There’s this old saying, “The youth is wasted on the young.” Some old fart came up with it, and Google is telling me it was either Oscar Wilde or George Bernard Shaw. Whoever. I prefer journalist Mary Schmich’s smart tita way of dispensing a similar sentiment:

“Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind; you will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded. But trust me: In 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.”

If this sounds familiar, it’s because it’s part of that “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)” song that Baz Luhrmann recorded in 1999.

Now while there is some truth to the sentiment that the young do not and cannot fully appreciate youth, it doesn’t necessarily have to be such a drastic view. Existential anxiety can strike a person at any age, sure—and spoiler alert, kids, it never really stops—but what matters more is how they are able to turn those Big Questions of “Who am I?” and “What can I make of myself?” into motivation for self-actualization.

Anyway, this isn’t an attempt to Iyanla Vanzant your lives. Rather, this post is a retrospective on Garage‘s annual Young Talents list, presented at the start of every summer for the past nine years.

Our first ever Young Talents feature, with the then-19-year-old Xian Lim in the opening spread. Photographer: Jake Versoza. Stylist: Rey R. Ilagan, Jr. with assistance from Edlene Cabral and Catherine Castañares. Makeup artist: Jigs Mayuga. Hairstylist: John Valle.

Lists like this have long been around; we’re definitely not the first magazine to scour the scene for new names and talents to champion. But putting together our first group of Young Talents back in 2009 when Garage itself was barely a year old felt like being a new kid in school looking out for fellow newcomers to support and bond with. It was less like an “anointing,” but was rather more of, “Hey, we think you’re great, can we please be friends?”

There was no Instagram then, and Facebook, less than five years old at the time, was still generally terra incognita to most people. The names we’d come up with came from our own ideas of whose work we were interested in, plus recommendations from people whose taste we trusted; there were no follower counts to track and page likes to take into account, because it wasn’t really a popularity contest.

Maxine Syjuco from our 2010 Young Talents list. Photographer: Roy Macam. Stylist: Rey R. Ilagan, Jr. with assistance from Edlene Cabral and Catherine Castanares. Makeup artist: Mona Borromeo. Hairstylist: Angelu Dominguez.

While popularity is now sort of taken into account (we do look for those who have already made some buzz, but it’s not the end-all and be-all of our lists), the Young Talents feature remains to not be a predictive list. After interviewing more than 70 young folks for the past 10 years, we’ve come to understand that with every feature, we’re simply capturing snapshots of moments in these talents’ lives. They all have so much potential, drive, and vision, and ultimately, they’re the ones who’ll determine the path upon which they’d pour all their everything into. We’re just here for motivation.

A Young Talents reunion in 2014 featured, among others, Toff De Venecia (batch 2013), model Jessica Yang (batch 2010), photographer Joseph Pascual (batch 2013), and designer Sassa Jimenez (2011). Photographer: Ria Regino. Stylist: Adrienne Concepcion, with assistance from Jerico Villamonte. Makeup artist and hairstylist: Ponti Pontiveros.

Take Toff De Venecia, for example. He was already Somebody when he landed on our Young Talents list in 2013—comes from a prominent family, a former child actor, and a lifestyle columnist— yet when he made his appearance on our pages, he presented another facet to his personality and creativity as a 26-year-old theater director who harbored big dreams for the local theater scene. “I want one solid art community that encompasses everything, from fashion to visual arts to theater and even food,” De Venecia told us then. “I’d like to think that one day it’ll come true—you know you’re only limited by your own imagination.” Today, he is preoccupied with public service, serving as a first-time representative of the fourth district of Pangasinan.

Photographer: Ria Regino. Stylist: Adrienne Concepcion, with assistance from Jerico Villamonte. Makeup artist and hairstylist: Ponti Pontiveros.

We’ve also had a couple of Young Talents ending up as a real-life power couple. They were featured in our lists three batches apart, but by 2014, when our first Young Talents reunion shoot was held, Jim Bacarro (batch 2012) and Saab Magalona (batch 2009) were already together. Married since 2015, the couple are now parents to their son Pancho (they unfortunately lost their son’s twin sister Luna soon after her birth). It’s not just a life of romantic collaboration for these two: They’re also creative partners as members of the indie band Cheats—he’s on vocals, keys, and guitar, she’s on vocals—and last June, they launched their parenting/pop culture podcast Wake Up with Jim & Saab. 

Presenting entrepreneur Gerard Cancio in 2013. Photographer: Gabby Cantero. Stylist: Adrienne Concepcion, with assistance from Jerico Villamonte.

Presenting LA Aguinaldo in 2014. Photographer: Seven Barretto. Stylist: Adrienne Concepcion, with assistance from Jerico Villamonte. Makeup artist and hairstylist: Ponti Pontiveros.

More than “spotting” new names and faces, our Young Talent features also give us a glimpse into youth culture and how fast it changes, especially now that our magazine ain’t so young anymore. Even the styling choices provide insight: From the more formal, grownup vibe of our first few editorials, the shoots progressively became more youthful, in true celebration of these kids’ ages and the promise they hold. After all, being a Young Talent means finding joy in who they are now, instead of putting on a persona of whom they think they must be like in the future.

Laura Lehmann channeling the ’90s in our 2015 editorial. Photographer: Gabby Cantero. Stylist: Edlene Cabral, with assistance from Jerico Villamonte. Makeup artist: Chuchie Ledesma. Hairstylist: Catherine Sta. Ana.

So really, youth is not wasted on the young—at least, not on our Young Talents. A number of our past ones are now seriously putting their bids on running the world, and all of them continue to prove that yes, the future remains bright (and, we hope, totally solar-powered soon). And Garage will continue to find folks from younger generations to champion in a positive light.

To whoever lands on our 2019 list (and beyond), let these wise words from Young Talent alumni Cai Subijano (batch 2012) and Raymond Ang (batch 2011) guide you: “Do your job, but be always respectful towards the people you work with,” and “Don’t 👏believe 👏your 👏own 👏press 👏release.” (Clapping emphasis ours.)

From Young Talents to wise talents: Cai Subijano and Raymond Ang. Photographer: Ria Regino. Stylist: Adrienne Concepcion, with assistance from Jerico Villamonte. Makeup artist and hairstylist: Ponti Pontiveros.