Maria Kristina Cas­san­dra Con­cep­cion

Philippine Tatler - - FEATURES -

—or KC, by which we know her best—has lived her en­tire life un­der the glare of the spotlight; and she con­tin­ues to do so with a grace she was born with. The only daugh­ter of Megas­tar Sharon Cuneta-Pangilinan with ac­tor Gabby Con­cep­cion, KC has had ac­cess to priv­i­leges that are not eas­ily avail­able to many show busi­ness hope­fuls, but she has never al­lowed her­self to ride the waves of her par­ents’ ca­reers in build­ing a promis­ing one of her own. “It was easy for me to get one foot in the door be­cause of my back­ground, but the real chal­lenge here is my ca­pac­ity to stay,” she shares. “When you are a ‘daugh­ter-of ’ or a ‘son-of,’ all eyes are on you. It can be dif­fi­cult to make a name for your­self be­cause the bar is raised so high; when you are as­so­ci­ated with peo­ple—who hap­pen to be your par­ents—who did and still do great things, the pub­lic can be just as quick to harp on your fail­ures as they are to cel­e­brate your suc­cesses.”

“My work with the WFP helps put my life into per­spec­tive; it is hum­bling, and it takes me away from the glitz and glamour. But as a pub­lic fi gure, I have learnt to lever­age on my fol­low­ing and put it to good use”

Grow­ing up, KC spent many days out of school tour­ing the world with her mum. She ad­mits to feel­ing over­whelmed by the large crowds that fol­lowed them wher­ever they went, but now sees the ex­pe­ri­ence as a bless­ing be­cause it got her used to be­ing around peo­ple. “Be­cause I was thrust into the lime­light at a young age, I learnt to de­velop an ap­pre­ci­a­tion for mu­sic, cinema, art, and even life un­der the pub­lic eye,” KC says. “Per­haps be­cause of this ex­po­sure, life to me doesn’t feel 100 per cent com­plete with­out hav­ing the pub­lic in­volved to a cer­tain ex­tent.” And she does en­joy con­vers­ing with and learn­ing more about oth­ers, which is why host­ing events has al­ways been one of her favourite as­pects of show­biz.

Like many other celebri­ties, she con­tin­ues to get her fair share of un­pleas­ant en­coun­ters with de­trac­tors—sup­port­ers, even—but takes things all in her stride. In the re­cent years, she has elected to take a breather from show­biz, turn­ing her at­ten­tion to­wards other ven­tures, pur­su­ing pas­sion pro­jects, and learn­ing new things. Ne­ti­zens were quick to jump the gun, go­ing as far as to la­bel her a ‘has-been’ due to her ab­sence from the en­ter­tain­ment cir­cuit. To this KC says, “It was a per­sonal de­ci­sion. I chose to step back from a world I have long been part of. I spent so many years ex­plor­ing the ins and outs of show busi­ness, but at the ex­pense of for­get­ting what mat­tered to me per­son­ally be­cause I was so busy be­ing so many things for other peo­ple. At the end of the day, I found my­self want­ing to do some­thing for my­self for a change.” Her fans need not worry, for act­ing will al­ways be a part of her. In fact, KC finds act­ing ther­a­peu­tic (“It’s nice to take a break from be­ing KC, too.”) be­cause she gets to step into the shoes of some­one else and lead a com­pletely dif­fer­ent life. She hopes to get back into the groove of things this year, should the right ma­te­rial come around.


Early this year, KC qui­etly launched her jew­ellery line, Avec Moi by Kristina. Raised in a fam­ily of jew­ellery lovers—not a Sun­day lun­cheon would go by wherein stones, carats, and colours were not part of the con­ver­sa­tion—it was only nat­u­ral that she her­self would grav­i­tate to­wards de­sign­ing her own pieces. When she was a teenager, KC’s grand­mother, the late Elaine Cuneta, would have her sketch out de­signs to bring to jew­ellers and have them made. Her first col­lec­tion, com­pris­ing 26 one-of-a-kind rose-themed pieces, sold out even be­fore the launch she hosted in March. “It was not a pri­or­ity for me to an­nounce this pro­ject to the world. Be­cause it felt very per­sonal, I chose to work in pri­vate be­hind the scenes. It was, how­ever, grat­i­fy­ing to be able to share it with peo­ple whom I felt un­der­stood me best,” she adds.

KC chose the rose as her pri­mary mo­tif for her de­but col­lec­tion be­cause she sees it as a per­fect sym­bol for her transition to wom­an­hood. She adds, “Aside from it be­ing my favourite flower, I now feel like it has be­come an ex­ten­sion of who I am be­cause I used it for this jew­ellery line. I am likely to use it as a mo­tif in other things mov­ing for­ward, but I am cer­tainly not confi ning my­self to just this. I don’t have all my plans for the brand set in stone just yet; I have a long way to go, a lot more to learn, and so much to more to be in­spired by.”

This year also marks KC’s 10th anniversary as Na­tional Am­bas­sador Against Hunger for the United Na­tions World Food Pro­gramme

“I have never been one to rest on my lau­rels. From day one, es­pe­cially as a ‘ daugh­ter-of,’ I knew it was nec­es­sary that I carve out my own path in life... We all have our own lives, each one over­whelm­ing in its own way, but we must re­mem­ber that the kind of life we lead is not the only vari­ant there is”

(WFP). Since 2008, she has been ac­tively tak­ing part in the agency’s feed­ing pro­jects and re­lief ef­forts in var­i­ous con­flict-stricken com­mu­ni­ties in and out of the coun­try, trav­el­ling to ar­eas such as Uganda and Nepal to of­fer aid. In March, she vis­ited Marawi with Chef Tony Boy Es­calante (An­to­nio’s Group of Restau­rants) and other WFP rep­re­sen­ta­tives. KC shared pho­to­graphs she took with the lo­cals on her In­sta­gram ac­count, stat­ing her ad­mi­ra­tion for their re­silience in the face of the war that was. She also helps fund meals for school chil­dren through an ini­tia­tive called KC’s Closet, where she sells gen­tly-used lux­ury items from her own wardrobe at cer­tain times of the year.

“Nowa­days, I see many young peo­ple ac­tively sup­port­ing causes close to their hearts,” she shares. “As a UN am­bas­sador, I have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to re­mind peo­ple that our agency [the WFP] ex­ists—be­cause peo­ple tend to for­get about things that aren’t be­ing talked about all the time—and that we have all th­ese ini­tia­tives geared to­wards end­ing hunger and im­prov­ing nu­tri­tion. My work with the WFP helps put my life into per­spec­tive; it is hum­bling, and it takes me away from the glitz and glamour. But as a pub­lic fig­ure, I have learnt to lever­age on my fol­low­ing and put it to good use. I en­gage peo­ple be­cause I can­not do this alone. We need to work to­gether to make things hap­pen. And we need to re­mem­ber that noth­ing hap­pens overnight.”

A self-pro­fessed beach bum and dive en­thu­si­ast, KC also hopes to help ad­vo­cate re­spon­si­ble tourism, es­pe­cially when it comes to pre­serv­ing the coun­try’s marine life. Vis­its to Siar­gao and El Nido al­lowed her to see that ini­tia­tives to safe­guard the en­vi­ron­ment are al­ready in place, but she be­lieves there is a lot more to be done. “It goes with­out say­ing that we need to look after the world we live in; and like with many things, it is eas­ier said than done,” she adds. “When we pledge our sup­port, it’s best to choose a se­lect few to com­mit time and effort to, as well as to be struc­tured and dili­gent in our ways. Also, it’s highly im­por­tant to stick around for the long run be­cause causes are not fads.”

Her show busi­ness ca­reer may have taken a back­seat to other pri­or­i­ties in the past few years, but KC is def­i­nitely not stay­ing idle. She will be busy with be­spoke Avec Moi by Kristina or­ders, which have come in from all over the world. There are plans to make the pieces ac­ces­si­ble to more buy­ers (though she is happy to re­main a pri­vate seller for now) in the fu­ture, so jew­ellery en­thu­si­asts need not fret. She looks for­ward to pos­si­bly putting her act­ing hat back on for a film; KC does miss her fans and is grate­ful that many still watch out for her work.

“I have never been one to rest on my lau­rels,” she says. “From day one, es­pe­cially as a ‘daugh­ter-of,’ I knew it was nec­es­sary that I carve out my own path in life. But over the years, I have learnt to be pa­tient with my­self and to be re­spect­ful of oth­ers. We all have our own lives, each one over­whelm­ing in its own way, but we must re­mem­ber that the kind of life we lead is not the only vari­ant there is. I’ve met all sorts of peo­ple, and some have be­come so suc­cess­ful de­spite hav­ing come from noth­ing be­cause they worked so hard to get to where they are. But I also en­joy be­ing in the com­pany of like-minded peo­ple who may have faced sim­i­lar chal­lenges as I have be­cause in this in­dus­try, find­ing a kin­dred spirit who un­der­stands you is al­ways a re­lief.”

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