The unstoppable Giselle Sanchez

Dot Ramos Balasbas-Gancayco (The Philippine Star) - November 24, 2008 - 12:00am

I have never seen a host/standup comedian who prepares as diligently as Giselle Sanchez. Signed up by UP Law Class ‘83 (with class member Rep. Imee Marcos) for this year’s UP Law Alumni Homecoming to be held on Nov. 29 at the Quezon Hall Amphitheater, UP Diliman (with multi-awarded guest performers UP Concert Chorus, The Akafellas, the UP Pep Squad and the Silk Band), she not only attended the production meeting set by event director par excellence Floy Quintos, but, going the proverbial extra mile, even sought a bonding-cum-getting-to-know-you rehearsal with her co-host (my husband Paul, also of UP Law Class ’83) because she wanted to know more about the members of the celebrating class and the other UP Law luminaries, and get well-versed with the history of the UP College of Law to spice up her material, which most of the time she herself writes.

I was not at all surprised by such conscientiousness. I knew Giselle as a hard worker who puts her heart and soul into everything she does. An honor student in Poveda, where she was made a scholar by the school because of her excellent academic standing when the family’s finances suddenly went south, she tutored other kids to have some little income. Giselle went on to take up Mass Communications at the UP Diliman, graduating magna cum laude with a GWA of 1.26, or just .01 shy of becoming a summa cum laude (wow!) She is known as someone who would study from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. to perfect an exam. She is well-disciplined and faces all tests and battles prepared to the hilt. When she accepts a challenge, she means business.

When she is assigned a task, her commitment is to do it effectively and efficiently without any hitches.

Yet, in spite of all the rigorous training, hard work and character building earlier on in life, nothing prepared her for the onslaught of the people who tried to put her down, especially when she was still starting in showbiz. In just her second year, she was banned (yes, banned!) by a giant beverage company and its retained powerhouse advertising agency for making a very naughty joke during a national sales convention. “That was the lowest point in my career,” Giselle poignantly recalls. “It was just my second year as a performer and there I was getting banned by two of the biggest companies in the country. I really thought it was the end of my being a comedienne.”

There were also those unpleasant experiences in corporate shows, of which Giselle is now a staple artist. Although she made a lot of people laugh, she also got negative feedback from the extremely conservative. There was a time when, after such a great performance for a corporate event, everybody in the audience gave her a standing ovation, except for one lady, the chief finance officer of the company. When Giselle approached her, she was aghast when the lady told her, “I will pray for your soul.”

Worse, an elder in a religious group criticized her being in the discipleship ministry. This woman said that Giselle had no right to be doing evangelization work as she performs in places of the devil (read: bars) and even entices people to commit sin (because of her low necklines).

Then there were those from showbiz itself who did things to make life difficult for Giselle for varied reasons, including maybe the fact that she was perceived as a threat to them. She remembers with a smile that a well-established comedienne mocked her for her baduy outfits.

“I was just starting out then and didn’t have much money to spend on clothes and so my attire was not well-coordinated,” Giselle explains.

“But what was disturbing was that she was telling people that I had no talent.”

Another demeaning experience was with a former schoolmate from Poveda who raised her eyebrow when Giselle appeared as an extra on that schoolmate’s own TV show, greeting her sarcastically with “What are you doing here?” Then, there was that horrific time when a member of the entertainment press published mean write-ups about her. It became so bad Giselle contemplated on filing a libel suit against the writer.

Now on her 16th year in showbiz, Giselle is made of firmer stuff. The beverage company started retaining her services again as the big bosses who banned her are now gone and the junior officers realized they missed her. Giselle’s schoolmate is now very proud of her. The mean press personality who was mean became a co-host in a show (thank God she desisted from filing that libel suit) And she still continues serving God and spreading His Word through the Catholic charismatic group, Oasis of Love.

Giselle attributes her success to the people who support her. “I am so lucky I have a husband and parents-in-law who are very supportive of me and who love my work. They understand that when I do my act, I am not Giselle but am merely acting. My husband is probably the most secure person in the world,” Giselle beams. Incidentally, Giselle, who is as sexy as ever, is five weeks pregnant with their second child.

As for the very conservative among the audience, “I now listen to warnings and suggestions. I study my audience very well and am more careful about upsetting other people’s sensibilities. I do tone down my mischievous jokes when I feel I have to.” Besides, Giselle discovered that she can be totally lost in all her naughtiness in her shows abroad where the audience is usually more open. Just this year alone, she has had performances in Dublin, Ireland; Rome, Italy; Barcelona, Spain; Beijing, China; and Dubai, UAE.

In her 16 years in show business where she learned her lessons the hard way, Giselle shares some tips on her staying power. “Prepare. Study your audience. Do not burn bridges. Be friends with everyone. Respect your seniors, including those who (wrongly) feel threatened by you. Most importantly, learn to forgive.” Her many years as a much sought-after host and comedienne prove to one and all that one cannot put a good talent down. Certainly, no one can put Giselle Sanchez down.

(Email me at celebrationsdot@yahoo.com or text 09275000833)

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