What is your professional title, purpose or passion?
I’m a recording artist.
What did you want to do when you were a child and what changed?
I’ve always wanted to be on stage, singing my heart out! Ask any Filipino: we LOVE karaoke! When I was younger, performing gave me the space to express myself without judgement; I was able to become different characters, empathise with their situations, and safely explore my own emotions through this creative act. I also thrived when getting attention and felt like I could freeze a moment by taking people on a journey through song – this connection between audience and performer, this charged space where anything can happen, I live for these moments!
What changed? Well, typically, I have an Asian mum who strongly urged me to study at University, and from then on I focused more on the use of the creative arts as a tool for social change. I then taught English and was the Head of Drama at a boys secondary school… However, in my second year of teaching, I realised that ‘Life is but a Vapour’… In our short lives, how could I be encouraging others to chase their dreams, if I wasn’t following mine? So, I took the leap and left my job in teaching, I worked passionately to re-train my voice and body, and six months later I was the lead female singer in ‘Thriller Live’! I left the stage to pursue my passion as a Recording Artist, and I’ve been living my dreams ever since.
What's the best career advice you've ever been given?
“If you ain't aim too high/ Then you aim too low.” J Cole, ‘January 28th’.
I believe that we are all gifted: if we all take the time to slow down enough to figure out what it is that seems to come naturally to us, then we can channel that gift into our careers. In this light, I agree with the legendary J Cole: with all our potential, if we aren’t aiming high, then we’re aiming too low.
What is the best thing about your current working environment?
I get to do what I love, with whom I love, for those I love!
Where do you see yourself in five years' time?
I’ve got big dreams! In five years, I see myself at the Grammys, creating projects that continue to challenge me, with people that continue to sharpen me, so that I can continue to create positive change around me. Watch this space ☺
Currently, I’m exploring the truth that ‘it is all within you’: last year I took time to travel and meditate, and through this experience I noticed how the changes in the seasons are also reflective of the changes that occur, naturally, in us all. I believe that these seasons are representative of the different sides of everyone, which once accepted and not denied, can deepen our connection with each other and ourselves. Accepting who we are, through experience, encourages a greater sense of love and freedom. We are it all – so we can be it all, whenever we choose to. Lyrically, emotionally, and sonically I’ll be exploring winter, spring, summer and autumn - sharing aspects of my life, and growing through the process. I’d like for these projects to also inspire and equip others to make conscious changes in their lives, and as such, the lives of those around them.
Tell us more about a charitable organisation or project you think is great.
Since watching ‘The True Cost’ documentary, I’ve been more and more curious about the fashion industry and what I can be doing to be a part of positive changes – especially when it comes to making informed choices about the clothes I wear. I’m finding myself more curious about the processes involved in ‘fast fashion’ and the negative affects this continues to have on people and our environment.
I love all that the Bottletop Foundation is doing to begin to address these issues. Not only are the Bottletop bags created sustainably with upcycled materials, their foundation also empowers people behind the scenes by actively supporting grass roots health, education and skills training projects. I think this is great, as the young people behind their bags are being equipped with necessary health education, transferable skills and self-confidence to help them to be agents of change in their own lives and their own wider communities.
You can find out more about Bottletop Foundation, and check out their gorgeous bags, here: https://bottletop.org/pages/foundation
What drives you?
‘Life is but a vapour’… Life is constantly changing; we can’t hold onto it, we can’t predict it, and we know that it will one day end. We can wait forever, waiting to take a leap of faith off the edge of a cliff, and in a moment’s notice everything could change; we’d then regret never having at least taken that chance.
So, I’m at peace knowing that life is but a vapour, and that I’m here to enjoy this life by making choices that align with a version of myself that I’m proud of - experiencing all the ups and downs, until I’m no longer here to experience it anymore.
Any final comments?
If you’re reading this and it’s sparked something in you – it’s never, ever, too late to rediscover what makes you happy, and to live a life that you’re proud of. This quote by one of my favourite authors inspired me to chase my dreams – I hope it inspires you too:
“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald
It’s all within you x
What does a normal day look like for you?
In this season, I’ve naturally been waking up around 6-6:30am; I then meditate for an hour, drink some warm lemon water and make some porridge with almond milk, fruits and chia seeds for breakfast.
By 8am, I’m heading to the gym: I’m enjoying yoga, boxing and lifting weights at the moment - it feels great to feel strong and grounded. I then love to sweat by taking a moment to relax in the sauna before getting back home.
Currently, I’m preparing to record my next project, so I’ve been creating time to be stimulated by visuals, literature and music, to exercise my voice, and to explore its different tones and riffs. My intention has been to stay emotionally, spiritually and mentally ready so that in the studio, I can let go of all the preparation, in order to be inspired by the other artists in the space and the moment of ‘now’.
I always make sure I’m drinking plenty of water through the day, and you’ll often catch me snacking on something vegan and sweet. I check my emails through the day, take meetings for the business side of Music, and am currently doing an e-course on ‘Fashion’s Future and the Sustainable Development Goals’ with Fashion Revolution. I’m also mentoring a few younger creatives to help them to navigate their first season in a professional context. A lot has been happening this year! Every day is different; I guess a ‘normal’ day always has its own ups and downs – I’m grateful to be in a season of my life where I’m able to experience these rhythms with a sense of calm.
What have you achieved that you feel most proud of?
I think it would have to be the moment I decided to leave my secure, comfortable and socially/culturally respectable job, to follow what made me happy. I’m proud that I allowed myself to take the leap away from teaching and towards my dreams. That decision in the Summer of 2016, led to me being on the West End again, releasing and gigging on my first mixtape ‘Life is but a Vapour’, travelling, having greater relationships with the people around me, and now about to record my next project! I’m very grateful to my younger self for taking that first step.
Tell us about a a woman who inspires you
There are so many! My mum, Michelle Obama, Lauryn Hill, Beyonce, Pina Bausch, Shonda Rhimes… I’m inspired by each of them either for their resilience, their creative genius and/or their desire to share the lessons that they’ve learnt through their experiences with the world. It inspires me that regardless, and because, of their backgrounds – still, they rise.
What was your biggest failure?
Truthfully, I’m struggling to answer this question! I don’t really see anything as a ‘failure’ as this holds so much negativity. Instead, I see every opportunity as a lesson to be learnt. In this light, I’m learning everyday.
What do you like most about yourself?
I like that I really take the time to get to know someone when I meet him or her. I enjoy connecting with people and hearing their stories, and I guess I like how this quality usually makes people feel understood and lighter when around me. Yeah, I like making people feel seen and heard, as in those moments, I also feel valued.
How can we make the world more inclusive and accepting?
I believe it all starts with being more accepting towards ourselves. I’ve noticed that if I’ve been judgemental or dismissive towards someone, the root cause usually comes back to bite me, as it usually means that I’ve been quick to judge myself. I can be quite harsh towards myself sometimes, which I’ve noticed has the potential to seep into how I see the world, and how I treat others. So, in short, we grow more and more accepting of ourselves, in order to be able to empathise with others, as we are all going through something.
What skills have been key to your journey so far?
Planning and organising: Stick to the plan! Stay focused. I believe that success happens when preparation meets opportunity… So, I’ve learnt to stay ready.
Leadership: It’s one thing to invest in yourself, and to materialise your own dreams; it’s another skill altogether to energise a team of people, to consistently listen to their needs and to direct everyone towards a greater vision; it’s a responsibility that I don’t take lightly.
Humility, respect and empathy: The more I grow, the more I come across people from different walks of life, and the more I realise how similar we all are. Everything is love!
Self-evaluation: From my time as a teacher, I apply the same method of marking to my own life! “WWW” and “EBI”. Every morning, I take some time to evaluate ‘What Went Well’ and suggest ‘Even Better If’. I find that it helps to strengthen my growth mindset, to keep embracing challenges and to notice that there are always more opportunities to grow.
Resilience: “If at first you don't succeed, dust yourself off, and try again.” Aaliyah