#RAFExBENCH, BACKSTAGE BEFORE THE SHOW

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Photography by Beatrice Faicol
Interviews by George Evan Dungca

You could feel the rush of a New York minute at the launch of designer Rafe Totengco’s capsule collection for BENCH. Covering the runway and walls of the Bench Tower Basement were the successive stripes of countless pedestrian lanes, overwhelming enough to become hypnotic.

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Rafe Totengco

This must have been what a young Rafe felt when he first set foot in the big city in the ‘80s. As the hip-thrusting ‘70s beat of “Native New Yorker” played, hot young somethings in arresting prints and roomy fits stomped those lanes with purpose, each marching to the beat of their own ambitions.

In New York, everyone has a dream. BENCH BLOG finds out what our backstage personalities’ are, along with their must-dos and desires in the big city.

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#BENCHSETTER Mathew Custodio

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ANTON ZORRILLA 

Hey Anton! What is it about New York that you love? 

Honestly, the food. The food there is so good. In Chinatown, there’s a small shop called Vicky’s Dumplings. They have like a foot-long Peking duck sandwich for two dollars.

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BRIT ROMERO

Hey Brit, what was your last visit to New York like? 

It was fun and very busy. I had a lot of fun, especially in the museums. My favorite was the Museum of Modern Art. I loved seeing the works of Vincent Van Gogh and Henry Matisse. They had the gold Marilyn Monroe, as well.

What’s your fondest memory of New York?

When we went to Central Park. It was just fun looking at people and observing their fashion sense.

Anything else about New York that’s been a source of inspiration? 

The architecture. ‘Cause I have an online business and the main inspiration for my collection is architecture.

Did your business start from that trip?

It started in London when I studied there last year.

New York or London?

New York!

 

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Actor Jake Macapagal

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CARLOS LAUREL

Hey Carlos! What was your last trip to New York like? 

It was fun. It was a family trip. Everyone there is freakishly stylish (laughs).

Where’s the best spot for people watching?

Central Park.

What’s your #CanITellYou?

#CanITellYou I’m not really a model (laughs).

 

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Carmen Salaverri

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DERRICK MONASTERIO

Have you ever been to New York?

No, but it’s one of my dream destinations. I just wanna see the Manhattan Bridge. I see it in a lot of movies like My Girl.

When you get to New York, what’s the first thing you’d do?

I’d probably go grab a New York pizza.

So what’re you currently busy with?

Just working out. I have an upcoming show airing this November so I’m preparing for that. It’s a sitcom. It’s a superhero comedy show and I’m going to be playing a jeepney driver.

Local jeepney driver or New York cab driver?

Jeepney driver! Biased ako eh (laughs).

What’s your #CanITellYou?

#CanITellYou I am generous.

 

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DIEGO LOYZAGA

Hey Diego! Have you been to New York?

No, I haven’t but siyempre isa yan sa mga dream destinations ko. It’s the big city! It’s the Big Apple. It’s the busiest city in the world. It’s where you go to chase your dreams.

What would be the first thing you’d do when you get there?

I’d go celebrity hunting.

Any celebrities in mind?

Of course the Kardashians (laughs). I’d love to see them, especially since I’m a big fan of Kanye. I’d also love to go sightseeing.

 

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Nino Gaddi

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GABBI GARCIA

Hey Gabbi! Have you been to New York?

Not yet, pero it’s on my bucket list, along with places in Europe and Brazil.

When you finally go to New York, what’s the first thing you’d do?

I would love to look at the fashion on the street. Oh! There’s also Broadway! I would love to watch a show. Maybe Annie.

What’s your #CanITellYou?

#CanITellYou that I’m passionate.

 

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CHEF JP ANGLO

Have you ever been to New York?

A long, long time ago. Back when I was still in high school. It was overwhelming. It was, you know, New York. There’s no other place like it. It’s straightforward. It’s aggressive. It’s inspiring. It’s crazy (laughs).

What’s your fondest memory of that trip?

Going to Chinatown. I think I had one of the best Chinese-American meals there.

Which restaurants would you wanna try if you went back?

Well, I wanna eat at all of David Chang’s restaurants.

 

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JOEY MEAD-KING

What is it about New York that draws people to it?

It’s a big mishmash of every culture you could think of. I myself lived there for nine months, around the time my modelling years ended. You’ll always find a place where you feel like you belong there.

Tell us about that period. 

It was a good time. I was single. It was a place for new chapters. I think that’s why it’s so appealing for those who want a new chapter. It represented a new possibility. You don’t want something that would remind you of a broken heart.

It was good. I don’t think you’ve heard of a Saturn Return? It’s when you turn 28, it’s the time you work out who you are. If you don’t, it comes back and hits you at 50. So I was turning 30. I was a part-time model, part-time seating hostess. I would go to castings. I would meet new people. Every day is a different day because of the difference of the street you take or how your ride goes. It’s so strange to feel so alone but yet so surrounded.

What’s your fondest memory of New York?

Ah, I think the weekends because you could actually do things with the people you meet, and the most unexpected things like taking a boat ride around the city or even just turning up to karaoke. Somehow, we find such comfort with our Filipino communities by doing lunch or karaoke. Or if you wanna go down to Brooklyn, just walk around and find a really cute hipster café. There’s something endearing about discovery.

How did you meet Rafé?

I’ve known Rafé for a long time but not closely. I knew Rafé because of his sister Maricar, who I was friends with in New York. I’ve always passed by his store and was like, wow, he’s a Filipino designer and he’s proud of his connection. And then five years ago, Rafé asked me to be one of his muses when he opened in Rustan’s. He was very sincere and easygoing. And then three years ago, Rafé honored me by naming a bag the Joey Tote. It was really touching and I was really thankful.

What’s your #CanITellYou?

#CanITellYou that love abounds.

 

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Cong. Lucy Torres-Gomez

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Dawn Zulueta

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