In this exclusive interview, we delve into the remarkable journey of Ace Gapuz, a visionary entrepreneur and influencer who has reshaped the influencer marketing landscape in the Philippines. From her pioneering role in Blogapalooza Inc. to her insights into the evolving influencer culture, Ace's story is a testament to innovation and transformation.
"Is there a moment in your life from the past that made you who you are?" When asked this question, Ace Gapuz reflects on her journey, revealing a narrative of self-reliance, determination, and the transformative power of her experiences.
Growing up, Ace was used to receiving awards and recognition in school. But during a grade school event, something stood out. While other kids celebrated with their parents, Ace stood alone as her hardworking parents couldn't make it. However, another parent's kind act made a significant impact. They handed her an award, saying, "Give this to your parents." That moment reinforced her independence and made her realize her achievements were hers. This experience in grade school became a turning point, shaping Ace's determination and strength.
Ace's formative years were shaped at the School of the Holy Spirit, an all-girls institution that nurtured her self-reliance. The absence of her parents was the norm, and she grew up believing that relying on herself was her strength. Seeking help was rare, as she embraced the philosophy of accomplishing tasks on her own.
Even the most self-sufficient individuals have moments of vulnerability. At 18, Ace recalls a time in Sydney, Australia, when homesickness overcame her. Despite her self-assurance, she reached out to her family and friends back in the Philippines for comfort, demonstrating that emotional needs are a universal human trait.
Facing failure head-on, Ace's resilience shines through. She shares, "Failure is just a hiccup," a mind-set that guides her in business and life. She's learned that perfectionism can hinder growth and that challenges are opportunities to mature and gain perspective.
Ace's journey into the world of influencers began with a serendipitous encounter at a blogger event organized by When in Manila. From this event, Blogapalooza, a platform connecting bloggers with small businesses, was born. Ace's leadership transformed it into an annual tradition, fostering community and value for both bloggers and businesses.
Ace's success is at the heart of her ability to connect with people. Her alma mater, Ateneo de Manila University, instilled in her a sense of quality and community, contributing to her self-confidence. Ace's natural gift for engaging with others has been pivotal in shaping the future of influencers in the Philippines.
For Ace, the future of influencers holds the promise of substantial wealth, as people will increasingly depend on them for information. Brands, too, will rely heavily on influencers for their marketing strategies. As a result, their future appears bright, with the media seeking their attention and expertise to drive sales. In an era where influencers have become celebrities, she believes they will continue to wield influence and reshape industries.
On the other hand, there is a controversial aspect and a downside to influencer culture-exerting excessive control over public opinions. With influence comes responsibility. Ace acknowledges the potential downside, emphasizing the need for influencers to champion ethical regulations and acceptable behaviour. The implications of this downside are far-reaching.
So, what role does Ace see herself playing in this complex scenario? For her, it's a nuanced challenge. Recognizing that influencers are not institutions but individuals, controlling their actions is intricate. However, championing regulations and ethical guidelines remains a viable approach. Ultimately, influencers are unique individuals with their own perspectives and choices.
As an entrepreneur, Ace emphasizes the importance of adaptability across various contexts, even in the face of differing political views and industry challenges.
Ace draws inspiration from young, successful Filipino entrepreneurs, and she champions women journalists. Inspired by her parents, she believes in the convergence of happiness, success, and financial wisdom.
In her role as an influencer, Ace's contribution is evident. She's become a pillar of the industry, a recognizable figure synonymous with influencer marketing in the Philippines. With humility, she recognizes her success, but her journey has just begun. With self-awareness and contentment driving her, she looks ahead with enthusiasm, remains grounded, and is eager to continue learning and making her mark in this ever-evolving industry.
Ultimately, Ace Gapuz's narrative embodies the strength of self-confidence, resilience, and adaptability. Her recent recognition as the APAC Insider CEO of the Year adds another dimension to her journey. APAC Insider shines a spotlight on trailblazers and creative minds in the business landscape across Southeast Asia.
Here's an unsexy truth: A great deal about success is learning to grind - working hard day in and day out, staying engaged, and seeing it through - more so when everything feels 'boring.
Ace Gapuz's evolution from independence to influence stands as an inspiration, particularly for young women who harbour ambitions of leading and excelling in various domains. Her early experiences taught her the value of self-reliance, and her vulnerability during homesickness in Sydney showed us all that it's okay to seek support.
What's admirable is her resilience in the face of failure, seeing it as a mere hiccup on her path to success. Ace's vision for the future of influencers and her commitment to ethical guidelines in this industry reflect her forward-thinking and responsible approach.
As a journalist and humanitarian, I appreciate her dedication to positive change and support for women journalists. Ace's story embodies the strength of self-confidence, resilience, and adaptability, qualities that inspire us all to excel in our chosen paths.