My Kuya's Keeper


A common question that gets asked is, "Why did you name it Project Kuya?" Of course I can share a quick little 5 second explanation, but there's a lot more to the story. Kuya means "big brother" in Cebuano but it's true meaning represents so much more than that.

Being submerged in the Filipino culture, you pick up on certain gestures, greetings, and sayings that are often used. There's things that you can do to show respect to people around you. Kuya is just one of those terms that you can use to show your respect to another individual. In the Philippines, you don't need to be blood related to be someone's older brother. You don't need to be fluent in the language and you definitely don't need to be Filipino.

When I first arrived in the Philippines, I was on the island of Negros walking the streets of Bayawan. I was a stranger from a first world country that was wandering around a third world country, striving to understand a language I didn't speak, and yet little kids on the street were still calling me kuya. I just remember kids swarming around me, hugging my leg, giving me high fives, and wanting to talk to me. It was this simple gesture that showed how loving the Filipino people are. They didn't view me as a stranger. They viewed me as family, and I felt that almost instantly.

Project Kuya isn't going back to the Philippines to help strangers. We're going back to the Philippines to help our family. I have a deep love for the Filipino people simply because of the love they showed me.

This is why Kuya became part of the name for this humanitarian project and fashion brand. We focus on people. We focus on community. We focus on family. So when I'm asked the question, "Why Kuya?" I want you to know it's because I am my Kuya's keeper and I want to do everything I can to help them.

Robin Uata