Jolina Magdangal: new Year, new home

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Within view of the Jacuzzi is a driving range and mountains that reveal themselves when the fog goes. Here, the morning sneezes that would wrack Jolina Magdangal (who was then 22 at the time of this YES! feature) just suddenly stopped. (YES! January-February 2001)


In a recent survey by the international cable TV network,CNN, Jolina Magdangal emerged as the "most preferred personality in thecountry today." In a similar survey conducted by the Filipino Channel(TFC) among its subscribers in the United States, Middle East, Europe,Australia, and Asia, she was also right alongside the country's most popularshowbiz personalities.

Her father, Generoso "Jun" Magdangal, keepstrack of all this. Mighty proud, he adds: "She also always gets a highvote percentage at nationwide surveys done by leading TV stations andadvertising companies. She always emerges as the most likeable."

With this has come special treatment, of course.

Before, the production staff of her show,"Arriba! Arriba!," gave her the ultimate perk for an ABS-GBN star: aseparate and bigger dressing room. Why, the stars assigned to that room countthe likes of Maricel Soriano and Robin Padilla!

Jolina's reaction? "Naiilang ako," she says. "Nakahiwalaykasi ako from the rest of the cast. Naisip ko agad sila, especially yung mgamas senior sa aking artista. Baka kung ano ang isipin nila kasi sila sama-sama.Pero naisip ko rin ang mga gamit ko, kung saan ko ilalagay, e, ako angpinakamaraming eksena lagi, so ako ang pinakamaraming dalang gamit. Siguro nga,tama lang din."

Told that maybe she's earned the special treatment, shesmiles.

"Alam ko naman kasi na pinaghirapan ko," shesays tentatively. "Nagkakasakit ako sa pagod, sa tindi ng puyat...somehowine-expect ko na masuklian naman kahit papaano."

Besides, she sighs, hers is not a bed of roses by any chance. Being a film, TV, andrecording personality, she can—and does—get it from all corners.

Even the matter of being called "teen fashionicon," which the press itself bestowed on her, is now cause for carpingfrom the same movie and fashion reporters. She's way past her teen, they snort.

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"Kasi kabataan pa rin ang mga may gusto sa akin,e," the star reasons out. "Wala namang problema sa akin kung tinitiraako ng iba sa pananamit ko. Tingin ko naman kasi, mas marami ang mga may gustokesa sa bumabatikos."

She adds with more confidence, "Pero ayoko din namanng puro gusto kasi baka mamaya may mali na nga sa suot ko. Pero kung tinitiramo ako, titingnan ko rin ang mga points mo, baka tama ka. Pero kung tinitira moako dahil wala ka lang magawa o naghahabol ka lang ng deadline mo at wala kangmaisulat, ikaw ang may problema. Basta ako, komportable, kasi ako yun. Hindinaman ako ang tipo ng tao na napipilitan lang sa ginagawa ko."

But, all together, the showbiz chit-chat can get her down.

"'Pag nasa ganitong status ka, mahirap din," shesays with a hint of resignation in her voice. "Konting galaw, tsismis.Bawal kang magkamali, lalo na sa case ko na ...p'wera yabang ha, marami akongine-endorse na products." She admits, "Pressured ako na i-maintain angpagka-wholesome ko. Well, kilala ko naman ang sarili ko, and for 10, 11 years,na-maintain ko naman kung ano ako. Nakaka-pressure lang siya in the sense nakapag may mga naninira sa 'yo, hindi sila aware kung gaano kalaking damage angnagagawa nila."

The star, who was voted Darling of the Press by thePhilippine Movie Press Club (PMPC) in 2000, doesn't understand how somereporters write the stuff they do. The worst yet, she fumes, is the story thatshe is now pregnant by Robin Padilla, her leading man in Star Cinema's Tunay naTunay: Gets Mo, Gets Ko.

For the first time in her career, she has issued a publicstatement to put down a report.

"Sobra na talaga sila," she shakes her head. "Yungmga ibang intriga in the past, dinedma ko lang talaga. Ito talaga, willing naakong magdemanda. Last drop na yun ng patience ko, e."

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She abandoned the idea of a suit only after the reportersinvolved appeared on TV denying they were the source of the report.

"Nung napanood ko silang nagtuturuan sa TV, sabi ko,'Ah, wala ito,'" she says. "Ang ikinaiinis ko lang, paano nila ngayon ipapaliwanag sa mga tao na hindi sila sure sasinulat nila, na napasahan lang sila ng maling information, na nagkamali langpala sila? Kasi yun ang lumilitaw nung nagtuturuan na sila, e. Wala nanggustong umako. Pero in the process, ako ang nasisira sa tao."

She sighs, "Hindi ko naman alam kung ano angkasalanan ko sa grupo ng mga press na yun. Yung iba sa kanila, nakakatsikahanko pa. Ano ba talaga, hindi ko ba sila napansin minsan, nagtampo ba sila? Ewanko talaga kung ano ang atraso ko."

For all that, her closeness to Robin Padilla is cause forcontroversy. "Ewan ko ba, pareho kaming lapitin ng intriga, e," shesays perplexed. "Pero wala talaga 'yon, as in wala. Ni hindi na nga kaminagkikita nung tao kasi pareho kaming busy. Ganun naman talaga 'pag nagkakasamakayo sa pelikula, 'di ba? Nagiging close talaga, pero kuya na ang turing kodun. Pinalalaki lang talaga nung iba. Sabi ko nga sa ibang taga-press, 'wagna lang nila akong i-interview kung iba lang din ang isusulat nila."

She adds, "Puwede ba, new year na, iba namangintriga?"

This display of pique isn't typical of Jolina. But, as sheexplains, "Dati nga, kapag nanonood ako ng TV at may nakikita akongartistang nagtataray, sabi ko, 'Ay, ang taray naman nun!' Ngayon,naiintindihan ko na. Siguro kasi nahe-hurt din sila."

She adds: "Saka sa tinagal-tagal ko ba namangpinaghirapan ang pangalan ko, sa ganitong paraan ko lang sisirain? Hindi namansa pag-aano, mabait na tao si Robin, pero siguro naman I deserve somebody in mylife na, alam mo na, single din."

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She manages to joke, "Hindi pa naman siguro akomauubusan."

And she's in no hurry either. "Susko, at the ratethings are going matagal pa 'yan," says this girl whose only knownboyfriend has been Gio Alvarez, Tabing-Ilog mainstay with whom shehad a short-lived teen-age romance.

"Dati, sabi ko gusto ko mag-aasawa ako 'pag 25 naako," she says gaily, "kasi ayoko ng malaki ang age gap ko sa anakko. Gusto ko, sakay ko ang takbo ng isip niya. E, 22 na ako ngayon, zero pa rinang lovelife ko. 'Tsaka na-realize ko din naman na habang mainit-init pa ako,sige lang muna ako nang sige sa career ko. Kasi sa panahon ngayon, ang bilismagpalit ng idol ng tao. Mawala ka lang sandali, mahirap nang bumalik. I'm justtaking advantage of the situation."

Jolina, who's been entertaining the public for 11 years nowor from the time she was 11,says her big consolation lies in finally owning thehouse of her dreams.

Since October, she and her family have begun occupyingtheir fully renovated three-story house in Don Antonio Royale, a Quezon Cityvillage of upwardly mobile families. The five-bedroom house, which originallybelonged to the owners of Rommel's Billiards, took the Magdangals three longyears to find and another five long months to redo. This last, because thefamily members' individual tastes and their father's feng shui specs had to beconsidered.

The cost of it, Jolina would rather keep private, butkibitzers put the amount way above P10 million.

"Ito ang trophy ko sa lahat ng mga paghihirap ko sa showbiz...physicalo emotional man," she sighs. "Minsan, tinitingnan ko siya,napapahinga ako nang malalim. Sabi ko, 'Wow, ito na yun!' Kung may mga bagayman akong hindi nagawa noong teenager pa ako, at least eto naman, may napundar naako. Just by looking at it, sinasabi ko sa sarili ko na wala akong dapatipag-regret talaga."

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Jolina, who remains ecstatic about their transfer twomonths after, says the house is everything she had always dreamed of.

"Dati kasi, may napagteypingan kaming bahay," Jolinarecalls.

"Gandang-ganda ako. May terrace din na may overlooking view ngbundok. Piniktyuran ko pa. Sabi ko 'pag nagkabahay ako, ganito more or less. Ngayon,'pag tinitingnan ko ang bahay namin, kamukha nga!" she says excitedly.

"Gusto ko kasi mahangin," she adds. "Tapos,dati, mi-imagine ko, pagdungaw ko sa bintana may makikita akong bundok. Dito,meron nga! Saka sa umaga paggising ko, maaliwalas na sunrise agad angbumabati sa akin with matching huni pa ng mga ibon. Minsan naman, 'pag malamig,may fog pa. Ay, nako, nakaka-high siya! Malas ko lang 'pag may nagtayo na ngbahay sa katabing lote namin."

Her big favorite, however, is her new room. "'Pagwala akong trabaho, kahit maghapon ako doon, okay lang. Bumababa lang ako 'pagkakain na. Tapos, tambay sandali sa may terrace o kaya sa may lanai paramagpahangin. O, 'di ba, 'kaaliw?"

But she admits missing their old Tandang Sora home. Thathouse, to the entire Magdangal family it seems, was a lucky charm. It was theplace which marked their daddy's promotion in San Miguel Corporation's publicaffairs department where he once worked, the place which saw Jolina rise tostar status, and the place which witnessed the start of their many businesses.

"Nung una, talagang umiiyak ako," she says. "Parangnakakapanibago. Minsan nga, kapag inuumaga ako sa taping, sa Tandang Sora akonagpapahatid, dun ako natutulog talaga. Pero ngayon, enjoy na ako dito."

She adds: "Saka feeling ko, mas naging close kaming familydito. Dati kasi, sa sobrang pagod, hindi na ako nakakapag-good morning, goodevening. Ngayon, I really make it a point na nagagawa ko 'yon. Siyempre, may intercomna kami! (laughs) Yumayakap ako sa kanila bago umalis. Saka sila Ate, kahit maysariling pamilya na, lagi naming pinapapunta dito para sama-sama kami. Maykuwarto pa rin sila dito. Naaaliw kasi ako sa pamangkin ko."

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She says candidly, "Saka ano kasi, ayokong ma-feel ngkahit sino sa kanila na ako lang ang nagpundar sa bahay na 'yon. Kasi hindinaman. Aming lahat 'yon. Nung una nga, ibinibigay sa akin nina Daddy yung master'sbedroom kasi yun ang pinakamalaki. Sabi ko, 'Hindi po, sa inyo po talaga'yon.'"

More than this, Jolina really turns over all her earningsto her parents who, happily, invest them well for her. Her mother Paulita, aformer Land Bank credit officer, takes charge of Jolina's stock investments.Her father Jun thinks up projects, and looks to have hit it right with hisJolina's Fashion Gallery boutique, a venture so successful it has grown to 11branches in three short years.

This last, the whole family is involved in. Jolina herselftries to run it like a pro.

"'Pag nag-invest ako pang-matagalan at saka umiikottalaga ang pera," says the entrepreneur. "Kaya nga waladin akong hawak sa pera ko, kasi nakalabas din naman lahat. Baka tuloy isipinng tao marami nga akong pera. Baka mamaya, 'Uy, tara, utangan natin si Jolina.'Naku, 'wag naman po kasi umiikot long talaga siya. Like sa boutique, every time kelangan me bago kang pakulo,lahat yun kelangan puhunanan mo. Saka ang katwiran ko, kung gusto n'yongmagpundar, maghirap din kayo."

Already, the boutique is introducing this year its line ofcurtains (original design by her brother-in-law) and its bed and bath products(consignment). With her loyal fans hereand Jolina's career stands secure in whatis definitely a very insecureindustry.

As proof, she completed deals for enough projects to fillup her whole new year before the old year even closed. These include a newweekly ABS-CBN sitcom, Arriba! Arriba!, to replace her successfuldrama-comedy series, Labs Ko Si Babe; movies under her mothercompany Star Cinema, with option to do two films for other outfits; a new albumunder Star Records that is the total opposite of her triple-platinum retroalbum; more provincial and foreign shows now that she's free from daily TVprograms; and continued appearances in the station's noontime Sunday bet,"A.S.A.P."

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The little lady who has hit the perfect combination ofbeing talented (she's heir apparent to Maricel Soriano) and likeable (her30-plus endorsements show) seems to have nowhere to go but up.


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