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Manila, Philippines

Maxene Magalona

One thing I realized this year is that I live a very colorful life. Growing up as one of the children of the Philippine rap legend FrancisM was a very unique and exciting experience. In our family, I’m considered as a third generation artist since my grandparents Pancho Magalona and Tita Duran were movie stars back in the 1950s. My Lolo Pancho was one of the best actors during his time and known as “the Frank Sinatra of the Philippines,” while my Lola Tita was likened to Shirley Temple as she was the first successful child star of Philippine cinema. Given that my grandparents were quite conservative and old-fashioned, my Lolo had a hard time accepting my Pop’s love for breakdancing and rap music. I remember Papa telling me that Lolo found his music too noisy and that he ran away from home when Lolo tried to discourage him from pursuing his passions. Just like me, Pop was born into a famous family and had to grow up in the limelight whether he liked it or not. Being the eldest daughter of FrancisM meant that my life had already been an open book ever since the day I was born. As much as I would like to enjoy my privacy, I’ve already accepted that I am always going to be in the public eye and that my life will always be looked at and judged—whether I like it or not. This is my fate. Amor fati is a Latin phrase that comes from Stoic teachings which means, “love of fate.” It is used to describe a perspective in which one sees everything that happens in one’s life, both the good and the bad, as necessary. Living this kind of life definitely has its ups and downs and it is entirely up to me to decide whether I will let my circumstances hold me back or make me thrive. I choose the latter.

I remember what it was like living in a home with 8 children. It was fun but admittedly chaotic at times. I’m grateful to my parents for doing their best to provide a loving home for us. My Pop enjoyed doing all sorts of activities with us like watching movies and playing board games and my Mom would prepare our food for us with love. To be honest, growing up in a celebrity family had its challenges. Even though it had its perks, it unfortunately had a negative effect on my mental health. With so many people looking up to us and putting us on a pedestal, there was so much pressure for us to be “perfect.” It felt like we always had to perform our best and had very little room for mistakes. As a result, I grew up with people pleasing tendencies and became an anxious perfectionist in the process. This is what I am currently working on in my healing journey. Looking on the bright side, I sincerely believe that my family’s unique experience of living a very public life made us all strong, wise and resilient. Personally, it made me develop a deeper relationship with God. Since the world of show business can be very noisy, I make sure to spend some quiet time every morning just praying and meditating as a way of connecting to God and asking Him for guidance. I give my heartfelt thanks to Him for protecting me and my family. Looking back, I can see that we got through so many challenges all thanks to God’s grace. It takes grace for our family to go through public issues and scandals throughout the years and still choose to hold our heads high no matter what people say or think about us. I believe that this is part of our purpose.

I have to admit—losing a loved one changes you forever. When Papa passed away due to cancer in 2009, I experienced unbearable pain. He was my best friend who made me feel safe and loved in this world. One of the ways that he loved to bond with me was by picking me up from school in Katipunan and having meaningful conversations on the way home to Antipolo. He would play cool music that we would vibe to and would even rap freestyle whenever he felt like it. I realized that it was in those car rides home when he would choose to give me advice about life. I’ll never forget the valuable lesson that he shared with me about our work as artists. He made it clear with me that our job as actors and musicians is our means of living and that it is just like any other form of work here on earth. He said, “Just because we appear on television, it doesn’t mean that we are higher or better than others. In the eyes of God, we are all equal and the same.” That really stuck with me which is why I make sure to treat everyone around me with the same level of respect, no matter what their job or status is because I saw how Papa treated everyone around him equally. One time, I asked him to accompany me to buy makeup and while he was waiting, I saw him striking a conversation with the security guard of the store. Even though he was one of the most iconic artists of all time, he didn’t let fame corrupt his spirit. FrancisM was a spiritual artist in the sense that he followed his heart and soul when it came to his artistic creations. He did not succumb to societal pressure and instead, chose to honor his soul by doing what he truly wanted to do—not what others expected of him. He was fearlessly authentic.

"Society conditioned us to believe that crying makes us weak. I beg to disagree. Vulnerability requires strength as it is never easy to feel our pain and cry. But this is the inner work that must be done if we want to become creative artists. Feeling leads to healing which in turn makes us become more of who we really are—our authentic selves."

Today, I consider myself extremely blessed that I was able to witness my father’s artistry and hope to be as authentic of an artist as he was. I’ll admit that there was a time in my life when I wasn’t focused on my passions due to my mental health condition. After Papa’s traumatizing death, I got lost and derailed. Instead of working on my craft as an actor, I spent my time drinking and partying to numb the intense pain of his death. I didn’t know how to handle my emotions so I just chose to suppress them. When I started my healing journey, however, things started falling into place. I meditated daily and started feeling all my emotions—both positive and negative. I finally tapped into my unprocessed pain and did the work to release old and stagnant negative energy. Little did I know that this would actually help me blossom and grow into a true artist. I learned that you simply cannot be an artist if you don’t know how to feel your emotions. Society conditioned us to believe that crying makes us weak. I beg to disagree. Vulnerability requires strength as it is never easy to feel our pain and cry. But this is the inner work that must be done if we want to become creative artists. Feeling leads to healing which in turn makes us become more of who we really are—our authentic selves. Healing removes negative energy from our system and creates space for more positive energy. Because I have been doing the work to heal my inner wounds, I am now able to direct my energy towards creating more projects and opportunities. 

Life is a collection of all our choices which is why I make sure to choose them wisely. As I continue my journey here on earth, I choose to heal and live a conscious life so that I can evolve into my highest self and serve my community in the most authentic way possible. I choose to stay connected to my soul so that I can keep creating my art with spiritual and authentic energy. I understand that the artist’s path can be quite challenging but I don’t mind as I would much rather do what my heart truly desires. My soul is not for sale. Although it is easier said than done, I make a conscious effort to practice surrendering to the present moment and trusting God’s plan completely. I understand that both past and future are nonexistent and that all we really have is the present moment. This is why I choose to accept and face everything that happens in the present moment, whether good or bad. I believe that I am not here on earth just to receive blessings and enjoy worldly pleasures.

I am not here to be miserable and complain about my life, either. Instead, I am here to learn, grow and strive to become a good human being everyday. I am a spiritual artist who is here to create what my soul wants to express and serve God and my community through meaningful art. This is how I choose to add color to this kaleidoscope world. In every waking moment, I am given a chance to align myself and show God who I am and make Him feel what is in my heart. In the end, our personal relationship with God and how we incorporate Him into our daily lives is what truly matters. I believe that we all need a deep and personal relationship with Him so that we can remain faithful and strong through all the tests and trials that life throws at us. I am not ashamed to share that God has been my best friend and healer all throughout my journey. Come to think of it, I’m actually grateful for my pain because it brought me closer to God which ultimately brought me peace. People often ask me why I get up at 4am every morning to meditate and my answer is this: so that I can devote the first hour of my day to God and give Him thanks before anything else. Meditation is my natural medicine. By connecting to the Divine Source, I get to heal my childhood wounds from the past and become a better artist in the present moment so that I can work towards having a bright and peaceful future.

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