Charice: Yes, I’m gay

Ricky Lo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - “Opo. Tomboy po ako!”

With those four words, Charice put a period to the speculation about her sexual preference that has been swirling around for months now, starting more than a year ago when she started changing her looks from a sweet probinsyana to what some show biz observers described as “a menacing macho.”

It was to host Boy Abunda that Charice opted to make her long-delayed confession, in yesterday’s edition of the ABS-CBN show “The Buzz” in which she appeared with newly cropped hair, colored black in contrast to the various colors she wore when she sat as judge on the ABS-CBN reality-TV talent search The X-Factor. She wore girl’s clothes, not the men’s attire in which she has been seen lately both here and abroad where she was reported to be “holding hands” with another girl while walking on the streets.

“Now I feel free,” Charice said in the vernacular. “I can go out of the house without fear and certain that I’m not stepping on anybody’s toe. Mas maluwag ang pakiramdam ko ngayon.”

She said that in Cabuyao, Laguna, her hometown, she walks around like an ordinary person, watching basketball games together with other residents, and not at all conscious of her being an international celebrity.

“I know that some people called me Moymoy Palaboy daw,” she laughed, “it has become a joke here. But it didn’t affect me,” adding that she’s estranged from her mom Raquel Pempengco, that’s why she’s staying in the house of a family friend. “I left our home because that’s what I had to do for now.”

When Charice celebrated her birthday last month, Raquel was not present, and neither was Charice’s grandmother who helped raise her.

“Now,” she disclosed, “I can enter a house where I can say ‘I’m tired,’ where I can do anything, na puede akong magluka-lukahan na walang manghuhusga,” thanking what she called “my second family” for accepting her. In the next breath, she expressed hope that she and her mom and her grandmother will be able to sort things out and let bygones by bygones.

During the interview, Charice also admitted having been intimate with another girl (or girls) but denying that she had a relationship with a former foreigner lady personal assistant. But she gave only a vague answer to Boy’s question if it’s true that she and an aspiring singer (who competed in The X-Factor) are going steady or getting married, saying only, “Open my heart and you will know.”

She ended the interview in near tears, asking for forgiveness from people who, she said, might not be able to understand or accept her for what she is now, after she has “outed” herself, adding that the change in her looks was not a kind of rebellion but because that’s how she wants herself to be.

“But to those who can accept me, thank you very much,” she said, her voice breaking. “We are all equal, whether you are gay or straight, pare-pareho lang tayo nagtra-trabaho.”

Then, she dedicated two songs to her mom, grandmother, her brother Carl, and to her fans as well, one line of the English song goes, “please understand me,” and, from a Filipino song that she and her mom loved to sing, “ang kailangan mo’y tibay ng loob kung mayroong pagsubok man… ang pangarap mo ay makakamtam basta’t maghintay ka lamang.”

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