MANILA, Philippines -- As a high school student, Kapamilya singer Zia Quizon was never able to stay in one school for more than a year due to being "unhappy."
The 21-year-old "ASAP" mainstay saw this as a way to escape being bullied, which she largely kept to herself, even from her parents.
"I ended up moving around a lot, kasi sa school every year of high school, I would move," she told ABS-CBN News' Marie Lozano in an interview on Friday.
Quizon, the daughter of the late film icon Dolphy and singer-actress Zsa Zsa Padilla, recalled that her experience of being bullied was somehow tied to her parents "being in the public eye."
"There was a lot of attention on me as a kid, which was not necessarily positive," she said.
"Kapag medyo na-iinteres na ako sa mga glee club, tapos there's goning to be a bias [against me] na, 'Uy, bibigyan lang siya ng solo kasi ganito, ganyan,' so there would be a bias not to give me parts because it would seem... parang ganoon," she recalled.
Apart from feeling deprived of certain opportunities in school, Quizon said she also experienced being the subject of negative rumors as a student.
"Parang mas psychological 'yung naging pagka-bully, lalo na sa mga babae -- mga tsismis behind your back and things like that," she said.
Her being overweight at the time, the singer recalled, also had a negative impact on her self-esteem. This prevented her from effectively addressing being bullied.
"I guess [my experience] was more of like, the looks, the talking behind your back, spreading stuff, and just like making other people not want to hang out with you.
"I just feel like I was a very awkward child kasi I was 200 pounds, and I felt so insecure about myself," she said.
She added: "I think girls just have a way of wanting to spread their insecurities in that sense, kahit na maganda na sila."
Even then, Quizon never ought to bring up the issue with any authority figure, or her parents. "I think I kept it from them mostly because they might feel na may parte sila, but of course I didn't want them to think that I was unhappy in school," she said.
As it happened, the teenaged Quizon ended up merely avoiding being bullied by transferring schools every school year, as opposed to tackling it head on.
She was also able to cope by turning to music, the singer recalled.
"I really got into music more, I really wrote my feelings... and ate my feelings. I ended up having to be comfortable within myself and love myself for who I am, and understand that it has nothing to do with what other people are going to say about you," she said.
Now among the most recognizable original Filipino music (OPM) artists of her generation, the Kapamilya singer has joined a local social action campaign to speak up against bullying.
|Zia Quizon for The Bully Project campaign "Not In Our School." Photo courtesy of the official Facebook page of The Bully Project Philippines
Recently, a music video of the song "Katulad ng Iba" as performed by Quizon and rapper Gloc-9 was released online by Universal Records Philippines.
The song was made in cooperation with the Department of Education (DepEd) to support the local chapter of the global movement The Bully Project, which centers on the campaign "Not In Our School."
The music video premiered on television in late March on music channel MYX.
"I would like to be a forerunner in the use of OPM as a positive tool in society din. So like Gloc-9 who raps a lot about [social issues] and makes a lot of social commentary in his songs, it really wakes a lot of people up," Quizon said.
The Bully Project is a social action campaign inspired by the 2011 film "Bully." Its movement in the Philippines was launched late last year by DepEd and the Jesuit Basic Education Commission with a release of the film in local theaters.
As an advice to children and teens who currently experience being bullied, Quizon extended one of the messages of the global campaign -- that is, to muster the courage to speak up.
"Maghanap kayo ng kausap, kasi I think that's one of the most important things -- to have someone to talk to.
"'Yung ibang bata, hindi nila alam na hindi dapat nangyayari sa kanila 'yun, and they have every right to protected. Pero hindi nila alam na hindi pala ganun-ganon lang ang ma-bully," she said.
Quizon encouraged victims of bullying to also open up to their parents, and called on "by-standers" to not merely stand by and watch bullying unfold, as in the slogan of "Not in Our School."
"I think that they should talk to their parents or any other authority figure or anybody that they can respect or they can turn to or really trust," Quizon said.
She added: "I think it's also important that we know what's going on in our kids' lives, in our younger generation's lives so they are guided properly."