Pumped to hi-jack this space over the internets! Love what KRISHA FROM THE ISLAND is doing here. Bringing the island to wherever you are! And if you’re wondering who this is, I’m a fellow islander/Cebuana so you can chill. You’re in good hands. I think…

I am Mikaela Keen, grew up in many places but spent most of my life in the island of Mactan and now doing life in New York. If you’re gonna label what I do, it’ll probably be a learner. I love learning and just absorbing things visually (ADHD/ADD, some might say). Probably why photography is my main medium as a visual artist. I mean I love singing too but lets not get into that.

Growing up not having a permanent address all my life, you’d think moving to another place like NY was a walk in the park but it wasn’t. It’s a teenagers nightmare to have that stretch to step into the unknown, not knowing anyone, not having a place of belongingness. It sucked! Ha! I was 18 and didn’t know any better.

photos from

It was tough being the new girl again, but then in New York everyone is the new girl. No one is a local, everyone’s adjusting and learning to live and find home in the concrete jungle. As a bratty teenager, I didn’t have that perspective. It was easy to focus on what I was feeling than looking at the bigger picture. Fast forward to now, I wouldn’t say it has improved, but it has completely changed, like zero to a hunnit, real quick. It’s still tough but now its the best kind. The place I was a stranger from is now HOME.

Life happens, and would never wait if you’re ready. This is how we stretch and grow and build ourselves. Thank God, He took everything from me which definitely sucked the moment it happened but looking back, I’m glad He did cuz I wouldn’t have not know I can step anywhere with Him, and call it HOME.

Last summer, I was in the Philippines and met amazing artists and saw first hand how the art scene is booming but only to people who know about it. Does that make sense? It’s alive but still in the rubbles and underground but definitely better than 5 years ago when I left.

I remember I was in a coffee shop and was so pumped to pick up this local magazine and when I began flipping the pages, I was disappointed to see not one Filipino in it but all things from the Western world. I mean, let’s embrace other culture, I’m for that, no question but I wanna see what’s happening on this side of the planet. It’s not that we lack amazing people, we just take what we already have for granted. It’s in our culture from the very beginning and I’m not here “to go against the flow” just because but I want to have a platform for Filipino artists to show their work and build a community from that. This is what birthed The Manuels. The idea of having a local community of artists, knowing we’re not hustling alone. We are a collective. Together, we can create better and from that serve people better.

From someone who’ve seen the Philippines from inside and out, I know we are gifted and we just get it. We’re artists. We’re natural. Someone can hand us a pencil and we can make a ukulele out of it, okay maybe not literally but if you know that you know that you know you’re an artist, know that you’re doing better than you think you are! Keep the hustle cuz it’s worth it! I know call center can be ‘what you need’ right now but let’s make that a tool to create and not get stuck. Your dreams are waiting for you to make them a reality! Not saying quit your day job, PLEASE DON’T! This journey is gonna be a lot of things but never easy. That’s what will make us stretch and don’t worry cuz we won’t snap but only grow from here!

Editor's note: This photo is from Scott Pacaldo's feature in The Collective. Check it out!


Editor's [LOL, hi guys, it's me Krish] note: You can go check out The Manuels at! We are now live! And if you are asking, I do the boring stuff of formulating interviews for the artists that we feature. It's awesome job plus Mike promised me Harry Styles himself this Christmas so I guess that makes it really worth it, right? Ha, check it!

No comments