By Regina Abuyuan


Even as kids, she was clearly the artist among us, even as her sister was equally talented in music, even when I, too, wrote poems and stories and wasn’t so shabby with the paints and charcoals. She seemed to move in a world of her own, unaware of her own beauty and power. Weird? Of course she was weird. But she was also kind and sincere and naïve and all those other things that tend to get one into the saddest kinds of trouble.

I’m talking of my cousin, C, who now goes by another name; the name that now graces her album cover: Kulay by Tricia Garcia. She’s even got a spankin’ new music video of her first single, “Tabing Ilog.” Watch it here.

Tricia is almost my age—way past the prime of other musicians who get their big break while they’re in their 20s, or earlier. It’s not that she didn’t start early enough–for a time she was the lead vocalist of Pretty In Pink, that bubblegum pop group that came up with “Cool Ka Lang” in the early ‘90s. It was that she was held back.

Now, I’m going to stop right here lest I get anyone into trouble, but I will say that one of the most tragic things that can happen to an artist, or one full of God-given talents, is to be held back and suppressed. It doesn’t matter if the suppression was done “for your own good.” It’s like murder to deprive someone of their fullest potential—and to deprive others of experiencing that gift.

For several years, Tricia had to bury her love of song and art to please other people, to fit into their expectations of what she should be and how she should behave. She would have to hide her easels in the closet. She would have to hide who she was, period. It ate into her soul. Whenever we saw each other, I would see that the light had dimmed ever so imperceptibly in her eyes. She would try to justify it, saying it was for the better, but I—wild Water Rat that I am, who would rather die than be caged—would see she was only trying to convince herself.

And then, one day, the unthinkable happened. Tricia broke free.

She confessed to me her biggest fear two Christmases ago, that she might not be able to make it on her own, now that she was past youth, now that she had to start from scratch. What would people say? How would they react?

My reply (which is undoubtedly how the rest of the superwomen on this blog would reply, too): Don’t think of what other people will say. Just forge on. Do what you love. Do what you do best. Their words mean nothing. Your happiness means everything!

Something amazing happens when someone is set free and made to, finally, bask in his true purpose. It’s like the universe comes together, calls upon all its mighty gears and wheels, and everything locks into place. Mere months after Tricia let go, she inked a deal with MCA Universal. Less than a year later, she started recording her album. Around six weeks ago, her album was launched. Last week, this video was released.

When my daughter—or my sons, for that matter—get married, or have their first sweethearts, I’d like to direct them to this lesson learned from their Auntie Tricia: Stay true to yourself. Don’t let anyone tell you who or how you should be. Don’t allow your dreams to die. And if you’ve really got some gold inside you, it will shine, even if it’s been kept in darkness for years.