Nicole and Camille Tantoco: Double the Love and Laughter
Twins Nicole Tantoco De Los Reyes and Camille Tantoco Ng tango with the twists and turns that motherhood has to offer. But they do so like they have always done: together as sisters.
Even when married to one’s respective husbands, sisterhood is an extraordinary bond that makes sure no mom is alone in her parenting journey. Such is the case for the Tantoco Twins — Nicole and Camille — where each step they’ve treaded had the other’s unwavering support alongside their husbands’, Miko de los Reyes and Timothy Ng. Their special bond reflects especially in their daughters, 4-year-old Yani and 6-month-old Anya, who enjoy each other’s company as if they were sisters themselves. And as if history is repeating itself, Yani, Nicole’s daughter, appears to be Anya’s self-appointed keeper as she holds her hand throughout the day, similar to how Nicole and Camille became each other’s keepers throughout their childhood years to now their journey through motherhood.
“Every time we go to the toy store, Yani finds a toy and tells me, ‘Let’s get this for Anya.’,” Nicole gushes. “Since Anya is her first cousin, she just loves her.”
What many may not realize is that the heartwarming adoration of the now fifth generation of Tantocos was born from the four previous ones who have left a legacy of holding filial piety with the utmost regard. A core value that the twins, too, have inherited.
Twinning in Motherhood
Motherhood rarely becomes a lonely journey for the twins. While Camille and Timothy learn a lot from observing Nicole’s and Miko’s parenting tactics, Nicole finds a confidante in her sister. “It’s great having a sister who’s also a mom,” Nicole beams. “We can relate to whatever’s happening to each other and offer insights. But it’s also great because there’s so much to learn from Camille as a parent, especially with her being so chill.”
Camille, on the other hand, attributes her being “chill” because of her role in Nicole’s parenting journey as her sister and Yani’s Ninang. “I think my being “chill” as a parent is because I’ve seen it happen with Nicole because she started [motherhood] ahead of me,” she shares. “I learned early on what works and what might not work.”
But motherhood, they both agree, has changed their priorities albeit quite differently. Camille admitted to becoming more “protective of herself,” especially when Anya arrived. “Before Anya, I could do things on the fly. If I wanted to go traveling, I could easily book a ticket and fly out. But now, I learned to plan these things because I think: when I’m gone, who’s going to take care of Anya? It’s different when you start to live for another person.”
On the other hand, Nicole discovered that after the first few years of parenting, the next step is experiencing much more of her daughter’s personality, who had just turned four recently. “She’s really growing into her own person now. She’s very funny,” she laughs. “Like, she’s learning how to make jokes and it’s so fun to listen to!”
But what happens when that dedication and protectiveness that Camille and Nicole have for the latest additions to the Tantoco clan clash with their identities as working moms?
Dealing with Struggles Together
As working moms, finding and perfecting that delicate balance between work and motherhood is a struggle that the twins share. Especially with their battles against separation anxiety, Nicole has grown accustomed to seeing her daughter every day while working at home. Meanwhile, Camille, who is facing the hybrid setup, fears there might be a day that she will miss out on some important parts in Anya’s life.
“I had Yani during the pandemic so I was so used to spending time with her all the time,” Nicole laughs. “But now that she’s going to school, I had to learn how to let go a little.”
“Although I had 105 days of maternity leave, which is really generous, there are days when I do have separation anxiety,” Camille admits. “I have thoughts like, ‘Is Anya okay?,’ ‘What if I miss out on one of Anya’s milestones?’ But I also discovered that it’s really hard to work with a baby at home. Like, you’re trying to hold a Zoom meeting and she’s quiet the whole time. But the minute you unmute your mic, that’s when she decides to cry.”
But their smiles show that they’ve found ways to cope with it. Especially when Baba and Loli — the endearing nicknames the two granddaughters have for their grandparents Donnie and Crickette Tantoco — became an active part of their daughters’ lives. Despite the struggles, Nicole, Yani, Camille, and Anya don’t just have each other. They also have four generations’ worth of Tantoco parents to draw love and support from.
Drawing from a Library of Parenting
In the Tantoco family, there is truth in the adage, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Many of Nicole and Camille’s happy childhood memories involved taking care of their cousins who were much younger than them, since they were the eldest of the grandchildren on both sides of their families.
“Growing up, we spent a lot of time taking care of our cousins who were so much younger and there’s no question. I think that’s when we realized that we wanted to be moms,” Nicole says. “We wanted to have our own kids someday.”
But what played a big role in their parenting is the fortune of them meeting their great-grandparents. Nicole even recalls a sweet memory regarding the late Benny Tantoco when he first met his great, great-granddaughter.
“He was so proud that day,” Nicole remembers fondly. “Even after all he’s achieved, his face just lit up and he said, I have a great-great-granddaughter! He was 100 years old.”
And although Anya sadly missed out on meeting him, she has her mother, Camille, to carry on the lessons that she learned from meeting her great grandfather and the remaining three generations of the Tantoco family. “One of the lessons we learned is to never turn your back on blood and always make time for one another.”
Thus, even with a busy schedule, the twins uphold a sacred tradition of always attending family luncheons and dinners. Their close bond with their family is only rivaled by their celebrated sisterhood.
Celebrating Their Sisterhood
Growing up, Nicole and Camille would break and confirm many stereotypes of twins. Although always seen as a pair, they also had their own lives separate from one another. “Some people think that because we’re twins, we do things together,” Nicole explains. “But we actually have phases. Sometimes, we like doing things together. Other times, we do things on our own.”
Camille adds that it was only in college that they began addressing themselves as “I.”
“Nicole went to Ateneo and I went to UA&P before transferring to Enderun. But we’ve always addressed each other as ‘we’ so it took us a while to get used to it, especially when we started developing our own group of friends.”
Unfortunately, these events exclusive to one or the other didn’t spare Camille and Nicole from a particular stereotype to which they take in as good sports, bursting out in laughter. “We don’t have telepathy!”
Instead, Camille defines that they have an “empathic bond” which she jokes can be both a good and a bad thing. “We can tell if one of us is feeling bad without saying anything. There was a time I was trying to work and I kind of felt down. So, I called up Nicole and asked if she was okay. But then I was like, can you try not to, I’m trying to work,” she jokes.
Even as far back as her childhood, Camille appreciates how Nicole always took the lead in their twinship. “Nicole would be my translator since she started speaking first. She would be the one telling my parents what I needed or what I wanted. Kind of like a go-in-between.”
Nicole confirms their empathic bond when they protected each other while their mom tried to discipline them. “There was a time she tried to discipline us before. We both said, ‘I’m Camille!’ and then when mom said whoever was Camille would be punished, we just replied, ‘Then, we’ll both be punished!'”
The Sacredness of Sisterhood
Although they are now mothers, Camille and Nicole Tantoco are sisters first. Not only do they have their daugthers spend time together but, Camille hopes to maintain a few traditions. One of those include their “just them trips.” She beams, “Before, we used to go on trips together. Just the two of us. It was fun!”
Those trips they had together as sisters all the more reinforced their feelings of gratitude for having one another. “It’s a special experience, really. I feel so lucky to have her,” Nicole admits. “For those who have sisters, I’d say enjoy it. Enjoy having a sister you can share all your experiences with. A sister is someone you can tell everything to, including the things you can’t normally tell others.”
Camille also adds, “Try to be your siblings’ best friend. Your bond with them can be your greatest strength.”
And although motherhood will always have its trials and tribulations, Camille and Nicolo Tantoco will always find a way to weather through them. Not just as moms but as sisters experiencing what it’s like to be a modern parent.
Words KEVYN GOHU-CATINGUB
Photography ED SIMON
Makeup MARY ANN PARBA and TWINKLE BERNARDO
Hair SHARMAINE MANALO and ANGELI ALFONSO
Styling ROSHNI MIRPURI and SIYA DARYANI for THE CLOSET CULTURE
Shoot Coordination ANTHONY MENDOZA
Sittings Editor MARGA MEDRANO-TUPAZ
Shot on location at LAKEHALL AT NENA’S SANCTUARY
Special thanks to 128 CATERING