MANILA, Philippines — What does it mean to celebrate 40 years in showbiz? For megastar Sharon Cuneta, “It means everything. It’s my life’s work.”
The four decades after a 12-year-old Sharon was launched in the entertainment business with the hit song Mr. DJ will be condensed in the two-and-half-hour My 40 Years, Sharon show tomorrow, Sept. 28, 8 p.m. at the Araneta Coliseum (call Ticketnet at 911-5555).
“This concert is the biggest night of my whole 40-year career,” the 52-year-old singer, actress and host told The STAR.
Asked who her special guests are, she said, “Only those closest to me. Ex-lovers? Di naman (laughs). Well, meron din but mostly professional singers who have been my loves.” Named in media releases so far are Zsa Zsa Padilla, Kuh Ledesma, Regine Velasquez, Martin Nievera, Basil Valdez and Gary Valenciano.
From teasers on SharonCunetaNetwork soc-med accounts, expect special participation of her children, including eldest KC, who just came home from abroad, as well as hubby, Sen. Kiko Pangilinan.
Fans had a bit of a preview when she toured the country this year for sold-out concerts in Cebu, Bacolod, Bohol and Davao, where she was welcomed no less by one of her biggest fans, presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.
During STAR’s interview with Sharon, she talked about career highs and lows, staying power in the age of social media, and why she continues to firmly say no to running for public office despite her political ties that cross party lines.
What makes My 40 Years, Sharon different from past anniversary shows?
“It’s the 40th! We’re going through the whole thing. We celebrated the 30th with only my songs. It was very successful but I asked Rowell Santiago, who was my director then: Do you think people will like the show if it’s just all my songs? ‘It’s your 30th.’ Now, we’re doing other stuff as well.
“This is the most challenging (concert). I get stressed just thinking about it. I’m so excited because from the opening itself, I got goosebumps when they told me. I have three musical directors (Louie Ocampo, Mell Villena and Louie Ocampo) so there’s a lot of fresh (ideas) there but a lot of love also. Then I have Gerard Salonga and the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra. Technical directors will be both Rowell and Paolo Valenciano. So, it’s like a whole group or family effort.”
Apart from the concert, what can we expect from you in the next months?
“The album and my first for Star Music. Ten songs and all OPM originals, three of which I wrote, two I am re-recording. One I wrote for Martin, we recorded it before. Maybe January or February, we will do a US tour.
“Then there’s the (reunion) movie with Richard Gomez, which is showing in November, titled Three Words to Forever, with Kathryn (Bernardo) for the first time. I’m very excited about it but I have to admit, it’s a little daunting because I haven’t worked with him in 15 years. And so much has happened in those 15 years, in his life and in my life. Now, both of us have been married for over two decades to our spouses, now we’re older, he’s a Mayor now, living in Forbes Park, now I have four kids. The last time we worked together, I only have two.
“So, much has happened. I don’t know if I’m the same person and I certainly don’t know if he’s still the same person. Of course, some things remain the same, and some things will definitely change. The day it was announced it trended as No. 1. This early, there’s so much support so that’s really good news.”
Looking back, what would you like to change in your 40-year career?
“If I had changed anything I don’t know if I will be in this position. I don’t know if I would be christened as Megastar. By the way, when I get home that’s all left out the door. I would have changed some things in my personal life, but not in my career. Well, obviously not get married so early… Also, I would have finished school… But regrets, mostly it was my lovelife (laughs).
“(In terms of career) everything I did was part (of it). Even those that did make so much money, I think they happened because then I was given other opportunities after. They say nga parang if you don’t have a chance, you will always have success after success with what you learned. So, when you have sometimes failure and you pick yourself up, there’s a very important lesson learned that makes you a better person.”
For the benefit of young artists, how does one stay long in the business?
“You know, I really have no idea why I lasted this long. All I can say is I worked hard, harder than the next actress because everybody thought that because I came from a family that was more fortunate, I would be a brat. My father (the late Pasay City Mayor Pablo Cuneta) and mother (Elaine Cuneta) spoiled me in terms of I have everything I needed. But I was never a brat, my brother and I, because my parents would have not allowed it. (My parents taught me) humility and just being grateful every day that you are blessed out of how many millions of people in the world so when I like to whine and obsess over a problem I just knock some sense into my head and I remind myself of that.”
People are saying your career is experiencing a “resurgence” (a box-office blockbuster last year, reality shows, a viral food chain commercial, etc.). Can you remember a time when you felt down in your career?
“I didn’t just feel it, people made me feel it. It hurt! You start at 12, you lasted 40-something, this is how long people have been loving you and being nice to you, and all of a sudden in those few years, I was so sad and jobless. I can’t say that they were totally wasted because my family had me all to themselves. But it hurt me. Sure, I made money, I was paid a lot, I don’t think people would have bound to see me, if they didn’t want to see me, right? So, I missed not so much the fame, I missed the niceness of people, but then I found out who was really nice or being nice for a reason. Like last Christmas, we noticed many more Christmas gifts again than the previous years (laughs). That’s kind of sad, don’t you think?
“Now, that I have it, I’m thankful for every gift that comes along. The landscape of showbiz now is totally different from when I left. There are more pieces of the pie now, and a lot of them are fresher, but see what we have that they don’t is a lot of history with our audience and a lot of memories and a lot of substance (laughs).”
During that time, did it cross your mind that you might not recover?
“Hindi. Ang feeling ko because my friends in showbiz, the ones who are frank talaga, will tell you the truth. Even sina Judy Ann (Santos), direk Joyce Bernal, of course my team, everybody will tell me, ‘Hinihintay ka lang Ate, just get back to fighting form.’ I remember Judy Ann and Ryan (Agoncillo) came to my house and said, ‘Ate, mag-swimming tayo kung ayaw mo ng ‘sun’ so at least malamig yung tubig kahit may araw.’ Sabi ko, sige schedule natin. ‘Actually, Ate, nandito kami, dala na namin gamit namin.’ It was so sweet.
“After that (time), my perspective changed. I looked at myself in the mirror, ‘You’re not going out like this. What are you doing to yourself? Shape up.’ It’s taken me almost three years, but I’ve really shaped up (over 70-lbs. lost). I have a few to go. But I’m very happy and I feel healthier.
“Looking back, I didn’t naman lose so much sleep over the fact na uy, wala na. Feeling ko, I wanted to retire at 30 and then God gave me Madrasta so, ‘OK, You don’t want pa.’ I just take the cue from God with everything. He throws something my way, if it makes money, what’s the message? Maybe it’s a few years (in showbiz) that you glorify Him. That’s my job now.”
As one of the most active stars on social media, how do you deal with fans and bashers online?
“Bashers I used to really patol… I like to keep open communication but some come in. But you know they’re doing it for a reason you already know why — whether for someone else or something else. So, don’t engage nalang or sometimes I get in one line. Ganito, ganyan. ‘Wag tayo tanga’ (laughs). Pag sumagot delete, block, finish.
“I started Twitter in 2012. Instagram, the year after. Then I got so used to it, ‘Oh my God, I’m turning into them.’ So, I really said, I’m not gonna allow myself to turn into the kind of people I hate. So, now, I’m just hay, I’m like bulletproof, Teflon. (But yes, I’m quite fearless). I’ve earned it, sweetheart. If they’re gonna bash me behind a false name and some are not anymore bashing, it’s like ruining your pagkatao. It’s really when they touch on people I love that I go ballistic.”
How do you manage to be friends with different politicians?
“With Inday Sara, we were friends before her dad became president. She was pregnant pa nga when I met her. And she wasn’t mayor either. Then I’m ninang (godmother)to Dato Arroyo and his wife. And then (former President) Erap (Estrada) is ninong to KC. And I’m ninang to Jinggoy Estrada’s son and Jinggoy is ninong to (my son) Miguel. And I love Bongbong (Marcos), he’s been a friend forever. I didn’t know he was running for vice-president when I had committed to Leni Robredo although I truly believed in her, very decent…
“I don’t make it political. P-Noy (Aquino) and my husband are good friends naturally. I have a painting from President Cory Aquino displayed in my condo. I have pictures of the Marcoses. It’s no big deal to me. For me, these are human beings like we are. I’ll never forget what (the late) FPJ said, ‘When all of this is over, we will still be friends. It’s just politics.’ It’s true. Without politics, we’re all just human beings and we can all have dinner together.”
Are you still saying no to politics? You can get support from all sides if you run.
“I will run! Far away (laughs)! That’s why I’m scared to run eh, I might win (laughs).”
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