Say the name "Sarah," and the masa goes gaga.
Since she became the Star For A Night grand winnerin 2003, Sarah Geronimo has been part of the Pinoys' consciousness. Most of her albums are platinum, her concerts here and abroad are usually sold out, and of late, her movies have been top grossers.
For all her immense popularity, the lady who started her career as a Pen Pen de Sarapen kid is unperturbed. She actually finds her fame "surreal" and her success, "unexpected."
Even her recent tag as "Box-office Queen" is something "na hindi ko pa na-a-absorb," she tells PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) in an exclusive interview.
Sarah continues, "'Pag sinasabi nilang, halimbawa 'pag dumarating ako, 'O, nandiyan na ang box-office queen,' parang it's a big thing na matawag kang box-office queen. Pero ako, hindi ko talaga nararamdaman."
Don't get her wrong, she's more than glad about the blessings coming her way, it's just that she doesn't have the time to relish them.
She adds, "What's good naman, e, it keeps me grounded...Nakakatuwa, sobrang hindi ko po in-expect na magugustuhan ng tao yung performance ko dun sa napaka-simpleng pelikulang [A Very Special Love] yun, na sobrang worried na worried ako, na ayokong magmukhang corny na TH [trying hard] na magpatawa. Natutuwa ako na sinasabi nila na parang natural yung team-up, na parang hindi ako umaarte. Nakakatuwa, nakakatuwa!"
Out of curiosity, we ask her if she favors comedy more than drama, and she quickly replies, "Alam niyo po, ang sinasabi nila, mas mahirap yung magpatawa. Hindi lang nila napansin siguro, pero effort din po yung sa [dalawang movies ko]."
So, aside from singing, she now takes acting seriously.
"Dream project, gusto ko...Alam niyo, recently lang ito napag-isipan ko, na parang gusto kong i-expose yung buhay ng isang performer or ng isang artista," she confides. "Kung ano yung mga pinagdadaanan niya na hindi alam ng publiko. Ang dami kasing iniisip ng tao. Iniisip nila na parang napakadaling maging artista, maging performer, na ang daling kumita ng pera. Pero, behind the camera, yung mga pinagdadaanan niya-yung pain, na nagre-resulta minsan sa mga halimbawa, [yung nangyari] kina Britney Spears, kung bakit sila nagkakagano'n. Yun gusto ko..."
BOYS, BOYS, BOYS. She's 21, and a self-confessed NBSB (No Boyfriend Since Birth). Girls her age would be spotted hanging out in gimmick hubs and having fun with boys. But not Sarah. She admits, "Wala po akong mako-consider na best friend."
Looking for a boyfriend is not her priority, she remarks, "Ano lang po...Siguro, sinasabi ko nga, hindi ko kailangan at this time ng boyfriend. Gusto ko lang ng constant na makakausap, yung confidante mo."
Has she found one?
The charming guy beside her interjects, "Sino 'yon, si Rayver [Cruz]?
Sarah laughs shyly, and whispers, "Hindi mo ba alam? Kasi ikaw, hindi mo 'ko tine-text, e."
This ever-smiling guy joins the chat, giving away a clue, "Nasa tapat lang ng bahay niyo?"
Sarah blushes and screams at him: "John Lloyd!!!"
Yes, he's none other than John Lloyd Cruz, the male lead in their hit movies A Very Special Love and You Changed My Life, and it seems like he knows something that we don't.
Pursuing the story, we ask the Pop Princess to elaborate.
"Hindi, joke lang," she assures us. "Hindi, kasi yung kapatid niya, yung kapatid ni Rayver, yung girlfriend niya, e, same subdivision din kaya minsan, napupunta siya do'n. Pero hindi siya nagpupunta sa bahay."
Didn't Rayver drop by to say hello?
John Lloyd quips again, "Tumawag...sa labas ng bahay niyo, di ba."
Sarah retorts, "Ano ba, hindi 'yan yung pinag-uusapan natin!"
Seriously, she describes the 20-year-old Kapamilya actor as "fun to be with." And to settle the rumors linking the two of them, "Hindi po kami lumalabas ni Rayver. Never po niya ako inaya lumabas. Text, opo. Tawagan, yes."
PEP drops the subject to focus on her and John Lloyd. Isn't there a chance their reel tandem would turn real?
Sarah admits, "Ina-admire ko po siya as a guy. Parang intelligent na good looking, di ba? Pero, hindi ko alam."
What if he courts you?
"Hindi ako type niyan. Iba mga type niyan," she says matter-of-factly. "Hindi po ako ang tipong girl niyan."
Aside from John Lloyd and Rayver, two Marks are reportedly her suitors—Mark Bautista and Mark Herras.
She's known the former for more than six years now. When she emerged as the winner in Star For A Night, Mark Bautista was the second placer.
Sarah just gives us a smile when PEP mentions that Mark made an announcement that he'll wait for her. Her brief remark: "Understanding po siya."
What about the other Mark?
"Hindi ko po alam kung bakit kami nali-link. I think, nagsimula po 'yan kasi, nag-guest siya sa concert namin sa CamSur [click here to see related article]. Siguro...hindi ko alam. Pero wala po kaming communication talaga."
POP PRINCESS, AND THEN WHAT? Performing, not boys, is presently the love of her life. Even as a kid, she always wanted to conquer different stages.
"Ang ultimate dream ko talaga ay maging world-renowned performer-singer," she reveals.
And guess who she wants to emulate? She considers Celine Dion and Lea Salonga her influences, but her idol is none other than the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. "Gusto kong maging katulad niya."
So, she's had dance workshops, but up to now, she admits, her skill is considered still amateur.
She exclaims, "Napaka-simple lang po ng ginagawa ko kumpara sa mga ginagawa nila Shaina [Magdayao], nila Maja [Salvador]. Dun ako bilib na bilib kasi talagang hataw, 'tsaka yung combination, talagang tuluy-tuloy at nagagawa nila nang tama."
But some things in life happen quite unexpectedly, so don't be surprised if one day, we'll see her doing a superb dance routine. "Naku po, sana, sana..." she hopes.
There's really no stopping Sarah. Will the world go gaga over her soon?
She pauses, "Naku po, hindi po."
But one thing she's sure about—wherever fame brings her, she'll keep her feet on the ground. "Kilala ko yung sarili ko. Kilala ko yung mga capacities ko, yung mga weaknesses ko, yung mga flaws ko na madalas din nakikita nila pag nagpe-perform ako. Grounded pa rin po ako."