Reflections of a former teen queen
Vanessa Balbuena (The Freeman) - December 23, 2012 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - If you’ve remained a die-hard Bobby-Angelu fan after all these years, chances are, you must have squeezed it into your frantic Christmas season schedule to check out the return of Wacks and Peachy last Sunday afternoon! Yes, the ‘90s tandem is back 13 years after TGIS ended its run, in the same roles that catapulted them to fame and teen fandom history, via GMA7’s newest youth-oriented series Teen Gen which airs every Sunday after Party Pilipinas.

Angelu de Leon’s Peachy is now a widow and cool mom to a nerdy high-schooler, while her TGIS partner Bobby Andrews’ Wacks is separated with one delinquent heartthrob for a son. You read it right, the two sadly did not end up together, but finding themselves unattached at the same time will have the sparks flying once more.

The show’s first episode in fact, gave a taste of their same old chemistry. Wacks just moved in Peachy’s subdivision, right next door conveniently, but both of them are not aware of it yet. When he tosses a cigarette butt into her front yard, she flares up and they exchange unpleasantries, clueless to the fact that behind the high fence is their one great ex. Just cue in strains of Stephen Bishop's It Might Be You (Peachy and Wacks’ theme song, remember?), and it’s the ‘90s all over again!

Teen Gen will have to slowly fill in viewers with what happened to Peachy in between, but in contrast, we are all too familiar with Angelu’s real-life ups and downs. She may have stumbled a few times, but the public appreciates her honesty and embraces her right back. The bedimpled actress has since found bliss and stability with husband Lorenzo “Wowie” Rivera and now has nine-month-old baby boy Rafa for a brother to her two girls Nicole, 14, and Louise, 12.

If her beloved TV persona is still searching for a happy ending, Angelu has found hers, and here the 33-year old shared how she did it.

How is married life?

Masaya! It’s been two years and I never expected it to be this happy. Maybe because I did not expect to ever get married. Iba lang kasi yung expectations ko because of things that happened in the past. I was already happy being alone. Hindi na rin ako umasa na may dadating pa. When I finally got married, it exceeded all my expectations because I was given a partner who loves me and my kids, and loves my job as well. It isn’t often that you find someone supportive in all aspects of your life. He is really God’s gift to me. Maybe because I decided to tread the path of being a good girl, and part of that was living for my family. Everything just fell into place after that. Everything that I prayed for when I was a little girl wanting to have a complete family, he was that. He was the guy for me.

What is your parenting style?

I’m a disciplinarian. Namalo ako once, and that’s because I really meant it. Hindi ako namamalo kapag simpleng bagay lang kasi mahaba ang pasensya ko. So noong napalo ko sila ng isang beses, they knew that I meant it. And it didn’t happen again. I always try to explain why. Hindi ako namamalo just for the sake na madisiplina, pero dahil ayaw kong gawin nila ulit. So it’s more out of love. Hindi mo naman sila gustong paluin, but you want them to learn that there are consequences.

And how is your relationship with their fathers?

We’re civil. No, they don’t see them often but they know they can see them anytime. Yun naman yung rule ko eh, I don’t mind. My daughters are big enough to have their own cellphones, so I told them, if they wanted to communicate with their kids, go ahead, it’s fine with me.

You’re now apparently in a much better place in your life. When and how did things turn around for you?

I really cannot take all the credit. Or any credit, for that matter. My life changed when I began to have a relationship with the Lord. It made me feel that I was worthy to be loved and that I was worthy to love myself. Before, I was too selfish just thinking of myself. That selfishness didn’t lead to love. It was more of, ‘bahala na, bahala na.’ It all ended up in bad decisions. When I met the Lord and really had a relationship with him --- it’s not really changing religions, from a Catholic to a Born Again, but it’s more of having a relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ that made me feel that I was worthy to be loved the way he loves me. And that made the difference. Because now, more than loving yourself, you have respect for yourself. You no longer settle for second best, because someone died for your sins. Iba yung impact knowing that someone up there loves you that much, so in turn, you strive to love yourself.

Who encouraged you to be a Born Again Christian?

It was a long process. He was already calling me for it, but you know, because of being busy, and I still wanted to do it my way and be my own boss. It happened when I was 28 years old. Everything was fine. I had work, I had money, I had my kids and my mom. I had friends. In short, I couldn’t ask for anything more. It’s just that each time I was alone, I felt empty. There was this void that no one could fill, not even my kids. Not even going out at night or drinking yourself to death. You want to be merry and pretend that everything’s alright, but when you’re alone, it’s not. I prayed. Sabi ko, ‘Lord, you can take away my family. You can have my kids, you can take everything I have. I’m just tired of pretending that I’m okay. I’m tired of pretending that I can manage all this stress. I’m tired of pretending that I’m not hurt.’ Eventually, a friend of mine invited me to a Christian church. I said ‘Sige. What do they do there?’ I had lots of questions, like how long is the service? Why do they raise their hands? It was all answered naman. The nice thing about it, when I joined the service, I felt I wasn’t worthy because I was a sinner, yet I was welcome. It’s hard to explain. It was a mix of emotions. You know how little you are in front of Him. Inspite of that, you still feel welcome. In fact, the exact feeling was ‘Welcome home.’ I started reading the Bible, and I started to follow what it said. From then on, let’s just say my standards became higher when it comes to love and self-expectations. I guess with obedience comes more blessings, because I had more work. I felt not just happy, but contented.

What was specifically causing you all that stress and hurt back then?

It’s the world stress. It’s the people’s perspective of me, of how they looked at me differently now kasi nga I had two kids out of wedlock with different fathers. The stares would be there. They would compare me with other women and tell their daughters, ‘Huwag kang maging Angelu de Leon.’ There was that stigma. It was hurtful. Later on, I realized I was focusing on the negative rather than those who loved me. So that ate me up. I became bitter and angry. Rather than facing my problems, I would go out, have fun and drink. I was full of pride, parang ‘I don’t care what they think of me.’

Did you meet your husband in Church?

I brought him to church, actually. We were together when I wasn’t a Christian yet. Then we had a vow of celibacy before getting married, kasi sabi ko, that’s the only thing I can give back to God. I have nothing naman but myself eh, sabi ko sa kanya. I’m making that vow because I want to spare my kids from what happened to me in the past. Sabi ko sa kanya, I can’t explain it to you man to man. Mahirap, so I want you to talk to my pastor. Hindi ko siya pinilit to be a Born Again, he made the decision himself.

You were unquestionably one of the most popular female teen stars during your time. There were perks that came with it, of course, but what was the difficult part?

It was forgetting the reality of life. It can eat you up so much. It was too big a responsibility to handle for someone at that age. Ngayon mas okay na, kasi I remember during our time, we were working 24/7. The pressure was so big that it will eat you alive if you’re not careful and if you don’t have a neutral ground. Although the burden to be a good role model wasn’t as dictated as it is now. Ngayon, sinasabi talaga ito ang gawin mo. I think kami yung medyo mas may trial and error.

Having worked with today’s young crop, how different are they from your generation?

Bukod sa may mga stylists na ngayon, I think they’re more out there. Kasi masyado na silang marami. Kami before, bilang lang. Ngayon, ang bilis mong mapalitan, so they’re more competitive. The playing field is just so big. And the auditions now are seen on television, care of the reality shows. Ang hirap nun! Kumbaga, you haven’t even reached the level of a star, naungkat na lahat sa buhay mo. The pressure is bigger, kasi mas maraming mga matang nakatingin, especially with Twitter and stuff. It’s just so easy to have news spread like wildfire. That’s why I think they’re more cautious and intuned to what’s happening around them.

Have your daughters shown interest in following in your footsteps as an actress?

Sometimes they’ll say it, but sometimes they don’t want to. Sabi ko sa kanila, not unless they really want to, then that’s the time they go for it. If they’re just half-hearted or being pressured because people say ‘Anak ka ni Angelu, dapat mag-artista ka,’--- huwag na lang. I’m planning that this coming summer, I’ll enroll them in workshops and let them see if they really want it. But I’m not forcing them, kasi malay mo, iba naman yung destiny nila.

Do you allow Nicole and Louise to watch your TV shows, especially if you’re the villain?

They watched me in Super Inggo and I was a bad mom there. Ang sabi nila, ‘But that’s not you Mom. That’s not you.’ Sabi ko sa kanila, ‘Well, if you’re bad, I can be that.’

Has your 14-year old seen your TGIS clips?

Hindi pa. I guess now at her age, it would be fun if she watches my show because now she’ll have more reactions on who I was and what I was doing then.

Which TGIS castmates have you remained close to all these years?

Lahat naman kami, pag nagkikita, parang we had our last taping just yesterday. Because when people tell us about TGIS, it feels like they saw it last Saturday. I definitely miss all the kwento. I miss being Peachy. I miss Cookie and being called Pancakes.

‘Happy and content’ as you are, do you have any dreams left?

Well, business-wise, I’m already fulfilled because me and my husband, we have a networking company called Apura Marketing Corporation. I like it because it’s also intuned to people. Maybe, if I still have a dream, it’s just for me and my kids to see the world. That has been my dream since I was young.

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