We were drinking at Penguin Cafe in Manila one night in the ’90s. I think Jasmine Cabrera, BenCab’s daughter, was visiting from London, or maybe it was Mika Oshima, Neil’s daughter, from New York. My sister was there, and Kidlat (brother of Kawayan, progeny of filmmaker Kidlat Tahimik and Katrin de Guia, and a more than a few of our parents’ friends getting drunk around us. I brought up the idea of profiling artists’ children who were just then starting to do thier own thing in the art world.
I was writing articles, had gotten a few short stories published, but never dreamt of calling myself a writer. Kidlat hadn’t graduated at the time; wasn’t the Discovery Channel protege he would eventually be. Mika was already working on art, but was still at Parsons (I think, not sure if that was her school.) Mishka Adams was still an adolescent in boarding school–I never saw her then, and I don’t think I got introduced to her until much much later. Kawayan was apprenticing with Agnes Arellano, Mishka’s mom. Padma was taking her MA in the UK. Mutya was already in a band — but it was her high school band. There were others — Indira Endaya, Kris Lacaba, Erik Liongoren — not in our immediate Baguio circle, but enough, I thought, to make a solid piece.
At the time everyone groaned and waved the idea off — we were, after all, so used to people recognizing us as our parents’ children, tired of the way nepotism in the Philippines worked, and just probably eager to be recognized for ourselves rather than as “anak ni ganito o ganyan.”
But now that I’m a real adult, I’m looking at our lives — our parents are older (or dead, in my dad’s case) and are prouder of being recognized as “tatay o nanay ni ganito o ganyan” than we would ever have imagined. Many of the artist’s kids, once just popular because of our unique names and interesting vacation stories, have been published, exhibited, broadcast in various mediums. These kids that I went horseback riding with, played hide n seek with at the Convention Center — they all have their own accomplishments and have told their own stories, in different formats.
Windy tells me not to betray my heritage when I tell her that all I want to do is work for the man. I think it’s interesting that many of us struggled to find our own voice in different ways, but are now proud to be products of the Philippine counter-culture that influenced so many citizens of the republic. I am still interested in writing those profiles. They may be better stories now.