Who knew that at this very moment, Denise Laurel is already living her second life?
At the premiere of Olay Conversations— a new online talk show hosted by Boy Abunda and presented by beauty brand Olay Philippines— held February 13, the Kapamilya star revealed how she almost died two years ago.
It happened just moments after giving birth to her son Alejandro in 2011.
In her taped episode, talking to Boy, Denise began telling her story by describing how happy she felt upon seeing her son for the first time.
As she held him in her arms, “I told him that I’m gonna make his life so awesome.
“‘I’m gonna be your best friend… your mother above all! Even though you would hate me at times, I would be there for you no matter what,’” the Precious Hearts Romances Presents: Paraiso star recounted with a smile.
Soon enough though, her happy memory would turn worrisome as she recalled how it felt when “death” started to hit her.
“The next day, I woke up and I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t breathe. I felt like my heart was gonna explode.
“I was convulsing, I couldn’t move anything. I was paralyzed.
“I was having an allergic reaction to the… probably to the anesthesia that was injected through my spine three times.”
Denise gave birth via emergency Caesarean section, which required anesthesia before the procedure.
NOT AFRAID TO DIE. Knowing that you’re about to go is probably one of the most horrifying things a person can ever face in life.
But for Denise, it was the other way around.
“At that few moments before they stabilized me, I thought I was gonna go.
“But I wasn’t afraid to die.”
Denise uttered these words so calmly and with utmost conviction that Boy Abunda just had to question her: “You weren’t afraid to die?”
She shook her head, and then said, “But I was afraid to leave my son.
“And that’s the scariest thing I’ve ever felt in my life!
“I was, like, ‘What, I’m only gonna get to hold him once and that’s it, I won’t be able to be a good mother? Am I gonna go now?’
“‘What’s gonna happen to him? Who’s gonna take care of him? Who’s gonna love him more than as I would?’”
These were the questions that filled Denise’s head while she battled for her life.
Throughout those moments, all she could think of was Alejandro, whom she fondly calls her “little warrior.”
THE UNEXPECTED PREGNANCY. In the web show, Denise also recalled the time when she discovered her pregnancy.
“When I found out, I was already almost four months [pregnant].
“I didn’t understand what was going on with my body… that I was dealing with a delicate pregnancy, so I really had to keep off my feet.”
Contradicting rumors that spread in 2011 about the actress trying to hide her pregnancy because of shame, Denise said that she was actually advised by her doctor to stop working and rest for the sake of her baby.
“Well, I’m lucky that he hung in there.
“That’s why I call him my little warrior, because I had no pre-natal care for the first trimester.
“I had nothing, and I was just taking liquids at that time.”
She was working on the show Precious Hearts Romances Presents: Kristine back then— a time when Denise can easily be pinpointed as one of ABS-CBN’s hottest stars, along with her leading man Rafael Rosell.
“It was tough. I was put in a spot where I was torn into pieces— I was extremely happy because I always wanted to be a mother, [and I] always wanted to be an actress,” Denise says, recalling her dilemma of having to tell people that put her blossoming career aside in favor of her unborn child.
In the end, she resolved to become a full-time mom, and no longer expected to return to showbiz.
BEING SEXY IS NOT ALWAYS AN ASSET. Having decided to halt her career in favor of keeping and caring for her baby, Denise Laurel knew that getting back into showbiz, after giving birth in 2011, would not be easy.
The 25-year-old actress knows too well how tough it is to get a big break in this cutthroat industry.
In an interview with PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) right after the premiere, Denise said it took her 16 long years before she finally got a meaty role on TV.
No, talent— or the lack of it— was clearly not the problem as she was practically “born” to become an artist, just like her thespian-singer uncle Cocoy Laurel.
“I’m so used to having people break into song during dinner!” she says.
However, it was her misconceived reputation as “malandi” that cost her some good roles.
Apparently, there is a certain air of sexiness to Denise’s physical features— such as the pout of her lips, sparkle of her eyes, flick of her hair, and grace in her movements— that didn’t sit well with the concept of being a female lead.
She says, “Growing up, I was a tomboy, so I didn’t really know about what really made people look sensual or malandi.
“Adjusting to how I look was so different from who I was inside, so people would always make snap judgements na, ‘Ay, maldita iyang batang iyan’ or ‘Ay, malandi iyan.’
“So, growing up with that, and entering showbiz, and brazing through all the first impressions— lalo na I’m a Laurel— so, they assume I was born with a silver platter and a silver spoon in my mouth.
“But, you know, I did everything by myself— taxi, tricycle, jeep, MRT just to get to work; I never had a PA [personal assistant], never had a yaya my whole life— things that would surprise people.”
It wasn’t until the Precious Hearts Romances Presents series came along that Denise finally got lucky.
The show is practically based on the romantic, sometimes erotic, Tagalog pocketbooks of the same title.
Obviously, the stories revolved around sexy themes, so they needed sexy actors and actresses to play the parts— something that fits right in with Denise’s “credentials.”
PRECIOUS HEARTS QUEEN. Since 2009, Denise has starred in six different projects under the Precious Hearts series— Bud Brothers in 2010; You’re Mine Only Mine, Midnight Phantom, and Kristine in 2010, and Pintada in 2012.
The sixth show is Paraiso, which currently airs in ABS-CBN’s afternoon block.
Denise talks about how she’s tackled her sexy roles in these shows.
“It’s… you can be sexy without removing your clothes, and I guess that’s one way of using a negative and making it a positive.
“Because nga, growing up, I didn’t understand why people would say, ‘Naku, malandi iyan. You’re too sexy!’
“Wala pa nga akong ginagawa— balot na balot pa ako, ha— tapos sinasabi niyo nang temptress ako, ganito, ganyan.
“So, I said, ‘You know what, we can make this a positive.’
“They think I am sexy and provocative as Cassandra [in Paraiso], but really, parati akong naka-long sleeves, parati akong naka-pencil skirt. You know what I mean?
“It’s really the character and the aura that brings it into things, so people would always say, ‘Sexy actress iyan,’ but if you think about it, I haven’t shown anything more than my shoulders and my legs.
“So, being sexy is all in the attitude, and the confidence, and just going with the flow and standing firm.”
PLAYING KONTRABIDA. Among all her roles in the Precious Hearts series, this is the first time Denise is playing the kontrabida.
She is the third party that tries to wreck the love story of Matteo Guidicelli and Jessy Mendiola’s characters.
About her villain role, Denise says, “Yeah, actually, that was refreshing because I wanted people to see what an actress is, and an actress’s job is to be able to act out the part given to her.
“[Besides] I never really thought I was a bida or never thought of myself as a kontrabida.
“I always thought of myself as an actress, so kung ano man ang ibinigay nila sa ‘kin, I will give my 200 percent.”
Having a streak of good-girl roles, how did she feel about shifting in another direction this time?
“I was nervous, siyempre. I’m not used to having people hate me.
“But I figured, the more they hate me, the more convincing what I’m doing is.
“So, sabi ko, ‘I’ll just take it nang pikit-mata and then go go go na lang!’”
Settling herself into her character, Denise found playing a kontrabida to be more challenging than terrifying.
“You know, it’s fun because there are things in the script, like mananampal ako or mananabunot, and I’ve never done that in my life!
“So, parang kinakabahan ako, hindi ko alam kung kahit acting lang, kaya kong manakit ng tao, so talagang lakas loob na lang and trust in my director.”
GRATEFUL TO ABS-CBN. With the second chance she is given in showbiz, Denise has this to say to her mother network and the people who have supported her all the way:
“I’m just honored that hindi nila ako nakakalimutan.
“Alam mo iyon, nowadays ang dami-dami namin, ang dami!
“People are fast to rise, fast to fall. Some people are discovered, and a lot of people that have talent are not, and so, parang, for me, I’m just thankful.
“And, like I said, an actress is supposed to be able to do everything, so sa akin, kung anong ibigay nila sa akin, I will play it like I am the bida, because that’s my job.
“I’m supposed to act the crap out of whatever character they give me, so… you know!”