Nicole Abas-Datayan is no stranger to write-ups and features. But after dozens and dozens upon any publication feature through-out her (more than) a decade long career; has anyone really known Nicole?
Nicole Abas-Datayan is a good friend. And so does an estimated 100 other testimonies and other published articles have said of her. “Oh, she has had a string of national commercials & ads under her belt“, or “she’s had endorsements left and right. An icon in the local industry with a career over more than a decade and a loving wife & mother, too” and let’s not forget, and ultimately respect & comprehend “she’s a fighter. She has survived Lupus” But as I have been constantly and sporadically saying in this digital space is just how many times can you write about or photograph something, or someone, with it any different from how it was previously executed? “A limit in time, we have deadlines to meet, advertisers to satisfy and deliveries to be made that we really can’t further interview a person” or “we need our content to be friendly to the masses” are frequent reasons, although are valid. Or perhaps even, a lack of objective but creatively intelligent writing and the apparent lack of editorial writing in the local educational system.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my share of trouble having to drag my ass meeting deadlines that clients have set and nothing can be as infernal as bickering from upper management or bosses that do not and never will understand the mental process.
But over the course of the past few months, I have come to understand a different side of Nicole Abas-Datayan. We’re not just industry friends who say “hi, hello” and talk over cocktails during an event or during shoots. We’re not just Instagram friends who see each other from time to time and don’t talk to each other the moment we start editing photographs on our mobile phones. I have come to know more about Nicole Abas-Datayan, as the friend who talks beyond the actual 2 minutes you expect when you call them just to ask about something and end up talking about random subjects in about 30 minutes of phone time.
As the friend who finds free time spent over coffee and discuss about art, culture and the constant transfiguration of society. I have come to know Nicole Abas-Datayan as less of the multi-awarded TV host who greets Cagayan de Oro a good morning in the most ungodly hour of the day and is perhaps one of the most trusted and respected echelons in the industry. I have come to know that Nicole Abas-Datayan is one of the rare figures from traditional media who understands and is willing to transition to and educate herself about digital in order to truly leave an influence beyond the perky scripts of mass media. Nicole Abas-Datayan is an artist who once acted in theater at our common university alma mater and she advocates against common workplace and even political stereotyping about mothers in their 40’s and above. A few, to almost no other interview has mentioned that or asked about it.
You see, the paradigm shift in culture has been beyond overwhelming. As it was discussed during my days in Uni a decade ago taking up pre-law, the world will (eventually) have borderless countries. These days, it’s difficult to be poorly dressed with access to most major foreign brands and labels setting afoot in the Philippines; or to not look for inspiration in the sporadic combustion of social media. It’s no longer difficult to self-study certain topics thanks to Google and Wikipedia. And it’s no longer as difficult as it was to become famous, or even maintain a somewhat similar foreground in Tinseltown with the likes of Facebook, Instagram and even, to some extent, Snapchat. With the likes of several personalities establishing their empires on digital; on a more local note, an example would be of Maine Mendoza and what Josiah Go said about her skyrocket overnight success. Or as how Boy Abunda once said about this shift “We’re moving towards the direction where both [social and mainstream media] have no choice but to co-exist.”
Perhaps, being an actress/actor in the Philippines isn’t as spectacular in creating a foothold as it once did, or is it as it is in actual Hollywood. There’s no need for theatrical training and your career is dependent on your manager; or in this odd set-up only in the Philippines- if you’re mestiza, a socialite or depending on the network you’re in or if your a scion of older showbiz figures. Unlike being in digital, you have a wider canvass to paint on (& in some instances, your manager/management company has less of a hold on your career) and perhaps this is why several celebrities have either crossed over to digital to create a back-up plan in case their season of success is over as per corporate sharks decisions; or have transitioned already, because they know it’s difficult to be up on the silver screen again. Or perhaps because being in digital gives your existing audience a fly off the wall perspective, and the subject becoming more editorial in profile and eventually, capturing a new audience (again, as what Josiah Go said about Maine)
Or perhaps even, as according to some reliable sources, “artistas do have mileage. A wide mileage. But the brand can often feel frustrated because they don’t post as much as people from digital do- reducing the chances of their brand getting the mileage from their money.“
Going back to Nicole Abas-Datayan. The lady I once saw on TV, then eventually becoming intimidated of when I grew up- isn’t as scary as I once thought she was. As a matter of fact, contrary to everything I once thought she was or unlike most people in her age- she understands that she is safe in her career already after years as a host and TV personality; but she has no time to be complacent about it and not step up her game. In fact, during this particular shoot for MBM Medical and Skin Clinic, the only beauty center in Cagayan de Oro that offers several scientific-based procedures for your face & body; it was Nicole who would frequently say, “it’s okay, let’s do that. I want to be uncomfortable. I want to do things out of the box.” Again, based on experience with people who are not of the millennial generation is, they tend to stick to tradition and what is safe & secured; further discrediting that the disability to catch up with the fast growing times is like digging your own grave. We all know what happened to Nokia, right?
And in Nicole Abas-Datayan’s tenacity alone, apart from our constant coffee dates and miscellaneous laughs, is making me respect and love this woman even more. Remember, tenacity and enthusiasm to improve is always attractive.
Photography & Styling / Mikko Mahinay
Model / Nicole Abas-Datayan
Hair & Make-up / Cleve Janobas
Special Thanks to MBM Medical and Skin Clinic