Erich Gonzales, who turns 20 today, September 20, got the best gift yesterday at The Buzz. It wasn't a diamond ring, a car, or anything remotely expensive. It was a birthday letter from her mother Gloria Rica.
Erika Chryselle Gonzales Gancayco became known to the public when she won the Star Circle National Teen Quest back in 2004. She changed her name to Erich, and took her Mom's maiden name to make it easy for people to remember her.
Erich's claim to fame was last year's primetime ABS-CBN drama Katorse, where she played the lead role of Elena "Nene" Reyes. The role further solidified the young star's career.
She appeared live on The Buzz yesterday to talk about her mom and her career as an actress. Host Charlene Gonzales (they're not related) welcomed Erich by showing a video interview of her mom.
Said Mrs. Gloria Rica Gancayco of daughter Erich: "Kung ano man naririnig niyang negative, e carry [on] pa rin niya. Taas noo pa rin siya."
Her mom also offered this advice, "Kung ano mang mayroon ka ngayon, pasalamatan mo mga tao. Keep your feet on the ground always. Don't lose hope, marami pang darating sa iyo. Tiwala lang sa Diyos lagi. Love you!"
When the tape ended, Charlene asked Erich: "Gaano kayo ka-close ni mommy?"
"Sobrang close po talaga. Si Mama na po ang tumayong tatay at nanay ko. Lahat ng problema, siya palagi ang nandiyan para sa amin," she said.
Erich lives alone in Manila while her mother and brother are in Davao. A sister resides in Japan.
What does she miss most about her family?
"Siyempre po nasanay ako na kasama sila lagi," admitted Erich. "Super different lang right now na kasama ko lang P.A. [Personal Assistant] ko. But iyong ate ko miss na miss ko siya dahil ang tagal ko na siyang hindi nakikita. Hopefully ma-visit ko siya sa Japan soon."
Does she get lonely living alone?
"Madalas, pero ito ang gusto ko at ito ang consequence na mapalayo sa family. Pero lagi lang ako nagpe-pray and I ask God for guidance na makaya ko ang lahat ng ito."
How does it feel to celebrate her birthday without her family?
"Nakaka-sad, sobra po," said Erich, "Pero nandito ako nagtratrabaho para din sa kanila. At kung ano man ang narating ko ngayon, I know na sobrang happy sila [for me]. Kumbaga nandiyan sila, laging sumosuporta sa akin."
Does she have a message for her mom and her siblings?
"Sila po iyong strength ko talaga. Ginagawa ko po ito para sa kanila at sa mga taong naniniwala po sa akin," a teary-eyed Erich said. "Kahit gaano kahirap, I'll stay.
"Dito sa showbiz hindi maiiwasan na may masasabi sa iyo. Lagi kong iniisip na kahit anong intriga na ibato sa akin, hindi po ako magsasabi ng masama. [Hindi ako] makakasakit sa kahit kanino. Ngayon, nasanay na ako at alam ko na wala naman akong naapakan at naagrabyado."
Intrigues are part of showbiz. Can she single out a particular incident or rumor that affected her the most?
Without being specific, Erich said, "Basta mga intriga na iyon, e ginagamit ko na lang pang-motivate. [Intrigues] will always be there but I am happy na may mga tao diyan na nagmamahal sa akin."
BIRTHDAY MESSAGE. Much to Erich's delight, her co-star and love team partner, Enchong Dee also had a video message for her, which was also aired on The Buzz.
The champion swimmer-model-actor said: "Unang-una, Erich... ikaw ang unang babae na sinabihan ko ng 'I do!' Huwag mong kakalimutan iyon at sa akin mo din sinabi ang una mong 'I do.'
"Pangalawa, continue to be happy. Marami pa tayong pagdadaanan. Be happy and stay healthy and enjoy your work always!"
At the end of the video, Charlene asked Erich to explain the "I do" message.
After much laughter, he said, "Sa movie lang iyon! Hindi ko pa alam kung totoo o hindi so naguguluhan ako!"
Erich and Enchong previously worked on a movie with the words "I do" word in the title.
And then it was time to open gifts. Charlene presented Erich with a small gift from her mom and a letter. At first, Erich was reluctant to read the letter out loud, but Charlene insisted.
"Ay, kayo na lang po," she said.
"Kaya mo iyan!" Charlene said, smiling.
Composing herself, she read, "Erich, you have gone this far in your showbiz career. With perseverance and patience you waited this long. Words are not enough to express how happy I am. I am proud of what you [have become]. Remember always nandirito [ako] praying for your success. Love you and Happy Birthday! I am giving you a bracelet for your good health always! Love, Mommy Rica."
Erich was overcome with emotion and started to cry.
Composing herself, she explained, "Ang dami namin pinagdaanan talaga..."
Erich had a birthday message to her fans:
"Salamat po talaga sa inyo! Kung hindi po dahil sa inyo wala po ako dito," said Erich. "Kung hindi po dahil sa inyo, wala kami ni Enchong dito. Kung ano man ang narating namin, e dahil sa inyo. Salamat sa pagmamahal ninyo!"