Rhea shares her tunay na buhay

24/7 (DAY IN THE LIFE) - Bot Glorioso - The Philippine Star

From a once-a-week bio-docu show, GMA 7’s Tunay Na Buhay, hosted by broadcast journalist Rhea Santos, is now airing weekdays on the 11 a.m. timeslot. That understandably makes her schedule teeming with location tapings for the show. Rhea tapes from Monday to Thursday beginning at 9 a.m., or 45 minutes after her daily hosting/news anchoring duties in Unang Hirit. And so The STAR recently agreed to set the interview right where Rhea was actually taping for the show’s upcoming episode: At the 17th floor of a condo unit in Eastwood.

“So sorry that we have to meet here,” Rhea said after some introductions and requested for a few more minutes to complete her sequence. Hearing her in such an apologetic tone, anyone would probably give in without hesitation. Listening to her talk to her interview subject leads to the discovery that she handles each guest in a manner that’s sincere and honest. Her style of questioning is done in a “natural tone,” which makes her guest more comfortable to tell his story.

“To make them comfortable, I also share a piece of my life before we start and I do tell them that we come clean, walang malisya,” said Rhea regarding her approach, “because Tunay na Buhay is not just about showing the glamour side, it also imparts lessons to televiewers.”

And since the show focuses on celebrities these days, Rhea all the more aims to present to televiewers the other side of being a celebrity. “I specifically enjoy interviewing people. I always tell that this job taught me not to judge people and be kind to them because you do not know what they’re going through. I, too, was guilty of judging people before, but once you are given the chance what Tunay na Buhay has given me — to know them — you will see how beautiful these people are. They have pure hearts and it would really make you understand why people act the way they do, or why they behave in a certain way kasi may pinagdaanan pala sila during childhood.

“Our guests now are celebrities and most of them are misjudged, or we only know what’s being written about them and the glamour side, but when you listen to their stories; what they’re going through in real life grabe na ko kung mag-reklamo pa ko sa buhay ko. So learning from their experiences, we have to be more understanding and kind to others. We do not have the right to judge.”

In her more than two years of doing Tunay na Buhay, Rhea has come to know the difference between the problems of the rich and poor. According to her, problems appear similar but differ in scope. Those who are rich and famous often lack true friends while the less fortunate deal about finances and food.

Rhea has also found her strength through the show. “I have this quality na feeling ko absorbent cotton ako because throughout a conversation with my guests, they will reveal new stories or information. The trust is already there, probably because my guests see me as their friend, and that’s one thing this business also taught me — to be sensitive to my interviewees; not to treat them as just another story that we have to air.”

In fact, to make her interview episode per episode worth watching, Rhea does her own research to know her subject more. She talks to people who are familiar or close to her guest then she reads the information given to her by the show’s research team.

It’s a no-no for Rhea to push her guests to divulge anything against their will. “I always tell them that it’s okay not to discuss certain issues if they’re not comfortable to do so. But what’s nice is that none so far felt uncomfortable in the show because I try to balance din naman.”

Asked about her dream interview, Rhea looks forward to sitting with Sharon Cuneta and Gov. Vilma Santos on the show.

Rhea is grateful for her kind of work where learning never ceases. Being a broadcast journalist has given her the opportunity to meet all kinds of people. “My childhood dream is to become a beauty queen and my mom also instilled that to me. But along the way, you get to realize what you really want to do in life so nung high school pa college yun na yung crossroads na ano ba talaga ang gusto ko i-pursue, I love watching TV, interviewing and observing people and pansin ko when I was in high school I love watching news so I guess that made me decide to take up Masscom so I can be part of the news industry.”

She remembers interviewing Arnold Clavio about Martial Law for a project in college when she was a freshman. “After the interview, I realized that I really love talking to people and knowing what’s going on around me.”

But did you know that she tried to give up her dream to become a broadcast journalist? Rhea, who graduated magna cum laude at St. Paul College of Quezon City (now called St. Paul University), tried working in an airline company as a flight attendant and in a PR firm.

“It’s because after graduation, they told me that the competition is really tough when I work for a TV network na kesyo di ka makakatulog or mawawala social life mo, na actually nawala talaga, hahahaha.”

But later on, Rhea had a change of heart when after one of the panelists in the airline company advised her to pursue what she really wanted because “they said that I’m overqualified for the position at baka gusto ko lang daw mag-travel.”

It somehow gave her the sign to pursue her passion instead. And now that Rhea has become part of the GMA News and Public Affairs team, she makes sure to do her best no matter what.

The only thing she’s trying to master until now is to keep the balance between work and family. Rhea is wife to businessman Carlo de Guzman and mom to Uno, six years old, and Yuan, two. She, too, has entered into business via Curious Chef Philippines.

“I also bake cupcakes,” shared Rhea who accepts orders from friends. “That’s why I’m still trying to manage my time. As a mom, I’m also the tutor of my son. I always pray to God to give me strength to accomplish everything. Although there’s lots of work to do, still at the end of the day mas nanay at wife ako.”

Below, find out how Rhea goes through her day from the time she wakes up until she hits the sack:

4 a.m. — I wake up then take a bath, brush my teeth and prepare for the show.

4: 30 or 4:40 a.m. — I’m usually at the studio by this time or if I’m late I arrive at 4:50 but that seldom happens because it’s only a seven-minute drive from Ortigas to GMA pag madaling araw.

4:40 a.m. — I start preparing for the show like I do my hair and make-up.

4:58 a.m. — We are all ready to start for Unang Hirit (UH) which airs for three hours.

4:58 to 5:45 a.m. — We start discussions on current events and the hot topic for the day.

6 a.m. — I do the first wave of news in (UH newscast segment) Unang Balita up to 6: 30 a.m.

6:30 a.m. — Medyo relax na by this time and I get to talk to my friends in Unang Hirit. When there’s breaking news syempre you have to be on standby while my co-hosts do their tasks on the show.

8: 15 a.m. — The show ends and that’s the time I usually take my breakfast. I’ll go to a coffee shop, open my laptop and check my e-mails while having coffee. I also answer queries for my business Curious Chef Philippines while waiting for my team to come for our Tunay na Buhay shoot.

9 or 10 a.m. — We pull out for the shoot. I made a request that as much as possible after UH pull out na because I want to do things in the morning kasi pag medyo hapon na at nakita ko na yung mga anak ko ang hirap na bumalik so after UH, diretso na.

5 p.m. or 6 p.m. —  If we shoot for two artists, we finish at 6 but if we only have one, usually we’re done by 12 noon or 1 p.m. then I go straight home and have lunch with my kids. Sometimes, if there’s a break from the set, I fetch my son at La Salle, we go home and then I go back to the shoot. And then after, I go straight home. I’m a homebody; wala na kong ekstrang gagawin like coffee with a friend. My husband, he owns his time so when I go home, he’s there unless he has a meeting. My family is waiting for me during lunch so having lunch and dinner with them is important to me, yun yung mga sacred sa akin.

6:30 p.m. — Dinner with my family.

7 p.m. to 8 p.m. — Me and my husband will have our kwentuhan over tea and cupcakes that I baked. My husband inspired me to bake cupcakes kasi di s’ya mahilig sa sweets but he eats my cupcakes kaya lagi ako nagbe-bake.

8:30 p.m. or 9 p.m. — I put my kids to sleep. Then, I check photos of my business on Instagram.

10 p.m. — I hop on bed and sleep.

(As much as possible, Rhea wants Friday as her free day to attend to other matters and to go out with her family. Saturdays and Sundays are strictly for her family. She considers spending longer time in the bathroom as her “me time.” There are times that going to the parlor is a stressful moment for her because “it took me three or four hours there.”)

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