Young Star

I’m just trying to be cool

Kara Ortiga - The Philippine Star

Stripped off the pomp and circumstance of the hype machine, three toddlers teach us how to think independently again.

MANILA, Philippines - I Girls these days, those whose names pass the lips of many and whose faces bombard you on billboards along the stretch of Edsa—they didn’t get there because of talent, an avant-garde sense of style, the majestic presence they hold in a room or the surprising wit with which they could carry a conversation. These qualities are not absent in their personalities of course, but they are a small fraction of the reason why people can’t stop talking about them.

Their presence is everywhere, literally, screaming via all forms of media. Every detail of their personal life is splashed on the pages or on TV. And if it isn’t there, it’s in their latest tweet or on Instagram. You know instantly what they had for breakfast, where they worked out, how they worked out, what they look like without make up on, and what their opinion is on the latest breaking news.

Because of their omnipresence, and the level of cool with which they’ve been knighted, we become obsessed with trying to associate ourselves with them. Which is only possible by connecting to them via tangible things—buying the same products they do, eating in the same places they do, wearing the same clothes they do. By doing so, people assume that we’re uhm, by logical reasoning, cool too. In reality, these It Girls do not so much possess the “It” factor, but more like created to be “It” so that they can become one massive promotional campaign.

We thought of a few girls, far from puberty, who are the next generation cool girls. We mean the daughters of some of the coolest personalities of today: Nico dela Rama-Talan  (four years old), daughter of Razorback bassist Louie Talan and Gabbie dela Rama; Tica Carpio-Tuazon (two and a half years old), daughter of underwater photographer Gutsy Tuazon and Esquire features editor Audrey Carpio; and Isla Verzosa (three years old), daughter of fashion photographer Jake Verzosa and artist Karina Estacio. We brought them together on a Sunday afternoon. Tica came in cutoff jean shorts and sparkly Tom’s shoes, and Isla arrived with her own pair of shades. Nico was full of energy, but in front of the camera she was unhappy about being told what to do. Attitude.

We let Nico sink her teeth in on a buzzy ice cream bar. For P50 to P100 a pop, the brand sure has generated a lot of buzz among the chi-chi set. Massive parties and an entire store with a snaking waiting line. Nico took a bite, but maybe after two or three, tired of its sickeningly sweet taste, said she didn’t want it anymore and shoved it to her mother.

We plopped colored bottles of a certain juice cleanse that’s taking over social media in front of Tica. She slightly wrinkled her nose at the taste of one of the mixes—maybe beets and orange—and opted to play with the juice instead. More attracted perhaps to the many bright colors they came in as opposed to the effects they promised to have (a detox or a flat stomach or something… boring).

And Isla got a pair of sunglasses to pose with, the kind that presupposes ‘cool’ for less than a thousand bucks, championed by Manila’s top influencers. But Isla refused. She had brought her own pair—perhaps her favorite pair— and she didn’t mind if others disapproved.

In a way we’ve lost that kind of innocence to see things for what they really are: we don’t just see an ice cream bar anymore like the kids do—we see the hype. We don’t just see blended mixed veggies—we treat see it as the hottest new diet. We don’t just dismiss that regular pair of sunglasses—because they are “It” approved. We’re kind of slaves to this trend culture, which is telling of the groupthink in this country and the roles that social media has played. That if we find ourselves missing out and unable to keep up, then we have no chance of being hip.

But kids, they tend to speak the truth. They don’t really care about image or the brand or fitting in…yet. They tell it like it is. We’re buying into hype. We’re trying too hard. We’re crazy about being “It.” Children, they hardly give a rat’s ass. In instances like these, it’s nice to take a note or two from them.

Photos by Gabby Cantero, Produced by Toff de Venecia and Jonty Cruz












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