Claudine Barretto clearly remembers the start of her friendship with actor Robin Padilla, host of TV5’s Talentadong Pinoy 2014.
"Kami ni Utol [Robin], we’ve gone a long way already," said Claudine at a recent interview with PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) when she sat as one of the jury members of the reality game show.
This Saturday, November 22, the show will have a special birthday presentation for the actor-TV host. Robin turns 46 on November 23.
Claudine related further, "Nung bata pa ako and hindi pa ako nag-aartista, before that, nakakasama ko na siya during campaigns [for Robin’s sibling who ran for public office in their home province, Camarines Norte].
"Kasama ko si Ate [Gretchen Barretto] ko.
"So, naging close ako sa kanya doon.
"’Tapos, sinabi niya na pagka naging artista ako, yung first shooting day ko o taping day ko, pupunta siya.
"At tinupad niya ’yon! Pero after two months."
Claudine’s first show with ABS-CBN was the children’s program Ang TV in the late ’80s. She started making movies towards the mid-’90s.
She continued, "Siyempre, ang feeling ko, ang yabang-yabang ko kasi nandoon si Robin Padilla, ’di ba?
"Sosyal! Parang ganun!
"So, yun ang pinaka-memorable sa akin.
"And, of course, when he was in jail [in 1995, for illegal possession of firearms], I visited him a couple of times."
GODFATHER. Claudine became a big star and married Raymart Santiago on March 27, 2006 in Tagaytay Highlands.
More than a year later, on July 19, 2007, she gave birth to their baby boy, Rodrigo Santino.
They already had a daughter by then, Sabina Natasha, whom they adopted in 2004.
Her marriage to Raymart, however, ended in bitter quarrels, public scandal, and legal battles.
During the PEP interview, Claudine refused to talk at length about their marital issues.
"I don’t want to have anything to do with Raymart anymore!" declared Claudine resolutely.
She went on, "Nung nabuntis ako kay Santino, si Robin lang ang naisip ko na maging ninong.
"Siya lang at si Edu [Manzano]… sila [ni Robin] ang ninong ni Santino.
"Gusto ko kasi na lumaki si Santino, na kagaya ni Robin, na mabuting tao... maayos na lalaki, kumbaga, gentleman. Sobra!
"Na mahal na mahal niya yung family niya at mga kaibigan niya.
"Na talagang sobrang respetado siya sa industriyang ito.
"So, of course, ako, I can never say ’no’ to Robin kahit last night ko lang nalaman na I will be sitting as one of the jury member-guests [of Talentadong Pinoy 2014 special edition]."
PURE HEARTS. Claudine further reminisced, "I think, one of the purest hearts na na-meet ko in the business was Robin’s and Aga’s [Muhlach].
"Si Aga, barkada ko rin talaga ’yan noon pa."
Aga was Claudine’s leading man in one of her most memorable lead starrers, Kailangan Kita (2002).
Back to Robin, whose wife Mariel Rodriguez was said to be a self-confessed ’Claudinian’, "I also appreciate, during my lowest moments, talagang... si Robin was there.
’’Even nung breakup namin ni Rico [Yan] noon, he was there talaga, with Vhong Navarro, to support me."
Claudine and her then real and reel sweetheart, the late matinee idol Rico Yan, separated in early 2002. Soon afterwards, she was engaged to Raymart.
"Talagang halos every day, pinupuntahan ako ni Robin, ganyan... at saka, never siya nanligaw sa akin!
"Ganun kalaki ang trust namin sa isa’t isa, at yung respeto namin, sobra.
"Maiwan ka nga sa isang kuwarto, wala siyang gagawin. Overacting talaga ’yan, e!
"Kasi, ang pagka-gentleman niyan, umaapaw!
"Kung pupunta ka sa bathroom, naku, lalagyan niya ng alcohol yung [toilet] bowl! Talagang siya pa ang maglilinis nun!
"So, talagang, sabi ko, grabe! I’d like my kid, my son, to grow up like him!
"Of course, I wish him and Mariel kids soon.
"I love Mariel so much... she’s a Claudinian, see?"
SINGLE PARENTHOOD. Though she wouldn’t want to talk about Raymart and their many issues, Claudine updated PEP about her current status as a single mother.
"As much as possible, I really want to be positive... I love my children very much.
"I’m an officer of PTA [Parent-Teacher Association] at the Ateneo where my son Santino and daughter Sabina go.
"They’re both in grade school.
"Santino, I tell you, is a very bright kid!
"He’s different and I don’t want him to get affected by all this mess. Same with my daughter, Sabina."
Claudine said she has full custody of the children, although, "Raymart is still fighting for his own custody."
She, however, allows her ex-husband visitation privileges.
"It’s also his right but then... like when I allowed my children to go with their dad when his mother [Cielito Santiago] died in late September this year, I heard, pinabayaan naman niya.
"So, what can I do?"
In the meantime, "People may have wrong notions about my character, but I still want to continue being the positive person that I am."