Melai finds motherhood rewarding
DIRECT LINE - Boy Abunda (The Philippine Star) - October 7, 2015 - 10:00am

It seems like only yesterday when Melai Cantiveros emerged Big Winner of Pinoy Big Brother (PBB) Double Up. Since then, she has proven her drawing power several times, the latest being when she triumphed over the other celebrity performers in the premiere season of Your Face Sounds Familiar. Melai trumped the other top finishers — including singer and theater actor Nyoy Volante (who many thought would be the one to make it) with her impersonation of Miley Cyrus and show-stopping performance of Miley’s hit song Wrecking Ball.

“Na-enjoy ko talaga ang pagka-panalo ko, at nabago ang aking financial, ang lahat, although tama lang naman,” says Melai, now wife to fellow PBB housemate Jason Francisco and mother of baby Amelia Lucille, nicknamed Mela, now one year and five months old.

Melai won P2M, but half of the prize money was donated to charity. Her chosen charity was a church-based program in Marbel, South Cotabato. The money will be used for the diocese’s Alay Kapwa programs on emergency response, sustainable agriculture, livelihood and food security and advocacy programs such as support to farmers, environment protection and other campaigns. 

To say that Melai’s life has been totally changed by showbiz is an understatement. Now almost everyone knows her name and her face — we joke that it now really is more familiar to more people — and she is finding herself deluged with offers for work. She also keeps moving forward in her career and finding new things to do and new ground to break. Last Sept. 18, she had her first solo concert, Melai Mo Mag-concert at the Teatrino in Greenhills with her special guests Alora Sasam and Nyoy Volante, her runner-up on Your Face Sounds Familiar

Although not really a singer, Melai proved that she could keep a crowd entertained with her music and comedy routines. “Grabe talaga ang My Face, dahil du’n ang daming nangyari. Gaya nito, di ko talaga inexpect na magkaka-concert ako,” she says. “Siyempre, hindi naman ako singer, pero eto, nagkaroon ako ng concert. Natakot nga ako noong una, sinasabi ko baka magalit sa akin ang mga singer talaga, o baka i-bash ako, pero okey lang.”

The concert was a big success. These days, Melai is grateful not just for the success of the concert, but for a lot of things. For one, she is grateful that she continues to get numerous offers. The victory on Your Face Sounds Familiar helped. Now, for the second season, she is one of the segment hosts — a “Ka-tro-familiar,” as they call it.

And every day brings a new surprise for Melai. In November, she is embarking on a tour of Canada for more shows. Offers continue to pour in for shows elsewhere in the Philippines and abroad, although Melai confesses that in many of them, it’s not really Melai they want to see but Miley Cyrus and the other characters she’s played or impersonated. But Melai doesn’t mind. To her, work is work. In Tagalog, “ang raket ay raket,” adding jokingly, “Grabe talaga ang pagka-bongga ng raket!” she laughs. “Sa isang buwan, buhay na buhay!”

These days, aside from her co-hosting job on Your Face Sounds Familiar, and the shows she does in and out of the country, Melai finds big rewards in being a wife and mother. Asked whether she would allow her daughter to follow in her footsteps, Melai says she doesn’t see why not. “Oo naman. Kung gusto niya,” she says. “Kumakanta at sumasayaw siya, at yung pagka-galawgaw ko, nakuha niya, times 10 pa, to the highest level!”

 But it will be a while before Baby Mela is ready to take over her mom’s job. Melai too, is enjoying show business too much to give it up or to even consider the idea of retiring. “Showbiz is my life,” she says. It’s the life she dreamed of, and she’s living her dream. Things can’t get any more perfect than that.

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