Angelika's life is almost like a telenovela, but without the
villains. Her father, Ernesto dela Cruz, used to be a member of the Bayanihan
Dance Group. On one of the troupe's many travels abroad, he met Angelika Egger
of Austria. He brought her to the Philippines, they got married, and they had
two children, Maria Lourdes and Edward.
Maria Lourdes, known as Sunshine at
home, is now Angelika dela Cruz, having borrowed her mother's first name to use
as her screen name.
Mr. dela Cruz eventually dropped out of the dancing
profession and shifted to the business of talent promotions, which allowed him
frequent visits to Japan. He often took his wife with him.
Mrs. dela Cruz soon
found a lucrative job as a German-language teacher in Japan, and she ended up
staying there for 13 years. During that period, the marriage fell apart. The
formal separation came in 1992, when Sunshine was 11 and Edward was 9. It was,
however, a very friendly break-up. The kids were left in their father's care, while
their mother kept them posted from abroad.
When Sunshine turned 14, her own life took a different spin.
She auditioned to sing the theme of the canned cartoon series "Sailor Moon."
Backed by her father who had a knack for performing, she made it. That became
her ticket to mainstream show business.
"My first movie was Night of Serafina," recalls Angelika.
"Magfi-fifteen pa lang ako noon, pero akala ng mga tao, magbo-bold ako.
Kapa-kapatid lang naman ang role ko. Bale doon naman ako nakita ng ABS-CBN."
At ABS-CBN, she became part of two soap-opera hits, "Mara
Clara Book 2" (1996) and "Esperanza" (1997), plus the defunct teen hip horror show "Okatokat." Along
the way, Angelika, whose real intention was to become a singer, also landed
recording deals, one with BMG Pilipinas and one with Imperial Records, which
succeeded in selling her album in Japan.
"Kasi mukha daw akong animé," she amuses herself. "Malalaki
daw mata ko, parang animé."
As these successes were happening in Angelika's life, her
parents' married life was unraveling. Even before the marriage was finally
annulled ten years ago, Mr. dela Cruz became father to another boy, Erick, now 20, whose mother is Japanese.
The former Mrs. dela Cruz, for her part, became
mother to a girl, Mariko,11, whose father is also Japanese. These relationships
did not lead to second marriages but also ended in separation. Yet in the
course of all these events, the former husband and wife managed to become even
closer as friends.
Daddy Ernie tells this story:
"No'ng magpapagawa na kami ng bahay, sabi ng Mommy niya,
magse-share daw siya, kasi daw gusto na niyang umuwi dito. So, nag-share siya
ng eight million. Siyempre, mas malaki ang share ni Angelika, pero 'wag na
nating sabihin. Ako, nagbigay din, pero ang contribution ko is itong lupa na minana
ko naman sa mga magulang ko."
These days, the former married couple are living under the
same roof, together with their two children and the two other children they
have begotten from other relationships. Happily, the six-bedroom house allows
them to have a room each.
In the beginning,
there was a debate about building the new house in Malabon. Angelika and her
mother, who's now back to being Ms. Angelika Egger, wanted to transfer
location. Her father, feeling very attached to the place, did not. In the end,
he won them over.
But the decision to
stay in Malabon was also prompted by—who would've guessed?—a political career
for Angelika. She has been wooed by contending political
parties to run for councilor. And as early as now, Angelika is seriously
considering going the way of Vilma Santos.