Cris Villonco talks about dealing with “dahil sa lola” remarks and being a “huge fan” of Marian Rivera

IMAGE Noel Orsal

At present, she stars in the comedy-musical D' Wonder Twins of Boac, her first project under PETA. When she's not busy acting onstage, she manages White Space, an events venue in Makati City owned by her family.


“Gusto kong maging character actor,” says Cris Villonco.

But for a lady who’s been acting for 20 years now, she still has her share of hesitations.

First, “People are just not aware I’m willing kasi hindi naman ako [nakikita]…” she told PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) and tabloid columnist Jun Lalin in an interview on February 6.

Second, “Sometimes din kasi, schedule, e.”

Third, her skin color.

Two years ago, she auditioned for a role in a Cinemalaya Film Festival entry.

She recalled, “Ako na ang pinakamaputi dito. Wala silang ika-cast sa akin kasi magiging sacrificial virgin lang ako dito.”

True enough, she didn’t get any part.

And even if there are already tanning sprays available, “It’s just funny, the way I look. I look… orange.”

Nonetheless, she hasn't given up entirely on the idea.

Smiling, she said, “I’m not looking to become a star or whatever. Gusto kong maging character actor. Masaya yun, e. You know, I’m happy there.”

AS A STAGE ACTRESS. But in the world of theatre, Cris has already made her mark.

She underscored though that in all her projects—last count was 22— she worked real hard.

And just like most actors, she went through auditions— where she passed some and lost a few.

“You know at first before, it was hard. Kasi, siyempre, when I was young, I got the roles. And then as I grew older, I didn’t get the roles.

“Even in theater, there were times when they say, ‘You’re too old.’

“There are times, they’ll tell me they'll get a bigger celebrity, and that’s okay. It happens.”

At present, she’s playing Viola in the comedy-musical D' Wonder Twins of Boac, which will have its run on February 9 until March 3, at the PETA Theater Center.

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Her character, she described, is “galing probinsiya, Marinduque…”

Jun Lalin threw in, “Pero hindi ba sosyal ka? Lumaki ka sa Forbes Park…”

She chuckled, underlining that she’s no different from the typical Pinoy. In fact, she confessed that she’d probably get starstruck if she bumps into Marian Rivera.

“Yes. I am a huge fan.”

Does this mean she watches Temptation of Wife?

“Yes, I do.”

The 29-year-old theater star added, “It’s just funny ‘cause I’ve never met her but I know she, I dunno… I’m sure a lot of my theater friends have told her that I’m a fan. Ever since Marimar... I have always been a fan of Marimar, of Thalia.”

AS A TEEN ACTRESS. Those who lived through the ‘90s would remember the granddaughter of Armida Siguion-Reyna as a TV star.

“Actually at that time, 16 ako nun, di ba, peak of my career,” she laughed. “Natatawa nga ako, every time I would say, ‘Peak of my career was 12…’

“Uso pang lagari [getting involved in different projects at the same time] no’n, e…

“I had all of that but still, we didn’t know what we wanted to do.”

Why did she have to leave?

“At that time na parang tumanda na ako, hindi nila… we didn’t know where to go. We didn’t know… okay, magpapa-sexy ba ako nang konti? Magbi-Britney Spears ba ako nang konti? So, yun yung uso, di ba? Noon…

“And at that time, I wasn’t ready. Kasi, ito lang yung alam ko, e. Ito lang yung buhay ko, e, ever since I was nine.

“And medyo controversial nun kasi, siyempre yung lola ko, nasa MTRCB, maraming mga ewan and situations and so we had to…

“My mom [Monique, daughter of Armida] just said, ‘Alam mo, go to the States na lang first. Kung di mo alam kung anong gagawin mo, and you’re getting depressed about the fact that you don’t know where your career is going, mag-aral ka muna, magtapos ka muna.’

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“So, that was what happened.”

AS THE GRANDDAUGHTER OF ARMIDA SIGUION-REYNA. Contrary to what most people think, being tagged as “apo ni Armida” has its drawbacks sometimes.

Cris related, “The thing is, everybody thinks kasi… I think a lot of people up to this day, whenever I get roles, whenever I get special situations in my life and in my career, people will say, ‘Dahil sa lola.’

“But really, binayaran ko lola ko? Binayaran namin?

“Like when I won my award for Gawad Buhay as Best Actress, some people said, ‘May bayad yun.’

“Pa’no ko babayaran si Audie Gemora? Pa’no ko babayaran si Bien Lumbera na, ‘Hoy, magaling ako. Kailangan ako yung manalo…’ Marami yung ganun pa din, e.”

She cited some biased comments on PEP, “Dahil nakatira ako sa Makati… E, anong magagawa ko e yun na talaga yung buhay ko?”

But how did the Reyna ng Kundiman figure in her career?

Smiling, Cris replied, “Eto na, there’s only one star in the family. Siya yun. Yun na yun. So, we do not… I do not really talk about my stuff with her.”

Why not?

“Hindi, kasi siya na yung star. Yun na yun,” she said before resuming, “But you know…I really credit her for my Tagalog. Dun talaga ako natuto. Salamat sa Diyos at wala akong accent.”

How’s her [lola's] health?

“She’s good. She’s getting old. Ever since my lolo died, there really was quite a difference. Kasi yun talaga yung wind beneath her wings.

“Pero as long as we know may inaaway siya araw-araw, yun na yun.”

Lastly, how is she going to spend Valentine’s Day?

“I just came from a five-year relationship…”

They broke up “four months ago.”

She’s not used to being single because, “I was always a serial monogamist. I was always with someone. This is the only time na wala. Pinakiusapan talaga ako ng Nanay ko, ‘Please…’”

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But she’s okay.

“I have to. I will be,” she ended.


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