25 questions for Sharon
- Ricky Lo () - August 11, 2002 - 12:00am
"I never realized I have so many friends," exclaimed Sharon Cuneta. "I am overwhelmed!"

Sharon is celebrating her 25th anniversary in showbiz next January yet but the mega-celebration will start on Aug. 16 and 17 with a concert aptly titled The Mega Event at the Araneta Coliseum, produced by Artist House and ABS-CBN, with Ryan Cayabyab as musical director and Johnny "Mr. M" Manahan as TV/stage director.

So Sharon texted Martin Nievera to invite him as a special guest and that was all it took – one text message. Martin adjusted his tight schedule, even moving his concert date abroad, and said yes right away, asking for no talent fee but simply to sort out the "legalities," so if and when the Mega Event concert and videos would be released, he wouldn’t be held liable by his home recording company which is different from that of Sharon’s.

Other guests include Louie Ocampo, "several surprise ones" and no less than the 62-piece San Miguel Philharmonic Orchestra (SMPO) as Sharon’s back-up.

The Mega Event
will retrace the TV, movie and recording career of Sharon through excerpts from her films and now-classic theme songs of her starrers.

To celebrate Sharon’s 25th, Conversations decided to ask her the 25 questions most everybody has been wanting to ask her but didn’t have the chance to, ranging from her being the pampered daughter of the late Pasay City Mayor Pablo Cuneta and Elaine Gamboa (sister of Helen Gamboa-Sotto), to her failed marriage to Gabby Concepcion, to her life now as wife of Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan and mother to KC Concepcion and Frankie, to how she envisions herself 20 years from now.

1. If you were to rewrite the story of your life, what would you add or edit out?


"I would have finished school, tuloy-tuloy, because I could have gone on working while studying. The last time I attended school was in 1997, in Boston (while Kiko was on a scholarship grant at Harvard); first year college ako, night school, adult school.

"The irony of it all was that I was majoring in Business when I don’t like numbers. Back when, even in high school, my favorite subjects were English, Literature, Pilipino, Spanish and History, anything written but not numbers.

"Kiko was telling me, ‘Why don’t you check out the books that you keep buying?’ So, I did. I do have lots of books, volumes and volumes of them, occupying almost one-third of my house, mostly about the home (interior design, architecture and food). If ever I go back to school, I’ll take up a course in either Interior Design or Literature, with Business as a minor.

"And what would I edit out from my life story? Siempre, all my mistakes. Walang taong nagpapasalamat sa mga pagkakamali niya, but I’m thankful for all the lessons that I’ve learned from those mistakes. To say, for example, that my first marriage (to Gabby Concepcion) is a mistake wouldn’t be accurate because I do have a beautiful daughter (Kristina Cassandra, or simply KC) by him."

2. No regrets having started in showbiz early, at age 12?


"None at all. My first single, Tawag ng Pagibig (by Rey Valera), didn’t click. It was my second, Mr. Deejay (also by Valera), released six months later, which did.

"When I was 14, I rode on the float of the movie Langis at Tubig during the parade at the Cebu Film Festival. I sang the theme song of that movie (directed by Danny Zialcita). Ate Vi (Vilma Santos), one of the stars, was pregnant with Lucky so I kind of pinchhit for her. Direk Danny was very impressed by the public reaction. After the parade, he talked to my Mom about the movie Dear Heart. Hindi daw niya itutuloy if he couldn’t get me to star in it."

3. But before Dear Heart, you were one of the co-hosts of Kuya Germs’ GMA Supershow. What did that show do to you?


"That show brought me closer to the masses. Because I came from what is known as a well-off family, people thought I was suplada, masama ang ugali, unreachable, snooty. GMA Supershow gave me a chance to show the public what I really am – you know, ‘Hey, down-to-earth pala siya; hindi pala siya namimili (not choosy) ng tao.’ It helped me hone my hosting skills which are serving me well now."

4. How do you feel when you look back at Dear Heart, your first movie (produced by Ernie Rojas’ Sining Silangan), where you met — and eventually fell in love with — Gabby?


"Direk
Danny wanted my character in the movie to be close to my real self para daw hindi ako mahirapan. So in the movie, I had bodyguards and my father was strict and crazy over me; I even had a yaya who called me Miss Universe. Very real life, di ba?

"I had crushes and puppy loves even before I met Gabby. Before I joined showbiz, ang crush ko noon ay si Dondon Nakar. But before Dondon, there was Bruce Lee, and now Jet Li. I did have a crush on Albert (Martinez) but not on Gabby. I thought Gabby was mayabang; so among the Regal Babies, mas gusto ko sina Alfie Anido at Jimi Melendez (both dead). In fact, when they asked me who I wanted as my leading man in Dear Heart, I said, ‘Anybody but Gabby Concepcion.’ I found out na mabait naman pala siya when we started shooting."

5. Didn’t you think you were too young and therefore not really prepared to get married (to Gabby, in 1984)?

"You know, I was ready and prepared. It was all I ever wanted – to get married and have a family. I was willing to give up my career. I would have come back after a while and my fans would still have been there. But then, things didn’t turn out right. But I’d rather not talk about that period in my life because of delicadeza."

6. Was your debut (January 6, 1984) memorable to you?


"My father wanted the biggest birthday bash for me kaya nag-sky-is the-limit siya at the Manila Hotel where I met all his politico friends. It was the kind of debut any girl would dream of having. But I wasn’t mabusisi yet. Looking back, I should have been the one who prepared everything, from the invitation to the venue, etc.

"Well, eight months after my debut, I got married. I broke my Dad’s heart, I know. Nag-fasting siya; ang tawag ko sa kanya si Mahatma Gandhi, hindi kumakain. But in fairness, he really wanted me to be happy. He’s my idol; if he asked me to jump from a building, all I’d ask him would be, ‘From what floor?’ That’s how much I idolized him. Never niya ako ipinahamak; lahat ng kapahamakan ko sarili kong kagagawan.

"I guess that at the back of my mind I was looking for someone like my Dad, somebody who would and could love me unconditionally. And then I met Kiko. You know, if I gain weight and become 300 pounds heavy, I know that Kiko would still love me. I know that Kiko would still be with me if I grow old, if I grow ugly at kahit malaos ako."

7. What’s the best lesson that you learned from your past, especially the painful, experiences?


"When you’re blessed, it’s almost a sin to hold a grudge against other people. I was like that when I was younger. Now I know that you can forgive and still treasure the lessons that you learned. Kasi hindi naman sinabi ni Lord na magpakatanga ka. You forgive and forget but you shouldn’t allow the person who betrayed you to betray you again.

"You forgive, you forget and you move on. That’s the best lesson I learned from my past, painful experiences – to forgive. Why store up negative feelings? Life is too short. It really hit me when Rico (Yan) died. He was so young and had so much ahead of him and then... You can make all the plans that you want but you’ll never know if tomorrow you’ll still be there to make them all come true. I live each day happily; to be my usual sunshiny, boisterous self, and to surround myself with friends, with people who love me."

8. How did the birth of KC affect or change your life?


"April 7, 1985. I think I’m better equipped as a mother this time because I’m more experienced and more secure in all areas of my life; I’m not trying to prove myself anymore. You know, I’m not anymore killing myself trying to make a living to ensure her future. I was young then at kabri-break pa lang ng loveteam namin ni Gabby. I was taking care of my career, I had to be mom and dad to KC, I had to put food on the table and I had to grow up.

"You know, I could have easily gone back to my Mom and Dad but I did not. I had too much pride. By the way, I’ve been giving my Dad all the credit; he has always been there for me. ’Yung mga girl talk, sa aming dalawa ’yon ng Mom ko. Through the years I’ve been giving my Mom too little credit. But now, I appreciate a million times more how much my Mom means to me.

"But I’m really a Daddy’s Girl. My Dad was a self-made man. He was poor when he was a kid, that’s why we grew up with an appreciation and respect for money. My Dad was street-smart, the cowboy type. From my Mom, we learned culture, discipline and good manners. I got my singing talent from my Mom’s side."

9. How do you spring out of a depression?


"Prayer. Faith in God, plain and simple. I can’t imagine a person living his or her life without accepting or knowing that God is there and that when you have nothing or no one to turn to He’s the only one there for you.

"What do I usually pray for? No 1: Health for my family and for our family to be happy together. No. 2: My children’s happiness. I’ve never been self-destructive and I’m proud of that. I never drink and I’ve never done drugs. I’ve never even tried marijuana; there was never a reason for me to. I always try to excel in something else, especially in my work."

10. You were devastated by the death (in Sept. 2000) of your dad, weren’t you?


"That was really devastating. At his wake, I couldn’t make wala because I was six months pregnant (with Frankie). Sometimes, I cry to Kiko and tell him how I wish my Dad could see me now. My only consolation is that I know that I’ll see him again – sometime.

"When I did a sell-out concert in Hong Kong earlier this year and I learned that my CD was doing very well there, I told my Mom, ‘Sana Dad is here. Ang yabang-yabang siguro n’un!’ I was crying and crying."

11. How did you feel during your first concert (especially) abroad?


"My very first major concert was in 1988, complete with a band, unlike in my previous concerts na walang budget kaya ‘minus one’ lang ang ginagamit ko. Marunong na akong mag-perform noon; I really felt like a real performer na talaga at that time.

"Mr. Deejay,
my second album, was also memorable to me kasi it was my first ‘gold.’ Of course, since then I have received many more trophies (Including for Best Actress grand slam for Madrasta in 1997. – RFL). I never display my trophies in our living room. Nakakahiya naman. We are so many in the house at hindi lang naman ako ang may achievement, di ba? But my Mom ba naman, she put the trophy area in her lanai – all my trophies. When I saw them, I told her, ‘Mommy, utang na loob!’ But she’s really proud of me, like my Dad always was."

12. You got some flak when you won your first acting trophies, Dapat Ka
Bang Mahalin (directed by Maning Borlaza, FAMAS) and Sa Hirap at Ginhawa (by Eddie Garcia, FAP Awards). How did you react at that time?

"I was 19 then and I won those two awards in the same year. They were saying, ‘Magaling si Sharon; she should win!’ When I won, hayun, I got all the flak. Remember that gulo? That’s why my grand slam award for Madrasta was an absolute vindication for me. O, di ba tumahimik ’yung mga detractors ko?"

13. What do you consider your five most memorable performances?


"1. Madrasta, 2. Dapat Ka Bang Mahalin, 3. Magkapatid
(for which she won the Best Actress plum at last June’s Manila Film Festival), 4. Bituing Walang Ningning and 5. Dear Heart."

14. Yaya Luring has been like a second mother to you, even starring in a commercial (for Fuji), with you. How long have you been together?


"More than 13 years na! I guess we are basically good people because our employes stay long with us; we treat them like members of the family. Even our driver has been with my Mom since my kindergarten days. You have to like the people who live in your house because these are the people you and your family will be seeing every day. Yaya Luring is my yaya, KC has her own and so does Frankie. Kami ni Yaya Luring, kami ang laging magkaaway pero kami ang tunay na nagmamahalan. At may career na siya! I’m afraid that once she finds a boyfriend, she might leave me."

15. You lived alone (meaning away from her parents) after you broke up with Gabby. What did you learn from that experience?


"For five years. I had the option to go back to my parents who were expecting me to do so, but I didn’t. I was 21 and I felt that if I didn’t do it – live independently – I would never learn. So I rented a condo and for the first eight months I couldn’t even buy my own furniture. Since I got married, I never asked for money from my parents. I had no money when Gabby and I separated. When things got better, I was able to save. Next door, they were building the Pacific Plaza and I got a unit there. When I bought my own condo after saving up for three years, I decided to move back to Dasma with my parents because I felt na mayroon na akong mukhang ihaharap sa kanila. When I started earning, ako naman ang nagbibigay sa kanila."

16. What was the best gift that you gave your dad?


"Hindi
material. I remember I wrote my Dad a letter. I told him, ‘I want to be a millionaire by the time I’m 18.’ I was 14 or 15 then. My Dad showed the letter to everybody. I made my first million when I was 16. Nag-start na ako noon sa movies. Pero talo ako ng mga anak ko. Frankie has just made her first million – at one-year old! (From Frankie’s Hi-Nulac TV commercial. – RFL) KC naman made hers at 16 (Also through commercials, one of them for Bench’s Human brand. – RFL)."

17. I know you’ve been helping a lot of people (one of them Mar d’ Guzman Cruz’s daughter Love who’s sick of leukemia. – RFL), sans publicity. Does generosity really run in the Cuneta family?


" When people say I’m generous, they don’t know my parents. My parents are 10 times more generous."

18. And what was the best gift that you’ve given your mom?


"It’s a lifelong gift – my devotion to her as a daughter. Hanggang kamatayan, aalagaan ko siya, like what I did with my Dad. I don’t want my Mom to worry."

19. What do you consider the song of your life?


"Sana’y Wala Nang Wakas
which is the national anthem of Sharonians. And also, Bituing Walang Ningning because gusto kong magningning in other fields, not only in showbiz."

20. Once and for all, tell the world. Are you running (for Mayor of Pasay City?) in 2004?


"Maybe masyado akong straight pero ayoko talagang pumasok sa politics. I leave it to Kiko. Every year, everybody says that I’m running for this and that, it has become monotonous already. I can help people naman without going into politics, di ba? Believe me, if I could be a mayor like Ate Vi (of Lipa City), I would run. You know, I don’t need power coming from politics. I feel that I have more than enough as it is."

21. Are you flattered being called a Commercial Queen? (She’s an endorser for McDonald’s, Alaska Milk, Winner Corned Beef, Super Ferry, etc.)


"CQ? You know, when I endorse a product, I have to believe in it. I did the McDo (chicken) commercial in two days, which means that I had to eat McDo chicken over and over again. The next day, during a break in a rehearsal for my concert, my manager (Sandra Chavez) asked me, ‘Sharon, what do you want for dinner?’ I said, ‘McDo chicken.’ Because I really like it. I cannot endorse a product that I don’t use or like. You’ll never catch me using any brand other than those I’m endorsing."

22. What’s the best decision that you’ve ever made?


"Marrying Kiko. That’s one of my best decisions ever. In Kiko, I see most of the qualities of my Dad, maybe that’s why I married him. Parehong simple, parehong hindi maarte. I guess the only difference is that my Dad was babaero and Kiko is not. If I have a son someday, I want him to grow up like Kiko."

23. What things do you and Kiko have in common?


"We both like to read, we both like to laugh, we are both corny. Kiko and I are alike in many ways. Kiko is not only a good husband to me, he’s also my best friend. When I need moral support, Kiko is the first person who gives it to me."

24. The birth of Frankie (Dec. 16, 2000). How did it impact your life?


"I had two miscarriages before I had Frankie, four years after Kiko and I got married.Until she came out, hindi ako makahinga. When finally she came out, I kept asking, ‘Is she okay? Is she okay?’ Buo ba siya? Kumpleto ba siya?’ Sila ni KC ang happiness sa buhay namin ni Kiko."

25. If you were to write the ending of your life story, how would it be?


"You know, 10 or 20 years from now, my kids shall have moved out of our home and have their own families. I picture Kiko and I together in a little farm, with just a few chickens and a veggie garden. A very simple life, with the kids and their children, our grandchildren, coming to visit us every so often. I shall have finally all the time to read all my books and watch all my videos, away from the city and amidst fresh air. I’m basically a stay-home person. I love to stay home when I’m not working. And finally, Kiko and I shall have time to travel and travel."

DAD DEAR HEART FIRST KIKO KNOW LIFE MOM NEVER ONE WHEN I
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