How they raised Mini Miss U contestant Annika Co 2
Anne Curtis was moved to tears by the words spoken by Mini Miss U contestant Annica Co during the pageant’s impromptu acting segment. Screenshot from ABS-CBN Entertainment’s YouTube channel
Culture

Bringing up Annika: Parents reveal what it’s like raising 7-y.o. who made Anne Curtis cry

‘We make every conversation with her very intentional,’ say Adrian and Ann Co about their daughter who wowed ‘It’s Showtime’ viewers with her EQ
RHIA GRANA | Jul 07 2023

In this age of social media, when people are constantly seeking others’ approval to be happy, and are much too concerned about not measuring up to the standards of strangers, a little girl reminds us that it's okay if we’re not liked by everyone.

In the much talked about Mini Miss U segment of “It's Showtime” last Monday, viewers were deeply moved by the words spoken by seven-year-old Annika Co during the pageant’s acting challenge. Everyone was in awe of the intellectual and emotional maturity, sensitivity and empathy the child displayed.

Annika Co
Joining the Mini Miss U was rather unplanned, the Cos share. “Our goal was to expose Annika [to different activities] to build her confidence kasi she gets very shy,” her mom Ann tells us.

The scenario required Annika to perform a song number alongside her “friend,” played by Showtime host Vice Ganda. But friend Vice was feeling anxious singing in front of an audience. She’s afraid some people might not like her performance.

Annika, using her own words, told Vice: “Who cares if the others don’t like you? I like you and everybody else does. What matters is somebody still likes you. If some people don’t like you, then it’s fine. What’s important is someone still likes you.”

Vice told Annika she’s worried about not being the best, and the seven-year-old’s advice to her “friend” was: “You shouldn’t be worrying if you’ll be the best in the world. You have to be the best version of yourself.”

Like Showtime co-host Anne Curtis, who was caught on camera applauding while wiping her tears, netizens were also touched and impressed by the child’s intuitiveness. “Your words hit us so deep,” said one commenter on Annika’s Facebook account. Another remarked that the world needs people like her who are “spreading positivity, love, compassion, empathy and respect.”

Annika Co
Netizens were touched and impressed by the child’s intuitiveness. “Your words hit us so deep,” said one commenter on Annika’s Facebook account.

Raising Annika

Those who caught the episode or read about Annika on social media are most likely thinking: who is this girl and what kind of people raised her? And how does one raise a kid so emotionally mature for her age? 

Annika is the only child of millennial couple Adrian and Ann Co. Adrian took up BS Math at PUP and works as a “Customer Success Lead” for a local company, while Ann earned a degree in Special Education at UP Diliman and currently heads the education team of a retail company.

“My wife was always top 1 in class since she started going to school,” Adrian proudly volunteers to ANCX. “She graduated magna cum laude in UP.” Annika got her smarts and knack for singing from her mom, he says. Ann, on the other hand, says their daughter got her bibo nature from her dad.  

Annika Co
Annika with her mom and dad. 

Joining the Mini Miss U was rather unplanned, the Cos share. It just so happened Annika attended a couple of Star Magic workshops and the idea to join the pageant was suggested to them. “Our goal was to expose Annika [to different activities] to build her confidence kasi she gets very shy,” Ann tells us. “We have no idea or experience joining pageants.”

The couple says they always have open and honest conversations with their daughter, and allow her to make decisions for herself—with their guidance of course. “We tell her, ‘You’re not too young to decide what you want.’ We also don’t force her to do something she’s not interested in,” says Ann.

The couple also makes sure to set realistic expectations for the kid. “We tell her, ‘There are two possible outcomes: either you win the contest, or you simply learn from it, because there is always room for improvement,’” offers Adrian, referring to Annika’s Showtime appearance. “Annika tends to get frustrated easily, so we want to keep the environment positive.”

Did they expect Annika to perform as well as she did during the pageant? “We were actually surprised,” says Ann, adding that the portion she and her husband were worried about was the acting challenge. It was going to be the first time Annika was going to do something of the sort in front of an audience. All she had as prep were a few acting workshop sessions. 

Annika Co
During her guesting on Showtime Online U. 

At Showtime, Ann stayed with Annika backstage while Adrian watched with the studio audience. “My knees were shaking. I was very nervous but also very excited,” Ann recalls. Before the pageant proper, mother and daughter prayed together. “Our only prayer was, ‘Jesus please be with Annika during her performance so that she can do her best and just be confident.’”

A few weeks before Mini Miss U, Annika joined One Gaia Foundation’s Singing Soul Contest 2023, a competition coproduced by veteran composer and record producer Vehnee Saturno. The aspiring singer made it to the audition but felt bad about her performance in the semifinals. That she was not able to give her 100 percent because of stage fright frustrated her.

Adrian recalls Annika joining a gymnastics class at age three but her skills proved not up to par with those of her classmates; her gross motor skills were a bit delayed. So for Mini Miss U, the parents told their child: “You don’t have any other competition but yourself. All you have to do is beat your last performance.”

They also told Annika that no matter the turnout, they will always be her ultimate fans. “We believe in you,” Ann recalls telling their daughter. “You have to believe in yourself too before others can believe in you.”

Annika Co
“We’re also truly grateful for the kind words people have spoken about our daughter,” says Adrian. “It made [Annika] really happy.”

What Annika told Vice during their acting skit were wisdom she’s gleaned from previous experiences. “For sure we had those conversations, too,” says Ann. “But they didn’t happen in one sitting; she was the one who put that entire [dialogue] together.”

We ask Annika how she thought of the things she said on national TV. She admits she didn’t completely grasp what Vice was telling her. “I just focused on what I understood and found the answer at the bottom of my mind,” the bespectacled kid tells us. “It was like I dropped something, picked it up, and then I got a solution.”

She shares her and her mom’s little convo backstage before the pageant. “My mom was like: ‘Just be confident.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, I learned my lesson from One Gaia. I’m not gonna cry today.’”

Annika Co
Annika received the highest honor at her school's recognition day Friday. 

Family talks

Ann and Adrian say that since they’re just a family of three, they involve Annika in most of their discussions, including those about current events. For instance, when the war broke in Ukraine, the kid asked about the rising price of gas while they were having the family car refueled. The couple makes sure to be mindful of learning opportunities for their daughter. And in their discussions, Annika gets to share her thoughts as well.

“We make our every conversation with her very intentional—with our words, with the stories that we tell her,” says Ann. Adrian adds, “We answer the questions she might have to the best of our abilities. We’d rather that she asks us, instead of other people.”

At the Co dinner table, each member usually gets to share how their day went. They’re all madaldal, they admit. “Sometimes, someone has to say, ‘Can I have my turn?’” says Adrian. “No one wants to stop,” adds Ann. They all laugh.

Annika Co
Annika is also an outstanding student in a private international institution in the South.

Annika dreams of becoming a singer or an actress someday. “But if I could be both, that’s even better,” she says. She would love to be part of a musical. Her favorite singers are Disney Channel’s Dove Cameron and “America’s Got Talent”Season 11 winner Grace VanderWaal.

In school, a private international institution in the South, Annika is an outstanding student. In fact, she is scheduled to receive an award this Friday, the highest honor her school bestows to exemplary students. 

Adrian and Ann say they get teary-eyed rewatching their daughter’s performance on Mini Miss U. “We are overwhelmed by the positive response and the outpouring of support we have received,” Ann says, looking clearly elated. In a matter of days, Annika's Facebook account has already gained 16,000 followers. “We’re also truly grateful for the kind words people have spoken about our daughter,” Adrian adds. “It made her really happy.”