The Top 10 Most Talented Chefs in Indonesia

The Top 10 Most Talented Chefs in Indonesia

Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelago. It only makes sense then that a region so vast and encompassing so many little cultural pockets would have a cuisine as rich as the land it springs from. It’s not just local influence that has shaped Indonesian cuisine though – any gourmand worth his salt will no doubt recognise the characteristic Chinese, Middle Eastern, and European touches that permeate traditional Indonesian fare. It’s no surprise then that a region of such culinary abundance has stirred the creativity of certain artisans gifted in the craft of manipulating taste and texture to tantalise and delight the taste buds. Top 10 of Asia has combed the islands, picked its ingredients, and polished up its list of Indonesia’s ten most talented chefs – serving them up here in no particular order. Enjoy. 

Arnold Poernomo

With a pastry chef for a mother and a cook cum restaurant owner for a grandmother, you could say Arnold was born into the culinary world. It was at the tender age of 14, when living in Australia, that he first got his taste of the kitchen experience. Starting out as a junior kitchen hand, Arnold then tried his hand as a waiter, barista, and bartender before finally finding his true calling lying behind the stove. Having never received any formal training, Arnold relied on intuition and instinct to hone his culinary abilities. Today, Arnold’s many successful openings and the resulting recognition have seen him become one of Indonesia’s foremost celebrity chefs – earning him a spot on MasterChef Indonesia’s panel of judges. 

William Wongso

William Wongso is an author, restaurateur, and TV chef extraordinaire. Called the “rendang diplomat”, it was his wealth of experience that prompted Gordon Ramsay to seek him out as his mentor on the second season of Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted, with the Englishman stating Wongso could teach him and just about anybody else how to be a better chef – high praise indeed. And it is precisely this that Wongso has been doing for the better part of five decades in the culinary industry, with many of Indonesia’s finest chefs having profited from his tutelage. As if he hasn’t already done enough for the Indonesian culinary industry, he seeks to collaborate with more famous chefs globally to further elevate the profile of Indonesian cuisine. 

Santhi Serad

Santhi Serad is an Indonesian chef and food writer fuelled with a passion for sharing her knowledge of Indonesian cuisine with all and sundry. Born into a family of food lovers, Serad was introduced at an early age to the ingredients that would come to mean so much to her through regular visits to the wet market with her mother. They would bond by cooking together afterwards, making many of the local dishes from Malang and Banyuwangi in the East Java province where her parents came from. Serad’s book, Leaf it to Tea, won widespread acclaim and clinched second place in the tea category of the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in 2019.

Karen Carlotta

Karen Carlotta is a chef and owner of the Union Group. Starting her culinary journey with an internship at the prestigious Swissôtel The Stamford in Singapore, she established the Union restaurant together with her husband just three years later. The restaurant has grown today into a group that comprises eight other highly-regarded eateries. Carlotta’s forte is transforming traditional Indonesian desserts into pastries, with her Pisang Ijo and Martabak cakes being particular highlights. Her culinary skill is held in the highest esteem with Carlotta and her husband getting the opportunity to curate a private dining experience in 2019 in which Barack Obama was one of the guests. 

Renatta Moeloek

Renatta Moeloek is part of the new wave of Indonesian culinary talent. The youngest of MasterChef Indonesia’s panel of judges between season 5 and the most recent season 9, she is an alumnus of Le Cordon Bleu Paris where she graduated with Superior Certificates in its Cuisine and Pastry diploma programmes. Going on to specialise in French cooking through her stint at the renowned Garance in Saint Dominique, Moeloek has nonetheless stayed true to her roots – introducing Indonesian food every chance she got during her time abroad. She returned to Indonesia in 2018 to open a private dining service, Ruma Dining, and a health-conscious restaurant, Fedwell

Sisca Soewitomo

Sisca Soewitomo is a veteran of Indonesian culinary television, having been around since the 90s when she shot to fame through the television cooking programme Aroma. Upon graduating from the Trisakti School of Tourism with a diploma in hospitality, Sisca earned a scholarship to the American Institute of Baking in Manhattan and travelled there to sharpen her skills. Having written around 150 cookbooks centred on Indonesian cuisine including the best-selling Step by Step series, Sisca has been honoured by the Museum of Records Indonesia as “Pengarang Buku Resep Masakan Terbanyak” for her prolific output. Often dubbed the “Queen of the Indonesian culinary arts”, Sisca’s contribution to the industry has been immeasurable. 

Juna Rorimpandey

Juna Rorimpandey is no stranger to setbacks. Having had to drop out of university in Jakarta in his youth, he flew to the United States in the hopes of becoming a pilot. Whilst trying to get his commercial pilot’s license, his school ended up going bankrupt. It turns out life had other plans for Juna. Starting work in a sushi restaurant, the head chef there took a liking to Juna and took him on as his student. He ascended the ranks and soon became an executive chef before moving to a French restaurant to learn more about French cuisine. He has since returned to Indonesia and you might have caught him in his appearances as a judge on MasterChef Indonesia

Farah Quinn

TV presenter and celebrity chef Farah Quinn stands as an inspiration to all those who have hopes of entering the culinary field and indeed to all those who have a passion they’d like to follow. Amidst the difficult times of the Asian financial crisis, Farah pursued a degree in pastry arts at the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute and worked as a waitress in the meantime to finance her studies and stay afloat. Farah’s career took off when she had the opportunity to create speciality Indonesian desserts for Laura Bush, then the First Lady of the United States. A familiar face on Asian Food Channel, Farah also has her own bakery, Cookie Love.

Gilles Marx

Gilles Marx is a French-born culinary innovator that has brought a taste of his homeland to the heart of Jakarta. His talents were obvious early on, leading him to hone his skills at a host of Michelin-starred establishments across Alsace, Lyon, Burgundy, and Paris. Having headed restaurants in Australia and Southeast Asia, he soon found himself in Indonesia where he opened AMUZ in the central business district. The success of the restaurant then led Gilles to form the AMUZ Gourmet Group. A shining light of Jakarta’s fine-dining scene, AMUZ continues to excite and delight its patrons with its creative gourmet expressions. 

Andrian Ishak

Andrian Ishak is a man of many interests. From economics to music, from physics to chemistry, Andrian sees a lot of what makes the world beautiful through these lenses and this is what he seeks to express through his cooking. Selling his electric guitar to raise funds to open Namaaz Dining in 2012, it’s under this roof that Andrian lets his imagination run wild – utilising a variety of techniques to concoct playful renditions of traditional dishes or to create something entirely unforeseen. The self-taught chef counts Heston Blumenthal among his inspirations and it’s easy to see why. The unmistakable drive to experiment, the continuous zeal to innovate, the relish in shattering the boundaries of convention – the culinary world might’ve just found the great British chef’s heir apparent. 

Asia’s Top 10 Most Inspiring Business Personalities

Asia’s Top 10 Most Inspiring Business Personalities

Asia has seen rapid development in many ways over the past few decades, with several countries rising from obscurity to become modern-day economic powerhouses. This rise has largely been driven by a number of inspiring personalities in the fields of business who have painstakingly built empires of their own, or those who have fought tooth and nail against challenging circumstances to emerge at the top of their respective hierarchies. In this edition of the rankings list, Top 10 of Asia presents (in random order) its pick of Asia’s 10 most inspiring business personalities. Whether having to fight through poverty, conventions, or tribulations, these personalities have something in common – success didn’t come easy for them. 

Gordon Lam (Singapore)

Gordon Lam was born in Hong Kong and educated in Australia, and this blend of cultures is reflected in his leadership style. Where many would have steered clear of joining a business that had been in decline for many years, Lam saw an opportunity. Taking on the responsibility of leading Syniti Asia Pacific & Japan (APJ) in 2019, Lam saw it as a chance to prove what he’s made of. Just five months after his appointment, COVID-19 took over the world. What had seemed an arduous task before now seemed impossible. And yet, through Lam’s steady leadership, Syniti APJ grew its APJ software business by threefold that same year. 

Kim Beom-Soo (South Korea)

Kim Beom-Soo, also known as Brian Kim, is the founder and chairman of internet giant Kakao. A businessman today with a net worth in the billions, it wasn’t always plain sailing for Kim. Growing up in poverty, Kim’s family of eight shared one bedroom in a poor neighbourhood in Seoul. His parents, who weren’t educated beyond elementary school, went from job to job just to put food on the table. The first of his family to go to college, Kim started Hangame in 1998 – an internet café business that merged with Naver to become South Korea’s dominant web portal. Kakao was started in 2010 and has since gone on to become one of South Korea’s largest companies. 

Chiranya Prachaseri (Thailand)

Chiranya is the CEO of Cryoviva, a private stem cell bank with over 500,000 units stored in its group and which has seen more than 2,000 cases where clients elected to retrieve stem cells for personal use – and that number is growing steadily under her direction. A strong leader with excellent communication skills, Chiranya has worked tirelessly to build high-performance teams that deliver results in culturally diverse environments. With a passion to help raise the quality of life for people, she encourages her team to be lifetime partners for their clients and support them every step of the way. 

(Photo Courtesy:

Kim Bong-Jin (South Korea)

Kim Bong-Jin grew up on a small South Korean island. His family ran a small diner and he often had to wait for guests at the diner to leave before he slept as there was no proper bedroom for him. He scraped his way through a cheap vocational school, crediting “good luck and God’s grace” for making it through. Now the wealthy founder and chairman of South Korean delivery app operator Woowa Brothers, Kim hasn’t forgotten his roots. He and his wife were the first South Koreans to sign up for the Giving Pledge, a philanthropic initiative set up by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett in which the world’s wealthiest individuals give back at least half their fortune for societal good. 

Bhunyaras Panichsiri (Thailand)

Bhunyaras Panichsiri is the Regional Manager – Asia Pacific at Luthi Machinery Co, Inc. Upon joining the company, her situation looked dire. Finding herself tasked with the challenge of growing an uncompetitive business in an industry that was completely foreign to her, she was confronted with a customer base that was quite unhappy with the service they were getting. Where most would have crumbled, Bhunyaras spent her first few months at the company working closely with the team to improve their products and services. Luthi’s business saw a quick turnaround as a result, growing by 200% within the span of four years and with many happy customers along the way. 

Lee Thung Hing (Malaysia)

Venturing into the construction business after completing basic education, Lee tried to make ends meet by manufacturing and installing rain gutters and door frames for his customers. Times were tough at the beginning, with Lee often only receiving one order per week. Lee persevered however and in 1983 he set up the Thung Hing Group. The company saw rapid success following its inception and is a major player in the production of steel building materials today. Lee’s philosophy in life is to always never remain stagnant and to always be doing something, a code that has carried him very far indeed.

Rosaline Chow-Koo (Singapore)

Rosaline had an idea she believed in fervently – the creation of a platform that would allow companies to overcome the rising costs of group insurance. Rejected year after year for five years straight by her previous employer, Rosaline was determined to see her idea through. She wanted to address the inability to customise insurance for diverse employee needs but could never secure the funding required. In 2013, she took a leap of faith and decided to pool her savings with her husband’s to bring the platform to life herself. With the CXA Group now able to count nearly 800,000 users and 500 clients across 20 countries, it’s safe to say that’s paid off. 

Veranita Yosephine (Indonesia)

AirAsia Indonesia CEO Veranita Yosephine is an immensely accomplished woman. A female CEO in Indonesia’s male-dominated aviation industry and achieving that in her early 40s to boot, it’s clear to see that Veranita is someone special. She’s not only an inspiration to women everywhere but a force for their empowerment too – receiving the UN HeForShe award for initiating a mentorship programme and leadership training at her previous employer, Danone. The programme, the achievement she’s most proud of in her illustrious list of them, originated in Danone Indonesia before eventually making its way to Brazil, the Netherlands, and then the rest of the world. 

(Photo Courtesy: Vibrant Dot)

Pang Lim (Singapore)

Pang Lim is a man from humble beginnings. Coming from a low-income family and as the eldest son of six, Pang used to help his mother sell nasi lemak in the mornings before setting off for school. Dropping out at age 13, Pang started his journey in the F&B industry as a dishwasher and as a roadside hawker. He was around his late 20s when, operating a small fruit stall and selling vegetarian dishes in a coffee shop, he began to take an interest in the coffee shop business as a whole. Fast forward to the present day and his food court operations business, Koufu, finds itself listed on the Singapore Exchange. 

Anabelle Co-Martinent (Philippines)

Parenthood usually takes the appetite for risk out of someone but not for Anabelle Co-Martinent. She’d just had a baby when she made the decision to leave her corporate role at Microsoft to build her own company. Today, Anabelle is the founder and managing director of the La Juiceria group of companies which includes brands such as Super Saigon, The Honest Treats and HawkerHall under its umbrella. The decision to strike out on her own wasn’t spur of the moment by any means. It was one that had been brewing for years, and ultimately – the call of starting a business was one Anabelle felt she just had to answer. 

The Top 10 Most Admirable Musicians of Cambodia

The Top 10 Most Admirable Musicians of Cambodia

The Cambodian music scene is one of history’s most underappreciated movements. Experiencing its golden age in the 60s and 70s, Cambodian music was an entirely unique blend of traditional music, rock, pop, and psychedelia – to name but a few of the genres from which it drew influence. Abruptly crushed by the murderous regime of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge communists in 1975, many of its musicians were executed or disappeared under mysterious circumstances. The country’s gradual recovery from this traumatic period saw a revival of interest in its musical heyday. Today, Cambodia’s modern-day artists carry on the spirit of their forebears. Influenced and inspired by the rhythm and sounds of decades past, they pay homage to the legends of old while adding something new to the mix. Here, Top 10 of Asia shares its list (presented in no particular order) of the ten most admirable musicians of Cambodia.

Nikki Nikki

Nikki Nikki is Cambodia’s modern-day pop princess and with the way things are going, it might only be a matter of time before the region – and the rest of the world – falls under her spell. Equally at home belting out powerful ballads as she is getting the crowd going with some upbeat dance tracks, Nikki Nikki counts a string of hits under her belt and is a live performance to behold. Her most popular song to date, Home for Dinner, has become something of an anthem for the Khmer youths. Mixing both Khmer and English verses into her lyrics, Nikki Nikki hopes to put Cambodian music on the world map. 

Aok Sokunkanha

Aok Sokunkanha is a Cambodian singer, actress, as well as a popular brand ambassador. She is a familiar face to the audience of The Voice Cambodia, Cambodian Idol, The Voice Kid Cambodia, and X Factor Cambodia – having sat on the judging panel and audition committee for each of the shows. You could say that performing arts run in her blood, her father having been a musician himself and her mother a teacher and dance instructor at the Royal University of Fine Arts. Her talent was something of a surprise to her father, who never knew his daughter could sing till he’d heard her by chance – after which he had her accompany him every time he performed. 

Kak Channthy

Kak Channty was on a mission to revive Cambodia’s dying rock’n’roll scene when she started Cambodian Space Project with her husband Julien Poulson in the early 2000s. Described as “the barefoot diva of the Cambodian rice fields”, Channthy grew up in poverty in a rural province. Her funky style and exuberant energy, coupled with a powerful voice, saw Cambodian Space Project become one of the few bands to rise to fame beyond the borders of the country. Inspired by the golden age of Cambodian music, Cambodian Space Project led a remarkable revival of the local arts and culture scene. Kak Channthy had achieved her mission. However, this proved to be a fleeting consolation upon her tragic death in 2018 – aged only 38 when the auto-rickshaw she was travelling in was hit by a car.


VannDa had wanted to make music for as long as he could remember. His family – and this will resonate with a lot of his audience – wanted him to become a doctor or lawyer from the beginning. VannDa knew that wasn’t him though and decided to leave the comforts of his picturesque hometown of Sihanoukville to try to make it big in Phnom Penh. His song Time to Rise, a collaboration with one of Cambodia’s most venerated musicians in Master Kong Nay, was a smash hit – accumulating nearly 100 million views on YouTube to date. His music draws heavily from his own experiences, with many of them a struggle to revisit and some too painful to put into song entirely. 

Chhom Nimol

Born in Cambodia, Chhom Nimol lived in a Thai refugee camp on the border before making her way to America in 2001. Singing in restaurants and bars in Long Beach, California, it was there that her vocal abilities began to attract attention. Noticed by the band Dengue Fever and eventually invited to become their lead singer, Nimol took her chance and never looked back. The band’s members had developed an interest in Cambodian psychedelic rock music prior to that and decided to recruit Nimol as she was fluent in the Khmer lyrics of the music they’d hoped to play. That meeting led to a beautiful union that persists into the present day. 

Pich Sophea

Pich Sophea is a singer and songwriter and just by looking at her, you couldn’t tell she was from humble beginnings. But that she was, forced by crushing poverty to drop out of school in grade 11. She first sought a living by selling snails and sugarcane on the streets of Phnom Penh after she and her family had moved there from their home province of Prey Veng. She soon realised she couldn’t make enough to help feed her family and so she turned to singing. Finding some success as a nightclub crooner, she was soon spotted by domestic music production company, Rasmey Hang Meas. She has come a long way since then and is now a popular fixture in concerts and Cambodian television. 

(Photo Courtesy: OneBeat)

MC Lisha

Jessica Srin, better known as MC Lisha, is Cambodia’s pioneering female hip hop artist. Rapping and recording since the early part of the century, she studied traditional Cambodian dance at university before becoming a singer and then finally found hip hop. It’s the love affair that’s made her into what she is today, with MC Lisha using hip hop as a medium of expression to tell her story and speak up on women’s empowerment. Her music blends the genre’s characteristic beats with traditional melodies from Khmer classics to create something totally original. Cambodia’s hip hop scene is thriving now, and you can trace it back to the woman who started it all. 

Khemarak Sereymun

Khemarak Sereymun is a veteran of the Cambodian music scene. Starting his career young in the late 90s, his ascent to stardom was put into motion with the release of his song Heart of a Boxer in 2003. His follow-up efforts, Prom Tang ahlai and Prolit Bat Beong, then cemented his place in the hearts of Cambodian fans across the country. Sereymun has been able to showcase his talents abroad as well, being invited to perform in the United States as well as at the Cambodia-Thailand Friendship Concert in Bangkok. Sereymun also had the honour of picking up the Best Male Singer of Cambodia and Cambodia Top singer prizes at the Anachak Dara Awards in 2011 and 2013 respectively.

(Photo Courtesy: Southeast Asia Globe)

DJ Khla

DJ Khla is one of Cambodia’s most famous rappers and it’s not just for his music either. One of the few Cambodian artists to speak out against the rule of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government, his voice is especially impactful as he used to serve in Hun Sen’s personal bodyguard unit. His breakout hit Rambo, released in 2012, was a hit sensation and a regular feature of wedding and restaurant performances at the time. Combining the gentle inflections of traditional Khmer vocals with reggae funk and verses on the realities of Cambodian life, the song gave him a platform of popularity he now uses to make music that speaks out against the persecution of the Cambodian people. 

Preap Sovath

Preap Sovath is the multitalented singer and actor known to Cambodians for his music and his public appearances as a judge on Cambodian Idol, Cambodia’s Got Talent, and The Voice Kid Cambodia. A man to whom genres are but trivialities, his works span a mesmeric body encompassing elements of slow rock, folk, country, and pop. He represented Cambodia at the 2014 World Music Awards and has performed internationally on multiple occasions. Sovath is a force for good too, lending his talent at the MTV EXIT Concert in Phnom Penh in 2008 which was part of a campaign to raise awareness of exploitation and human trafficking in Asia. 

The Top 10 Most Inspiring Entrepreneurs of the Middle East

The Top 10 Most Inspiring Entrepreneurs of the Middle East

The Middle East has historically been an important ground for big business. Anyone who has designs on expanding across the globe knows the importance and potential that lies within the region. And no one knows this more or is better placed to leverage this than the people of the Middle East themselves. The region’s wealth of natural resources and largely untapped human capital presents a prime opportunity for entrepreneurial spirits looking to build their next great project – and this is an opportunity that those on this list have grasped with both hands. Hailing from industries as diverse as e-commerce and luxury goods, Top 10 of Asia presents (in random order) its list of the top 10 entrepreneurial personalities of the Middle East. 

Ronaldo Mouchawar

Ronaldo Mouchawar is a Syrian entrepreneur and the driving force behind After he founded the online marketplace, it had become the largest e-commerce site in the Arab region – counting over 8.4 million products and operations in Egypt, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia at one point. Mouchawar sold the platform to Amazon in 2017 for some $580 million. Initially beginning as an online auction site in 2005, ascent was put into motion when Mouchawar shifted course and applied the B2C model to provide services and a platform for various merchants to reach customers.

Khalid Al Khudair

The current secretary-general of the media and banking awareness committee for Saudi Banks and the chief experience officer at Riyad Bank, Khalid Al Khudair also happens to be the founder of Glowork – an employment organisation that has served to connect thousands of women with employment opportunities. Around 1.2 million women in Saudi Arabia between the ages of 20 and 35 find themselves unemployed. Sixty percent of women with PhDs are in the same boat. Glowork seeks to overcome these constraints, brought on by segregation laws, and its efforts have seen Al Khudair receive the award for “Best Innovation Globally for Job Creation” from the UN, ILO, and World Bank.

Areije Al Shakar 

A senior leader in Bahrain’s financial industry bringing over 17 years of experience in the banking and entrepreneurship sectors, Areije Al Shakar is an inspiration to women in a region that desperately needs people like her to look up to. In her previous capacity as the senior vice president of the Bahrain Development Fund, Shakar was heavily involved in the coaching, mentorship, and development of entrepreneurial pursuits. Currently the Director and Fund Manager of Al Waha Venture Capital Fund of Funds, Shakar looks to keep developing value for start-ups, network partners, and stakeholders.

Ralph R Debbas

Ralph R Debbas is the founder of W Motors, its CEO, and the designer of the company’s first-ever car, the Lykan HyperSport. The first developer of high-performance luxury sports cars in the entirety of the Middle East, W Motors’ Lykan HyperSport was a hit upon its introduction – enjoying a starring role in the blockbuster Fast and Furious franchise. On the back of its success, Debbas launched W Motors’ consultancy division in 2019 which now comprises 70% of the company’s business. A designer for Land Rover and Aston Martin earlier on in his career, Debbas was well-equipped with the drive and automotive expertise to make his mark.

Lubna Olayan

Lubya Olayan has been a prominent force in the Saudi business world for quite some time now. Formerly the Chief Executive Officer of the Olayan Financing Company, Olayan went on to become the first Saudi woman to head a bank when she was appointed Chairwoman of the Saudi British Bank in 2019. Olayan was no stranger to firsts before that, having made Saudi history by becoming the first woman to deliver an opening keynote address at a major conference in Saudi Arabia – doing so at the Jeddah Economic Forum in 2004. Listed as one the most influential people of 2005 by Time magazine, Olayan is also a repeat listee on Forbes’ most powerful women in the world. 

(Photo Courtesy:

Mudassar Sheikha and Magnus Olsson 

Mudassir Sheikha is the CEO and co-founder of Careem, along with Magnus Olsson who also plays the role of Chief Product Architect. Having met while working as consultants at McKinsey, Mudassir and Magnus both decided that they wanted to build something “big and meaningful.” Enter Careem, an endeavour that started as a grassroots ride-sharing app in 2012 that has now developed into a full-fledged platform and super-app making waves across the region. Careem was acquired by Uber for $3 billion in 2020 and now offers customers in Dubai an extensive range of services including ride-hailing, micro-mobility, and payment to name but a few. 

Hind Hobeika

Hind Hobeika is the founder of Instabeat, a company that focuses on building technology-based accessories for swimming goggles that captures data important to swimmers such as real-time heart rates, stroke types, and laps. A former Olympic swimmer herself, Hobeika formed the idea while studying at the American University in Beirut. An innovative development that has helped swimmers both professional and aspiring everywhere to improve their performance, Hobeika has deservedly been the recipient of many awards and accolades for her forward-thinking approach. 

Wael Ghonim

Wael Ghonim is an Egyptian computer engineer and internet activist with a special interest in social entrepreneurship. The founder and CEO of Parlio, a social networking platform with a focus on political participation, he is also the founder of Tahrir Academy which is a non-profit platform for Arab youths to share information. He became known internationally after an emotional interview following his 11-day covert incarceration by the Egyptian police. Interrogated over his work as an admin on the Facebook page “We are all Khaled Said”, which played a part in the Egyptian Revolution of 2011, Wael was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and named on Time’s list of the 100 most influential people of 2011. 

Loulou Khazen Baz

Loulou Khazen Baz is the founder and CEO of, the first online work marketplace established in the Middle East. Connecting a variety of businesses to high-quality freelance talent in the Middle East and North African regions, the company was acquired by with ideas of accelerating the growth of the digital hiring industry. Creating more job opportunities and generating a positive impact on local communities, has helped over 5,000 companies complete their projects to date. Khazan Baz won the 2012 edition of the television show The Entrepreneur for her undoubted talent and business ability. 

Sofia Al Asfoor 

Sofia Al Asfoor is the founder, designer, and creative director of her eponymous luxury handbag brand. In the little over a decade since she launched the brand, Sophia Al Asfoor has gone from strength to strength and today enjoys a clientele ranging from celebrities to the chicest members of high society. Sofia developed an interest in fashion at an early age, one could say it was inevitable growing up in such a creative family (her father Mohamed Al Asfoor has a luxury goods brand of his own, Designer Shaik). Sofia also lends her experience and expertise in sample development and production management to others in the industry through her consultation services. 

The Top 10 Most Iconic Bands of the Philippines

The Top 10 Most Iconic Bands of the Philippines

Filipinos are known the world over for their love of karaoke. No gathering is complete without a session and expertly delivered renditions of old classics are about as common as the bottles of rum that usually come along with them. It’s no surprise then that a country with such an affinity for the musical has a historic scene of its own. The country has seen many a great band over the decades past and narrowing them down to a list of ten is no mean feat. Nevertheless, Top 10 of Asia has risen to the challenge and painstakingly put together its pick (presented in no particular order) of the top 10 most iconic bands of the Philippines. 


Eraserheads were a Filipino rock band consisting of Ely Buendia, Marcus Adoro, Buddy Zabala, and Raimund Marasigan. Formed in 1989, it went on to become one of the most successful, influential, and culturally significant bands in the history of the Philippines. Often referred to as “The Beatles of the Philippines”, Eraserheads are seen as the genesis of the Manila band invasion that followed its arrival on the scene. Paving the way for other iconic bands of the era such as Rivermaya, Eraserheads is also the only Filipino band to have received the Viewer’s Choice Award before the conception of the MTV Asia Awards – achieving this at the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards in New York. 

Parokya ni Edgar

Parokya ni Edgar (Edgar’s Parish in English) was formed in 1993. Known for its satirical covers of popular songs as much as its extensive body of original work, Parokya ni Edgar’s repertoire spans a variety of musical genres. Referred to by the media and a number of award-giving bodies as “Pambansang Banda ng Pilipinas” (“The National Band of the Philippines”), Parokya ni Edgar gained popularity during the peak of the Filipino rock explosion. The band thrived in an era where the local rock community was – much like the rest of the world enamoured with Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and the other luminaries of the 90s grunge movement. 


Rivermaya is an alternative rock band formed a year after the aforementioned Parokya ni Edgar, with whom it shares the label of being the Philippines’ national band. One of the top 30 best-selling artists in Filipino history, Rivermaya has embarked on a series of Asian tours – building an appreciative following beyond its local shores. With songs that touch the deepest sentiments and express the most heartfelt emotions, Rivermaya has cemented its place in the hearts of many adoring fans who feel the band puts into song what they might have felt but long struggled to articulate. 


Bamboo saw its beginnings in 2003 when lead vocalist Bamboo Mañalac and bassist Nathan Azarcon (both formerly of Rivermaya) paired with lead and rhythm guitarist Ira Cruz and drummer Vic Mercado to form a new band. Cruz explained that the name ‘Bamboo’ was derived not just from the frontman’s name but also from the English word, bamboo, because of its association with strength and durability. The band’s debut album, As The Music Plays, was released in 2004 – receiving multiple awards and enjoying widespread acclaim. Bamboo’s fourth album, Tomorrow Becomes Yesterday, similarly was an instant hit – achieving platinum status just two days after its release in 2008. 


Historically seen as a quintet founded by members who met at the College of Fine Arts of the University of the Philippines, Kamikazee now counts two additional members in its present lineup. The band was formed at the turn of the century and has since garnered many admirers for its pop-punk meets hardcore punk sound. Known for its edgy live performances which feature liberal sprinkles of expletives, sexually suggestive content, and references to genitalia, Kamikazee’s bold and abrasive identity resonated with those disillusioned with all things conservative and the status quo. They maintain close ties with the previously mentioned Parokya ni Edgar, with both bands often swapping singers on concerts where they are billed together. 

Silent Sanctuary

Silent Sanctuary is a 6-piece band that started with three founding members – Norman Dellosa on vocals and guitar, Paolo Legaspi on bass guitar and backing vocals, and Allen Calixto on drums. The band experimented heavily in its formative years, mixing in classical music elements to create a unique sound. This was helped by the addition of Norman’s high school classmate Anjo Inacay on the cello, with Jett Ramirez (violist) and Chino David (violinist) being invited into the band later on. Not a band to remain stagnant, Silent Sanctuary further spiced up their signature blend of rock and classical music with the release of its fourth album Monodramatic in 2013. 


The only Filipino rock band to release albums in Japan and the United States, Wolfgang is beloved for its exhilarating brand of hard rock and heavy metal. The band submitted two of its demos, “Darkness Fell” and “Left Alone”, to local radio stations in 1994. The two songs were heavily requested by listeners and the band then signed with Tone Def on the back of their growing reputation. Leaving Tone Def and signing with Epic Records in 1996, Wolfgang’s first release under the label, Semenelin, reached double-platinum status and made Wolfgang one of the most popular bands in the country. In 2009, frontman Basti Artadi was diagnosed with a head tumour. Told he would not be able to talk or sing on account of his condition, he valiantly battled back and continues to perform today. 

The Juan de la Cruz Band

Regarded as the band that puts the Philippines on the rock map, The Juan de la Cruz Band started the journey that would pave the way in 1968. The band was not, as one would think, named after a particular member but instead had its name introduced by founding member drummer Edmund Fortuno. Headlining the first open field rock festival in the Philippines in 1970, the band’s stock rose further still after the release of their debut album in 1971. The country’s foremost rock band of the 70s, the success of The Juan de la Cruz Band has carved its name firmly in the annals of Pinoy rock history. 


Urbandub is a band that is no stranger to difficulty. Its debut album was faced with distribution problems due to a lack of support from major record companies. The band’s first single “Come” was released later that same year together with a music video funded by Sonic Boom productions. Achieving a modest amount of success, the band nonetheless managed to earn itself some notoriety within the Cebu City music circles. The early work’s production quality was rough, but placed the band as successors to the scene that dominated independent radio in the mid-90s. Their second album, INFLUENCE, took on a new sound that the band would come to be known for and featured their most famous release to date, “Soul Searching”

The Itchyworms

The Itchyworms is a Filipino rock band consisting of Jazz Nicolas on drums, Jugs Jugueta on guitar, Kelvin Yu on bass guitar, and Chino Singson on lead guitar. Formed in 1996, the band got its start performing at various school-based events and local competitions where it performed Beatles covers alongside a handful of original songs. The band’s music is a commercial favourite, with its songs being used by KFC, Close-Up, and Pringles in campaigns and television advertisements. The band has also been commissioned to write original songs for advertising campaigns for Enervon and San Miguel among others. Its song “Kabataang Pinoy”, was the theme song for the first season of ABS-CBN’s Pinoy Big Brother: Teen Edition and is arguably the band’s most popular.