Christopher “Toff” De Venecia
Advocating for the Creatives
Christopher “Toff” De Venecia
directs the spotlight on our
BY HELEN B. HERNANE
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ROMEO PERALTA, JR.
HMUA BY EFF ALAGADAN JR.
There is a line that artists are very much familiar with: “Walang pera sa (There is no money in the) arts.” And this isn’t something only Filipino creatives have heard. It has become so commonplace that “struggling” often precedes the word “artists.” Whether it’s struggling to provide creative output or financial distress, it is almost expected of everyone entering this industry that they are facing an uphill battle.
Pangasinan 4th District Representative Christopher “Toff” De Venecia is familiar with the struggle himself. The Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU) alumnus entered the creative industry at a young age, acting in films alongside industry legends such as Sharon Cuneta. He was also part of the sitcom Ober Da Bakod which starred Janno Gibbs, Leo Martinez, and Anjo Yllana.
It was something that came naturally, the congressman remarks, as he explained his family’s background in the showbiz industry. His grandfather, Dr. Jose “Doc” Perez, was the general manager and executive producer of Sampaguita Pictures, one of the top film production companies in the 1950s to 1960s. Doc Perez was otherwise
known as the “starmaker’’ who helped launch the careers of Gloria Romero, Susan Roces, Amalia Fuentes, Paraluman, Dolphy, Eddie Garcia, Gina Pareño, and many more.
De Venecia also shares that one of his aunts is Marichu “Manay Ichu” Perez-Maceda, a movie industry pillar who spearheaded many initiatives such as the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF), Movie Workers Welfare Foundation (MOWELFUND), the Film Academy of the Philippines (FAP), and even sparked the birth of experimental cinema in the country.
While showbiz was something the former child actor enjoyed, giving him a “very interesting childhood,” it was clearly distracting him from his academics. But creative people will always just find another outlet for their ideas and De Venecia turned to writing as he became the sports editor of their school newspaper in grade school. In high school, he joined the HILITES Magazine in AdMU as a features editor, eventually climbing up to associate editor by his senior year.
In college, De Venecia thought of joining The Guidon, AdMU’s college newspaper, but found the requirements cumbersome and decided to redirect his energy toward being a member of the student council. Unfortunately, on December 17, 2004, tragedy struck the De Venecia household. Their Makati home was engulfed in flames, claiming the life of De Venecia’s sister, Kristina Casimira “KC.” She was 16 years old.
“I had a sort of paradigm shift. There were a lot of things I wanted to pursue, but I never really had the courage to go for them because of fear, anxiety, or insecurity. But with what happened with my sister, I realized that .....