Mariel Rodriguez: Kikay girl!

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Late last year, Mariel'sliving room also received a makeover, courtesy of ABS-CBN's At Home Ka Dito. "Binago ng At Home 'yongposition ng furniture. Nag-iba talaga because of thecurtains and the color of the wall. 'Yon'yong time nagustong-gusto ko bright and colorful." Stylist: Tatin YoungMake-up: AJ Baguio


What you see on television is what theeffervescent Mariel Rodriguez is in real life.

The bubbly youngtalent chatted her way through hosting stints in the three Pinoy Big Brother (PBB) editions: PBBI, PBB Celebrity Edition,and PBB Teen Edition. As a result, she's now one of the most in-demand talentsof Boy Abunda's Backroom Inc. Now she's also co-hosting ABS-CBN's noontime showWowowee.

Not that she's complaining.

"No'ngfirst season ng PBB,three hours lang 'yong tulog ko everyday," Mariel tells YES! "Pero okey lang.Kasi, when you're enjoying, hindimo siya mararamdaman. Nakaka-gimmick pa nga ako, e."

Although she's a natural when it comes tomaking people laugh, Mariel feels that she'll be more at home in drama. "Ireally want to be an actress," she says in earnest.

With the conclusion of this year's PBBshows, the 23-year-old has suddenly found herself at home more often, withnothing much to do.

"Hindi pa rin ako sanay. Eightp.m., nandito na ako sa bahay. Oh,my God! Ano'ng gagawin ko ngayon? Nag-text nga akosa mga PBB people, nasesentiako."

The pictorial is in BF Homes, ParaƱaque, inthe family home of Mariel's maternal grandparents, Rafael and May Sazon, withwhom she's living. Her parents separated when she was still young, and Marielgrew up under her grandparents' supervision. Loloand lolahave now turned over the main house to their granddaughter and are staying inadjacent quarters. But they're all still living under one roof.

"One roof, one everything, one Meralcobill! Hahaha!" Mariel quips.

Mariel's initiationinto showbiz came with her first commercial for Clean & Clear's face powder. Given her pretty face and friendly demeanor, other projects soonfollowed, not only on television but also in print ads.

It's hard to believe that, as a young girl,Mariel had a different personality altogether.

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"As a kid, I wasreally shy," she relates. "Peroafter a while, nagkaro'n na ako ng sungay! Then, when I made friends, 'yon na. Naging madaldal na ako!"

The chatterbox got her first acting gig inMTV Asia's Rouge,a short-lived television series that had four young Asian women battling crimeswhile alternating as band members in Singapore. Mariel played Pam, the mastersleuth of the group.

That was where it allstarted. After Rouge, Mariel received an offer to become an MTV veejay. Afterher stint as veejay, Mariel went on to co-host Extra Challengewith Paolo Bediones. Other offers soon came around.

In between her PBBstints, she was awarded the plum role of Aga Muhlach's wife in ABS-CBN'snow-defunct comedy series, OkFine, Oh Yes! Mariel considers this one of the highlights of her still-shortcareer.

"'Yong Ok Fine, walanaman sa plano. Kasi, alam ko,a lot of girls auditioned for that. 'Tapos,to be paired with Aga.Hello?! That's why I'm grateful to him. Lagiako nagti-thank-you."

Mariel's enthusiasm for her work obviouslystems from her love for showbiz. She still gets starstruck when she meets topcelebrities like Sharon Cuneta and Kris Aquino. "Icouldn't believe it, my God! She knows my name!" was Mariel's reaction afterKris had a short conversation with her at the ABS-CBN compound.

Now, Mariel is recognized not only by othercelebs but by fans as well. Her career is obviously moving along. Where it willlead her, only time will tell. But she's both optimistic and philosophical.

"I'mjust going with the flow," she says, now more thoughtfully.


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