Once a fixture in TV news, broadcasting legend Ces Drilon has recently transitioned to online as Executive Editor of ANCX. Though none of her sons followed her in news media, her youngest—Andre Drilon in his mid-20s—is the one chasing creatively similar pursuits. Andre is as fierce as his multi-awarded journo of a mom more so in his art. In fact, he is mostly known to his Instagram audience as the "anti-influencer influencer" who advocates against gender constructs. (He is a proud bisexual, with a prouder momma.)
In this chat, Ces and Andre go through their inspiring relationship bound by values, wit, and desire for excellence in and out of work.
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We know you’re in the creative field, but what are you currently working on right now?
Andre: I currently have the freedom to work on projects that I want to. I’ve been doing a lot of creative endeavors, also in a business context. There are two e-commerce gigs, I’m doing something with photography, I’m trying to get this coffee gig, and I also work with the family business.
How do you manage your time with all the things you’re working on?
A: I’ve always been inefficient when it comes to time. But as I grew up, I realized that sometimes, taking it slow isn’t inefficient. Rather, you allow yourself and your ideas to mature more.
Ces, what, for you, are the most important skills of a journalist?
Ces: Curiosity. I recall when I was young, I was always so usisera, eh. And also, to have the never-say-die attitude, you’re not easily discouraged, you really probe, you won’t stop.
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What’s the most challenging thing you’ve encountered while on the job?
C: Syempre, when I was kidnapped. I almost died. I didn’t realize how brave I was. I didn’t crumble or show my weakness. I only showed my weakness once, and learned to never show it again, na nahihirapan ako. My spirit cannot be easily broken even if I was ready to die na kasi, and I had prepared myself to die then.
A: I’ve always approached things in an, I like to say, interdisciplinarian perspective. I approach something using skills that I have learned from a different discipline, from music theory to business, or from graphic design and gaming to photography. I always try to make these connections, to mix it up. It’s a process of trial and error, it doesn’t always work. And I think the challenge is, in the end, making order out of all that chaos.
What’s the most rewarding part of your work?
C: It’s actually the craft, I enjoy it so much. Like when I see my story on TV, the way I wrote it, the way it’s edited. It’s about the challenge of putting pieces of the puzzle together kasi—that’s how a story is.
A: Seeing it come to fruition. It’s like a child that you’ve raised. When a project is finally executed, it’s not always the way you envision it from the start, but yet you surprise yourself. And you’re happy about it.
How has your upbringing helped you with your work right now?
A: I think my upbringing dictated my whole way of thinking and how I approach work. I’ve always had, from my mom, the creative freedom to really pursue what I wanted to pursue. She’s always supported me as long as I stay with passion and conviction, and not just some random thing that I’m going to throw later. And also, I’m the youngest of four brothers, and my three brothers pursued a more traditional approach to life. I have a lot to owe to them as well. There are so many things from them that I learned, that I was influenced and maybe even counter-infuenced by them, to define who I am now. I sort of want to do things differently, and yet these are my successful older brothers so I consider them, in many context, as my mentors.
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How has being a mother helped you in your career?
C: I think you have more empathy and patience. And listening. A good reporter has to listen talaga, kasi you cannot come to a story with preconceived notions, diba? Lastly, time management din.
Ces, how do you balance your roles as a mom and as a career woman?
C: It’s super difficult. I’d always say, it’s not the quantity of the time—it’s the quality of the time. But sometimes, the spirit is there but the body is weak. So what I did was I tried to interest them also with what I was doing, I wanted them to be aware of what’s going on in the country and what I was covering. I got them involved. And one thing that I also made sure I did was kapag exam, gumagawa ako ng reviewers for them. Actually there was a time na I was such in a dilemma —there was a really big story for me and I need to be sent to Singapore, but that was the weekend of my kids' examination. I chose to stay. It was such a heartache for me to say no to that big coverage, but I thought na ang dami namang istorya out there. Hindi yan mauubos.
Andre, what’s the best advice you’ve gotten from your mom?
A: She always told me to find what I love, and excel at it. She told everyone of us that you can pursue anything as long as you love it, because if you do, you’ll find the drive to really excel and succeed at it.
What do you admire most about her?
A: That there were so many times that she was rejected, or someone said no to her, or that there was a task that seem insurmountable, or there’s something that could not be done. And she didn’t listen. She said, ‘no, I see it this way. I’ll do it. I can do it.’ And she did it. This has dictated her life and her career, these really groundbreaking acts.
Ces, you’re now doing more lifestyle coverages and has somehow slowed down on hard news. How has the slower-paced life benefitted you?
C: I wanna actually congratulate myself for being able to walk away from being in front of the camera. For a lot of people, they are so shocked! They think that your power emanates from being on camera, but there are other more important things. Like doing the things I enjoy—the other facets of me I’m now able to explore, like fashion, culture, arts.
What are the things we can look forward from you?
C: My move to digital is a right decision, because this is where everybody gets their news from now. There’s this huge shift. At my age, it’s such a big challenge. I think what I like now is I believe I’m not old enough to learn new things. The pace is even faster, but I do like coming out with stories as often as I could.
Your future plans?
A: To get better at everything. I don’t say at what specifically, because, what about the one I’m not saying? Like if I say, I wanna get better at guitar. I didn’t mention piano or violin, but they’re important, too. Thus, everything. Right now, the goals I have are more internal to make this machine more efficient. I want to know, at a micro and macro level, what drives it. I wanna learn how to approach everyday with the same energy and inspiration when you have, you know one of those eureka moments? I wanna learn the anatomy of the eureka moment and manufacture it on a daily basis. While the external goals I have, I think that if I look internally first, those will be easy. Everyday I’ll be thinking new ideas and how to execute it.
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Produced and directed by Mels Timan | Photography by Vyn Radovan | Styling by Red Dimaandal | Makeup by Hannah Patriarca and Patricia Isis Ang | Hair by Diverly Echiava and Jericho Valenzuela of Culture Salon | Shot on location at Okada Manila