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Pinoys and Pokémon


By John Legaspi 

Created by Japanese game designer Satoshi Tajiri in 1995, Pokémon, or Pocket Monsters, started as a videogame for the original Game Boy. It soon became one of the highest grossing media franchise, having dabbled into animated series, manga, musical, and many more. Encompassing many generations, it remains relevant, as evidenced by the 2016 mobile game craze Pokémon GO and the 2019 film Pokémon: Detective Pikachu, with Ryan Reynolds lending his voice to the titular role.

Now Pokémon takes a new form as Uniqlo UT Grand Prix (UTGP) 2019 centers its design competition on the unique creatures that come out of those Poké Balls.


Dana Asahan and Louis Nichole Santos

GOTTA CATCH ‘EM ALL Filipino designers Louis Nichole and Dana Asahan with their winning Pokemon shirts



Since 2005, Uniqlo has been conducting its UTGP design competition to foster creativity and talent from all around the world. This competition is open to designers of any age, gender, and nationality, as long as they have a knack for crafting fun, playful, and dynamic designs, playing with UTGP’s chosen theme. For the past years, Uniqlo has tapped into childhood memories with themes focusing on Nintendo, Star Wars, and Marvel comic heroes to bring out the most creative concepts from all around the globe.

Under this year’s Pokémon theme, Uniqlo received a record of more than 18,000 entries from designers from over 40 countries, all aiming to be printed on shirts and sold worldwide.

Judged by Tsunekazu Ishihara,president and CEO of the Pokémon Company; Ken Sugimori, character design and art director at Game Freak Inc; and Nigo, creative director for Uniqlo Merchandise Department of the Pokémon Company and Uniqlo UT Design Team, 22 winning shirt designs stood out above the rest, three of which are from the Philippines.


At the launch at the Uniqlo flagship store in Makati City, Filipino fans came together to celebrate all things Pokémon through fun games and quiz bees, while enjoying Japanese treats—like a stylish, mini comic-con.

Gracing the event were two of the winning Filipino designers: Dana Asahan and Louise Nichole Santos, also known as CTRLD.

A government employee, Dana treats graphic design as a hobby—her escape after working in the halls of her government office. “My design incorporates origami and Pokémon since both of these originated from Japan,” says the 23-year-old Caviteña. Her design features a step-by-step origami guide crafted out of an image of Pikachu. “Uniqlo Japan even asked me to send a video guide with it,” she says, following her originally crafted, nine-step paper folding.

CTRLD is a freelance artist who paints murals in Bulacan and on Tomas Morato, Quezon City for a living. The Malolos-based artist got to know about UTGP through a Facebook post. She wasn’t really keen on joining until a fellow artist encouraged him to do so. Still, he waited up to the last minute before sending his entry.

“When I was deciding on a concept, I thought, since it was Pokémon, many of the other contestants would be focusing on Pikachu. So I tried to be different and chose Jigglypuff instead.”

Categorized as Balloon Poké- mons, Jigglypuffs are known for their ability to make everyone fall asleep with their soulful singing. “When people fall asleep, Jigglypuff gets angry and scribbles on their faces, hence the random scribbles on the shirt,” says CTRLD, adding that it took him four hours to complete his design.

Not present at the event was Hannah Lee (HVNN), whose bold design deviated from the all-time favorite Pokémons, showcasing instead the dark and malevolent-looking Ghost Pokémons.

All of the 22 designs of the UTGP 2019 Pokémon collection are currently available at Uniqlo stores nationwide. | Instagram: @ uniqlophofficial

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