Pajama top, ZIGGY SAVELLA. Navy trousers, STAN RAY, TROPA STORE. PHOTO: JOSEPH PASCUAL
Raymond’s work is as diverse as it is collaborative, and he is as clever as he is ambitious. He is the founder and publisher of CNN Philippines Life, a vertical lifestyle and culture platform for the news website cnnphilippines.com and is the principal, author, and editor at Made of Bricks, an editorial imprint under Summit Books where he has edited and published a number of bestsellers including Push: Muses, Mischief and How to Make it in Manila with the photographer BJ Pascual; and last year’s city guide Manila, Manila and More, a collaboration with the design agency Serious Studio.
He is also one of the three founding partners at Milk Man Marketing, an agency that helps brands tell their stories by offering content creation, art and editorial direction, social media management, brand positioning, and unique event concepts. Milkman’s clients include power players such as Ayala Land Premier, Uniqlo Philippines, Natori, Bench, as well as smaller independent brands such as Vania Romoff and Halo Halo. Its recent #OurFutureIsHere campaign for Uniqlo in partnership with the multidisciplinary Singapore studio Anonymous has garnered much commercial success and critical acclaim. Soon, he will launch a project that he has been working on with friends for the past three years, the Biannual Skinny, a literary ‘zine filled with poetry, essays, and art, that focuses on ‘people and the stories people tell.’
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Without trying, Raymond has also become one of the Manila’s ‘cool kids.’ Recently, he was the subject of a video made for Fred Perry in celebration of its 10th year in the Philippines. The video is a grand statement about Manila and is his personal love letter to the city he calls home. Often mentioned for his sartorial choices, he was named one of Preview’s Best Dressed Men in 2017.
But like many of the coolest people around, Raymond didn’t start out that way. He admits that he was "that student"—the one that spent recess and lunch in the library reading all he could about whatever captured his curiosity at the moment. "When I get into something, I do a deep dive,” he shares.
Case in point is his love and obsession for film. A cinephile since childhood, he recalls how he spent hours reading about old movies that were most likely “above his comprehension level." His film exploration has taken him from old Hollywood classics like Singing in the Rain and the films of Alfred Hitchcock and Billy Wilder to French New Wave. He has also spent a great deal of his time watching films from the golden age of Philippine cinema.
Raymond began his career in journalism at The Philippine Star while still in college. He was included in The Philippine Star’s Supreme’s “22 Under 22” list for his work as editor in chief of The Guidon, Ateneo de Manila University’s official student newspaper. Later, he was tapped by Supreme editors Tim Yap, Paolo Lorenzana, and Pepe Diokno to write for the section where he later served as assistant editor. Within a year he was promoted by Millet Mananquil, the publication’s lifestyle editor and one of Raymond’s mentors. Concurrent with Young Star, Raymond was also working at Rogue magazine as an editorial assistant. During his two-year stay there, he wrote a story about the making of Francis Ford Coppola’s film Apocalypse Now in the Philippines, which got picked up by Rolling Stone Italia and was chosen as one of its “10 Best Stories of the Last 10 Years."
“Working at Young Star and having a hand in finding and giving breaks to young talent was probably the most fulfilling job I’ve ever had,” he says. “I really value mentorship—both the people who mentor me and the people I’ve found myself mentoring. I recognize that I’ve been able to do a lot at my age because of industry mentors who’ve taken me under their wing and encouraged me to think bigger and find my niche. In the same way, I try to pay it forward and actively work with—and check up on—assistants and interns who’ve passed through me.”
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With a big job at 24-years-old, Raymond had already understood the pressure of being an editor and having control of a large platform of influence. “You have this responsibility to do better than what you are seeing,” he says. “We set out to represent the youth and their passions minus the bull and as much as we could, we worked on meritocracy and aimed to always be fair. We treated nobodies like they were somebodies and somebodies like they were nobodies.”
Three-and-a-half years into his editorship at Young Star, however, Raymond decided to call it quits. He realized that whatever secrets he had going into the job were already passé and began questioning his ability to sense what was cool and relevant to youth culture. “Was I being a millennial by leaving Young Star only three years in?” he would ask himself. “It definitely wasn’t the work; I just didn’t feel I was the right fit for the brand anymore. It came to a point that I needed to decide where I wanted to take my work and looking back, I can say that if I stayed in the youth genre I probably wouldn’t have done a lot of things that I did.”
In 2013, he also began taking on corporate work to supplement his experiences. For retail giant Bench, Raymond conceptualized Benchmark magazine and released its first issue in 2014 as editor. A year later, the publication received the silver award for Best Publication Design in the ADOBO Design Awards. At Bench, he was also allowed to expand his artistry and practice and served as creative director for several Bench ads including the controversial “Love All Kinds of Love” and the notable “Love Local” campaign with Eddie Garcia and Pilita Corrales.
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Further proving his versatility and ability to produce great content regardless of the medium, he also conceptualized and produced the profile series Good Company for 9TV in 2014. A year later, it was nominated for the Best TV Magazine Show by the Golden Dove Awards by the Kapisanan ng mga Broadkaster ng Pilipinas. In 2015, he produced the interview show Leading Women for CNN Philippines and in 2016, it won the Golden Dove for the Best TV Magazine Show. Of his successes, Raymond says, “I’m able to do a lot of things because I work with a lot of great people. I’m under no illusion that I have the monopoly on great ideas—I trust the people I work with and find myself continuously amazed that I get to work with all these talented people. I always say that collective intelligence is the goal. ”
Every so often, Raymond takes time to reset and find his purpose although recently he says he has not been able to set longer-term goals in a while. “It’s something that is throwing me off because I am a Taurus and I like planning, but I’m trying to live in the moment,” he says chuckling. “I’m just going with the flow and rolling with the punches for now.” Watching documentaries, listening to podcasts, and consuming things from older people that have seen life’s ups and downs is how he spends his downtime. “I find that I am so much more interested in their experiences as opposed to that initial flush of success. That’s never interesting to me. I mean what’s so great about being an ingénue who walked into a moment?”
Photographs by Joseph Pascual
Produced and styled by Paolo Chua, assisted by April Lozada
Makeup by Patrick Alcober for Make Up For Ever and Apple Faraon
Hair by Ron Vegaros
Additional art direction by Sandy Aranas, assisted by Grace Sacares
Shot on location at Artelano 11
Special thanks to Eric Paras