Gretchen Barretto—one of the prettiest faces in the country, according to Preview magazine—celebrated her 37th birthday last March 6. Last Sunday, March 11, she was interviewed by her good friend Ruffa Gutierrez, who took over Kris Aquino's hosting chore on The Buzz.
La Greta may seem to have more material things than most, but she explained that there are only a few things worth treasuring.
"A letter," answered Gretchen when asked what her daughter Dominique gave her for her birthday. "Para sa akin kasi, ‘yon iyong priceless, di ba? 'Pag sinabing ‘I love you! You're the best!'"
She added that her partner, Tonyboy Cojuangco, has given her priceless gifts.
"His love and attention. And I think ‘yong kaniyang understanding kasi, lately, for the past month, parang hinahayaan niya akong mag-party, lumabas with my friends," said Gretchen.
She turned to Ruffa, the interviewer, and said, "Si Ruffa, kinantiyawan ko ‘yan kasi sabi ko, ‘Ruffa, ang yaman-yaman mo pero yung mga regalo mo sa akin, parati na lang hindi mamahalin!'
"Binigyan ako ng party nila Lisa Gokongwei, kami nila Tita Shirley Kuan. Sinurprise niya [Ruffa] ako sa harap ng lahat, dumating [may dalang] isang bag Neiman Marcus. Muntik akong himatayin! Sabi ko, ‘This is it! Sa wakas mayroon na akong mamahaling regalo from Ruffa!' Marc Jacobs na sapatos."
Ruffa replied, "Alam n'yo kasi ako when I give gifts—mga chocolates, mga letters..."
Gretchen didn't have a formal birthday celebration. Instead, several friends threw her different parties over the past week.
A WIFE AND A MOTHER. Ruffa asked Gretchen why not have more kids.
"Sisirain mo ba ‘yong sexy body ko, Ruffa? Hihiramin ko na lang ‘yan [mga anak mo] tapos isasauli ko kapag gabi na," Gretchen managed a joke.
The 37-year-old actress said that she is pleased with her life now.
"I'm happy because I chose to be happy. There are moments when we're sad because trials will always come. Wala namang permanente sa buhay na ito. I think ‘yong maganda is that I know how to snap out of every situation or emotion, and I'm good and ready again," she explained.
She added, "I could say right now that I'm doing very well. I'm doing fine because I am at the stage in my life when I have learned to acknowledge my emotion. I have learned not only to be true to myself, but to my public. I have learned to give only what I have, in terms of material, in terms of emotional also. I'm really ready to fly and soar."
Although she has said in the past that she is "happily unmarried," Gretchen couldn't stress more how committed she is to her partner.
When asked if she thinks of Tony as the last man in her life, she said candidly, "I certainly hope so."
She continued, "I have Dominique and, of course, we have trials, but I've worked very hard to keep this relationship with him. I don't think I'll find anyone who is as understanding as Tony, and as loving. He loves me for my bratty-ness and for my sexiness, and for everything else... [for my] my intelligence!"
La Greta was bold enough to say that if Tony asks her to leave show business, she will oblige.
"Sana 'wag niyang itatanong ‘yan kasi alam naman niya kung gaano ko kamahal ang industriya na ito. So sana humaba pa ang pasensiya niya para kay Gretchen at ang understanding niya, kasi I don't want to have to choose. But I have my priorities naman in order, so if he asks me, I'll have to give up everything for him—and I believe he's worth it," she remarked.
CONTROVERSIAL. In the past months, Gretchen has been the "suki" of most talk shows, tabloids, and even PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal). That was because she tiffs with several high-profile people: Dawn Zulueta, Lani Mercado, and Angeli Pangilinan-Valenciano.
Gretchen cleared the air about the controversies between her and the people mentioned.
On Angeli: "Wala na, tapos na 'yon kasi sinabi ko sa inyo, tinext ko na siya. Sinagot ko na rin, e, di tapos na. Wala naman, hindi naman siya sumagot."
On Dawn: "Lalo namang tapos. Twenty-two pages na ang isinagot ko doon, di ba? So tapos na tapos na ‘yon." [Gretchen was referring to the YES! January 2007 issue where she talked about their rift.]
On Lani: "Twelve years nang tapos ‘yon, di ba? Twelve years na talaga. Kaya naman nauungkat kasi parating tinatanong ng tao. Minsan nagsasawa na ako kasi tuwing may interview, itatanong ‘yong mga issues na 12 years ago, 10 years ago. Wag na sanang ungkat-ungkatin."