members of the Organization of Young Filipino Americans at thee University of Virginia. She performed for and with them, hosted a kamayan with her team, and had meaningful conversations as she bonded with the students over their shared culture and heritage.


Everyone’s been patiently clamoring for new music from the artist for quite a while now—and based on Ylona’s several studio sessions teasing a new album, it’s definitely coming! This year, after a “much-needed break,” Ylona came back to the studio refreshed and recharged. Fans saw an influx of photos and videos of the singer-songwriter in recording sessions, merely a taste of what’s to come.

Mentions of “the album” excited fans on social media, and with every studio session clip, we are reminded of her versatility as a Pop/R&B artist, her gorgeous vocals, and love for music.

Throughout her career, Ylona has remained grounded, humble, and proud of her identity. She’s based in Los Angeles now, working on her music, taking her friends to Lakers games, and living her best life as a young artist blazing a trail to success. And we simply can’t wait for what’s next.

Continue Reading: With or Without Her HITC Performance, Ylona Garcia is Happy to Be Back in Manila