Get to know Winnie Wong outside of her career as a lifestyle personality

Most know her as the content producer and the face of Penelope Pop, a YouTube channel dedicated to art, beauty, fashion, and elevated lifestyle focused on simplicity. Her video series How To Be Basic reflects her ideology to return to the basics and practice sustainable living. In her other series, Life of Wan, she shares a piece of her mind, experiences, and culture with viewers. And yet, as prolific as she is online, there is more to Winnie Wong than meets the eye.

In Welsh, Winnie means the “fair one” or “pure” or “happiness.” With her amiable face, warm and charming personality, and trendy fashion sense, the name suits her perfectly. As pseudonyms go, Winnie Wong is an alias. Her real name is Yun-I Wang, which fits her just as well considering that yuni in Sanskirt stands for excellent and youthful.

Winnie is an alumna of International School Manila (ISM). She also began her university-level studies at the University of British Columbia but later on transferred to Emily Carr University to major in Fine Arts. Prior to that, she had studied in Vancouver, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts (Major in Illustration) and an Early Childhood Education Certification. It was in her college days, during her stay in Canada, that she initiated a foundation called Future Faces, which aimed to support low-income students by funding their art education.

Returning to the Philippines, Winnie has achieved a lot in such a short period. Apart from being a rising digital creator, she is also the co-founder of the lifestyle brand, The Everyday, which curates essential and basic products and promotes being the best version of oneself. Even more impressive, she is also a high school art, graphic design, and photography teacher at ISM.

In 2011, Winnie managed to revive her passion project from college, now the Future Faces Manila. The youth movement fosters a sense of responsibility and accountability to society through various events and scholarships. The belief is that for the Philippines to move forward, there must be a cultivation of the culture of giving back to those in need. The youth are empowered, informed, motivated, and trained to be leaders as well as take on supporting roles in various walks of life. There is great regard to arts, perceived as an inherent need to encourage the growth and development of individuals and communities alike.

The biggest difference in the foundation today is that it not only helps students realize their potentials. A multi-purpose facility that serves primarily as a soup kitchen for a community in Bocaue, Bulacan has also been established. The feat has been made possible through a partnership with Project PEARLS (Peace, Education, Aspiration, Respect, Love, and Smiles), a non-profit organization that provided the parcel of land where the facility was erected.

Winnie has always wanted to help the local community, which is why she has put a lot of effort into working with people who share the same vision. To design the kitchen, Winnie turned to her good friend architect Nicholai Go. She also approached some of the brands she had previously collaborated with on YouTube to help finance the building. Shampoo brand Love Beauty and Planet, for instance, contributed a generous quantity of plastic bottles that were turned into eco-bricks used for the construction. It also funded a sizeable amount for the project.

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

“The building is up. It has a capacity to feed 400 children a day,” Winnie beams. “These are composed of kids who used to pick garbage in Smokey Mountain, and whose families have been transferred to Bocaue.”

Aside from being a meal center, the multi-purpose structure can accommodate several programs beneficial to the children and their families. “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 explains.

As a teacher and an advocate Winnie finds meaning in helping uplift the lives of those in need. “I’ve always understood that I am in a place of privilege and I just need to be very aware of the actions I take in life. So, I use my platform as an opportunity to make things a lot better for other people,” she says. | @penelopepopart

Source: Manila Bulletin (