By Nickky Faustine P. de Guzman
IN THE AGE of memes and selfies, millennials are called many things: spoiled, shallow, social media addicts, lazy, and narcissistic. Time magazine even did a cover in 2013 calling the youth today — or those born in the early 1980s until early 2000s — as the generation of me, me, me. But is there something more behind their well-curated feeds, #travelgoal bucket lists, and no-filter selfies?
The answer is yes, and more. “Millennials are called shallow. We care about how we look and how our [online] feeds look, but at the same time, we are not shallow because we care about politics and our society. We see on social media that it is the youth who are fighting for their voices to be heard, I don’t think that is being shallow,” said millennial and mural artist, Jappy Agoncillo.
Mr. Agoncillo and six other millennials were presented as the newest PayMaya ambassadors at a press event on April 27 at Pineapple Lab in Makati. PayMaya is a digital financial services that lets people, especially the youth, to do some “adulting” — millennial speak that means one is ready to do adult things like paying bills, living on your own, and doing well both in one’s career and social life. PayMaya is a prepaid card for “adulting” because it covers paying monthly bills, online purchases, and subscriptions. It is reloadable so users can only spend the money they load.
Millennials are not just social media savvy digital natives who are after their virtual images while juggling the “adulting” life — they are also economic drivers. The millennials in the Philippines, who comprise 35% of the population, are a driving force in the economy. Their lifestyle choices — including their morning coffee ritual, obsession with travel, and decision to prioritize career over marriage — push socioeconomic and cultural developments. In the coming years, they will “grow up” and become majority of the society’s work force.
While being young may be an excuse for a carefree lifestyle, not all youth have this mind-set, including volleyball superstar Alyssa Valdez and freelance artist Wiji Lacsamana, who are young entrepreneurs and PayMaya ambassadors.
“Being an athlete is not forever, so I have to be prepared for my future by investing in businesses,” said Ms. Valdez, who co-owns a restaurant called Ally’s All-Day Breakfast.
“I don’t think millennials are entitled and shallow. we are just blessed with opportunities. But through hard work and passion, we achieve things,” she added.
Some millennials cannot just stick with one profession — they wear many hats and juggle many wants. Some critique this as the inability to stay committed and focussed. But Ms. Lacsamana thinks otherwise.
“We are the generation that invented the hyphenated careers. So I don’t think we are lazy,” said the millennial who is a mother, a water color tattoo artist, and a perfumer.
While being a freelancer entails financial challenges, she said it’s all about finding and sticking to your style. “People do not know you so why will they hire you? [The challenge of being a freelance is] sustaining a lifestyle with limited funds, but when people see you, I feel like they absorb the effort you put into your work. When people see the fruits of your labor, and see the heart in it, they subscribe to you,” she said.
Seeing the importance of millennials in the economy and culture, PayMaya has chosen as its newest ambassadors people who embody that millennials are: they are not just a bunch of brats, but kids with substance who can balance their finances while pursuing their goals.
The other brand ambassadors besides Mr. Agoncillo, Ms. Valdez, and Ms. Lacsamana are expat and community builder Louse Faure, Filipino solo backpacker Gael Hilton, art junkie and blogger Ava Te-Zabat, and the Philippine e-sports champions TNC Pro Team.
“While millennials are often labeled as entitled, shallow and self-centered, we know that this is not true. They have a passionate purpose, they have creative imagination, and most of all, they are not afraid to take action and execute their aspiration no matter how niche or risky it may be in the eyes of others,” PayMaya Philippines co-COO Bennie S. Fernandez said in a statement.