?MY MOM?S a pusher, you know,? says Isabella Gonzalez in rapid-fire fashion, with a quick follow-up: ?Not in a bad way, but in a manner that inspires me.?
Mom is Kuh Ledesma, who watches with amusement as her daughter chats away. In 10 minutes, Isabella has updated everyone at the table about her favorite movie genres, her current reading list, her art projects, her top-secret theater projects and, most importantly, her mother.
?At home, we?re always singing,? says Isabella. ?Our favorite song is ?Ain?t No Mountain High Enough.? Anyway, she has gently hinted that I should make an effort to stay here and work on my career instead of going overseas to pursue a degree. Because I think she?s going to miss me. And after reflecting, it was like, yes, she has a point. We?ve decided I should give it a try until about 2015 and see what happens.?
Which is why Isabella is joining Kuh in a back-to-back concert May 6 and 7 at the Music Museum. ?My O and O (One and Only)? is their way of celebrating Mother?s Day, as well as an event to raise money to build a community library a stone?s throw away from their estate, Hacienda Isabella.
Both mother and daughter strongly attest to their musical bond; Isabella even dons a vintage concert T-shirt from her mother?s first Araneta Coliseum gig, ?Kuh Loves Me,? for the interview. ?I know it looks a little fragile now, but I wear it only on very, very special occasions. It?s my rocker shirt,? Isabella proudly says.
Their dynamic seems like chalk and cheese?two completely different people?on the surface. But, as Isabella claims, ?Oh, my mom?s really makulit. At home she dances around a lot, with flamenco and ballet steps pa. When we have a movie night, she acts out a lot of the roles. In an Ilonggo accent, mind you.?
Thankfully, Kuh, 56, is never exasperated about Isabella?s chatterbox tendencies, even if the latter admits she has accidentally revealed some of her mother?s secrets in mixed company while growing up.
?I was a lot like Isabella in high school,? says Kuh. ?But there were things in my life that changed me. I was in high school in the province when my parents split up, which was not an acceptable thing back then. Even if people weren?t actively ostracizing us, I felt different. I learned to channel my energy into being creative.?
Did Isabella feel the same way, since Kuh and husband Louie Gonzalez also broke up?
?The main difference here is that Iz and her dad are very, very close. She?s probably closer to him than she is to me, believe it or not,? says Kuh. ?My dad didn?t know how to deal with us. All we knew was that he?d get home and he?d be angry at us. He didn?t know how to teach us anything that didn?t involve spanking.?
That?s why she wasn?t confident in relationships with men until recently, Kuh admits. ?As an artist, you do everything you can to give your best performances, but ?yung pinaghuhugutan mo diyan, ?yung mga relationships mo rin. Now I?ve learned to enjoy life, the audience, the people around me.?
Isabella thinks her mother has become ?a more nurturing person over the past decade. She used to be more of a free spirit. I actually love how she has changed, because she?s really, helping me out, but it?s balanced by knowing I need to become my own person, too.?
In Isabella?s case, she?s said to be dabbling as a singer-songwriter-visual artist-actress-director and other hyphens this writer was too slow to jot down.
After studying in London, Los Angeles and a semester in the University of the Philippines Fine Arts program (Kuh interjects, ?Ang suwerte ng anak ko na masipag ako!?), Isabella is poised to plunge into the scene for real this time.
There are theater projects with Ed Gatchalian and Kuh?s frequent collaborator, Freddie Santos.
Isabella also actively maintains a YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.
com/user/iDENTitYisabella) and a Tumblr account(mindofisabella.tumblr.com) for her artwork.
For the Music Museum concert, Isabella?s proudest contribution is the show?s theme song, ?My One and Only,? which she wrote while working on her guitar-playing skills. ?It?s our gift,? she says, ?as a mother-daughter tandem, to all other families out there.?