The public last saw sexy star Cristina Gonzales on the big screen in 1997. She starred in the movie Bagamundo opposite Chuck Perez and Priscilla Almeda.
Before that, she acted in over thirty movies including Robin Padilla's Bad Boy and Bad Boy 2, Bikining Itim, Nimfa, Kailangan Kita, and Sana Kahit Minsan. This all happened in a span of ten years.
It's easy to say that Cristina, or Kring Kring as she is known in showbiz circles, was one of the hottest actresses of the '90s.
But life changed when she married current Tacloban city Mayor Alfred Romualdez in 1998. She dropped her career in an instant to start a family with him in Tacloban.
Cristina gave birth to two daughters, Sofia and Diana, who are now elevn and eight years old.
From ST star, Cristina plays four new roles in her life these days—wife, mother, entrepreneur and councilor of Tacloban, Leyte.
COUNCILOR OF TACLOBAN At an exclusive dinner party with the press and other esteemed guests during the Sangyaw Festival in Tacloban last June, Cristina sat down to chat with PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) about her new life in the province.
At that time, Cristina was on the roll as she was hands-on with the festival preparations. She heads the city's committee on tourism and was on top of every detail of the festival.
"For this whole month talagang na-busy ako. This whole June, kami ni mayor (her husband, Alfred) talagang sobrang getting ready for all the details and the visitors that arrive in and out," she says.
Since her first election in 2007, Cristina has worked non-stop as the city's first district councilor. It was something far different from what she had done in the past, but she says she's enjoying her current work in politics.
"Actually, I never thought na ma-e-enjoy ko yung pagiging councilor. Marami akong natutunan na mga bagong things na hindi ko naman ginagawa noon. Like sa legislation, gano'n," she says.
"I'm enjoying it as a councilor now. Actually wala talaga akong plano, e."
Cristina recounted that it was her father-in-law, Alfredo, the former mayor of Tacloban, who convinced her to join politics in 2007.
"[Sabi ng] father-in-law ko, malaki yung tulong kung nand'yan ako [sa konseho] para maimpluwensiyahan ko rin yung ibang mga konsehal na pagdating sa mga botohan ng mga ordinansa na kailangan ma-implement ni mayor."
"Kailangan namin yung boto ng sanggunian. So, pag anjan ako, syempre nagiging friend ko sila. Of course ako, yung vote ko, one vote na rin ako, di ba? So, majority kami."
"Up to now, awa ng diyos, majority pa rin naman kami lagi, So, yun, at least na-i-implement ni mayor yung mga dapat ma-implement as the executive. Kasi kung gusto ni mayor pero ayaw ng sanggunian, hindi mo 'yan ma-implement."
Coming from a showbiz background, she admitted that she had much to learn about her new job. And like other famous local celebrities who entered politics, like Manny Pacquiao and Lucy Torres-Gomez, she also enrolled herself in a crash course public legislation program to get the gist of what she was about to face.
"Nag-crash course ako ng one or two weeks yun before I started...Kasi yung mga basic, mga motions, mga sa legislations, ala naman akong alam at that time kahit ano. So, at least pag naging councilor na ko, hindi naman ako tatanga-tanga."
Cristina also gets constant guidance from her family. She considers her husband as her most trusted adviser.
"Marami [siyang naituro sa'kin] kasi syempre mas experienced naman siya sa politics. My dad was also a politician din before so silang dalawa [and advisors ko]. Up to now, my dad gives me tips."
Her father, Jose Mari Gonzales, also a former actor, used to be congressman of the municipality of San Juan.
"My husdband gives me tips and we work together as a team. Kasi sa sanggunian ako, siya naman sa executive. So kung meron siyang gustong ipapasa, minsan pinapagawa niya ako ng mga ordinances, ayun ang teamwork namin."
Apart from helping out her husband with city ordinances, Cristina also has projects of her own. Since the beginning, she has pushed for the advancement of women's rights in their area.
"Meron ako ditong home for the women, battered women. 'Yun ang aking pinaka-baby project maliban sa livelihood projects ko," says Cristina about the women's shelter she had put up two years ago.
"'Yung home for battered women, marami kaming cases na rape victims na bata and even not mga bata, mga babaeng binubugbog. May abugado kami dun, meron kaming mga psychiatrist and mga social workers na inaalagaan nila yung mga [survivors]."
Cristina says she's no longer planning to run for a third term, but people around her are pushing her to run for a higher position.
"Well, actually, sana hindi pero merong mga nagpupursige na parang pinupush nila ako na para tumakbo for a higher position. Maybe next time," says Cristina.
BUSINESSWOMAN Aside from her political affairs, Cristina also attends to her private businesses.
In 2000, she established Patio Victoria in Intramuros—a garden establishment for occasions like weddings, birthdays, and other events.
"[Business is] very good," says Cristina.
"God is, ano, talagang the business has been very blessed. We've been there for eleven years so maganda naman yung sistema namin and service namin.
"We always make sure na maganda pa rin ang service namin and sa food namin, and yung ambience. So, happy pa rin naman yung mga clients namin."
A second branch of Patio Victoria in Tacloban is currently in the works. It is set to open in July on a beach property owned by her father-in-law.
Cristina has two branches of her Cristina's Salon and Spa at the mall and at the city center where she also gets herself done whenever she attends to important events.
FAMILY WOMAN Listening to stories about her work, one would easily think that Cristina already has her hands full.
But having done eight movies each in 1991 and 1992, time management seems to have become a no-brainer for Cristina.
"'Yung mga anak ko naman they study here so it's not naman so hard...we get to see each other regularly."
Also, Cristina added, "We make it a point na minsan pag walang [masyadong trabaho] mag-aano kami ng schedule. Lalabas kami na kami lang [ng asawa ko]."
"Ginagawa namin, either outside Tacloban or mag-out of town kami for like three days. Kami lang or with the kids, yung gano'n, ginagawa rin namin 'yun."
Cristina celebrated her birthday last May 23 and she shared with PEP how she spent her special day.
"I did something different this year kasi alam ko pag pasok ng June 1, diretso na 'yan walang tigil na preparations kasi kami ang nag-o-organize ng fiesta dito."
"Sabi ko [kay Alfred], gusto kong mag-Boracay, tayo lang dalawa. So kami lang nung husband ko, nag-Boracay kami for three nights and four days. Relax muna parang walang stress. So 'yun na yung gift ko sa sarili ko na parang to relax."
"My kids naman, they really make it every time na may birthday kami or any celebration, meron silang ginagawang handmade nila na cards na 'I love you, Mommy. Happy birthday.'"
"Ay, napaka-sweet, very sweet ng mga anak ko when it comes to making their own cards. They don't buy cards, they make their own."
SHOWBIZ. On her birthday, Cristina said she was also greeted by some old friends from showbiz like Alma Concepcion and Gisele Sanchez.
Although she has kept in touch with some of her showbiz contemporaries, she hasn't really been in the loop anymore.
Does she miss acting on screen?
"Siyempre, nami-miss ko rin kasi nami-miss ko yung camaraderie among the, yung mga taong matagal ko nang hindi nakikita, di ba? Siguro, siyempre, because I live here na."
"Tapos nami-miss ko rin yung mga jokes sa set. Yung mga fun times. Yun ang nakaka-miss, of course."
Any plans to go back to acting soon?
"Sa schedule ko ngayon, full time, siguro hindi ko na rin kaya because I live here, e."
"I was telling nga Tita Aster (Amoyo) na siguro nga once in a while, di ba, nakikita rin ako. It's complimentary naman sa politics na makita ka rin once in a while. Mag-guesting guesting, gano'n. Maganda 'yon."
Have there been any offers?
"Meron naman...may sexy pa nga rin, e. Hindi ko talaga tinanggap."
"Meron TV. Minsan meron din akong nagagawang TV guestings, yung mga gano'n lang."
Cristina says she is proud of what she has achieved in her 10 years, more or less, in show business. Her most memorable moment:
"Siguro yung paggawa ko ng napakadaming movies. Of course, nakakapagod pero I still feel so lucky na naabutan ko pa 'yon (heyday of Philippine movies)."
"'Yung time na 'yon kasi, now daw parang konti na lang ang mga Filipino movies, nung time namin every month may movie ako, e. Not only me, pati ibang Tagalong movies."
"Every week may pinapalabas noong time na yun. Pero lately, parang more of telenovela na lang sa TV, wala na yung movie, parang napatay na yung movies."
But she is not totally closing her doors to the industry. In fact, if her schedule permits, Cristina would be willing to play a role in a teleserye.
"Kung once in a while, kung maganda ang role, okay lang. Pero yung talagang kagaya noon na ano, siguro for my age and siguro yung time na kelangan kong gawin sa politics and my family and business, baka hindi ko na mahati-hati."
"But kung once in a while, siyempre naman. Masarap din yun. At saka maganda nga yun [for me] as a politician.
"Yung ibang politician nga, di ba, gustong mag-artista. Yun talagang its complimentary naman na nakikita ka sa tv."
What does she consider as a good role for her?
"Ayoko ng kontrabida. Kasi pag sa politics, magagalit sa 'yo yung mga constituents, e. Siguro something different naman. Puwede ring mother role or tita. Mga gano'n, ok lang naman yun sa 'kin basta maganda. Hindi naman yung magagalit yung mga tao sa 'kin."
Cristina names Marian Rivera as her dream castmate. She said she is very fond of the Kapuso star.
"Actually when Marian Rivera came here, when we invited her, she was very sweet. She was here mga two or three fiestas ago."
"Sabi ko, 'Alam mo, kung maging nanay [mo ako] sa TV, papayag ako,' sabi ko sa kanya."