Council member: Bigboy Cheng
Claim to fame: Full-time sneaker collector, part-time food critic.
If you look up the word “sneaker” in the dictionary, there will be a picture of Bigboy Cheng. That might not be true, but who else hosts the most extensive sneaker collection in the Phillippines, with an estimated value of USD$ 1 million? From Jordans to Balenciagas, Cheng has it all.
The collection is only one part of Secret Fresh, Cheng’s personal gallery in Greenhills, San Juan, which also houses an impressive array of toys and paintings. As if he wasn’t cultured enough, BBC also moonlights as an amusing, no-BS food reviewer. Bigboy Cheng is as well-rounded as they come.
What’s been the biggest shock with how music, sneakers, and sports have grown in the Philippines?
The biggest shock is how much our culture in the arts, sneakers, and sports scene are at par, or sometimes even surpasses, the international scene.
What defines the Philippine sneaker and sports scene?
Very passionate ang mga Pinoy [about their craft] pero mas hindi tayo selfish. Sama-sama lahat. May nag-aaway, pero natural yun. Most of the time, we act as one big movement na nagtutulungan lahat.
Why do you think Filipinos have such an interest in music, sneakers, and sports?
Matagal na tayong mahilig sa music talaga. Mahilig tayo kumanta. Natututo na ang mga tao [about other sports] outside of basketball and volleyball. Marami na nag-ttrain internationally and foreign coaches come here to teach young people.
Sa sneakers naman, tayong mga Pinoy nag-umpisa sa Amerika. Tignan niyo si Jeff Malabanan, nagtrabaho sa Undefeated, ngayon owner na ng RIF LA. Tayong mga Pinoy ang movers ng sneaker culture sa abroad.
What would you have done differently five years ago if you knew how big sneaker culture would get?
Wala ako gustong gawin differently. Kumbaga, yung agos ng tubig, sumabay ako. I would’ve still kept collecting. Pero lahat dumating accidentally. Hindi ko din naisip na maging negosyo [ang sneakers] dati. Natuwa lang ako na nakatulong ako sa culture, pero di ko inakala na yung mga sapatos ko magiging iconic.
Fill in the blanks for us: Youth culture in the Philippines is defined by ____ and kept alive by ___.
Youth culture in the Philippines is defined and kept alive by all those who love the culture: the mover, companies, resellers, clients, and collectors.
Another one: It’s about time that Complex arrived in the Philippines because ____.
It’s about Complex arrived in the Philippines because I’m a huge fan. Ang ganda nila mag-present ng mga [infos] about art, sneakers, and sports. Lots of great ideas, so I’m sure mas maraming magiging masaya dito sa culture natin.
The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
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