It was a humid night in Quezon City, we jumped in a Grab and headed to a gig in a basement of a Chinese Restaurant. Mows! It was a Christmas show, it was mid-September, there is a Christmas tree, it is unmistakably Philippines. One of the bands on the bill was TNG, a post-hardcore outfit from Bulacan, they come on, there is an energy in the room which feels special, there is so much emotion vibrating through the floor, bouncing off the walls, it feels cathartic, it fees special and we are blown away.
We meet Alden, the vocalist, at the merch stand, and we get talking. As well as being blown away by TNG, we were also diggin’ the shirt he is wearing, turns out it’s his own brand, Thank You. Alden runs the Thank You Gift Store in Bulacan, a street wear store stocking local designers as well as his own brand of the same name.
That chance encounter at a sweaty late night show in Quezon City led to this interview with Alden, and to a friendship we are truly grateful for. In the spirit of expressing our gratitude in true ‘Thank You’ style, SALAMAT Alden for sharing your story with us!
Tell us a little bit about yourself in your own words.
Hi! I'm Alden owner of Thank You Gift Shop and Thank You by Thank You Gift Shop. I'm also in a few bands, as a vocalist for TNG, Ophir, and Now You Make Me Angry. I work as a business consultant, especially with young people who aspire to build their own clothing line or want to start their own band. I firmly believe that sharing what you know is the greatest gift you can give to someone.
"I wanted to make a home
for everyone in our community"
You are the owner of Thank You Gift Shop, tell us about the concept and inspiration behind the store?
The inspiration for Thank You, are my friends and our community. I wanted to make a home for everyone in our community who built their own clothing brands. My vision is to inspire others to take the risk and pursue the thing that they really want.
I pretty much got tired of my day job and wanted to do something that would make me happy but earn me money too. So my wife and I decided to start Thank You.
What are some of the brands that you stock? How do you select the brands/artists to work with?
We got a lot of brands that are really amazing. It’s not just about the designs, I want to ensure that we share the same vision and this plays an important part in choosing who we stock in our shop. We have Primal, Enimal, Nobody, Chef Zombie, 7th King, Armory, etc..
Before I get a brand to consign in our store I always ask myself ‘Would I wear their designs?’
If I can wear the designs then I can confidently sell them because I like it and believe in it and not just because it's cool. I don't want to sell something that I am not a fan of.
How important are spaces like Thank You Gift Shop in the Philippines? How much support is their for independent brands outside of spaces like this?
Spaces like ours play a big role in our community, it’s where kids get to hangout with us and this gives us a chance to share our stories and wisdom for the sole purpose of inspiring them to be better everyday.
The support is always there we just need to make our circle bigger and make sure that everyone is welcome in that circle. I don’t want people to feel excluded or unwelcome – I’ve felt that before. That's why our store is always open for small talk, suggestions, or to simply just hangout.
Can you tell us a little more about your own brand, Thank You? What inspired the brand and what was your vision?
Thank you is a representation of myself, I'm always grateful even for the smallest things. I started this brand to inspire others to be the same. Thank you is a very common expression that we use daily but often don’t know the impact those two words have on other people. I want our shirts to served as a reminder of how we inspire one another.
Our vision for Thank You is to be a world recognised brand, a brand that can affect people’s lives in the most positive way.
We adore the 'friendly reminder' on the back of the ringer tee - why did you select this quote and what does it mean to you?
It means everything! That quote is like our wake up call to be a better person. We love putting quotes on our shirts rather than overly graphic designs. We want to keep it that way so that whenever people look at one of our shirts, they are going to learn something or feel something about it.
You recently collaborated with Miami Hooligans - How did this come about and are there any more collaborations on the horizon?
We followed each other in Instagram and we randomly messaged each other talking about some stuff about what we do and decided to do a collaboration. It's our very first collaboration and it's a big milestone for our brand to collaborate with someone from USA. We always believe that nothing is impossible as long as you believe in yourself and put your heart into it.
We also recently collaborate with Tengu from London, UK and we have an upcoming collaboration with a London based Ice Cream parlour which I am really excited about.
Collaborations for me is like building a bridge together, making it strong and everlasting because of friendship and making it beautiful because of the collective ideas being put in that work.
“We never play half hearted
we always give it our all”
Can you talk about TNG, the band you're in..this is actually how we met. Tell us more about the band and how does the creative expression through music differ from your other work with Thank You and the store?
TNG is home. TNG is my escape from all of my problems. We are just a bunch of guys doing what we love to do; sharing our emotions with people and giving them an experience that they will never forget. Creative expression for the band and my brand are the same. EXPERIENCE OVER EXPOSURE. I just want to express what I feel and I want to feel other people’s emotions too.
Seeing TNG live for us felt like an almost spiritual experience. What does performing live and making music mean to you? And how do you want your audience to feel?
I always say this before we play. "This is more than a show. This is an experience. This is a celebration and this will never end."
Playing live with TNG is like watching your favourite movie over and over again you know what's going to happen but it still gives you the same feeling of being lonely, dramatic, or triumphant. We never play half hearted we always give it our all. That's how we want people to remember us, as a band that is always after the experience instead of exposure.
We want our audience to feel what they want to feel.
How important is the DIY ethic to your work both with music and fashion?
We don’t do this just to be in, we are doing this because there is so much more to it when you see your own hands getting dirty, when you sacrifice endlessly, when you see the blood and sweat on your work. All this - to be where you are. And others recognise this too, they see the hard work and passion. DIY is a community for people who are open minded and for people who are not afraid to make mistakes. We are all capable of doing this.
How would you describe life in the Philippines to somebody who has never visited before?
Enjoy the ride because it's going to be worth it.
What does being Filipino mean to you?
It means being independent. Struggle is always here in our country and it's up to us how we can improve ourselves and overcome that struggle.
“It's not about how much money you make
it’s about how many people you inspire”
What inspires you to continue to create your art?
My ideas are endless, I always believe that in 10 people you talk to you can at least make 2 or more people better. My main inspirations are my wife and my daughter. I am always thinking about how I can give them the best life in this world.
It's not about how much money you make it’s about how many people you inspire. I think I’m on the right path; I am using my experience and influence to inspire others.
How do you find the drive, energy and time to pursue all your creative endeavours? Was there ever a time where you felt tested or challenged or felt like giving up? What saw you through?
I just always look forward. When I make mistakes I leave them behind and take what I learned with me. Keep moving forward there’s no other place to go. Keep on challenging yourself to be better. One step at a time, I always believe that desperate people make desperate moves in desperate times. I’m conscious not to allow this to happen to me. I always tell myself that whatever recognition we might get I shouldn't put it in my head. I should put in my heart to keep me running and reach my goal.
Thank you Native Province for reaching out. I hope we can inspire more people who will read this. Shout-out to my mentors: My dad who always believed in me. My sister who always supported me. My mom who raised me to be who I am today. Kuya Zei, Finney, Iggy, Mong and all the people who support our brand. THANK YOU!