Lea Salonga puts family first over show business

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International celebrity Lea Salonga answers some juicy questions about her personal life, from giving up her career for family to her supposed "sibling rivalry" with brother Gerard Salonga.


Singer and theater actress Lea Salonga guested live at The Buzz yesterday, July 4, to answer ten of the most intriguing questions about her from no one else but her theater co-star and host KC Concepcion. Lea is set to appear in the musical Cats, but at that moment, she had to claw her way out of some tough questions from KC.

The first question for her was, "Kung saka-sakali, kaya mo ba iwanan totally ang career mo for your asawa at anak?"

"Kung kailangan talaga, siyempre, oo," answered Lea without a pause. "Pero nagpapasalamat naman din ako na very, very supportive ang asawa at buong pamilya ko sa pagpili ko ng career na ito. Sabi nga ng asawa ko, 'Honey, what you have is something very unique and something very special because you have a power to influence people and to change people's lives and make them happy. I would never take that away from you.'"

However, "if push came to shove, kung kailangan talaga iwan ang showbiz, e kailangan ko talaga kasi una ang pamilya siyempre. Pero salamat na lang na hindi ako pinapatigil."

Next question: "Kung sa palagay mo, kung hindi mo kinarir ang international career, do you think sisikat ka dito sa Pilipinas?"

"That's a hard one to say," admitted Lea. "Kasi kung hindi din ako umalis ng Pilipinas, ang priority ko siguro naging sa pag-aaral ko. Pagpalaki ng mga magulang ko, e, ang isipin lang ang security ko sa pag-aaral ko."

JOLOGS OR SOSYAL? As an international star, many people see Lea as someone who's very classy with a high taste for everything. When asked by KC if she had any jologs moments, she laughed and said, "Hindi naman ako ipinanganak with a silver spoon in my mouth. Hindi naman ako mayaman noong ako ay ipinanganak. So hindi ko alam kung bakit ang tingin ng tao sa akin ay elitist, mayaman, sosyal. Malay ko ba. Siguro theater kasi, it is seen as something elitist at mataas na larangan ng sining. Pero kahit saan naman ako ipadpad okay lang sa akin.

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"But no," Lea added, disputing further theater's elitist image. "People like Shakespeare wrote his plays for the masa. Kung buhay siya ngayon ang kanyang mga play would be compared to today's telenovelas."

The next question for Lea was about her brother, musical conductor Gerard Salonga. Did competition ever exist between them?

"Ah, wala," Lea said. "Never! We're competitive with others from the same field. Ang kakumpetensiya ko ay ibang mang-aawit din o ibang artista. Ang competition ng kapatid ko, e with other conductors and directors. Sinadya kasi ng ina ko na iba ang pasukin naming fields."

RUMOR ABOUT GLEE. It's been confirmed that singer Charice Pempengco will join the U.S. TV musical Glee. Rumor has it that Lea will guest with Charice in the show. Is this true?

"No," answered Lea. "I've not been asked and I have no idea. But, of course, I would [if asked]. It is one of my favorite shows."

The next question dealt with insecurity. Lea exacts perfection in whatever she does, but is there anything Lea is insecure about talent and body-wise?

"About my talent, no," Lea grinned. "Below the neck I look at the mirror and I see that I am aging. I am turning 40 in six months. In this business, you are surrounded by youth and it is like I still have what it takes to compete. Actually, aside from my talent I am not insecure."

In relation to the last question, can Lea name some people who can take her place as Miss Saigon?

"I think there are quite a few," answered Lea. "Sarah Geronimo, Rachelle Ann Go. They are gorgeous and amazing!"

Can Lea name a few male celebs that she admires?

"Piolo Pascual, John Lloyd Cruz, Jake Cuenca, Gerald Anderson, and Gary V. Gary is over 40 but, oh my God!" she gushed.

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The second to the last question for Lea was, "Produkto ka ba ng Salamat Po, Doc?" a joking reference to cosmetic surgery.

"Ah, hindi!" laughed Lea. Asked her opinion about it, she said, "If you need it, go for it. As long as it is safe and won't cause irreparable damage. You have to be very careful with the doctors you pick."

The final and toughest question for her came surprisingly from Aga Muhlach, her co-star in the 1992 film Bakit Labis Kitang Mahal? The smiling Aga cheekily asked through VTR, "Nagkaroon ka ba ng katiting na gusto o in love sa akin? Namalayan mo ba na na-in love ka sa akin? Malay mo."

"Mangarap ka!" jeered Lea. "Sa totoo lang, masaya siyang kasama sa set. He is funny and fun to work with. My next movie dapat siya leading man. Napakadali at 'gaan niyang kasama. Mabait siyang tao."


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