Filipino Legacies in the Middle East – Romy Miclat, Darwin Guevarra, Jesus Galang, Lucille Ong & Isabelita Warren

Romy Miclat



Romy Miclat, is the artist and illustrator who has created one of the UAE’s most well-recognized pop figures – ‘Mohdesh’ the lovable mascot associated with the Dubai Summer Surprises. A veteran artist and illustrator, Romy has done many significant campaigns through the years working for various advertising agencies.  His creation for the Dubai Summer Surprises, which was an ode to the sun, was commissioned by Bates Pan Gulf.  Romy also established his own venture, Qanater in 1990.  The humble artist passed away in 2018, at the age of 69 but his body of work lives on, especially the character he created which has always been a source of fun for children in the country.




Darwin ‘Japat’ Guevarra


Darwin ‘Japat’ Guevarra is one of the very few fine artists in the country, whose work found acclaim within the local and regional art circles.  Known for his modern, surreal and unorthodox approach, Japat has carved out a place for Filipino artists in the country through his artistic defiance of cultural norms – creating thought-provoking visuals, sculptures, paintings, photography, and performances.

His rise was tough, but triumphant.  The many accolades he received in the country include the Sheikha Manal New Signature and Young Artist Grand Prize in 2008.  He was also a shortlistee at the Sony World Photography Portrait Category.  The first Filipino artist to ever exhibit at the prestigious Tashkeel Gallery in Dubai, his exhibition in 2009 entitled ‘Time of Humanity’ was curated by Sheikha Latifa Bint Maktoum, daughter of Dubai’s Ruler and founder of Tashkeel. He was also commissioned to produce work by the Dubai Arts and Culture Authority and exhibited in various events around the country including the Art Hub Abu Dhabi, Ductac, StreetCon, and Sikka Art Fair, among others.

Japat settled back in the Philippines a few years back and continues his journey as an artist.  He is set to exhibit at the Estancia’s Ortigas Art Festival 2019 in February 2020.


Jesus Beltran Galang


Jesus Beltran Galang, Jes to his friends, was the Vice President of Landoil in the UAE in the ’80s.  He was a Filipino pioneer entrepreneur who opened the first Filipino restaurant, Tagpuan (most likely the first Filipino-owned business in the country) in Dubai in 1982.    In 1996, he shifted his focus into importing and distributing Filipino food products.  Jes is also a founding member of the Philippine Business Council – Dubai & Northern Emirates and co-authored the organization’s constitution.  An innovator ahead of the pack, Jes’ unprecedented venture set the tone for other Filipino businesses in the UAE; while the restaurant he founded served as a home away from home for many kababayans back then. Jes also spearheaded the formation on the UP Alumni Association in the country.


Lucille Ong

Entrepreneur & Former Community Leader

Entrepreneur Lucille Ong was a key member of the Filipino business community in its infancy in the emirates. Co-Founder and former Chairman of the Philippine Business Council, she has been instrumental in facilitating various initiatives for the Filipino community during her tenure.  These include the organization of the Philippine Pavillion in 2001, Hakbang Buhay fundraising events for Ondoy and Hayan victims, as well as the landmark premiere performance of the Bayanihan Dance Troup in the UAE under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture, among other projects.


Isabelita Warren

Entrepreneur and Philanthropist  

Former Chief Nurse at the Saudi American Hospital in Saudi Arabia, Isabelita Warren, is an entrepreneur who is credited for developing and launching one of the firsts Filipino-owned UAE-grown brands in 2005.  Nanay Tuneng is a product line that includes sauces, condiments, crackers and snack items with a more ‘health-conscious’ recipe, commemorating Isabelita’s mother who fostered love in the family through good food.  Before she eventually retired and relocated her family in the Philippines, Isabelita is was also an active benefactor to the community and engaged in many charitable initiatives.


Illustrado 300 Most Influential Filipinos in the Gulf is Supported by: Kaya Skin Clinic,  Emirates Airline, and Unilever.

Special Thanks to Michael CincoEzra Couture , GiordanoDarcey FlowersIKON SolutionsVictors FreightMPQ Tourism, Asia Gulf Companies –La Carne & Filfood, WOL Water

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Illustrado 300 Most Influential Filipinos Legacy Edition 2020