Hailed Mr. Chinatown 2020 Justin Yap Justin was born with a Chinese blood but with a Filipino heart. In our one-on-one with him, he bared with us the journey that made and break him in between.
Justin graduated with honors at De La Salle College of Saint Benilde with a degree in Hotel Restaurant Institution Management. He obtained his post-graduate degree in International Hotel Management at Les Roches JingJiang Shanghai China. He also went to Tsinghua University in Beijing, China to study Mandarin course. In fact, he became one of the delegates who represented the Philippines in the Harvard Project for Asian and International Relations in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. His travels abroad exposed him to a myriad of cultures, influencing his emotional and cultural intelligence.
Trials after trials
He was very young when typhoon Yolanda wrought havoc in his hometown, Tacloban City. So massive was the destruction that they thought they would never be able to bounce back. Few years after, his mother was diagnosed with cancer. This added to the already hefty weight of the world upon their shoulders.
“Just as the family was recovering from those painful experiences, the pandemic happened and while the family’s businesses could not operate, the matriarch of the family, Amah, departed this life because of a rare illness. Everyone in the family was broken to the core.”
Despite all that has happened, Justin remained hopeful of the future. If there’s one thing he learned from these experiences, it is to never give up. These trials did not stop them, especially Justin from moving forward.
“I made my experiences an inspiration to achieve greater heights. I believe that no matter what life throws at anyone, there are always a hundred reasons to smile and to be grateful for.”
Over the course of the lockdown, Justin discovered what he is passionate about—baking. In fact, he has been baking pastries since. He sells them to his friends and relatives in Tacloban. He was taken aback when his pastries started to sell like hotcakes. Everyone just loves what he bakes.
Joining Mr. Chinatown was one of his lifelong dreams as well. He believes in its advocacy for a just and progressive society.
“Now that I’m Mr. Chinatown 2020, I vow to be an ambassador of goodwill who brings some sparks of joy and hope to people in this time of hopelessness.”
Furthermore, he wants to bring change by focusing on the welfare of children as he believes that they are the game changers in the generations to come. Justin further believes that children have got to be inspired and empowered to do better and be better for the betterment of the nation and that poverty should hinder them from achieving success.
Photographer | Charvin Valdez Torne
Creative Direction & Style | Shandy Montecarlo Lim
Hair and Make-up | Jessie Maghuyop
Lights Man |Rob Maca