Photographs by BJ Pascual
Manila-based photographer and LGBTQIA+ advocate BJ Pascual makes a strong case for the millenial – socially conscious and purposeful, he uses his 300,000 followers-strong Instagram account @bjpascual as a platform not only for his photography (showcasing his body of work from magazine editorials to brand campaigns for Samsung and Uniqlo) but as a tool to educate his following on sexual orientation and gender equality. The photographer’s progressive cause is rather prodigious in a country long steeped in Catholic patriarchal traditions. Here, a quick chat with our friend and multi-hyphenate BJ on his advocacy, makeup for men, and how he unwinds listening to historic World War II stories from his grandparents.
Hey, BJ! Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a fashion photographer based in Manila, Philippines. I travel a lot for work.
“I do around six, ha ha! I cleanse, tone, moisturize, apply essence/serum, moisturize and apply SPF. I do this twice a day, morning and night. I like trying out different products. When I’m feeling a little extra, I would do a mask.”
What are some recent career highlights?
I’d say photographing Coco Rocha, Sky Ferreira, and Troye Sivan.
I know that you’re involved in a couple of advocacy initiatives supporting the LGBT community.
There are two advocacy inititatives I’m currently involved with. First, the #LoveIsAllWeNeed campaign, which is a campaign that calls for the LGBTQIA+ community and its allies to send messages of LOVE for Senators who are opposed to the SOGIE (Sexual Orientation / Gender Identity and Expression) Anti-Discrimination Bill in the Philippines. [This bill seeks to protect individuals against sex & gender-based discrimination, which include denial of access to public & health services, employment, & education.] The Philippines being a primarily Catholic country, has waited 20 years for this bill to finally pass in Congress. It is now in the hands of the Senate, and it is very important that it gets passed soon because if not, it will go back to zero until the new congress. The other project I’m involved with is a historical conservation project in my hometown in General Trias, Cavite, which has a rich history especially in relation to the first Philippine independence and WWII. This is still in the early stages but it aims preserve and restore historical sites, practices and traditions of the town.
Have you picked up some self-care tips at the studio? Can you share three things you do everyday to take care of your complexion?
I do around six, ha ha! I cleanse, tone, moisturize, apply essence/serum, moisturize and apply SPF. I do this twice a day, morning and night. I like trying out different products. When I’m feeling a little extra, I would do a mask.
“I travel a lot for work, so travel usually feels like work to me. To unwind, I usually go to my grandparents’ house in Cavite, a province that’s an hour drive south of Manila… When I’m there, I forget about all the stress about work and other things.”
Do you have a morning ritual?
It depends on my shoot schedule. If I have a shoot in the morning, I usually wake up a few hours before the call time, check Instagram, shower, then do my skincare routine. I used to spend a lot of time with my hair, but now it’s a lot shorter so it’s pretty much wash and wear. I’ve been playing around with makeup lately, but simple things like CC cream for my undereye area and the redness around my nose, cheek tint, brow gel, and eyeshadow sometimes. I usually do it in the car. That’s it!
What do you do on days when you need to unwind and unplug?
I travel a lot for work, so travel usually feels like work to me. To unwind, I usually go to my grandparents’ house in Cavite, a province that’s an hour drive south of Manila. I grew up with my grandparents, that’s why I’m very close to them. I like talking to them. They always have stories about their experiences, World War II being one of my favorite topics. When I’m there, I forget about all the stress about work and other things.
What were the last 3 places you visited?
Tel Aviv for a fashion shoot, Bangkok for New Year’s and Tokyo for the Dua Lipa show!