Korina Sanchez looks at career, life anew

- Vanessa A. Balbuena () - December 20, 2010 - 12:00am

 CEBU, Philippines - Tying the knot and taking a leave for more than a year has not tempered Korina Sanchez’s strong persona one bit. But the time away from her radio program and daily evening newscast made her realize that she no longer needs to break her back with endless work, the way she did before marrying former senator and defeated 2010 vice-presidential candidate Mar Roxas. 

The broadcast journalist, who began her career in the industry as a weather girl 27 years ago, is back at ABS-CBN’s flagship news program “TV Patrol” with fellow comebacking colleague and former Vice President Noli de Castro. They are joined by Ted Failon. 

In a recent visit to Cebu upon the invitation of ABS-CBN’s regional News and Public Affairs Department for its Grand Halad sa Kapamilya event, Korina indulged kids with a story-reading session and talked to teachers on the subject of women empowerment at the Mabolo Elementary School. 

She maximized her trip by “working on my tan” and distributing 350 slippers to public elementary students, as part of her “Tsinelas” campaign. As of last count, she has given out around 1.4 million slippers to underprivileged kids since the project began. And with a tie-up with SM and Manila Water, she was also able to give out umbrellas nationwide, and bring water to some water-less communities in the country. The TV host also shot some footage and did interviews in Cebu for her Sunday primetime program “Rated K”. 

In this sit-down interview with the veteran news anchor at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf of Ayala Terraces, Korina gives us a glimpse of why people either love her or hate her. Either way, she tells us how and why she’s at that point in her life where she no longer cares.

How is it to be back in “TV Patrol”? OK naman. I was doing ‘Bandila’, but of course, it’s different when you’re facing an audience of 30% as against 13%. It’s like rekindling that relationship with the audience because they only saw me once a week in ‘Rated K’. Ngayon, everyday na. It’s exciting and challenging for me to develop that relationship again, especially that the ratings war is raging with a third player now. It’s also heartening dahil pinagkatiwalaan ka ng management to get the job done. 

Did you miss it? Not really. Because I’ve been working like a dog since I was 19. Not because I had to, but it’s just the way I am. There was a time I did not have a vacation in 10 years. All of my barkada would be in the beach and I would be at home or in ABS-CBN editing. Di ba sabi nila pagkatapos ng isang araw na sobrang trabaho, pag naupo ka, tsaka mo lang mararamdaman ang pagod? I think that’s what happened to me. Biro mo, before I took a leave, I had four shows, three of them daily and live! And I’m not only anchor. I write, I direct, I’m also the executive producer. So it was crazy. But when I finally took a leave—forced leave pa yan, kicking and screaming kasi I didn’t want to—I traveled so I kind of gained perspective that you don’t have to live that way anymore. For what? Life is short. I’m almost halfway done with my life. Parang I want to see and do what else there is to see and do. I don’t have to work so hard.  

So those were some of your reflections while on leave? Yeah, I mean what for? Para sumikat? Eh sikat ka na. Kalahating taon nga akong nawala, kahit wala akong make-up at naka-shades, kilala pa rin ako. As far as the work is concerned, challenge-wise, I’ve been there, done that. There will always be an award to receive, but how many awards can you receive? Not that I’m trivializing how important these things are, but it’s like you’re looking for a different kind of challenge now. In the case of ‘TV Patrol’, it was simply a challenge that was posed to me by management. Otherwise, I was not looking for it anymore. 

Did you have hesi-tations? Well, only about my talent fee (laughs). That was my only hesitation. Otherwise, go tayo diyan syempre! Eh hinihingi ka ng management, papano ka hihindi. Hesitation ko lang yung, teka muna, masyado yata mababa ang talent fee (laughs). So finally nagkasundo naman, so go kami. At lahat ng mga kasama ko diyan gusto ko. Si Ted at si Noli, they’re like family to me. Sabi nga nila it’s like a dream team. It’s also a personal dream to be working with each other kasi kami yung parehong wavelength eh. 

What do you say of opinion that you’re no longer credible to do newscast because of your involvement in the last national campaign? I think that’s only a handful of people because the ratings will tell you otherwise. I totally disagree with it because when Mar was running, I took a leave a year before. In fact, our handbook doesn’t even say that you have to take a leave. But for delicadeza’s sake, I was practically forced to take a leave, which I did. I was hardly visible during the campaign. I didn’t do any endorsements, and even if I did, that would be well within my rights to do. That’s why you took a leave so you can endorse somebody. I didn’t have exposure, there was no undue advantage to my partner, and I didn’t receive my income. Sabi ko nga sana nag-endorse na lang ako eh. But in the case of Mar, we never thought that he needed it. We really wanted it to be about Mar and not the love story, not the celebrity-wife. When he lost, he’s now citizen Mar so what’s the issue?

What is he doing these days? He’s citizen Mar. He’s in New York, trying to gain perspective. When you’re too near kung saan ka napaso, diba parang ang sakit? Ang init-init sa kusina, napaso ka pa, ba’t ka mananatili sa kusina diba? And that’s what he did for a long time; he just stayed here so all the negative vibes nararamdaman niya. Finally, we convinced him to go abroad. Ayun na, ayaw na umuwi. Nag-enjoy na masyado doon. 

How’s married life, after being a working woman for the longest time? OK naman, trying hard to be a wife. There are many wives who are working women. For every relationship, you define what it will be. There are relationships wherein it’s alright that the wife doesn’t cook, do any house cleaning or doesn’t even take care of the husband very much because that’s the relationship. It depends a lot on the needs of each one. I think the universal karma of women is that we adjust to the guy. Even in the Bible, it says you have to follow your husband. But then it also says, husband, love your wife. I think that works well with Mar and me because he loves me very much, so I’m willing to serve. I’m willing to go by his phase. I respect him. He’s more intelligent than I could ever be. So I don’t mind marching to the same rhythm that he does. 

      Married life has so far been nourishing. A relationship entails sacrifice. Others sacrifice more than the rest. In my case it’s a sacrifice, because I’m used to autonomy. I’m used to having it my own way; I don’t have to answer to anybody. Now, you have to ask permission for many things and you feel like, why do I have to do this? It’s constant levels of compromise. For some, they may think it erodes them as how I thought it was in the beginning, but actually, I think it’s good for my soul. Because it humbles me, it makes me realize I’m happy not being an island. In the end, you need somebody to look after you, to talk to, to tell you it’s OK. If you’re too self-sufficient then you’re alone. And if you don’t want to be alone, makisama ka. 

Are you working on a baby? No, not yet. Una, I don’t want anybody pressuring me whether I should have a baby or not. And it’s really not easy. My doctor tells me magmadali na ako, pero OK pa naman. I think I will have a difficult time because I have scoliosis and as I get older, my back hurts more and more at night. Parang, Oh my God, how am I gonna carry a child for nine months? I’m trying to settle in to my work first, because for a while I wasn’t sure whether makakabalik pa ako o hindi. Ngayon gulat na naman ako kasi daily na naman. So I have to figure it out and talk to Mar about it maybe next year. 

Some say Mar is really lucky to always have you by his side, even if you were the target of criticism during the campaign. Magkakampi kami talaga. Someone from Philippine Star once told me, ‘You know we asked Mar in a presidential forum what he tells people when they come up to him and say they don’t like you.’ Standard ang sagot ni Mar diyan eh, ‘It’s their loss. She was voted Most Credible TV Personality of 2009, so does that speak of being disliked? I don’t think so.’ It’s just a very small, very noisy and opinionated minority. Many of them are journalists also. Alam ko naman ang motibo eh. OK, 20 years niyo na akong hindi gusto. It’s never gonna happen between the two of us. But wala akong atraso sa kanila. Marami naman akong charity. Napapanalo ko naman ang mga awards, hindi naman ako bobo, hindi ako masamang tao, wala akong krimen. Eh hindi ko na kasalanan kung ano ako. I cannot apologize for what I have accomplished which I worked very hard for. It’s not even about being misunderstood, because they don’t care to understand. So problema na nila yun. 

These journalists you say dislike you are also from ABS-CBN? I don’t know, because wherever I go I feel I’m loved. Meron siguro sa ABS, pero hindi nila pinapakita sa akin. Siguro takot. If it’s any indication, pag balik namin ni Noli, wow, full regalia. May confetti, meron pa kaming arko ng balloons. Sabi ko, nasaan ang mga sundalong merong espada? And then my friends tell me, hay naku, if you only knew, these same people were the ones who...you know, it’s not important anymore. Ang maganda, nakangiti sila sa harap ko, wine-welcome ako. Kung may issue sila, talk to me. Kaya nila? In life, it’s not important to be popular. Not as important as knowing who you are. Because if you know who you are, everything just follows. 

You always had this strong personality even when you were young? It’s really funny, because in grade school there were upper-class men who would bully me. When I was in grade 5, the grade 7 kids would block the exit and entrance of the school. When I was a high school freshman, the seniors, ganyan din. When I was a neophyte in college, I was bidded out. Diba may bidding yan pag college? Yung initiation, naku, pinag-aagawan ako...pero lahat sila naging kaibigan ko. So sometimes I feel it’s just a matter of getting to know them, or them getting to know me. But you can’t afford to do that with everybody. There comes a point in your life when you just stop trying to please people because nobody is liked every moment. You can’t keep on apologizing for something that you haven’t done. If it’s constructive criticism, why not? But you have to come forth and tell me you didn’t like my opinion then we will debate. Otherwise, what the heck is it? Hindi ko naman kasalanan pinakasalan ako ni Mar Roxas.  

How did you start out in the broadcast industry? I got bored with school, so I stopped. Then I took up a Newscasting course, yung sa mga hao siao lang diyan. Then I applied. Na decline at na decline ako. I went to Channel 4 which was a Marcos government station and that’s where I was taken in. Weather girl lang ako. Tapos nag-reporter at tuloy-tuloy na. Nadaanan ko lahat. Kaya I know how to edit, do the scoring...ginawa ko yan lahat.  

You’re always being mentioned along with other women who are PNoy’s ex-girlfriends. Do you have an advice for the president, as he can’t seem to find “The One” for him? Diyos ko, mga sanggol pa kami nun! I think it’s unfair to Mar kasi ang ka-loveteam ko si Mar. Eh kasi naman itong si Noy dapat pumili na ng kanya para hindi na ako sinasabit. I don’t know eh, to each his own. Kanya-kanya naman kasing time-table yan. Ano ba naman kami ni Mar, I thought we were the last two people standing on the dance floor. Yun pala nandoon pa si Noy. So makakahanap din siya ng isa pa sa dance floor na wala ring partner. Well, I’m very happy with my choice. I have no regrets whatsover. I’m sure Noy will find and meet the match of his life. 

How do you maintain your youthful look? A lot of collagen. I put collagen on top, I take collagen as pills. You have to drink a lot of water and take at least eight hours of sleep, which I don’t. So can you imagine how good I look if I had enough water and sleep? I go to the gym, but sporadically. When I start, I’m there everyday then I stop for a month. Then I start again. But I have dumbbells at home. I do weights on my own. 

Do you have a stylist who helps you pick what to wear for every evening newscast? No. I pick my own ever since. But I read style books. There’s one particular style book I read that opened my eyes to many things. So I took out all of those clothes in my closet and sold them. Can you imagine I raised 1.2 million pesos? I put up a community in Quezon with just my clothes. Yung minsan mo lang ginagamit or binibili mo out of whim? I sold them for a fraction of the price. I’m doing that again this Christmas. 

With clothes, what colors are you partial to? I like white and earth colors. I’m always in t-shirt and jeans, with a scarf. That’s my uniform. When I’m abroad, I like layering. For my suits, I like power dressing in red but with very simple lines. At night, I’m not into black too much. I have so many suits from 20 years back and they’re all classic. So what I did for my return, pinaiba ko lang yung silhouette para it’s slim, not boxy anymore, and looks modern. 

Do you maintain the house you had before marrying Mar? I rent it because it’s a fully-decorated house that I love. All my art and clothes are there, hindi talaga kasya sa bahay ni Mar because his place is like a bachelor’s pad.

So, his pad now has a woman’s touch? Oo naman, puro bulaklak na siya. Tsaka dati, hindi sila nagtatayo ng Christmas tree. When he met me seven years ago, he started putting up, well, I started putting up a Christmas tree. That was my requirement, as Christmas is my favorite time of the year. 

Speaking of which, what are your holiday plans? I’ve long wanted to take my family to Hong Kong, pinag-ipunan ko talaga for one year. Mahal ha! Mar’s whole family is going to Hong Kong. I wanted to join and bring my whole family. I’m bringing my pamangkins. It’s a good time to go because my two elder nieces are 10 years old, so it’s like their last hurrah for childhood. The second set are three to four years old, so magandang memories para sa mga bata. (FREEMAN)

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