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WINNIE/PENELOPE

This vlogger has two beautiful faces

By BṺM TENORIO JR., The Philippine STAR Published Mar 19, 2021 5:00 am

Her face is the mirror image of her heart — both beautiful and nurturing. In her soul resides the desire to help others live a decent life.

Winnie Wong, 29, is a vlogger who goes by the name Penelope Pop. She’s not just any YouTube sensation. She’s also a graphic design and photography teacher at the International School Manila. She has turned her massive influence in vlogging and experience in teaching to putting up a foundation she calls Future Faces Manila. With the foundation, she helps her students realize their own project with a noble purpose: to build a multi-purpose facility that will serve primarily as a soup kitchen for a community in Bocaue, Bulacan.

Winnie is a force. Her actions yield results, primarily because she knows how to ask for help. Under her guidance and leadership, Future Faces Manila also partnered with Project Pearl, a non-profit organization that was already helping the community in Bocaue. Project Pearl also provided the parcel of land where the facility was built.

  Winnie spearheaded the establishment of a multi-purpose facility/soup kitchen in Bocaue, Bulacan, through her foundation Future Faces Manila.

“The building structure is finished,” Winnie said, adding that she is working hard on her vlogs to earn more funding, banking on the kind hearts of others to finish the soup kitchen. She envisions feeding hundreds of children, formerly from Smokey Mountain, now relocated in Bocaue, in the soup kitchen. For now, the building is used for seminars for the people in the neighborhood.

“We believe that we need to be able to address the basic needs of some so they can focus on building their lives. The most basic need of an individual is food. Food is important for your brain and to assist you to be physically capable of working,” Winnie told The STAR in a Messenger interview.

As YouTube sensation Penelope Pop, she has long championed the move to return to basics and to practice a lifestyle based on sustainability. Now, as teacher and advocate, Wong finds meaning in helping uplift the lives of those in need.

Helping others is second nature to Winnie, who is of Taiwanese descent. While a college student taking her Fine Arts degree in illustration at Emily Carr University in Vancouver, Canada, she started a foundation that aimed to help low-income students by funding their art education. She called the foundation Future Faces, a name that reflected the potential of those art students in need of financial assistance. It would become the springboard for Future Faces Manila.

For the foundation’s project in Bocaue, she approached architect Nicholai Go, her good friend who shares the same enthusiasm for building the center. Then, knowing that kindness resides in the hearts of people, she tapped some of the brands she has collaborated with in her YouTube program to help her raise funds for the project.

“Love Beauty and Planet, a shampoo brand I endorse in my channel, responded by giving generous quantities of plastic bottles that were turned into eco-bricks and later used in constructing the building. The brand also donated a sizable amount, which was used to make the building,” she said.

More than a soup kitchen, the facility is also a multi-purpose center that will benefit the welfare of the children and their parents. “So, it can be converted into an educational facility where you can have workshops for the mothers and hold different social activities for the community, especially the children,” she said.

She added: “I’ve always wanted to help out the local community. That has been something I’ve always been trying to do. So I put a lot of effort into working with people who share the same vision. I truly believe in collaboration and providing long-term solutions rather than finding quick solutions.”

Winnie as Penelope Pop

As YouTube sensation Penelope Pop, she has long championed the move to return to basics and to practice a lifestyle based on sustainability. Now, as teacher and advocate, Wong finds meaning in helping uplift the lives of those in need.

Her YouTube channel, with more than 214,000 subscribers, is all about living with the things that you need and being able to curate your own lifestyle. It started with tutorial videos she was making for her students. Then her friends started asking her a lot of questions.

 As Penelope Pop, she creates YouTube content that helps her audience edit and curate the lifestyle they need.

“What inspires me to go on with my vlog is my intention to continue to encourage others to live with the things that they need in their life in this haul-crazy world,” said Winnie — er, Penelope Pop — who has been compared to Marie Kondo, especially when her “How to Be Basic” vlog content went viral.

“Yes, a lot of people call me the Marie Kondo of the Philippines,” she said. “However, her values are a little bit different from mine in that her principles are based on finding things that make you happy, whereas in mine it’s about living with the things that we will use or things that you think about. The similarities are found in the fact that we are encouraging people to cut down but the principles are different.”

How does one go back to the basics of life? 

“Looking at the current things that you own and being able to edit down and ultimately curate things that you constantly will use. This is also a great way for you to filter out unnecessary clutter and make room for things that you need to work on and focus on,” she said.

In a world filled with so many distractions, how does Penelope Pop advise her viewers to simplify their lives? 

“It is a step-by-step process. The reason why people cannot move forward with cleaning is that the overall concept is overwhelming. However, if they take it one step at a time starting with one aspect of their life, it gets manageable and it becomes a habit. Developing a habit is key in becoming the better version of yourself,” said Penelope. She added her husband Patrick Soriano helps her “film a lot of my videos and he gives me a lot of constructive criticism that makes me want to do better.”

Perhaps Penelope Pop is the alter ego of Winnie Wong. Both subscribe to the fact that kindness is an equalizer because it creates changes in the world.

“I’ve always understood that I am in a place of privilege and I just need to be very aware of the actions that I take in life. So, I use my platform as an opportunity to make things a lot better for other people,” Winnie concluded.

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(If you wish to help, shoot an e-mail to [email protected] or through IG futurefacesmanila.)