It took Heart Evangelista almost three years to finally bridge the gap between her and her overprotective father, restaurant magnate Reynaldo Ongpauco. Heart's real name is Love Marie Payawal Ongpauco.
"Matagal ko nang nakukuha 'yong pakiramdam na parang gusto ko nang pumunta kaya lang natatakot ako, buma-backout ako," Heart candidly revealed last night, September 26, at the presscon held by ABS-CBN to officially announce her entry into Pangarap na Bituin, the soap opera which stars her boyfriend Jericho Rosales with Sarah Geronimo, Rica Peralejo, and Maja Salvador.
It wasn't really a lack of real effort on the part of the young actress. But fate wouldn't let her realize that wish during her first attempt.
"Dumating na ko sa point na after church, magbi-birthday siya nun, pumunta ko dun, may dala kong cake, nagkataon na wala pa siya."
Her persistence eventually paid off and her efforts this time wouldn't be denied.
"So 'yon, pumunta ko one time. Kinunstruction 'yong bahay namin tapos sumilip siya. Sabi niya, ‘Hindi ka makakadaan diyan.' So ‘yon, pinatuloy niya ko tapos ‘Kumain ka na ba?'" Heart recalled her recent visit animatedly.
The two then sat down to talk, with Heart's father trying to hide his emotions towards his estranged daughter.
"Tapos umupo kami. ‘Alam mo, Heart, mabuti na ring pumunta ka dito. Kasi ang hirap ng ganito,'" she recalled, mimicking her father's exact tone.
They talked heart-to-heart and a barrier finally broke down.
"Sa tagal ng pag-uusap namin, sobrang pinipigil ko 'yong iyak ko dahil ayokong ipakita sa kanya na umiiyak ako dahil baka I'll end up being the Heart that I was a few years ago na I was so emotional, I was justifying. So I just accepted it.
"Nakatulog ako sa sofa sa sobrang sakit ng dibdib ko. Tapos, pagkagising ko, ‘yon pinakain niya ako tapos andun din ang Mommy ko [Cecilia Ongpauco]. After that, parang walang nangyari. Nanood kami ng Hiram na Mukha."
She admitted that during the time they were not communicating, her father completely stopped monitoring her projects and other activities.
"'Ah, okay naman din pala. Hindi ka naman din pala nawala,'" Heart's dad sighed while watching the drama series on video.
THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM. Heart took advantage of the presscon to dismiss the popular notion that the family feud was caused by her boyfriend, Jericho Rosales.
"First and foremost, when this whole fiasco happened with my family, he wasn't really the reason why. Even before, if you've seen my interviews, I've always complained how I have strict parents. I always complain because I was never allowed to go to the mall without a yaya, I was never allowed to go to the grocery, hindi ako puwedeng basta-basta lang lumabas ng kotse. Ever since, bata pa ako, ganyan na ang daddy ko, bago pa ako mag-artista.
"And it just so happened...no matter who the guy is in Echo's situation, siya ang mapagbibintangan. Every parent will think that way kasi siyempre parang impluwensiya ng ibang tao sa buhay ng anak mo. So no matter who it is, he will be blamed. But he wasn't the reason why."
The initiative to reach out was simply brought by Heart's yearning to let her dad know that she loves him and she's sorry—no more, no less.
So, throughout the visit, Jericho's name was not even mentioned.
"Wala akong minention para din malaman nila na it wasn't about him [Jericho]. So I didn't say anything. So eventually, hinihintay ko na lang na sila ang magtanong kasi darating din naman diyan. Hayaan na lang namin."
ALL'S WELL WITH ECHO. "He's very happy," Heart said when Echo learned about the touching reconciliation.
"Pareho 'yong sinabi namin na we'll wait for the time na parang work on our relationship [Heart and her family] muna. Ayaw daw muna niyang um-enter and ang importante, kaming dalawa kasi susunod naman ang lahat."
Echo opted to retreat in the background and will not meddle while Heart is in the process of catching lost time with her family.
"Pero sabi ni Echo, nag-iisip na rin siya ng ways niya kung pano ia-approach [Heart's parents]. Pero what I think and what my sisters are thinking na hintayin na lang namin siya [Heart's father] na magsabi."
Speaking of Echo, we asked Heart if she'd be present during his first major concert on October 18 and 19 at the Music Museum.
"Oo naman!" she affirmed before adding endearingly, "Papanoorin ko 'yon kesa kay Josh Groban!"