Cherie Gil: 43 and loving it
SHOPSIFTED - Ana G. Kalaw () - October 11, 2006 - 12:00am
There is something about Cherie Gil that makes you pause, take a second glance and, with a small twinge of regret, reassess yourself. It’s not because she is tanned, beautiful, and has a figure even a 25-year-old would covet; nor does it have anything to do with her being a successful actress with a reputation for impeccable style. It has something to do with the aura that surrounds her – serene and confident, a stark contrast from the bemusement and craving you usually sense in those from the TV and film industry. Cherie Gil makes you pause and take a second glance because she epitomizes the woman we all – whether we admit it or not – want to be: one who looks as if she isn’t wanting for anything in life.

Cherie reckons it has something to do with her age. "When you’re young, a lot of things just come attached to the words ‘confused,’ and ‘in search of.’ But a lot of things have quieted down now."

In an industry where shaving years off your age is as quick and easy as a costume change, Cherie Gil is not reluctant about admitting that she is 43. She doesn’t have to. Being content and settled at 43 has been working in her favor. She has been dividing her acting between TV and the stage (she is now starring in Dangal, one of the features in GMA’s Now and Forever series, and has just capped off a thespian run as Sister Aloysius in John Patrick Shanley’s Pulitzer-winning play Doubt). Cherie is even earning billboard posterity as an endorser for several brands, the most recent for institutional beauty hub Facial Care Centre.

As Facial Care Centre’s newest advocate, the TV and film icon is privy to its luxurious pro-beauty services, the newest being the Fraxel Laser Treatment, a new quick-fix procedure that does to your face what Photoshop can do to a photograph. A laser treatment that intensively works on a very small fraction of skin at a time, Fraxel erases lines and wrinkles, reduces pores, lightens skin discoloration, rejuvenates the skin, and even lightens scars. And to up the ante, the effects of one session of Fraxel are equal to four or five sessions of other treatments. In the weeks succeeding a Fraxel treatment, the body repairs the dermal tissue affected, producing longer beneficial changes associated with a youthful appearance.

"I saw a remarkable effect after only the first treatment. I felt my skin and said to myself, ‘Boy, it’s as smooth as a baby’s butt,’" raves Cherie of her first encounter with Fraxel.

In a recent interview, she also raves about the roles she’s played, new creative outlets, and being fabulous at 43.

How does it feel to be chosen as the new endorser of Facial Care Centre?


Nakakataba ng puso
that I can be the personality to endorse something as important as Facial Care – it’s been there for so long. In fact, after the pictorial and the press releases, I just told myself, "Now I’m pressured. Now I have to come out looking just how I look in the pictures." But I think I’m in good hands. Since then, they’ve been taking care of how I should really look, and it just came at the right time. I’m 43, and at a certain point in life, one really needs that kind of maintenance and they’ve been behind me all this time. So it’s a blessing.

Prior to Facial Care, what was your beauty regimen like?


I’ve never really been meticulous about taking care of myself. In fact, I was quite negligent. But now I’m more diligent. I put on sunblock every day – I love the sun and I’m always at the beach. I never really put that much work into my face. My mom would always tell me, "The only thing you can do for your skin is to never sleep with makeup on." I would just follow that regimen: after work I would clean my face. I didn’t expect that there would be more to it than just cleaning your face.

And now?


I always go to Facial Care. It’s like my second home. After I got my first treatment, it was like I couldn’t get enough of it. There sure is a big difference now. I’ve realized that you have to listen to pros sometimes. After a week of facial treatment, I noticed a change. I’ve done Fraxel and I’ve done maintenance work such as STR, which is a non-surgical face lift – I like the term "non-surgical." I also do Lasertone and the Collagen Mask, another favorite because I’m prone to drying.

And do you go out under the sun less now? Or maybe go to the beach less?


No, the beach does something more for me than just getting a good tan. I’m really an ocean person. I need it for my own spirituality. I’ll be more careful now, maybe wear a hat. I’ve come to embrace the fact that, as you get older, the body does slow down in its own process of regeneration. Knowing that, I am more careful. Given my profession, where I do have to look good all the time, it’s a small price to pay. A little sunblock can go a long way.

You’re now working on this show called Dangal, where your co-actors are all industry neophytes. Does working with all these young people make you feel young?


Yeah. Now we can speak the same language and they keep me up to date with their music and their jargon. Though they call me "Tita" or "Mommy," I appreciate them because we can laugh together. On one hand, I can be hip. On the other hand, they look to me for advice. I feel I’m in a place right now where I can contribute more. As they say, "40 is the new 30."

Exactly! What do you think about that?


I think it’s great. I think it also has something to do with how society has become more open about women my age. It’s also copied from the liberated women who have fought for women’s rights since the ’60s, and, thanks to that, we’ve been given this new kind of empowerment. You also have this new genre in television shows such as Desperate Housewives. It’s great. When you reach 40, you somehow know what you want in life and things sort of settle down.

How did you approach your 40s?


Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah… well, I was 38 and I was hearing so much about women turning 40 and being insecure about that number. I began to worry about how I’d feel, but I just told myself that I’d let it happen. I was pretty much content with my personal life: I had a good husband and wonderful children. I had a career going. And then, when I got to 40, I didn’t feel any different. In fact, it was more of a resolution that worked positively for me. When you’re 40, you tend to understand that, maybe, the years forward will be shorter than how they were in your 20s, so you kind of hasten to do all the things you’ve always wanted to do – it’s a very positive tool to get things done. When I turned 40, something just settled.

And you seem to be going into your mid-40s with a bang. You have your shows, a couple of big endorsements, you’re fit and you’re glowing. Was this some thing you consciously strove to achieve?


No. I think it’s something in your thought process that does that for you. I believe in that law of nature that you send off an energy and things just come to you. I’ve probably consoled myself with a lot of things in my past. I’ve set my priorities straight now, and I am still coming into my mid-40s – you said so yourself – with a bang, so there must be something good about being this age.

You’ve always been pegged as one of the most stylish women in the country. And you’ve taken this a step further by enrolling in fashion design classes…


Yes, that’s another thing. You tend to take more risks and venture into things you never thought you’d ever tap or have the courage to do. It just fell into my lap. Much as I want to finish my courses as fast as possible, I can’t because of my work schedule. But the school, La Salle School of Fashion, has been very supportive and they’ve been backing me up. I go to private classes when I miss out.

How does it feel to be the creator instead of the model?


It’s also another pressure to outdo all the fashion designers who helped me become that fashion icon they pegged me to be. I didn’t do that all by myself. I should give credit to the fashion designers. They, in fact, are my mentors. Fanny Serrano, who has collaborated with me on some of the outfits I’ve worn in the past, has been teaching me about textiles and other stuff. It’s great. In fact, I want to tap some more into that industry and give it more exposure. I’m thinking of coming up with a television show, something the likes of Project Runway. We have a lot of young talent, especially from that school, and most of the graduates this year are women. They’re very talented and I want this talent and their creations to be discovered.

How does it feel to return to the stage after a 20-year hiatus?


It was quite nerve-wracking. I just did Doubt. It’s funny. In the film or TV industry, when you talk about age, you get to play roles limited to "mother of" and you start to think, "Pag 40 ka na, wala nang masyadong roles," especially in the formulas of our soap genre. And here comes the play that demands of me to play the role of a 56-year-old nun. It’s the first time I had to say, "I’m too young!" But it’s great. It never ends: whatever the age, there will always be roles for us women out there. So anyway, when I played this nun, I at least had a glimpse of how I’d look at 56, although she was too stoic and too rigid, and I hope I don’t age like that. I’m doing another play. I’ll be doing Sound of Music. And guess who I’ll be playing? Definitely not Maria, she’s too nice. I’ll be playing the Baroness. It’s another challenge even if it’s just a small role. I get to sing.

People must always come up to you and say how they remember you for your role (and line) as Lavinia in Bituing Walang Ningning. Does it ever get tiring?


Pretty much. I think we have to pave the way for the other things I’ve done and they’re locked into this movie I did 20 years ago. On one hand, it makes you feel, "Oh, they remember it as if it were yesterday" so it doesn’t make it too old. What amazes me is children who weren’t even born then who can even say my line ("You’re nothing but a second-rate…"). It kind of leaves a legacy for me without my doing much about it.

Have you encountered fans who can’t separate the actress from the characters they play on film or TV?


Luckily, no. Some of my colleagues have told of how fans have attacked them with umbrellas or shouted at them. I’ve had one lady come to me for Gulong ng Palad and said, "Tantanan mo na si…" what’s her name, the character played by Kristine Hermosa? I was, like, scared, but I just said, "Oho, pero direktor kasi ho nagsabi sa akin na gawin yon." She was a lola. Inaakay pa siya ng asawa niya and I thought it was such a nice picture because they seemed to be in their 70s. So they exit. Two seconds later, enter frame, she comes back and says, "Pero, ang galing-galing mo umarte." I guess they get caught up in your character, but at the same time they understand it’s work.

But nobody has attempted to throw water in your face?


They don’t dare.

What’s your dream role?


The one role that’s really close to my heart is the role of Norma in Sunset Boulevard. It’s about this actress who’s faded away in the eyes of the public and she wants to make a comeback. She’s been misunderstood but she’s given another chance. She’s dedicated to that because she wants to say, "This is my life. It isn’t to again become famous or for money but it’s because this is everything I am." Eventually, at the end of my, uh, term in the industry, that would be a nice way to retire. I would dedicate Sunset Boulevard to the audience.

Do you think about turning 50?


That, I think, is more scary. Hopefully, by the time I reach 50, society will have reinvented 50. But look at Tessie Tomas, she’s past 50 (she doesn’t hide the fact) and I guess humor has helped her through. And we’re friends so it can rub off on me. If I carry on with the same thinking and the same state of mind, and if I carry on being with Facial Care Centre, I don’t think I’ll mind being 50.
* * *
To book an appointment at Facial Care Centre, call 892-SKIN (7546). For Pampanga, call 961-3404; for Cebu, call 233-7631. For more information, visit www.facialcarecentre.com.ph.
* * *
E-mail comments to ana_kalaw@pldtdsl.net.

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