These days, longevity is fast-becoming an uncommon term in show business. A top-rating TV series or a box-office film no longer guarantees a longer life expectancy for a star's career. "You're as good as your last project" seems to be the unspoken rule between the producer and an artist.
There are a few celebrities, however, whose stars have kept on shining brightly, and they've successfully weathered several decades of stormy issues and controversies. One of them is none other than Sharon Cuneta.
During this PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) interview, she could only utter "unbelievable" about everything she has achieved so far—from singing to acting to hosting to being a mom.
We asked her: What's the formula?
"It's also secret to me. I was joking nga, 'can you please research' because I want to know..." she answered while laughing.
Then seriously she told PEP: "No, I think it's really devotion to my craft, my appreciation, my respect for it, my love for it. It just loves me back, I think. And it's a never-ending learning process. I never ever once think that I know everything there is to learn, no..."
And given her notable skill as a raconteur, the conversation shifted from one topic to the next—from her work attitude to her kiddie-songs album to her daughters, including her husband, Senator Kiko Pangilinan, and her ex-husband, Gabby Concepcion.
She had probably discussed some of them, but it's always a refreshing experience to listen to her. Check out these ten Mega insights from Sharon.
1. "Never stop giving, and they never stop giving you back..."
The 43-year-old actress attributed her successful career to three things: discipline, dedication, and loving what you do.
She told PEP, "When you love what you're doing, it just kind of falls into place. You cannot naman accomplish anything kung hindi ka rin naman disiplinado...You have to also work to go back to your fighting form, you can tackle more roles, di ba? And then also, it's basically keeping what always works and what's always right for you, and for the industry still there maintaining it, and changing what you feel...Parang tuluy-tuloy lang, and as long as you're devoted to it, you never stop giving. I'd never stop giving, they never stop giving me back also. Wala, I just love what I do, e. I may not like the business all the time, but I really love what I do."
2. Album launches no longer make her nervous, but "I get nervous when I have a movie showing tomorrow..."
"This is like a family," she said, referring to the friendly atmosphere of the launch of her kiddie-songs album under Sony Music Entertainment. "I get nervous when I have a movie showing tomorrow, or album that is released na in the outlet on how's is doing, it's like that..."
But she's one of those few stars who usually reaps more than she expects. "Fortunately for me, 99 percent of the time, it's something they like."
3. She decided to record kiddie songs and lullabies partly because "it's a good way of introducing them [children] to their roots."
For the longest time, she's been looking for nursery rhymes in Tagalog, "Ba't wala, we played Tagalog even in sari-sari store, mga ganyan, so parang I couldn't find..."
It was her senator-husband who broached the idea. She continued, "It there's a need for it, then other parents also have this need. Can you imagine how many nga naman teach the "Bahay Kubo" in schools now, or "Paru-parong Bukid," di ba?
"It's nice to have it finally on record na, you know, for everyone, for the generation to come, [for the] Filipino families abroad...It's a good way of introducing them to their roots, the songs like that."
4. For her Sharon Cuneta Children's Rhymes and Lullabies album, she consulted the "top experts"—her kids Simone Francesca Emmanuelle, 8, and Mariel Daniella Sophia, 4.
The actress-host-singer related, "They all just like the princess sound, yung lullaby...Frankie is 8 na, e, but she helped me, and then we went to the head mistress of their school to group them correctly, so we referred to them [about] the design album cover and art teacher.
"It's not just like an album that we do together, it's really a product of all my years of experience as a mother, as a hands-on parent, especially the two little ones. I actually read to them, sing to them, every single night I'm home with them, and they sing with me, just enjoying..."
5. "Tong paki tong" is a line that describes her life now.
Out of the 17 tracks in her recently-released album, "Paru-parong Bukid" is her favorite. But when asked which song describes her life, she answered, "Tong paki tong."
She explained, "It's all just happy-go-lucky. Bahala na si Lord. And He's the one who's putting things in their place, di ba? Pati yung mga timing namin, hindi namin plinaplano..."
Everything happening in her life, like the synergy between her commercials and her movie and album is, as she put it, "just God's hands putting everything in place." She added, "I just laugh because I'm just in awe of all of these."
6. On a movie with ex-husband Gabby and their daughter, KC: "I'm really more concerned about protecting the feelings and the privacy."
Since her ex-husband made a showbiz comeback more than a year ago, there's been a clamor from the Sharon-Gabby fans for a reunion movie. In a separate interview, Gabby said he's open to the idea, but it will all depend on the Megastar.
The cameo role of the 80's matinee idol in Sharon's latest movie BFF (Best Friends Forever) had given their supporters a flicker of hope. But the stand of the multi-awarded actress is: "It is a matter of priorities."
She added, "I'm really more concerned about protecting the feelings and the privacy, and the peace and harmony that's taking place in my house now, my husband's feelings, my children's privacy, their feelings... don't want to make a spectacle of the whole thing because I know people will. And if someone gets tamaan by all that, I wouldn't want to hit my family, or his family for that matter, because it would be unfair, di ba?"
But so as not to fully dampen the spirit of those who have been wishing to see her and Gabby in a movie together, she also said, "You'll never know...anything is possible with this business..."
One sure thing at this moment is a movie with KC. The mother of three said, "I'll do a movie with her in a heartbeat, she can do what she wants with papa in a heartbeat."
7. "I'm not beyond wearing sexy outfit."
That was her answer when asked how she managed to stick to her wholesome image. Shawie (her nickname) continued: "Parang I would be daring up to a certain point but never beyond something, kunyari, to be ashamed of na. I think to my advantage now, people see after 31 years, talagang ganyan siya...I'm really sweet by nature, e. I'm funny, but I'm also mataray only when I need to stand the ground. As you grow older, you learn to defend yourself."
A scene in BFF flashed a photo, where she was wearing a swimsuit. She gave a hearty laugh when we mentioned that her sexy pose elicited "Whoas!" from the viewers.
She interjected, still laughing, "You know what, I was so upset because I said to Direk, 'Ang bilis naman! Why didn't you show my whole body?' It was a head to toe picture and they showed up to my thighs. I said 'No, my god.' That's year 2000 only. Just that the month after, that guy [referring to husband Kiko] made me pregnant with Frankie. Sabotage. That's why I got pregnant. When I get to my two-piece, I have a knife when I sleep by my side. So if he attempts and I'm not aware, I'll kill him."
8. On trying her hand at comedy: "Wow, what a blessing!"
She joined Ai-Ai delas Alas in making the moviegoers laugh via BFF. Given that she's been known as a dramatic actress, she was a bit apprehensive about giving comedy a shot.
Shawie related, "I was so concerned because I was working with complete professionals and the best in comedy-from Ai-Ai to the support, parang ang hirap...Even to the director [Wenn Deramas], I say, 'Please tell me if I'm being OA...You tell me, so we can do it again.'
"Learning from them and asking them to help me, and, fortunately, hearing direk say, 'That was nice, that was good,' and they'd be laughing, they'd be ganyan...It was a great experience and I say, 'Wow, what a blessing!' God seemed to open another door for me, and now, I can be offered comedy."
It was also a good thing that she's a "natural comic" surrounded by comedians-her dad, her mom, and her brothers. "They did not talk so much, [but] when [they] talk, babagsak ka naman. My mom also, so if I'm crazy, my brothers [are] like five times crazy."
9. "I love him very much, but it's scary..."
She's talking about the vice presidential bid of husband Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan. The decision, she said, came with "lots of prayers."
But she's concerned about the provincial visits, where food will be abundant.
She recalled her previous experience while campaigning for Kiko as senator, "Dati nag-caravan kami sa may Ilocos all the way...Dyusko, ang sarap ng pagkain. Sa Vigan, sa Ilocos no'n hanggang dumating kang Tarlac, Pampanga..."
She resumed, "Unfortunately, I have to come with him. I love him very much but it's scary. But he's a good person. He's an expert in his field, and devoted."
We sensed that there was a bit of discomfort in her tone. PEP asked: Did you try to dissuade him?
"No, never," was her quick reply. "Because he sees like this: a problem is always 'no'. I don't want this but this is what you want. So when I say, please don't run. It's like someone's telling me, it's like him telling me, 'Okay, don't do movies, don't sing.' That's like, well, get out of my life, di ba? So I mean, that's what marriage is all about. You support each other's dreams.
"And how can you live with yourself when you know that this person is totally qualified to be in a certain position and you did nothing, didn't lift a finger to support him? That's kind of selfish. Not only for yourself. But its also selfish for who I imagined would benefit from him.
"Sayang naman. You can't leave it to the dogs. I'm not saying they're dogs. It's an expression. I mean, you can't really leave the country to the dogs. It's a whole new generation of leaders that have to take over and get rid of the politics and introduce fresh ideas. And it can't be business as usual, we'll never get anywhere. [I'm] so sick and tired of that. So, instead of complaining and complaining, all of my complaints were being heard by someone that would run. I don't know if I should've kept my mouth shut."
10. "I would wish for him to be President. I would not wish for me to become the First Lady."
We couldn't be too sure if part of her statement was some kind of a tease. But we're sure about one thing: Politics brings out her candid side.
She clarified, "I would wish for him to become President. I would prefer to be the actress, the singer, the mother, the wife. But you know I go where he goes. But I would like to see all his dreams, his ideas implemented.
Is her husband ready to hold the highest office in the country?
"You know, ambition sometimes has to be back seat. He's never been the kind na 'uunahin ko ambition ko' kasi ini-encourage siya, gano'n lang. Hindi. That's why he's taking the VP [vice presidency] kasi he knows that he'll be able to learn much more.
"And I don't know, he always says to me and I believe him. He always says, 'Where God takes us is where we go,' so what he means is even me, if I say, 'I'm running for mayor,' ganyan...And then something happens to prevent that from happening next year, so that wasn't the plan. That was God's hand, right?
"So you never know what's going to happen. But it's best to be prepared. Kanina, I was asked. I'll just share with you. I'm asked if I'm prepared to be the second lady. I said yes. But can I just say. I said yes because what I actually meant was when your husband is running for a position, you have to be prepared to be anything.
"And I grew up in a political family. I've been a public figure all of my life because of my job. And it's second nature to me. Not that I'm becoming someone else, but just another facet of my person coming out. So it's parang, I'm ready for anything. I'm ready to be what, what is what—a senator's wife, a vice-president's wife.
"You have to be ready. And you have to be ready if it's, God forbid, a losing candidate you're married to. It doesn't take away to the kind of person that he is. As far as I'm concerned, it'll be the loss of so many people."
For all the 55 movies under her belt, almost 40 albums, and more than 70 awards and citations, Sharon is unperturbed by her success.
She undoubtedly has what it takes to be the Megastar given her talent and looks. But she humbly attributes part of her fame to luck and the people who helped her.
She said, "I got the best. Exactly...I got the best movies, I got the best directors, the best lines, the best scripts, and then I get the best songs. And how many people can say, 'Oh, I had George [Canseco] write me several songs, or Willie Cruz write me several songs, or Rey Valera...' How many people can say, 'I got directed by Lino Brocka. I learned from Eddie Garcia,' [although] he never directs anymore.
"I was in the right place at the right time and I still don't know why because I'm still here. But always, as the years went by, it was a fact that [became] stress to me. [Because] it's not just for myself, it's for... Parang every time...every time I'm able to touch somebody, just like a person, by a song, a concert or a movie, and then I realize, what I'm doing is something to someone, then you realize how big a responsibility it is."
But whether it was her talent, or luck, or some driving force that became responsible for her longevity, the Megastar still could not agree with people who say she has the Midas touch.
"They keep saying that, and I refuse to acknowledge it because, it might go away. Baka it's better to pretend. I don't suspect that I have it. It's better to pretend, e, na I don't know."