She's not a celebrity star. Her job is to write about celebrities. But at the rate things are going, the showbiz writer herself has become the subject of controversies. Suddenly, the public eye is focused on her; tabloid readers, radio listeners and TV viewers wait for what Cristy Fermin has to say.The tri-media showbiz reporter and columnist is currently embroiled in a heated word war with former actress Nadia Montenegro.
Some believe her. Some doubt her credibility. Some empathize with her. Some want her out of the celebrity journalism landscape.
To some stars, she is "nanay." But some may argue and call her "Tirador," given her unabashed way of writing about some of her "anak-anakan" in showbiz. There's one who even went as far as dubbing her "babaeng Shrek."
But let's set aside all the issues she's currently facing and the accusations being hurled her way. Let's talk about her life before she became the Cristy Fermin.
Hers is the classic rags-to-riches story that many—if without bias—would admire. It tells of toughness and beating the odds.
Barrio lass. "Ako'y lumaki sa isang barrio. Sa [Visoria] San Alejandro, Quezon, Nueva Ecija. Ito's isang maliit at payak na barrio na ang bahay ay mabibilang mo dahil sa kaliitan at kauntian ng mga tao na magkakakilala," narrates Cristy, who was born Cristinelli Fermin on June 23, 1956, the youngest of four children.
The Fermins were the usual townfolk who lived very simply, constrained by the barrenness of their surroundings and the economic poverty of their town.
Despite the limited opportunities, "Minulat kami na napakahalaga ng edukasyon. Anak [kasi] ako ng mag-asawang principal at guro sa elementarya. Kaya nga kinailangan kong mag-aral sa isang bayan, sa [malapit na] Sto. Domingo, na apat na kilometro papasok ang aming nilalakad, apat na kilometro pabalik."
Yet the effort to go to school did not bother the young Cristy who described herself as "Madaldal [na] ako nung bata. Mamimisikleta ako sa umaga [pagkatapos] alam na ng nanay ko kung sino'ng namatay, kung sino'ng nagtanan, kung sino'ng magkasintahan, kung sino'ng magkakapit bahay na nagaaway, kinukwento ko. Nagba-bike lang kasi ako sa barrio. Maliit lang kasi baryo namin."
Elementary and high school saw the youngest Fermin shuttling to and fro their barrio. It was only when she reached college that she felt it was time to try Manila. "Wala naman kasing journalism sa bayan namin, e, gusto ko talaga maging manunulat. Talagang gusto kong magsulat."
Her influence, according to her, may have come from her parents' passed-on love for books and reading. "Marahil, e, dahil ang parehong magulang ko ay guro. Mga bata pa lang kami e nagbabasa na kami ng libro. Robinson Crusoe, grade 3 palang ako nabasa ko na. Tapos, ‘yung Count of Monte Cristo, grade 5. [Pati libro nila] Agatha Cristie, Barbara Cartland, James Mischener, James Clavell, [pati ni] Danielle Steele, 'tapos nakikibasa ako sa nanay ko ng Harold Robbins. [Mga librong] Mills & Boon, 79 Park Avenue, Never Love a Stranger, Noble House, Taipan, Hawaii, Shogun [etc].
"Makikita mo kung ganun ang magulang, ganun din ang gagawin ng anak, di ba?" she noted.
As proof that the Fermins were very focused on the academics, the first-born graduated with two degrees, in Education and Maritime and ended up as Seaman, the second became a bank manager, and the third one became an elementary teacher just like their parents.
"Nung college na ko. Nag-aral ako ng journalism sa Lyceum of the Philippines," Cristy informed, only adding that she was far from being the studious type. "Hindi gaano... dahil player ako eh. Athlete ako."
Naming basketball, volleyball, softball and track and field as her sports, she surprised when she noted that track star Lydia de Vega was one of her contemporaries and that she even had a chance to compete against the bemedalled athlete. "Kasi nagkalaban kami sa 100-meter high hurdles, 100-meter dash at 200-meter dash. Bulacan [representative] siya, Nueva Ecija ako. [Pero] kulelat ako. Si Lydia andun na yata sa finish line, nagsisimula pa lang ata ako."