Why Janina Vela Decided to Choose Political Science as Her College Major

Janina is currently a second-year AB PolSci student at the Ateneo de Manila University.
by Bianca Custodio   |  Oct 23, 2021
Image: INSTAGRAM/JANINAVELA
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Among the many talented creators in our local YouTube scene, one that has definitely stood out over the past few years is content creator and public speaker Janina Vela. Before terms like “content creator” and “influencer” were even a thing, this OG local YouTuber was already one step ahead, making videos that, little did she know, would inspire many others to do the same. Known for her bubbly personality, intelligence, and passion, this Gen Z icon is definitely one of a kind! 

Moving from being a beauty vlogger to making relevant socio-political content may seem too big a leap to others, but Janina Vela is living proof that, well, why not? It’s totally possible! And she’s done it with so much grace, bravery, and genuine passion, it’s hard *not* to admire her! Between her bright, welcoming aura and her contagious heart for social justice, it isn’t hard to say that this young creator has definitely become one of the greatest role models of this generation. 

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Here are 7 things you need to know about Gen Z content creator Janina Vela:

Janina started her YouTube career at 15. 

Yup, you read that right! At only 15 years old, Janina Vela was already making creative content on YouTube, which eventually led to her becoming one of the forefront icons of the YouTuber scene in the Philippines after just *one* year.

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Back then the local YouTube community wasn’t very big yet. In fact, in a podcast episode with The Juicy Vlog early last year, she even recalls that there were only probably about 10 of them at the time! Janina shares that when she started her channel, she would have never guessed that this would lead to a full-on career. But now after 7 years of being a content creator and around 700,000 subscribers on YouTube, Janina has since gone through many milestones and even changes in her career. Still, she remains to be the humble and genuine person we all fell in love with when she first started! 

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In fact, when we asked her for a piece of advice she’d give to her 15-year-old self, she gave a short but simple message, “Embrace the uniqueness of your path.” Janina shares that this piece of advice would have really taken a big burden off her shoulders as a young person in the limelight. "I think there is beauty in every single person’s timeline. And that narrative is written specifically for you. So enjoy your pages. Because as you learn to celebrate your own unique story, you learn to celebrate others’ unique stories as well."

Check out this mini throwback IG post from baby vlogger Janina in 2016!

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Janina is a Political Science major.

Janina is currently a second-year AB PolSci student at the Ateneo de Manila University. When we sat with her and asked why PolSci, she gave a simple answer: “My passions grew up with me.” Janina shares that it was towards the end of her teenage years when she realized that her ultimate passion was and always has been about people. From makeup to mental health to politics, all the content she’s made thus far and the messages she’s forwarded through her platform has always been a manifestation of her heart for people! And right now, Janina shares, it’s manifesting the most through social issues, politics, and governance. 

“I realized that to be the best Filipino citizen I can be, for me to be the best socio-political commentator, maybe future public servant, I need to equip myself to be competent and to be able. [...] So that one day our people could live in victory.”

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Janina is a singer-songwriter.

Add that to her long list of talents! In 2018, Janina launched her debut EP entitled Love You the Same which features six tracks about love and heartbreak, all written and composed by her! She also released a single last year that she wrote herself called "Hello Stranger." The song is a fun and upbeat yet #relatable track about bumping into an ex and realizing you’ve become strangers. And TBH, we’re still obsessed! (FR, stream it on Spotify now! You won’t regret it.)

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It’s no secret that Janina’s got an *incredible* voice. She even mentioned that singing has always been one of her first loves. But here’s a little trivia you might not know about the talented creator: Janina was actually a theatre kid! When she was a preteen, she was cast in her first professional musical theatre role as Brigitta in The Sound of Music. “If you look hard enough,” she told us, “you could probably find a video!” (This is your time to shine, VelaFam!) 

But for now, check out her short yet super ~goosebump-inducing~ cover of "Scream" from the iconic High School Musical. Who else wants a full cover?

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Janina is an avid reader. 

A quick visit to Janina’s Instagram profile will tell you that she loves reading. It’s no wonder she never seems to run out of quotes and little nuggets of wisdom! But according to the 22-year-old bookworm, she wasn’t always an avid reader. In fact, she just started three years ago!

Janina shares that it was when she took a hiatus from school and from YouTube—when her brain felt completely empty—that she randomly picked up a book by Filipino Historian Ambeth Ocampo called Meaning & History. Now one of her favorites, Janina says that the book really sparked her love for the nation. 

“The more I read, the more I saw how remarkable, how special, how talented, how intelligent Filipinos actually are,” Janina passionately shared. “So it wasn’t really a love for reading, but a love for learning that got me into reading!”

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Want to know what Janina’s reading? Here’s a list of books she totally swears by:

  1. Meaning & History by Ambeth Ocampo
  2. The Dictator’s Handbook by Alastair Smith and Bruce Bueno de Mesquita
  3. Why Nations Fail by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson
  4. Power Systems by Noam Chomsky
  5. Independence X6 by Ambeth Ocampo
  6. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
  7. Everything Under the Heavens by Howard W. French
  8. The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II by Iris Chang
  9. Subversive Lives: A Family Memoir of the Marcos Years by Nathan Gilbert Quimpo and Susan Quimpo
  10. (Additionally) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (“For the social commentary!”)

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Janina is a big family person!

Like the ~humble queen~ that she is, Janina takes pride in the fact that she isn’t a one-woman show! When talking about her family’s role in her career, she shares that her parents are actually a huge part of why she’s so brave today. “I never saw hesitation and doubt from them.”

Janina shares that being a socio-political content creator can get pretty lonely, but knowing that she is well-supported and loved by her family makes things a lot easier. According to Janina, her parents are involved in almost every step of the process. They’re the ones who ask if her heart is ready before she releases certain content, who comfort her when she’s having a hard time, and who even fact-check and grammar-check her scripts for her!

In a really sweet birthday message she posted for her “momager”, Jenn, Janina writes, “I would not be who I am without you. And when I look at you, I see the woman I want to become.” 

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Janina isn’t afraid to use her platform to educate and spark change.

Ever since her love and passion for the nation was ignited, Janina Vela started creating compelling content about relevant socio-political issues with the goal of educating and encouraging others to take a stand.

Some of her most famous videos include the Metro Manila water shortage, the ABS-CBN Shutdown, the 2019 elections, and most recently, Martial Law. While many applaud her bravery to put her platform to good use, having been a lifestyle influencer first, others still post harsh comments discrediting her knowledge and research on these matters. But that doesn’t stop her! “The bashing, the hate, and the negativity—it all actually becomes something that empowers me, funny enough.” (Ugh, we stan!)

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Despite opposition, Janina shares that she’s a firm believer of the youth today and the hope that can be found in them. And looking at the many people who are touched by, learn from, and even echo the same sentiments in her videos, she knows that she isn’t fighting alone! “When I look at where we are now, and how people respond to my content, it shows me that there’s still so much to be done. And if I stop now, then what was it all for?”

Check out the latest episode of her YouTube series, Trendsetter, where politics and pop culture meet below:

Janina was once obsessed with the color purple! 

People whose favorite color is purple are notoriously known for their absolute obsession with the royal color, and it turns out, Janina Vela was not an exception. LOL! When asked about one thing the world may not yet know about her, Janina laughed out loud before disclosing to us this very ~exclusive~ fun fact. “You know what nobody knows? How much I used to *love* purple. I’ve never shared that!” Yup, you’ve heard it here first, Candy girls! Janina had an *intense* purple phase. Anyone else relate? “I had purple sparkly Converse, purple pants, purple shirt that said the word ‘purple’, and even a purple streak in my hair. It was crazy!” 

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OK, but hear us out, a full-on purple outfit with this iconic accidental mauve hair-do? *Chef’s kiss* 

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Bianca Custodio
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