With three shows on her plate these days, Carmina Villarroel lets out a hearty laugh before stating she is in no hurry to go back to acting in a soap opera.
"May tinitingnan nang mga storylines, pero wala pang details. Okay lang, I'm not in a hurry!" she says.
The host of Amazing Cooking Kids met with members of the press last Saturday, July 2, at the 17th floor of GMA Network Center to talk about her reality cooking competition show.
Mina points out, "Siguro naiiba lang ang priority ko sa ngayon. Enjoy ako sa ganito, Amazing Cooking Kids, tapos nag-aaral pa ako ngayon.
"Alam ko kasi pag nag soap na naman ako, wala na naman akong buhay.
"Hindi ako against sa kahit na kanino, it's just yung oras talaga.
"Mas enjoy ko yung ganito na kahit I have three shows, medyo mas flexible, mas may oras ako sa pamilya ko, parang mas normal akong tao, at ang dami kong nagagawa.
"Nagagawa ko yung trabaho ko bilang artista, nag-aaral ako, kasi fulfillment yun kapag may ginagawa ka for yourself."
Recently, Mina took on the job of a mason for her GMA News TV show Day Off with co-host Pekto, something she enjoyed getting to do.
The actress-TV host is also part of the GMA-7 reality sitcom Pepito Manaloto.
Mina is also going to be busy for a project on the big screen under GMA Films.
She's set to play a "salbahengnanay" on the horror flick The Road. She'll meet with Direk Yam Laranas this week and has already secured her shooting days.
However, she would rather keep mum about the details of the film as well as her character in it.
CARMINA'S FAMILY. Meanwhile, what can fans expect from her family, which is considered a favorite among advertisers for family-oriented commercials?
"If ever, I'm not saying na we are planning, pero if ever, yung nakikita ko is sitcom.
"Kasi marami nagsasabi, if you see the four of us together, yung every day, para kaming sitcom.
"Marami nagsasabi magdala na lang daw ako ng camera, ibenta ko daw."
Mina says that they are the typical Pinoy family, "Pero si Zoren [Legaspi, her partner] komedyante kasi.
"So how we are with the kids and paano sila sa amin, karakter kaming apat, masaya.
"Of course, hindi lahat masaya, kasama yung mga problem sa ganito, kung paano lang talaga kami."
Whether the format will be more reality based or scripted sitcom with funny situations, Carmina notes that now, "Wala na rin kasi yung sitcom na pang-pamilya, except for Pepito Manaloto na reality sitcom na family-oriented."
She does admit that soaps wouldn't be something for all four of them together as it involves crying and such, "Kasi happy kalog family kami."
HOSTING A COOKING SHOW. Mina also says that she really looks forward to doing shows similar to Amazing Cooking Kids.
"Hosting, ganyan, kasi madaldal akong tao. Mas comfortable ako, mas magaan sa akin if I do something like this, reality na may hosting...
"Gusto ko yung nagsasalita ako, yung nakakapag-educate ng ibang tao, at the same time sa akin, natututo rin ako from the show."
Even though she gets tense for the contestants for example, "Minsan ayaw ko na sabihin kung sino natanggal, kasi yung puso ko dug-dug-dug... ako pa yung sumisigaw!"
CULINARY STUDIES. Interestingly, Carmina is now pursuing culinary studies at MIHCA (Magsaysay Institute of Hospitality and Culinary Arts) because she was inspired by the kids on the show Amazing Cooking Kids.
"Imadyinin mo dahil sa show na eto, nagbunga!" she quips.
Ten-year old Cassandra or Cassy sometimes joins Mommy Mina in her twice-a-week classes.
So far, Mina has cooked dishes like paella, risotto, pilaf rice, and many different kinds of soups.
Mina says that Zoren has of course tasted her creations, "Nagustuhan naman niya, pero minsan may reklamo siya na parang walang lasa."
Half in jest, Mina has challenged Zoren to a showdown. "Kasi nag-aral din siya."
Does this mean that Mina will translate her love for cooking into opening a restaurant of their own?
She smiles widely, saying, "Siguro kailangan ko muna galingan ang pagluto, and from there, malay mo. Bukas naman siya sa amin."
She says that the kids on Amazing Cooking Kids are, "Sobrang galing nila, kahit sino sa top three manalo, okay lang, deserve na manalo."
For Carmina, the Amazing 12 all have the potential to be celebrities because all of them have unique personalities that they bring to the show.
"Hindi lang ako natuto sa kanila, na-inspire pa," she says.
"Simula pa lang, alam ko nang hindi lang eto sa TV, nakikita ko talaga, e.
"Sila, nakakainggit kasi bata pa sila, wala pang formal training, marami pa silang puwedeng gawin na magiging fantastic chefs sila in the future."
Mina says that even though before she didn't like to cook, she tried learning it already, but it wasn't time yet until this season.
"Ngayon nasa perfect timing, nasa ayos lahat, nag-aaral pa ako pati, nagugustuhan ko yung pag-aaral, isa akong schoolgirl," Mina says with a wink.
She's at MIHCA twice a week, from about 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., depending on the number of dishes they tackle per day.
Each class has Mina attending a lecture with cooking application then an exam to see if "Nakikinig ka talaga. Hindi yung luto ang gine-grade, hindi yung lasa kasi iba-iba tayo niyan, kundi yung tsine-check nila yung method of cooking and procedures."
She squeals, "Nakaka-tense kasi parang schoolgirl na schoolgirl, minsan may true or false pa!"
Jokingly, she adds, "Amoy pagkain ako, tapos kakatikim ko, nakakain ko rin yung luto ko."
Her one cooking weakness, if that's what you call it, is when, "Pagdating sa plating, parang ayaw mong galawin kasi iniisip ko na hindi ko na siya magagawa ulit. So, picture ako nang picture!"
When it comes to schoolgirl Mina, she tries to stay under the radar, not expecting any special treatment.
She exclaims, "Diyos ko', 'Day, wala akong makeup, nakasipit lang, walang pilik-mata, wala! Shades lang katapat ko, para mukha na lang ako artista.
"Pag wala akong work, di talaga ako naka-makeup, walang pilik-mata," she said while batting her gorgeous fake eyelashes.
Hosting allows Mina to explore another side of herself, what she can improve and even learn from each experience.
HOPES TO WORK WITH ZOREN. Another thing that Mina would want to happen is to work with Zoren again, this time as her director.
She says, "Whether movie or TV, gusto ko maging artista niya kasi nakita ko kung paano siya as a director.
"Maybe because he is an actor-director, alam niya yung feeling ng isang artista. He makes sure ready na lahat...iba.
"Alam ko rin na aalagaan niya mga anggulo ko, kung hanggang saan pa yung kaya kong ibigay.
"At hindi naman siya yung tipo na dahil honey kita, pagbibigyan kita. Pag work, work!"
What is the secret to their relationship still being fresh and vibrant?
"Yung usap namin, parang boyfriend-girlfriend, ang tagal-tagal."
She revealed that they spent hours chatting since Zoren has been taping in Tuguegarao for the past few days.
"Kausap ko naman siya earlier, yesterday, maganda talaga na kahit hindi pa kami matanda... Kasi sabi nila yung ibang husband and wife, pag tumanda na, more of companionship na, friendship na.
"Kami, we started out as friends talaga. So, yun ang hindi nawala sa amin.
"Yung yun gusto ko. We enjoy each other's company, parang hindi namin kailangan may friends or ibang tao para masabi nag-enjoy kaming dalawa or nag-enjoy kaming family. Bihira lang yung ganoon."
How does Zoren keep the romance alive then?
"Up to this day, ang dami niyang surprises, he's not the stereotypical na he will give flowers, chocolates...
"Siya, he surprises me and does things na hindi ko ma-imagine na gagawin niya."
She recalls one particular incident during Zoren's birthday.
"Two years ago, pero ako ang niregaluhan niya... Sinurprise niya ako ng something na talagang gustong-gusto ko.
"Ang sabi niya sa akin nun, 'I know it's my birthday, but since we are one, it's also your birthday.'
"So, parang ako, 'Oh my gosh!' For a guy to say those stuff, usually parang girl ang ma-ganoon."
Mina says that the way he treats her and the twins is what she really finds romantic.
"He is a very good son, kasi sabi nila how a son treats his mother is how he will treat you, and he's very family-oriented, not the typical one.
"And mabait talaga siya. Walang bisyo, wala akong mareklamo sa kanya."
She gushes, "He's a very good provider, good husband, a father... Wala talaga akong masabi, ang galing niya!"