With the mind of her father and the heart of her mother, Frankie Pangilinan sets herself apart with a profound comprehension of life in words and music.
In a little over 24 hours of our conversation, Frankie Pangilinan would leave her life, her bubble, her comfort zone in the Philippines for a life of potential and adventure in New York, where she is set for university. “Everyone usually asks me, ‘are you ready?’ and I don’t think that I’m ever gonna be ready, but I think that’s the whole point of it you know? Like, are you ever ready to grow up? Are you ever ready to be responsible? I don’t think you’re ever ready for things that are this big,” she says. “No matter how much you think you’re prepared, the more ready you think you are, you’re probably not. You know when they say, ‘the more you know, the less you think you know.’ That’s how I’m feeling right now. It’s kind of just, I’m welcoming it with open arms, going with the flow, hoping that it doesn’t get too cold.”
It is a little disarming to sit there, listening to this young woman talk about life with so much grip, grit, and grace that is clearly well beyond her tender years. Okay, I am being dishonest: It is a lot disarming—and I mean that as a compliment of the highest possible order. With a great sense of self, a level, sorted kind of point-of-view, and a relatable brand of humor, it isn’t impossible to be completely charmed by her. Of course, it is important to note that meeting Frankie Pangilinan comes with a preface, an assumption of a privileged life lived in the upper echelons of society, what with a pedigree that is enviable in every possible way it tumbles. No stranger to this, she wastes no time in recognizing the life she was only so blessed to be given, but she careens this postulation by essaying her point-of-view on the matter that will tail her all throughout her existence.
“It’s definitely a privilege to say, be able to study in New York. But at the same time, I think that there’s a different kind of privilege that I would’ve had here, should I study here, you know what I mean?” she begins to thresh out. “Imagine me, going to UP for example, which is a great school, and I respect it so much. I wish I could’ve had been good enough to get in, but at the same time, how do you live up to the reputation of your dad who was literally the Student Council President of UP during Martial Law? Like, are you kidding me? Those are things you can’t begin to try to even comprehend let alone live by.” So, by uprooting herself from the life of privilege, she can, even just for a few months, abdicate herself from the walls of the world closing in on her own. At least in a city like New York, she can stretch out her legs so to speak, and get to live a life that is unequivocally all her. “I think that was a huge part of the decision making. It’s like, I don’t think I can grow up effectively if it’s in an environment like this. I have to pull myself out of all of that, every kind of expectations, and just let myself be.”
Perhaps we won’t ever understand what it means to be part of a statistic that is convenient and comfortable, but Frankie Pangilinan isn’t far-removed from the frays of the world, which is equal parts upbringing, self-rearing, and discovery. “I don’t think I’m anywhere near knowing enough about the world yet, but I’m about to be thrown out into it, and that’s definitely a scary prospect. It’s also very real and I’m just humbled by the thought that there are greater things to come, I mean, not greater as in like bigger, but I think just, clearly I’m very young, there are more important things that are still gonna happen to me. I’m a hopeless romantic also, and you can’t take that away from me,” she declares. This romance, she realizes in her writing, her music, manifestations and parts of her that she says are deliberate. “I think what I want people to get from whatever I make is something that touches their heart. I want people to feel something unapologetically, because that’s the most fundamentally human thing there is,” she ruminates. Turning even more serious and philosophical, she cushions her life’s purpose by something even bigger and wiser than she can possibly contain, and yet, it is something she has already comprehended. “I don’t want this world to make me more cynical. I remember kind of diving head first into all those things, like love and romance, completely careless and thoughtless. At the same time, even though that’s what kind of made it hurt more, that’s also what made it kind of beautiful, because it’s like when it’s your first experience, whatever love it may be, you don’t have any expectations. You let your feelings run wild and run free, and now, you’re more guarded. Like, the older you are with experiences, you get guarded and it’s like, is it a good thing?”
A silky, sinewy silence drapes itself on us ever so delicately, and before the quagmire of thoughts completely pulled us down, she punctures the stillness with a full-bodied fit of laughter that rings of self-deprecation and childlike-wonder that truly is lost on people way past the mark of youth. “That was really deep was it?”
Yes, I answer, but I argue that it is what this world desperately needs more of—people like Frankie Pangilinan with a heart and mind so pure and earnest, yet sanded with enough fortitude to make it just the right kind of real, raw, and appropriately revealing.
Standing on the gateway to the cusp of possibilities, this is the vantage point from where the true litmus test of the rest of her life begins. While decisions become paramount to the next chapters she is set to make permanent in ink, Frankie Pangilinan is living out the truth of many invariably popular clichéd preamble: Her life is going to change—and she knows it. It is a coming-of-age story, yes, where our heroine is all set to give a life yet untold her best shot.
She is ready.