Going Places with #NoFilter’s Saab, Lauren, & Khalil

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Photography by Arabella Paner
Clothes by BENCH

Words by Margarita Buenaventura

What is it about millennials that hasn’t been said yet? This generation is notorious for its laziness and its entitlement, and its need to look good for selfies on social media. That’s just the bad stuff. Beyond their obsession with It-sneakers and Kylie Jenner’s next hair transformation is a generation that is in touch with their true selves, and one that is hell-bent on changing the world, one eco-friendly business at a time.

They’re a fascinating generation to pull apart, which is exactly what #NoFilter does. Presented by The Sandbox Collective, #NoFilter: Let’s Talk About Me is a series of monologues that explore what it means to be young in 2015—from the pitfalls of going on a booze binge to the heartaches of falling for idiots.

And what better way to dissect the millennial experience than through the bright minds that embody this spirit? #NoFilter has brought together a solid slasher cast that includes writer/musician Saab Magalona-Bacarro, performer/entrepreneur Khalil Kaimo, and actress/model Lauren Young. On a gloomy afternoon, BENCH went on a joy ride with Saab, Khalil, and Lauren as they talked candidly about loving one’s job, taking the plunge, and the importance of not giving a single damn.

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SAAB MAGALONA-BACARRO, 26

Hey, Saab! Before anything else, congrats on your wedding!

Aw, thank you!

It’s ballsy. Getting married in your 20s isn’t as important to young people as it was for our parents.

I didn’t know what I was thinking! (Laughs) I never really saw myself as the marrying type. As a young girl, I remember thinking I wanted a child, but I wasn’t really thinking of getting married ever. I’ve always wanted to have a kid at a young age like my mom, but reality happened. It’s not always easy. So right now, I don’t want a kid right away. (Laughs) I think I was just lucky, I found the right guy right away. I think if I hadn’t met Jim, I wouldn’t be married. It’s not about me wanting to get married. It just made sense, you know?

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Was there any newlywed experience that you brought into #NoFilter?

People tell me I got married too young, but I’ve had boyfriends before, I’ve had bad experiences. The thing about #NoFilter, when I was reading about the stuff, I was like, “Hey, I experienced this stuff.” If I had known I wasn’t alone, in all of this self-deprecating bullish*t, I would’ve had higher self-esteem. I dunno, I’ve had my dark ages… It was more my experiences before getting married. It’s wanting to please your parents, wanting to work towards your passion, and being independent.

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Speaking of passions, you also do a lot of different things. You’re a writer, a musician, and you’re also on radio. Is it important to you to hyphenate versus sticking to one thing?

There’s a monologue in #NoFilter about how your passion becomes your ultimate source of income. You try to be like, “No, I don’t want to. I don’t want to make my deadlines, this is my thing.” I just got really lost for a time. I couldn’t write anymore. And my husband told me, “Why don’t you try to find something that can be your job, para your writing can still be your passion?” That’s why I set out to get my radio gig. I guess for some people, they don’t have to do a lot of things, but for me I think it’s important. I’ve never been in theater before, and I have horrible stage fright. But I should stop telling myself not to do stuff. I should just go out there and do it.

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I can’t imagine you with stage fright.

‘Cause before I would do talks in schools, and I would want the ground to eat me up talaga. I almost cried one time. What I learned is that if you’re prepared, you’re more confident. It’s the same with theater. And if you stop being judgmental, you’ll stop thinking people are dissing you!

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Bomber Jacket by BENCH


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KHALIL KAIMO, 32

Hey, Khalil! I did some digging and I found out that you’re a former Candy Cutie. That’s pretty cool.

I love Candy Mag. Candy will always have a special place in my heart… I think I was on TV na when they approached me, about 14 years ago.

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I also heard you have a baking business called Kalookies. How’d that get started?

I started baking because I wanted to learn how to cook, because when you live by yourself you have to eat. So when my wife would come home and have dinner ready, I’d have chocolate chip cookies ready for dessert because they’re her favorite. And because she’s Italian and she loves Nutella, I added Nutella on top. And she started saying, “Hey, you should sell these.” And I said, “Uh, no.” (Laughs)

Why is that?

Because when I started having to do it, and people order and I have to make it… parang it’s not as fun anymore? It’s a hobby, and if it becomes work, it loses its… I’m scared that I become bored, or I’d feel pressure and it won’t be the same. But then [my wife] came home one day and said, “Guess what, I made a website and people have started ordering!” It snowballed from there.

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Shirt by BENCH

Do you think it’s important for someone to like or love their job? Like you said, you hesitated doing Kalookies because you didn’t want to dislike it.

Ideally, yes. It’s better if you like your job. But there are times when you have to make a sacrifice, because the bills won’t pay themselves. Mahirap kumita ng pera diba? I’ve had several encounters in my life where I did something really embarrassing, but you have to make money. Job satisfaction is very important because if you’re unhappy with what you’re doing, it affects your work.

Well, that’s true. You’re also a bit more established than some of your peers—you’re married, you have a successful business. Do you still feel like a millennial?

Sometimes, yes, and I’m a lot older now. Sometimes you’re like, “I don’t want to go to school.” Schools are like factories for lawyers, doctors, professionals… but what about the people from Gen X who look down at people from Gen Y, because we want to be dancers, we wanna be singers, we wanna be actors. It’s a lot more acceptable to not be a professional these days, because there are a lot of professions that have been created because of millennials. I mean, look at Instagram, so many people are creating their brands using that. Gen X looks at that and says, “That’s not a job.” But it is. It’s a lucrative business.

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LAUREN YOUNG, 21

Hey, Lauren! I’m curious, what made you want to do #NoFilter?

I really like doing different forms of art. I like doing things with substance too, hindi yung parang masabi lang na theater siya. And #NoFilter’s monologues are insights into the trials of this generation, and you see them overcome it. If you don’t relate to every single monologue but find one that you can really relate to, then I think we’ve done our job.

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Which monologue do you relate to the most?

Don’t judge me ha (Laughs) but I really like this monologue called “Rashomon.” Basically there’s this girl, and she’s like, “Yeah, it took me two hours to get ready for this party, and I’m gonna do this and, I’m gonna do that.” But she still ended up drunk and then she always promises herself that it’s never gonna happen. But in all honesty, we’re all gonna have that messed up night again. And for me — and it’s not just about partying, although I do like to go out — like, okay, sometimes I black out, or sometimes hindi ko namamalayan I have too much fun. In the same sense na I make too many promises to myself that I end up not doing.

Do you think your experiences differ in some ways, because you don’t have a traditional career?

People have this illusion that if you’re in showbiz, you earn so much. Okay, I earn so much in the first two months, but if I don’t have a show, I’m earning nothing. It helps, though, because you really have to work hard. There’s a shitload of artists here and there’s 20 new kids coming in every single day. The competition is tough. It’s really important to stay relevant.

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Sweater by BENCH

Have you noticed that young people today turn themselves into brands? Their social media lives are so curated. Do you ever see yourself as a brand too?

(Laughs) I have no fucking brand. I’m just me. I felt pressured to do that when I was younger, when I was on the love team stage. “Oh, ‘pag may boyfriend ako, kailangan kong itago.” I can’t be seen going out to certain places because image ko is good girl ako. Nowadays, it’s up to you. If you care, people are gonna start to care. I don’t care, and so no one cares anymore. If someone interviews me and asks, “So who’s your boyfriend now?” I’ll say my fucking boyfriend’s name. Why would I date the guy if I don’t want anyone to know? Kawawa naman yung boyfriend ko, he’s gonna think I’m ashamed of him when I’m not. I wanna be very honest, but there also things I don’t want to say ’cause I don’t need to. Like, what are you gonna do when you find out? Parang may ganun lang ako. That’s why I’m perfect for this, because I really have no filter. (Laughs)

Well, that’s very true. You gotta be yourself.

Yeah. You gotta own it, girl. (Laughs)

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B/FREE: Photographer Joey Alvero
#BenchBodyLanguage: Flow Artist Gino Santiago