Jolina Magdangal: new Year, new home

Feb 27, 2008
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 the country 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 popular showbiz personalities.

Her father, Generoso "Jun" Magdangal, keeps track of all this. Mighty proud, he adds: "She also always gets a high vote percentage at nationwide surveys done by leading TV stations and advertising 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: a separate and bigger dressing room. Why, the stars assigned to that room count the likes of Maricel Soriano and Robin Padilla!

Jolina's reaction? "Naiilang ako," she says. "Nakahiwalay kasi ako from the rest of the cast. Naisip ko agad sila, especially yung mga mas 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 ang pinakamaraming eksena lagi, so ako ang pinakamaraming dalang gamit. Siguro nga, tama lang din."

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

"Alam ko naman kasi na pinaghirapan ko," she says tentatively. "Nagkakasakit ako sa pagod, sa tindi ng puyat...somehow ine-expect ko na masuklian naman kahit papaano."

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

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

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

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

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

"'Pag nasa ganitong status ka, mahirap din," she says 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 akong ine-endorse na products." She admits, "Pressured ako na i-maintain ang pagka-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 na kapag may mga naninira sa 'yo, hindi sila aware kung gaano kalaking damage ang nagagawa nila."

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

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

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

She abandoned the idea of a suit only after the reporters involved 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 sa sinulat nila, na napasahan lang sila ng maling information, na nagkamali lang pala sila? Kasi yun ang lumilitaw nung nagtuturuan na sila, e. Wala nang gustong umako. Pero in the process, ako ang nasisira sa tao."

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

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

She adds, "Puwede ba, new year na, iba namang intriga?"

This display of pique isn't typical of Jolina. But, as she explains, "Dati nga, kapag nanonood ako ng TV at may nakikita akong artistang 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 namang pinaghirapan ang pangalan ko, sa ganitong paraan ko lang sisirain? Hindi naman sa pag-aano, mabait na tao si Robin, pero siguro naman I deserve somebody in my life na, alam mo na, single din."

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She manages to joke, "Hindi pa naman siguro ako mauubusan."

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

"Dati, sabi ko gusto ko mag-aasawa ako 'pag 25 na ako," she says gaily, "kasi ayoko ng malaki ang age gap ko sa anak ko. Gusto ko, sakay ko ang takbo ng isip niya. E, 22 na ako ngayon, zero pa rin ang 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 bilis magpalit ng idol ng tao. Mawala ka lang sandali, mahirap nang bumalik. I'm just taking advantage of the situation."

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

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

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

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

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

"Dati kasi, may napagteypingan kaming bahay," Jolina recalls.

"Gandang-ganda ako. May terrace din na may overlooking view ng bundok. 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 ang bumabati 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 ng bahay sa katabing lote namin."

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

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

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

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

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

More than this, Jolina really turns over all her earnings to her parents who, happily, invest them well for her. Her mother Paulita, a former 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 his Jolina's Fashion Gallery boutique, a venture so successful it has grown to 11 branches in three short years.

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

"'Pag nag-invest ako pang-matagalan at saka umiikot talaga ang pera," says the entrepreneur. "Kaya nga wala din akong hawak sa pera ko, kasi nakalabas din naman lahat. Baka tuloy isipin ng 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'yong magpundar, maghirap din kayo."

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Already, the boutique is introducing this year its line of curtains (original design by her brother-in-law) and its bed and bath products (consignment). With her loyal fans here and Jolina's career stands secure in what is definitely a very insecure industry.

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

The little lady who has hit the perfect combination of being talented (she's heir apparent to Maricel Soriano) and likeable (her 30-plus endorsements show) seems to have nowhere to go but up.

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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)
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