Heart Evangelista is on a cloud nine!
First, her upcoming movie Mano Po 6: My Mother's Love has a cast to die for, like Sharon Cuneta and Zsa Zsa Padilla. This also marks her comeback on the big screen. Her last project was Bcuz of U in 2004.
During the film's press conference in Beijing, Heart says, "Ang lucky ko nga ngayon, e...Ay, hindi ako lucky...I'm on cloud nine talaga with everything [happening to me]. Biglang every thing is good."
The 24-year-old actress considers this point in her life as a "second chance."
About three years ago, Heart learned that too much of anythingis bad. She fell head over heels in love with her then leading man, Jericho Rosales. Her choice did not sit well with her parents, and also had an impact on her career.
Heart relates, "The whole situation itself, the whole event in my life then was hard, because, you know, I lost everything. I lost it all. Lumaki ulo ko, something like that...I learned my lesson. I was ano...I was given time to think about my life....I was given a chance again, it feels good, and not everybody gets another chance."
She made bold career moves more than twice. She left Star Magic for Manila Genesis Enetrtainment, then Royal Era Entertainment and Artist Management. In April 2008, she left ABS-CBN—her home for six years—for an exclusive contract with GMA-7.
The only minor hiccup since then was when she refused to accept the now-shelved sine novela, Muling Buksan ang Puso, which caused discord between her talent manager Annabelle Rama and a few Kapuso executives early this year.
But now, she's back on primetime, via Full House, after almost two years. And, of course, she's ecstatic about Mano Po.
She says, her eyes smiling, "Lord, nabayaran ko na naman siguro yung ganun. Siyempre, may ganun ka, e, and I'm happy because like what my mom said, not everybody is given a second chance."
And the lady really takes her job seriously.
MANO PO 6 EXPERIENCE. During the Mano Po 6 pictorial and shoot in Beijing, she was always on time. And even when there was one instance that she shivered in the cold due to wrong choice of shoes, she finished the almost four-hour shoot in Beijing Film Studio without complaint.
"Rebellious" is the word to describe her character, she reveals: "Madami akong mahuhugutan doon, so, more or less, tinignan ko yung pinagdadaanan ni Stephanie. Meron naman siyang dahilan like before, but not enough, siyempre, if you make bastos your parent."
To prepare for it, Heart says she had to recall one of the darkest episodes in her life. "I used my emotion, the pain I felt when I was in that rebellious stage? So dun ako nag-umpisa and then binild up ko na yung character ni Stephanie."
So, you were once a rebellious daughter?
With no trace of bitterness, Heart admits, "True-to-life rebellious daughter ako for three years."
Back to her character in the film, Heart adds that Stephanie "seems to be superior," but "very insecure." Her mom in the movie is Sharon.
She resumes, "Kasi I grew up without a mother. Alam kong mother ko siya pero ang pagkakaalam ko, iniwanan niya ako. Galit ako sa kanya."
How was it working with the Megastar?
Heart's reply: "She's amazing. She's full of energy as in the whole day. And, you know, it's not all the time that you see successful stars like that, yung energy niya...[She's] down to earth, galing, it's nice!"
She admits feeling nervous every time they have a confrontation scene. "Nakakakaba siyempre kasi, binabastos-bastos ko siya. Sinasagot-sagot ko siya so parang nakakalambot ng tuhod..."
Then she goes back to praising Sharon, "She's so good, she's so good. She's so inspiring na ginamit ko na lang kung anong emotion na meron ako nung time na yun, 'tapos okay naman, nakaraos naman din ako. Di ako nabulol, tama naman yung Chinese dialogue ko..."
Another big star in the film is Zsa Zsa Padilla, who will play second mom to Sharon's children—Ciara, Heart, Nicole and John. Heart has one word for her, "Galing!"
And what about her leading man, Dennis Trillo?
A HEART FOR DENNIS? It's a given,Dennis has a crush on Heart. But even if they got to work once in Dear Friend,and see each other once a week in SOP, the two are not yet the closest of friends.
In China's capital, there were a few times we spotted the two of them chatting. But there was still a tinge of awkwardness.
Heart refutes this, "Okay siya pero hindi naman nakaka-conscious kasi he's so quiet, so hindi naman siya yung tipong 'I have a crush on you' pero, you know, 'very aggressive', no, he's not."
Heart and Dennis's encounters have been casual.
"Parang wala naman...Pero mabait siya. Mabait naman siya. Pag kumakain ako, lagi niya ako nilalagyan ng pagkain sa plato ko. Pag magkatabi kami ganyan, mga ganun lang, mga ganung mga eksena...Pero aside from that, wala naman siyang ibang pinaparamdam," she elaborates.
And her reply is "yes" when asked if Dennis is likeable. "I think he's a nice guy 'tsaka mukhang ano, mukhang disente siya. Hindi siya mukhang parang arogante na mayabang na...talented. He's successful and yet very humble, so, I like that."
FALLING IN LOVE. But falling for Dennis, or any guy for that matter, is presently the farthest thing from Heart's mind.
"Gusto ko, I need to love myself. I'm young, and I'm turning 25, and I want to achieve what I need to achieve para pag tumada na ako, nagawa ko na lahat," she muses.
Can she elaborate the "love myself" phrase?
"Maybe, it would be...I need to love myself first kasi, siyempre, inuna ko ang lahat, inuna ko yung lovelife ko. Hindi ko inisip yung family ko. Hindi ko inisip yung career ko, yung health ko, lahat hindi ko inisip. Yun lang, nasira lang ako dun.
"So maybe now, I would talk to myself. I would say na, 'Hinay-hinay ka lang and think about your future' because nothing is permanent, e, and even if you want it to be permanent to love each other, you meet people...You meet them because you're meant to be with them for that time, so I learned that...Cherish the moment but don't give your whole [life]," she explained at length.
And the next time she falls in love, "it would be a choice," she points out. "If I fall in love with an actor, it's a choice na paninindigan ko yung mga pros and cons niya."
But as mentioned earlier, she wants to focus on her career first: "At the moment sana, as much as possible, cold na muna siya. Diyan muna siya."
What if love arrives sooner than she wants?
"I wouldn't mind having a lovelife, but ayoko lang yung sobrang in love na in love ako."
But are her parents still strict? Heart is the youngest daughter of Reynaldo and Cecilia Ongpauco, the clan that owns the Barrio Fiesta food chain.
She answers, "No na, wala na. Unlike before, they were very careful because I was naïve. I was very sheltered so kahit sinong itapat mo sa 'kin, maniniwala ako. They were worried about that, and they were also sorry [for] their mistake because they didn't allow me to experience a little bit of the world while growing up. I became so naïve, tatanga-tanga, in short, so madaling utuin. Dun sila nagwo-worry...Alam nilang hindi ko makakayanan, which is true, hindi ko nakayanan...Kinaya ko pero, in the end, bumigay na rin ako."
Bottom line here is that Heart knows what she wants now, and where she's headed. At present, love takes the back seat. Focus is on her showbiz career, with her family's guidance.
Her parting shot: "I don't need to be famous. I just want a name that will keep me going with my family. All my life, they have been doing everything. Parang ngayon, I wanna spend more time with them. Ayoko rin mag-commit with anyone."