The return of Antoinette Taus
Cate de Leon (The Philippine Star) - March 1, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Sweetheart, ba’t tahimik ka?” Jenny, Antoinette Taus’ Honey, My Love, So Sweet character asked.

Dingdong Dantes’ Paco replied, “Meron kasi akong gustong sabihin sa’yo, kaso lang di ko ma-express through words… Kaya ito, I’ll say it with flowers na lang.”

“Ang sweet, sweet mo.” At this point, Jenny leaned her ear into the bouquet. “Ang ganda ng sinasabi nila.”

“Hindi nagsisinungaling yan,” Paco deeply remarked — and then proceeded to also listen to what the flowers and the plastic wrap were saying.

Today, Antoinette admits to cringing at her “super OA” love team moments. “It’s just because I’m older, maybe. ‘Cause during that time, that was how kids were when they fell in love. Now, I can’t imagine myself doing that with somebody.”

Antoinette also vividly remembers her matchy-matchy fashion phase. “And when I say matchy-matchy, I mean that if I wore something blue and orange, even my shoes, sunglasses, and my purse had to be blue or orange — top to toe. And I used to love hoops, thanks to Jennifer Lopez and the Latina boom. I was obsessed with JLo. Liz Uy who was just barkada and not even a stylist then would go, “OMG, Toni. Kelan ba matatapos ang hoops na yan? Parang di ko na ma-take ang hoops mo, please!”

“The thing is, I really loved what I was wearing at the time, so I just did it. But now, I guess I finally get what they were saying,” she laughs. Antoinette was also one of those artistas who believed she could do everything herself, from the styling, to her make-up and hair, so it’s safe to say that this was all documented in her myriad of shows, like TGIS

The role that she is most proud of, however, is Karen in the horror classic, Patayin Sa Sindak si Barbara. “I hope I get a project like that here. I’m not excited to get a tweetums role at all!” she laughs. “I would really rather do something that’s more challenging, and that role was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I was 13 and didn’t yet have much experience. I wasn’t even allowed to watch scary movies, but for that I had to watch The Exorcist. I was just proud to have gone through something that I was stressed out about. But I got through it and people gave good feedback. And since I worked really hard on that, it meant so much more.”

LOOKING FORWARD

Today, however, Antoinette doesn’t really revisit her old clips. “One thing I learned in LA was to stop looking back too much. When I first moved, I went through a big break-up. And within six months, my mom also passed away from cancer. She was my everything — my best friend, my life — while he was somebody I’d been with for a very long time and whom I really did love. We thought at the time it would be us. It was very difficult.

“But I learned how to be stronger; not to dwell on the past and just look forward. I feel like that was the time that I really just stopped looking at old photos, old videos, old anything. How are you supposed to heal and move on if you’re always looking at things like that?

“And at the same time, I really feel like everything happened for a reason and according to plan. Both the good and the bad contribute to who you become in the future. I have absolutely no regrets.”

We pressed on anyway and asked what she could possibly be missing the most about the first part of her life here. “Honestly, it’s really more of the family life. Even showbiz-wise, our family was heavily involved. Our dad gave up everything to be our manager every single day. Our mom was running our restaurant in Pampanga, but somehow she was still heavily involved. Even on the set it was all about being with family.

“Now, a lot of people like to have their own place. In LA, we had our own place. And we were just like man, I would give anything to be able to live at home, wake up in the morning and be like, ‘Hey, Mommy! Hey, Daddy! Let’s have breakfast together.’ It’s really the main thing that I miss.”

ON PROGRESS AND REINVENTIONS

Three weeks into Antoinette’s  supposed extended holiday in the Philippines and she’s already caused a buzz, both from people in the industry and her fans. “I got asked to do a homecoming feature for TV5 International. It’s like a two-part episode reality show where they made us surprise our family and did a feature on our hometown, Angeles. It’s a strange thing, how much Pampanga has changed. A lot of the things we did, like wakeboarding, we didn’t even know they had. I’m also super proud of how everything has progressed in this country. Manila is like LA already. Even just restaurant-wise there are so many more places to choose from here that I’m starting to worry about gaining weight, because I want to try everything.”

While abroad, Antoinette did a lot of growing herself. For starters, she learned to work that much harder for the singing career she wanted. She admits that back here she is blessed to have things come easily. She just shows up and her plate automatically gets filled. “In LA, it takes 10 years to put you at the doorway to fame. I mean yeah, it’s about talent. But people in the States really fight for equality. They really want you to gain experience, build contacts and develop close relationships with people. You really see how hard everybody works for everything there, and they value their craft so much — so much more than people do here, I feel. It’s easy to take things for granted here in the Philippines. Life is just happier, easier, free flowing. And I mean that for everything, not just showbiz.”

We ask Antoinette if it’s hard to reinvent herself when a whole generation grew up with a certain image of her. “Honestly, I think as long as you’re going in a positive direction, even if it’s different from what they’re used to, the fans will gladly get behind you. We shouldn’t underestimate them. They’re very involved, very brilliant, and have a lot of love for the people they support. I mean, I think they get that it would be ridiculous for me to be tweetums forever. They themselves might be like, ‘Tumatanda ka na!’ I’ve been in this industry for about 20 years now, and you really have to mature and not be afraid of reinventing yourself.”

SINGING CAREER

Being back, she’s now mainly excited to push her singing — to come out with an album and a sound that she’d be proud of, working with producers she’s met in the US. “Even in LA, I was really surprised. I thought I was known for being a singer since I did sing a lot and even had my own portion in SOP, Teen Time. But in LA, everybody was like, ‘I didn’t know you sang!’ One thing I learned there is that singing is my first love. I didn’t realize that here because here, you have to do a little bit of everything.”

Antoinette has many other projects in the works, most of which she can’t talk about at the moment, but one of them is an indie film for an international market. “I’m really looking forward to that. Both the script and the role are not what I usually do.”

In terms of discernment, she has also evolved. “I was very naïve then. My friends were teasing me just last week about how I always made wide-eyed excuses for the worst people and gave them the benefit of the doubt. Now, I’m more realistic and careful. I’m a little bit better at deciphering who’s real and who’s not; that just because someone’s nice to you, it doesn’t mean they like you for the right reasons. I accept that the world is a beautiful place, but not a hundred percent. And while before I would just love everybody, now I love most of the people that I encounter — but I’ve also learned to understand why some people are the way they are.

As for how long she plans to stay, Antoinette honestly has no idea. “At this point, I’m just gonna go with the flow. Anyway, it’s easy to go back and forth nowadays. But for now, I just might actually call the Philippines my home.”

* * *

Tweet the author @catedeleon.

ANTOINETTE ANTOINETTE TAUS BUT I EVEN EVERYTHING LOVE NOW PEOPLE REALLY
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