Everyone has friendship stories: stories that define what makes each friendship so special or what makes a group of friends so fun to be around. But, what happens when you stumble across a likeminded soul who shares the same passion? This is the sort of union that has the potential to change the world for the better. For savvy pair Antoinette Taus and Alex Godinez, musician-actresses behind Planet Communities Organized for Resource Allocation (Planet CORA), their avid support of shared causes is merely one way of deepening the connection that they share.
[related: In Focus: Thespian-Yogi-Environmentalist Alex Godinez Is Now Out To Make Her Mark In Global Music]
How did you two meet?
Antoinette: Alex and I were introduced by our friend, Samantha Richelle, in Los Angeles back in 2008. Our friends and families were all close at the time and we spent a lot of time around each other in LA. But, the amazing thing is that I’ve known Alex’s dad, tito Jaime, since I was 12 years old. He was our sound director for Les Miserable under Repertory Philippines.
Alex: We met through mutual friends about 10 years ago in Los Angeles. The first time I met Toni, she pinched my cheeks and called me cute and thought I was much younger than I was. We had common friends but we quickly realized how mutual our energies were and how we laughed and enjoyed the same things. Eventually, we became roommates.
Initial thoughts about one another?
AT: She was mildly annoyed at me when we met because I pinched her chin to express how cute I thought she was. I thought she was a young 13 year old girl. Turns out she was already 18! Little did I know she would become the little sister I never had!
AG: From the moment I met her, I immediately noticed what a a generous person she was. When I say generous it need not be of material things only. She is always generous with her time and attention. She has always been very giving of herself in whatever activity she commits to do. May it be organising a get together or dinner or snowboarding, or feeding a thousand children, she always gives 100% of herself and that has been something I have always admired about her. She is one of the most unselfish people I know.
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When did you realize that you were going to be great friends?
AT: Aside from thinking she was so young, it was clear how much energy Alex had...just like me! (Laughs) She was always very hyper and full of life - which is probably what drew us to each other in te first place. And today we are still as full of that zest for life as ever!
AG: The moment I realized that we would be great friends actually was when I saw her playing Call of Duty Modern Warfare online against a bunch of guys. She would beat these guys over and over again ranked first or second place everytime! I thought to myself: "Wow, she has substance!" (Kidding!) Because initially, I thought Toni was a girly girl. But really though, It was a lot of moments of just feeling at home with each other and always gravitating to one another whenever there was a chance. We ended up becoming roommates and doing everything together living in LA.
You seem to be doppelgangers of each other.
AT: Our family and friends always mistake us for each other because of a lot of physical similarities...mostly our height! (Laughs) But more than that, we ourselves are baffled at how similar we are. We literally feel like twin souls that found each other. We always say that we are grateful to have each other in this world because we finally feel normal when we’re with each other! Hahaha. Our energy and passion can get quite intense at times, and I have no idea why we seem to always be able to have so much energy when we need to! Most of all, we share such a deep passion for the love of all life on earth. Sincerely, it’s such a gift to have a friend that understands and believes in the same magic in this world as you. It’s one of the greatest gifts in life that I am grateful for every single day.
AG: I would say are probably mostly our interests (being health conscious, wanting to make a difference in the environment and humanity, we both like to act, dance and sing <we were both casted in the musical Grease with 9 Works in 2015, we are both extremely obsessed with animals, we have the same views on a lot of things. We are also both sensitive and emotional. We can feel things really deeply. (Sometimes too much hehe) We also both love science fiction and fantasy books and films. And documentaries.
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How different are you from each other?
AT: Hmmm...there’s isn’t much actually. But at the moment it would have to be the fact that I don’t really do yoga and Alex does. When we hit the gym, I always choose the high impact workouts like kick boxing, body pump or spinning class. Alex has always been a yoga girl. Hehe. I know I’ll get there someday. It’s actually part of my goals for 2018 and I look forward to learning from the best...Alex!
AG: I would probably say that Toni is a better public speaker than I am. She has a way with words that I don’t. She has an incredible way of making any topic interesting and understandable and like I said, because of her giving nature, whatever she talks about you will know and feel that your questions or viewpoints are being addressed, because she’s so conscientious and sharp. I can be a little clumsy and awkward and apologetic speaking in public settings. I write better than come up with words verbally on the spot.
What is your favorite memory of each other?
AT: Wow, there are just so many! I guess it would have to collectively be memories of living in LA together in one house for a few years (me, my brother Tom, Alex, her fiancée Chris and our friend Paolo). That really solidified us as family! So many amazing experiences being happy, sad, and intense! (Laughs) Moments of growing up and learning to be strong...and most of all, so many unforgettable adventures! We lived as a family unit doing everything together and it still is some of the greatest memories of my entire life.
AG: One of my favorite memories with Toni was when we were in Boracay doing our first coastal clean-up for the launch of planetCORA. We were carrying some of these recycled fixtures across the beachfront from Station 1 to Station 3. Passing a dark alley, we crossed a man who was walking towards us, hunched over with his head faced down while having his back massaged by another man while walking and he was grunting. In the dark, it looked like there was a zombie or some kind of creature approaching us. I saw them first and grabbed Antoinette’s arm and said, "OMG, what's that!?" And then, without thinking she screams and jumps on me, and then quickly realized it was a guy walking while being massaged. We laughed uncontrollably in embarassment. There were so many people around us laughing!
What do you love most about the other?
AT: That’s an easy one! What makes Alex such a magical being is her heart of gold. I am so proud of how she has found her path and has stood by her heart’s wishes and hopes for the world. She has always been such a free and magical soul that only wishes to bring joy to others and spread love and peace. I know it sounds cheesy but it is true. It is one of the main reasons why we get along so well. We both believe in being free to follow our dreams. We both believe that the world can still be such a magical place if only we choose to find that path. The love and trust that comes with our friendship stems from my faith in the pureness of her heart. To me, she is one of the kindest, brightest and most compassionate human beings on the planet. I always tell her that I know if anything ever happened to me, I know she wouldn’t stop until she found me! Haha. That’s just the kind of friend Alex is...a beautiful soul with a heart of gold...someone you can count on no matter what.
AG: One of the things I most love about Antoinette is how much Integrity she has. She has extremely strong moral principles. Everything she does, she does with pure intentions and you can see that through in through.
[related: In Focus: Thespian-Yogi-Environmentalist Alex Godinez Is Now Out To Make Her Mark In Global Music]
What’s the one thing about each other that people don’t know?
AT: Alex is flat footed, and apparently that’s supposed to hinder everything involving using your feet and legs - most especially balance. But she defies the odds once again by being such an excellent dancer and a certified yoga teacher! Goes to show that it is truly not our circumstances that define us, but the depth of our passion and purpose.
AG: We are homebodies. If we don’t have work or missions, we are most probably in our caves in PJS or with each other in PJS watching documentaries or movies and relaxing.
How do you make your friendship work?
AT: We’ve been through a lot together - including having to finally grow up. (Lol) I believe that if you choose to love a person, you do it with your whole heart without any doubts. Doubts are toxic and leave room for negativity which can ultimately ruin any friendship or relationship. We choose to believe and have faith that we always mean the best for each other, and we always do our best to make moves that are sincere and true. That’s the best I think any person can do...to have faith that their pure intentions will lead the way. Love, trust, respect and faith.
AG: We don’t really need to do anything to make our friendship work. There is a mutual understanding and respect for each others time and personal space and also we speak to each other in such a way that the other person is always heard, and opinions are equally respected. We try our best to be mindful about the things we say and how we say it. We try our bests to be empathetic and not to react harshly because of us both being sensitive and emotional. We are supportive with each others ideas and goals, and open minded with the things that we don’t agree on.
When you guys clash, how do you handle conflict?
AT: I would say that Alex and I bicker and fight like normal sisters. Growing up also meant learning how to handle conflict in a less emotional and more mature way. Hehe. If anything comes up, we reserve judgement and simply ask the other about the situation without jumping into any conclusions. Doubts are the worst. And if you believe that you both unconditionally mean only good things for each other, it automatically helps mend any issue that could arise. We are open about our feelings and we don’t hold anything back. Keeping things bottled up can cause unnecessary grudges that we sometimes only imagine. Handling conflicts immediately and peacefully is key in our friendship.
AG: When we argue or when there are moments of disagreement, we tend to give each other a little space and rethink and reprocess what has happened. When we have arguments, it's usually because of a misunderstanding or miscommunication. It's almost so clear to us that every time we get to a level of stress or frustration, we realise very shortly after-that the priority is not about who’s right or wrong anymore but about how we can be at peace with each other again. One thing I know for sure about our relationship: it's that we are never competing with each other. There is no underlying secret competition. But, we barely have big fights. I can’t remember the last one.
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How do you stay connected?
AT: We actually frequently mention how lucky we are to have each other. It’s like the universe knew that we would need a friend like each other in life. (Laughs) Even when Alex moved back four years ago, I was trying to convince them not to leave LA! We never ever thought that I would end up moving back too just two months after - all by chance! Talk about coincidence! But we are also extremely blessed to share the same passions in life for people, the planet and all life on Earth. That in itself has solidified the bond of our friendship. We actually see each other so much more now because of work. Having to meet up is never about just hanging out anymore - its so much more. Together, we actively run the campaigns for our organization C.O.RA (Communities Organized for Resource Allocation) - a passion we deeply share to create a better world for people and the planet. We are now also partners in a bamboo straw company called Bambuhay - a social enterprise that provides livelihood to poor farmers while helping eliminate single-use-plastics and disposables forever. Working together towards the same dreams has definitely deepened our friendship and has given us a sense of purpose that we never could have imagined possible. We are very lucky to be able to do what we love most and to be able to have each other’s support and work towards our goals together.
AG: Social media hasn’t really kept us apart, in fact its made us have more ways to connect with each other. I think that we can blame social media and other platforms for our own inactivity or being disconnected from one another, but in my opinion it up to us whether or not to alienate ourselves from reality. In fact, because social media makes it easier for you to communicate with everyone, it should be used as a platform to be more sociable in real life and more informed about other people and their lives that communication can pass surface topics and get deeper. Maybe we don’t have all the time in the world to see all these people that we see online but we can sure use different ways to ensure that everyone we love and care about is given the attention and respect that they deserve. Every platform has its pros and cons, its up to us how to use it. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe in being glued to your devices- in fact I am completely about being in nature and away from my phone- I get criticised for never answering actually (sorry guys), but we can’t blame our disconnected way of life completely on it. We need to adapt. We need to know how to balance our time. We can be responsible for our own impulses and the way we use our time. So when we are apart, we actually use it to feel close and communicate with each other through memes hehe but at the same time make sure the depth of our conversations are still there.
What are your hopes and dreams for each other?
AT: I’ve always told Alex that my ultimate wish is for her true light to shine as bright as can be. I believe every human being can become their best self when they ultimately follow the hopes and dreams of their heart - and she’s already doing that! I believe that our passions, coupled with our gifts, define our destiny - that we should all be free to live out our dreams free of stereotypes and judgement. And in that way, we have the power to become that unique gift to make the world a better place in our own special way. 2018 is also the year she gets married, and I couldn’t be happier for her and Chris! I’ve always said I could never imagine one without the other and I truly believe they are each other’s soulmates. Ulitmately, I wish for Alex a happy life overflowing with love, joy and peace.
AG: I dream to see her dreams come true. Not only because she deserves it and I want her to be happy, but because I know that the dreams that she has is for the betterment of humanity and our planet.
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Photographs from Antoinette Taus and Alex Godinez
Banner Image by Lui Jimenez