When you think of the '80s, the first things that come to mind are big hair, even bigger shoulder pads, glam rock, New Wave and the popular video game, Pac-Man — to name a few.
And if you grew up in the Philippines, you’d think of such personalities as Chuckie Dreyfuss, Jojo Alejar, and the still very sexy Carmi Martin, who were some of the hottest showbiz personalities during that era.
These three celebrities recently attended the launch of the new National Geographic Channel show called The 80's: The Time of our Lives, at the Amber Ultra Lounge in The Fort, Taguig.
While Jojo did the bulk of the hosting, Carmi and Chuckie came in at different points providing banter and witty remarks, and proving that they still have "the moves"— especially Carmi.
80's FLASHBACK. In a chat with PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal), Carmi had some major flashbacks after seeing the show’s pilot episode which was previewed during the party.
"Hay naku, nakakatuwa kasi biruin mo, National Geographic!
“And I was just watching it and remembering, because I'm a fan of National Geographic, and as I was watching it na about the '80s— na I would say that my prime time, prime days really was during the '80s— and it was really fun," she reminisces.
Watching the show, she let out a few laughs when it got to the part where they talked about cellphones and '80s fashion.
“Very interesting!" she exclaimed, especially since she wore the very same corset, jacket, and tight pants that she wore many years ago on the show Tonight with Dick and Carmi, which she hosted with Roderick Paulate.
(Frankly, most guests at the party were amazed at how she has maintained her looks and her sexy figure to this day.)
Carmi adds that she specifically made sure to get updated on the series from none other than Fox International Channels territory head Jude Turcuato.
"I actually asked nga what time, because I'm always watching and I would really, really be interested to see the rest of the two-week series," she revealed.
She tries to wrap her many thoughts about the 80's into one sentence, "ma-ano ako, e, I still believe during the '80s was the best music, the fashion, ganyan. Parang maganda, glamorous… a glamorous decade."
She believes that people who didn't get to experience life in the '80s are actually missing something valuable. But then again, she comments, "siguro during the '20s it was also glamorous, and then during rock 'n roll that was also fun.
“Pero one of the decades that I would say na fun talaga was '80s," she affirms.
Carmi remarked that the best lesson the '80s taught her was "to save money, and to love Christ, to have spiritual guidance."
LIFE WITHOUT A CELLPHONE. Before she did her mini-dance number on stage— which included some awesome Vogue-ing, a popular dance style from the decade— Carmi related during her hosting bit what it was like communicating without a cellphone back in the '80s.
Everyone had just watched the first episode of the show, retelling how the first cellphones— also called the brick— came to be, and Carmi recalls her experience, "Hay naku, tinawagan ako na may shooting daw ako, kailangan bukas andoon ako, so pumunta ako.
“Pagdating ko doon, may mga nagwawalis ng kalye. Tinanong ko, ‘Saan yung shooting dito?’
“Sabi, ‘Hindi po tuloy.’ So, may cellphone ka nga na kahit ganoon kalaki, pero natalo kayo pagdating sa communication."
This prompted Jojo to laugh out loud at her predicament as Carmi continued, "Isipin mo yun, hassle na nagpunta pa ako doon. Ibang-ibang talaga, di pwede yun sa panahon natin ngayon, pero noon, nangyayari talaga. 'Tapos sa Pangasinan pa kasi yun."
Jojo retorts, "Naku, di talaga puwede yan ngayon. Wala ka nang reason para di makapagsabi. Ngayon, alam mo na talaga kung sino yung ayaw makipag-usap, e."
Carmi recalled how different production numbers on TV were done back then as well, "Tuma-tumbling din ako, pero may taga-salo. Ngayon, mahirap na tumambling kasi baka saang hospital ka abutin."
NEW MOVIE. Meanwhile, Carmi also updated us with her new projects. She's set to appear in an upcoming Star Cinema movie, Familia Biscocho.
"Kasama mga stars ng Star Cinema, ako yung makakalaban ng pamilya Biscocho.
“Mas malaking role dito, kasi yung isa, hindi naman sinasadyang comedy— yung No Other Woman. But this one, huge role at saka comedy, which is my forte."
For those who want to see Carmi in one of the breakout comedy roles of her career, people can look for the 1984 Ishmael Bernal classic Working Girls, which featured Carmi's famous line: “Sabel! This must be looooove!” This movie was remade in 2010, starring Eugene Domingo, Ruffa Gutierrez, and more.
Carmi adds, "Yung Working Girls, mas nauna pa yun sa series na Sex and the City."
HITTING 50. As Carmi turns 50 this year, she describes reaching this feat as "unforgettable— something that is timeless, memorable. Ano nga yung sinasabi nila, na the time of my life?"
She noted her gratefulness for having experienced the showbiz life back in the '80s, "Konti lang kasi artista noon kaya di mo kailangan trying hard, so we enjoy what we do. Ngayon, masyadong malaki yung kompetensya."
Carmi revealed that to mark her 50th birthday, one of her endorsements will be coming out with a billboard to commemorate her special day.
She agrees that at 50, not 40, life truly begins. "I definitely think so, kasi during those times, pag 50s ka na, parang pa-retire ka na, e.
“But because of medicine— I'm talking about taking natural hormone pills, ha— mas nare-rewind ko yung strength and I stay fit because of centers like Marie France. And I do take care of myself."
While Carmi admits that she does not exercise, "I watch out my diet and I do a lot of things, like, I'm into interior designing as well."
The actress, who started her showbiz career in 1980, holds a two-year certificate course from the Philippine School of Interior Design and a Fine Arts degree from the Philippine Women's University.
What does Carmi, as a very urban and contemporary 50-year old woman, do during her me-time?
"I relax… sa bahay lang, kasi konti nga lang yung time to relax; and because I'm always busy, doing a lot of things. This is one thing I like now compared to before," she says.
SECRET TO A FULFILLED LIFE. Carmi had no qualms in sharing what has kept her around for so long in a very fickle industry.
"I kept it wholesome, e, Yung sexiness na ginawa ko, ginawa kong wholesome during the '80s.
"Nag-focus ako on television. Being professional is also important. Nag-evolve ako, di lang ako nag-stick sa comedy. I learned my craft well.
"At the same time, nag-invest din ako sa sarili ko to still look this way, physically. Hindi lang ako yung… kumbaga hihintay lang ako ng tawag for a next project.
“But while waiting, I was also doing something for myself so that I will always be ready," she states quite passionately.
To what does she attribute the wholesome image that she consistenly maintained through the decades?
"I think yung family... family values. Siguro yung family kasi intact. Kasi nadidinig mo yung break, ako yung other side ng family. Mayroon din naman family na intact, pero away kayo ng away, nagkakalat pa nga," Carmi muses.
She continues as she explains with a smile, "Ako kasi, we talk and I can hear kung ano yung sinasabi, yung mga issues. I respect them, ginagawan ko and lumaki kasi ako na madasalin."
As to what she thinks about celebrities and personalities who seem to have all their issues out in the open, Carmi turns a bit serious and cautious as she said, "Walang tigil… I don't like it. Dine-degrade nila not only themselves— di ko masabi na family— pati tuloy yung mga artista, dinadamay nila.
"Tuloy minsan, pag lumalabas ang artista in other parties, ang tingin nila, ‘O, ito, ano kaya ang tsismis d'yan?’ Pag-pipiyestahan ka.
"For me, on my way here kanina, I was listening to the news again, and they were talking about this actress na may mga nude photos. Sabi ko, ‘Ano ba yan? Nakakahiya naman. Ayoko.’”
The star concludes— and without glossing over her own mistakes— that she did pretty well in her career "because I really wanted to make my family proud.
“I did, once, na masasabi kong super sexy, which was under Lino Brocka at that time.
“Pero after that, sabi ko, ayoko na, kasi I love my family and I'm so happy I made that decision because now I'm a Christian, I am serving the Lord, and wala masyado akong ilu-look back na sobrang nakakahiya."
Carmi can currently be seen as Concha, the wife of Manuel (Phillip Salvador) and mother to Miguel (Benjamin Alves) and Connie (Pauleen Luna) in Unforgettable, a GMA-7 romantic fantasy drama.
Unforgettable is directed by Gina Alajar and also stars Kylie Padilla, Mark Herras, and Polo Ravales, airing during the afternoon primetime block.