COVER STORY

Ac­tress Andi Ei­gen­mann is rewrit­ing her own nar­ra­tive

Northern Living - - CONTENTS - TEXT SA­MAN­THA RAMOS- ZARAGOZA PHO­TOG­RA­PHY JOSEPH PAS­CUAL

Ac­tress Andi Ei­gen­mann on mov­ing to Baler and cre­at­ing her own path

The sun threw iri­des­cent shim­mers of light bob­bing with the waves. Andi Ei­gen­mann shielded her eyes from the blind­ing ocean hori­zon with one hand, car­ried her long­board with the other, and let the cold morn­ing gusts of wind jolt her back to her re­al­ity. Ev­ery wave a new feat, ev­ery surf a tri­umph. And Ei­gen­mann has let each test, both in the waters of Baler and in life, shape her into the mother, ac­tress, surfer, and sto­ry­teller she is to­day.

“I’ve been surf­ing for two years. My fa­vorite thing about it is how it makes me feel alive, the sense of free­dom that no other sport I’ve ever played, noth­ing I’ve ever done can give me. Ev­ery wave is dif­fer­ent and it’s a dif­fer­ent sense of ful­fill­ment I can’t quit,” the sun-kissed 27-year-old shares.

Week­end trips to sat­isfy the urge slowly took over more of her days, un­til Manila be­came a point of rest be­fore she could go back and surf again. The mus­ing had al­ways been there, in her day­dreams of set­tling into a beach life one day, and soon the pieces of life she found in Baler filled up the miss­ing pin­ions. “Liv­ing here took years in the mak­ing. I was in show­biz full-blown. But it was in my mind. I’d men­tion it to my par­ents, sib­lings, and friends in pri­vate. It was wish­ful think­ing and the long-term goal was to build a beach house and never come back to the city. As I grew older and found my­self, I re­al­ized it doesn’t have to be a dream. I don’t have to be wealthy to start it, it doesn’t have to be the end goal. It can be life right now,” Ei­gen­mann says.

The gears started turn­ing in 2016. She vis­ited friends who set­tled in the town and they taught her how to surf. She met a hand­ful of Manileños who based them­selves there. She hung around and got close to the lo­cals. She watched surf­ing com­pe­ti­tions, ad­mit­ting that she had been a fan of surfers who had made names for them­selves even be­fore she tried surf­ing her­self. There was one en­counter af­ter an­other, un­til ev­ery trip made it dif­fi­cult to shift back to city dwelling.

Be­sides, Baler is easy to fall in love with. Ei­gen­mann says, “I travel to dif­fer­ent is­lands in the Philip­pines, but Baler is home to me. I al­ways come back here; it played a big role in find­ing my­self. And the peo­ple, they make me never want to leave. They’re part of my life, es­pe­cially the kids. They’re awe­some peo­ple and I want to some­how take part in achiev­ing their dreams.”

And there’s the fa­mous Sa­bang Beach, where tourists flock, and other lo­cal fa­vorites like Char­lie’s Point, Easy Ad­ven­ture, and Lindy’s, which make Aurora an ad­ven­turer’s gem wait­ing to be un­earthed. There are amaz­ing rivers and falls she has yet to see and has no in­ten­tion of dis­cov­er­ing all at once. She’s re­serv­ing those mo­ments for trips with her six-year-old daugh­ter El­lie.

It’s El­lie, who Andi calls her life and fam­ily, that right­fully steers her de­ci­sions. “Hon­estly I would have cho­sen to set­tle in Siar­gao. Doon, buhay isla ta­laga and mas

bagay sa’kin ’yon. But I need to be re­al­is­tic with the life I’ve been given. I have a shared ar­range­ment with the dad of my daugh­ter. El­lie stud­ies in Manila. Here [in Baler], any­time I can drive it.”

So she promised her­self to work harder and by 2020, make the move. “But what was I wait­ing for if I wanted to base my­self in Baler? It’s not like I’m not al­lowed to go back to Manila. So it just hap­pened. I went with the flow to the point that I stayed here

more, even be­fore my house [was fin­ished]. Be­cause it’s not about the house. This place is home to me,” Ei­gen­mann says.

Ini­tial hes­i­ta­tions re­volved around her work and whether she was too far away to land roles. She thought about do­ing things other than act­ing. She re­flected on the change, that it “hap­pens ev­ery­where. It’s part of life. It’s in­evitable. Even in the [show­biz] in­dus­try, change will hap­pen also. And if it will hap­pen, I might as well cre­ate that path of change for me. This is what I re­ally want, this makes me happy. It’s scary but I’m home and I’ll al­ways be happy.”

In an age where we han­ker to im­mor­tal­ize only the best and the beau­ti­ful, of­ten in an ef­fort to project near per­fec­tion, a move like Ei­gen­mann’s may ap­pear like a fairy tale. But what she was will­ing to lose from her life in front of the cam­eras, and the glam­our (and grit) that came with it, is a feat for many of those who’ve tasted so-called suc­cess. Born into show­biz, she had what some crave, but “I re­al­ized these are not keys to suc­cess or hap­pi­ness, it’s not the money. What’s

“(Change) is part of life... and if it will hap­pen, I might as well cre­ate that path of change for me.”

im­por­tant is that you have ev­ery­thing you need, and that your loved ones love you back and ap­pre­ci­ate you.” Ei­gen­mann sold pos­ses­sions she deemed she didn’t need and opted for a sim­pler set­ting in the surf town.

With a life lived in the lime­light, she fielded ques­tions even from peo­ple clos­est to her. How­ever, the move is the very def­i­ni­tion of the new Ei­gen­mann who’s ever shift­ing and learn­ing, es­tab­lish­ing a sense of self that’s un­der­lined with pos­i­tiv­ity. “[ With] all the neg­a­tive stuff peo­ple throw at me, even if I de­fend my­self or ig­nore them, I used to al­ways end up hurt. But now, I get where they’re com­ing from. There’s a rea­son why they think that way. I un­der­stand that I can’t please ev­ery­one. They’re not part of my story. They see me dif­fer­ently, and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean I’ll think the same way about them. I’m learn­ing to be a ‘ mabut­ing tao,’ not just a ‘ mabait na tao.’” This is her foun­da­tion for rear­ing El­lie as well, pro­vid­ing her with a back­drop to learn in­de­pen­dence and em­pa­thy. Ei­gen­mann also shares that she’s rekin­dling her pas­sion for the en­vi­ron­ment and film­mak­ing in her new home­town, projects to watch out for as she em­barks on this jour­ney.

It’s a jour­ney where the frag­ments of wis­dom she pur­sues are teach­ing her that hap­pi­ness is not a place but a state of be­ing, and that the other side of that same coin shows you must also find hap­pi­ness for your­self. It’s no longer about chas­ing the dream but ac­tu­ally im­mers­ing in ev­ery mo­ment she’s gifted with. “When I started liv­ing here I re­al­ized it won’t be per­fect. Life is not meant to be per­fect and it’s okay. We face hard­ships daily, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a smile on your face and spread that. Choose to al­ways be kind, it’s the way to go. I put that in my mind no mat­ter what, and I’m [at] peace be­cause of that.”

“I un­der­stand that I can’t please ev­ery­one. They’re not part of my story. They see me dif­fer­ently, and that’s okay.”

Cover photo by Joseph Pas­cual

Left: Ging­ham tube top, Anika. www.wearanika.com Bikini bot­toms, Agua Riva. www.aguar­iva.ph Right: Towel, Sora. www.the­so­ral­ife.com

Left: Linen robe, H&M, UP Town Cen­ter, Que­zon City Bikino top, Agua Riva. www.aguar­iva.ph Right: Straw hat, Jun Es­cario, Green­belt 5, Makati City Silk top, MCG. In­sta­gram.com/shopmcg

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines

© PressReader. All rights reserved.