Cover Story

Along with the changes that the pandemic has brought, conversations and connections have also changed.  We are now living in a world where digital engagement is not only “currency” but the major source of connection, compared to face-to-face interaction three years ago. We lived where both digital and physical interaction coexist.

But, with all of these changes, there is still fear about who and how we engage with other individuals online. There are several instances where social media platforms, streaming sites, and digital applications are utilized to damage people. 

But if the pandemic has changed anything, it’s probably how we live now than before; some of us have lost our jobs and are working in a different field since some can’t return to where they used to work. There have been significant upheavals and adjustments. However, in navigating this titanic shift, the new normal unearthed a positive impact on everyone, just like the connections Aldwin Steven, a former brand ambassador, model, and now kumu streamer, established through streaming that began two years ago. 

Suit, Edwin Tan. Top (worn underneath), Nina Amoncio.

He was a traveler before the pandemic, where he used to work in a face-to-face setup and always enjoyed being in nature. But with the pandemic striking an unprecedented halt on everyone’s lives, he loses his job and therefore must find another means to support his family. He transitioned from being a brand ambassador and model to kumu streamer, by chance (and by a little twist of fate, really) where he discovered his different side and connected with people he never realized he could.

Being a self-confessed shy person, he had no idea that kumu would lead him to a whole new world where he could sing confidently like he had never done before. “Kaya ko palang maging confident when it comes to singing, kasi before I’m very shy, sobrang hiyang hiya akong kumanta in front of other people but when I discovered kumu, sobrang naging confident ako,” he shares. 

Custom, wide-collar embroidered Rank Magazine top, Kelvin Morales. Top (worn underneath), Nina Amoncio. Wide-leg denim pants, Proudrace.

Through the interactions he made while streaming on the social media platform, he gained new family, friends with whom he is now still friends with, not just online, and an opportunity to meet those people and shared genuine friendships with them through kumu.

He adds, “The platform made it possible to establish connections with other people, especially yung mga malalayo sa Pilipinas, normally, on other social media hindi sya masyadong effective, but with kumu, it’s very effective. That’s how I found my new family.”

With the intention of making people happy by singing them the song of their choice, kumu has opened multiple doors of opportunity for Steven. He recently co-hosted the coronation backstage lounge of Binibining Pilipinas. He also now has numerous billboards all around the metro, and TV commercials tucked nicely under his belt. 

With this, he feels most grateful for the opportunity he has had with the people who have supported him and whom he now considers family. “They supported me a lot, I did a lot of things with them, from hosting Binibining Pilipinas, from doing my TV commercials, my billboards in EDSA, so sobrang nakakatuwa dahil maraming dreams before na natupad because of kumu.” 

From discovering kumu through a friend, Aldwin Steven, to date, consistently ranks among the top streamers on the app, especially with numerous campaigns he has emerged victorious over, including this second season of the Rank Magazine campaign with the social media platform. 

He continues to have a strong appreciation for his audience, with passion that distinguishes him as a one-of-a-kind kumu streamer. “Kahit lima lang yung viewers mo, for as long as they are real peopel na nagsu-support sa iyo, [you’ll really realize that ] it’s not about the quantity of the viewers but the quality. So kahit lima man yan, kung all out ang support sa’yo, don’t doubt yourself.”

From this time forward, he still looks forward to people he will meet through kumu even with the world slowly and steadily finding its footing back into face-to-face interactions. As the platform gave him the courage and confidence to pursue things far beyond his wildest dreams. Just like when I started streaming in kumu I still look forward to people na pwedeng makilala, at maging kaibigan dahil habang anjan sa kumu it’s still possible, if you have the will to stay and to continue.”

Overcoat, Zara. Suit, Edwin Tan. Top (worn underneath), Nina Amoncio.

Made in partnership with kumu

Produced, creative and fashion direction by Leo Balante

Photography by Jerick Sanchez

Grooming by Janica Cleto

Videography by Emil Santiago

Fashion and shoot assistant: Bhernn Saenz

Shot on location at Studio LAJ