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Angelina Cruz Is All Set to Become More Than Just an "Artista Daughter"

Between promoting her self-titled EP, performing for crowds of thousands, and acing her Mathematics and English classes, this 17-year-old is taking time to find herself and figure out what she wants to do next.

by Fiel Estrella | Dec 9, 2018

“I want to have my own thing, my own personality.”

Angelina Cruz had never really considered herself the singer in the family. Her sisters were fond of singing, sure, but she wasn’t. She was more of an artist, and she preferred curling up with a sketchbook and drawing or painting dreamy pictures like forest nightscapes. When she was in eighth grade, however, her sister Samantha got a ukelele. Out of curiosity, she picked it up and found that it wasn’t so hard to teach herself to play.

“Eventually I started doing covers and posting them online,” says Angelina. Her voice, although coming off as raw and unrefined, turned out to be pleasant in its tenderness and surprisingly unwavering. And when she posted her version of Elvis Presley’s Can’t Help Falling in Love, it brought quite the number of views—along with the attention of Universal Records.


“They reached out to my mom,” Angelina recalls. (Her “mom,” of course, is actress Sunshine Cruz, from whom Angelina has gotten her impressive stature and delicate features, not to mention her singing talent.) The team from Universal liked what she was doing with the music she was making for fun, and they wanted to know if she was interested in a record deal. “I was super surprised,” she gushes. “Because, ‘di ba, I’m not really used to singing, so it was really unexpected and it was exciting.”

"I really prioritize my studies first, more than my career,” she says. “[But] you don’t get [this kind of] opportunity a lot, so I took it."

Her mom was ecstatic—but if Angelina was going to put herself out there, she was going to have to practice and work hard, and focus on her studies. Angelina, who’s now taking senior high school classes in 11th grade, took the conditions seriously and jumped at the chance. After all, who wouldn’t want the possibility of becoming a pop star? “I really prioritize my studies first, more than my career,” she says. “[But] you don’t get [this kind of] opportunity a lot, so I took it. It’s also a great way for me to keep  practicing and get better, and I'm happy that I signed with them.”

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Despite being no stranger to the public eye, Angelina has grown up to be soft-spoken and unassuming, so it doesn’t come as a surprise that she often has to battle stage fright. “I remember my first show,” she says. “It was [a college concert] and it was really nerve-wracking for me, because I wasn’t used to performing in front of a lot of people. It was really scary!” Once she began to sing, all of the doubts and fear slipped away, and it got easier. “I get to release all [the nervous] energy out every time I perform.”


At 17, Angelina is still living her own coming-of-age story, existing on a planet of her own making, the way teenagers do.

This year, she released her self-titled EP, on which she collaborated and worked with award-winning producer Ito Rapadas of Neocolours, emerging songwriter Keiko Necesario, and Iñigo Pascual. “It was actually really exciting,” she says. “I got to sing a lot of songs by really low-key writers and composers. They’re really talented and I’m really grateful to sing their songs for them.” Angelina herself is beginning to experiment with songwriting, and hopes to be singing her own 100-percent original material someday, as well.

At 17, Angelina is still living her own coming-of-age story, existing on a planet of her own making, the way teenagers do. She loves horror movies, excels in English and Mathematics in school, and peppers her sentences with “obviously” and “actually.” She doodles for fun and listens to music to unwind—her faves are Rex Orange County and Daniel Ceasar. She wore no makeup at for her fun shoot with photographer Shaira Luna and was comfortable and loose during her interview. Anyone can tell that she’s deeply, deeply excited about the world surrounding her.


There’s such a grounded, easygoing air to her that first impressions and notions of her being a “celebrity daughter” (her parents, after all, are Sunshine Cruz and Cesar Montano) are suddenly trivial, something addressed with the wave of a hand. “I think I adapted to it [early],” Angelina admits, when asked about her childhood. “I noticed there was something different [about my life] compared to the other kids, and they’d say, ‘Oh, your parents,’ yadda, yadda. But I’d gotten used to it.”


She had seen her parents on TV and watched their movies, even attended premieres. But the best pieces of advice she’s gotten from her mom have always been to be herself and practice humility—and if Sunshine’s rule of knowing your priorities and sticking to them is anything to go by, it’s safe to say that Angelina is a level-headed and genuine person today for a good reason.

“We’re close,” Angelina says of her relationship with her mom. “Like, really, really close, actually. I talk to her about everything.” Her mom has been with her through everything and continues to be. Sunshine was Angelina’s first fashion icon. She’s there for all of Angelina’s needs and questions, whether it’s singing advice or picking out an outfit. She was Angelina’s first supporter and remains her number one fan.


Angelina, the eldest of three children, became the first to pursue a singing career in her immediate family. On the topic of doing music with her siblings and possibly forming a sister act a la Haim, she beams, “Maybe! We usually sing together, but just for fun when we’re bored.”

“I want to have my own thing, my own personality.”

So far, her songs have been acoustic, owing to her beginnings with the ukelele, but she’s planning to expand her genres and try out more pop and R&B: “I want to have my own thing, my own personality.” As for following the Cruz clan tradition of going into acting, she reveals that she’s done school plays before, but she’s still weighing her options. “I’m considering it, but I need to hone my Tagalog first.”


And if neither singing nor acting end up being for her, she still plans to take up a business management course in college and find a balance between her passions.

“Right now, I’m [all about] being true to myself,” says Angelina. Turning 18 soon, she adds, means that she’ll have to start writing her own path and making some big decisions. “I’m still trying to find myself. I’m still trying to find my own thing. I’m getting there.”

Produced and Photographed by Shaira Luna

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