Did you know that one of the country’s most beloved Chinoy couples lives in the Queen City of the South?
Back for its second season, CHiNOY TV’s Chinese by Blood, Filipino by Heart returns to CNN Philippines with exciting brand new content, exploring the modern Chinoy identity through dialogues with personalities from all over the Philippines. The documentary series, with its theme of going #BeyondBorders, aims to tell Chinese-Filipino stories that go further than traditional convention and geography — this time, we’re diving deep into the tropical paradise that is Cebu!
Enter the Chinoy Uy-Young power couple: As a pioneer fashion blogger and content creator, Kryz Uy has made her mark on the internet way before social media was even a thing. On the other hand, Slater Young is the popular celebrity-turned-entrepreneur who once stepped back from his work as an engineer to enter and win the popular reality show Pinoy Big Brother: Unlimited, before retiring from show business in 2014 to focus on more entrepreneurial endeavors.
Slater Young: On getting into showbiz
These days, Slater Young finds his day-to-day activities revolving around business. If he isn’t busy working as the CEO of the concrete manufacturing firm LiteBlock, he’s focusing on his real estate company Sky Estates. On the side, he also creates engineering videos on YouTube with help from his wife Kryz. In summary, the hustle is real.
However, before he turned into the savvy businessman that he is today, Slater was also once best known as an engineer who dipped his toes into showbiz — the latter being a career that many Chinoy households are typically hesitant to accept. Dubbed as the “Hotshot Engineer of Cebu,” Slater rose to prominence in the Philippine entertainment scene in 2012, after winning Pinoy Big Brother: Unlimited.
“From the very beginning, I always had this feeling na parang, ‘Will I always be working for my family business?’” admitted Slater, recounting how he had found himself with the opportunity to try out modeling and acting. “I just wanted a different flavor in life. I didn’t want my path to be set already at a very early age, and timing na lumalabas ako, merong manager na lumapit sakin. Sabi niya, ‘Oh, do you want to be an artista?’”
The first time the opportunity was presented, Slater refused. But then a few weeks later, another celebrity manager who had once seen Slater hanging out with KC Concepcion also messaged him: “Hey, I’m Erickson Raymundo of Cornerstone. I manage Sam Milby. Do you want to be an artista?”
“Sabi ko ‘nga, ‘Sige na, try natin.’ And syempre, it was Facebook, ‘di ba? So sabi ko parang I was wary of it. Who is the real thing or not? My response was lukewarm. So nag-message [siya] ulit, ‘Hey, I’m actually going to Cebu. I’m going to be here with Sam. Do you want to meet up? Just hang out? No pressure,’” Slater continued.
Eventually, Slater decided to give showbiz a shot and followed his manager’s plan to have him audition for Pinoy Big Brother, only to face his parents’ concerns.
Slater revealed, “I thought I told my mom and dad, ‘Okay, ito na ‘yung mangyayari.’ [But] my mom was very, very angry. Ayaw talaga niya. And she wouldn’t talk to me. She wouldn’t talk to me for a while, and I actually talked to my dad. Sabi niya, ‘Okay, just remember nalang na you always have a home here. If ever it doesn’t work out, we’ll always welcome you with open arms.
“Actually, that’s what made me cry for the very first time. One of my biggest [crying sessions] in PBB is when hindi kami nag-uusap ng mom ko, and then tumawag ako five months into PBB, and my mom was very happy. Maririnig mo na hindi na siya galit, and she’s actually very proud of what I have accomplished kasi ‘yung mga relatives namin tumatawag sa kanya:
“Your son is doing so well.”
Kryz Uy: On getting into fashion blogging
It shouldn’t be a surprise to hear that one of the country’s first fashion bloggers was always interested in fashion, even while growing up. According to Kryz Uy, her interest developed because of two things: her family business, which included a chain of supermarkets and department stores, and the way her family dresses. However, it was during her college years when she made it into something of her own.
Everything started during Kryz’s junior year at the Ateneo de Manila University, when her class was required to create a website that would generate traffic. “[Our project] was a blog that was a little controversial because we took photos of people around school wearing pekpek shorts. You know, funny things in school that you would notice. And then, we’d ask for comments among our peers.”
“I don’t know really what happened to that project, but I had so much fun creating that website that I decided to make my own. And that’s how it kind of all happened. I was so into fashion I decided to use that platform to post about my outfits,” she continued.
But then, Kryz graduated from university. And although she was still posting self-timer photos onto her blog Thirsty Thought, she remained confused as to whether or not she wanted to pursue a corporate career, as was expected by someone of her background.
“I remember my mom asking me, ‘What is it that you want to do? What is it that you enjoy?’ And I remember telling her, ‘You know what, Mom? I love it when I’m in front of the camera, wearing my nice outfits and taking photos of myself.’ And she’s like, ‘That’s ridiculous. What is that even?’ And I didn’t have an answer,” Kryz said.
Because of this, Kryz worked for the family business — fashion retail — for a few years. Eventually, however, she realized that she could not balance her hobbies with her job anymore. She still blogged, and it took too much time.
Kryz made a decision: She quit her job.
“I’m one of the first people who did [fashion blogging] in the Philippines. I remember I had two friends that I met also while we were on this journey together, and that was Camille [Co] and Laureen [Uy]. We’re all Chinoy. We had this meeting of sorts, and we were like, ‘You know what? We should charge for our posts because we work hard and we deserve to make a living out of this.’ And obviously, it was met with a lot of question marks up there sa parents ko. All they know growing up is business — family business ganito ganyan. And so my dad was like, ‘What are you doing? Stop taking photos of yourself. We’re a private family. Why are you taking photos of yourself for perverts to see online?’”
But the payments started to come in, organically. Then family friends would start mentioning seeing Kryz in magazines and TV shows. “My dad started feeling good about what I was doing instead of feeling ashamed. There was that switch. And obviously, if you’re a Chinese parent or if you’re anything like my dad, you don’t admit that you made a mistake or that you’re proud of your daughter. You just kind of pretend that you were in it for the whole ride. You were in it all along.”
“[Now], every time I post something and I look at [my dad’s] computer, he’s looking at it. And even up to now, on YouTube, my dad watches all of my videos — every single one.”
The Skypod family: On getting together
If there was one thing that was probably easier than Slater and Kryz discovering their passions, it was their getting together. Although they didn’t initially ‘like’ each other much when they first met, both had common grounds in both friends and culture.
“Parang common friends lang, we started hanging out. Super simple, super organic lang talaga. [It was] definitely a lot easier. I mean, marami akong naging ex na hindi Chinese, but there wasn’t a big issue. It’s just a little bit smoother. Culturally, mas swak kayo. The values were the same. So it’s easy for me to integrate [myself] into her family and vice versa,” said Slater.
Kryz agreed, “It was really easy for us and our parents. [There’s] this weird thing among Chinese people that if I’m Chinese and you’re Chinese, and even if you don’t know each other, when we know we’re both Chinese, I get you because we’re both Chinese. You know what I mean? There’s a connection.”
A fun joke to make is that, since Cebu isn’t a very big island, the Chinese community is very connected to each other. “People know each other. It’s like, ‘Oh, they kind of know our background already. Your family knows our background,” said Slater.
“I’m always the granddaughter of Rosita, and you’re always the son of John,” joked Kryz in return.
“I think everything just fell in place. It was easy. My mom actually helped me out with the engagement ring kasi meron sila ring that came from my lola that they wanted me to give to Kryz,” said Slater.
Kryz commented, “That’s how I knew that I was accepted.”
And so, after three years of being together, Slater proposed to Kryz on February 18, 2018. They then tied the knot a year later on February 17. Since then, the couple of two has expanded to a family of four, adding the now two-year-old Scottie and his newly born sioti.
Thinking back to the careers that they have both taken, the young parents now hope that their children will also be able to pursue their passions happily.
“Twenty years from now, I wish that our kids are following their own passions. [That] they have paved their own ways,” said Slater.
He added, “If you’re following your passions in art or in acting or kahit ano man ‘yan, kahit rocket science or whatever, we’ll be here for you. I hope that you enjoy every single moment of your life.”
Be sure to catch Kryz Uy and Slater Young on Chinese by Blood, Filipino by Heart on CNN Philippines! The series airs every Sunday at 8PM. Stay tuned on CHiNOY TV’s and CNN Philippines’ Facebook pages for further updates.