Zsa Zsa moves on: Our capacity to love isn’t diminished by death
Six years after the death of Dolphy, Zsa Zsa Padilla just might end up finally getting the Happily Ever After that has eluded her for many years—this time, in architect Conrad Onglao’s reassuring embrace.
True, the singer-actress is in a happy place these days. When we met her for this one-on-one chat last week, she even gamely posed for us to show off her two engagement rings.
But, Zsa Zsa’s current state of romantic bliss is a felicitous payoff that she had to fight tooth and nail to attain and actualize.
“When something like that [a loved one’s passing] happens, you can’t just give up,” she pointed out. “It’s easy for people to say, ‘She’s moved on, just like that.’ But, I’m still here, so I have to go on living, right? What they don’t understand is that ‘moving on’ doesn’t make everything you’ve been through disposable or inconsequential. You carry its consequences with you for the rest of your life.”
Pain may be something people eventually learn to accept, but it isn’t something Zsa Zsa casually forgets.
When asked what she had learned from her relationship with Dolphy that is helping her manage her “conscious coupling” with Conrad, Zsa Zsa answered: “I realized that love is absolute. That your capacity to love isn’t diminished by death.
“I miss Dolphy as a partner, and as the father of my kids. He was larger than life, kaya lahat kami na naiwan n’ya were very much affected by his passing,” she recalled. “I miss his very gentle nature. He was a quiet man, who would crack jokes only when he notices there are other people around.
“But, he was already very sickly in the last four years of his life. It was difficult adjusting to that in the beginning, because we were always in and out of the hospital.”
“Yes, I will do anything for love—which also explains the motivation of Helena aka the “Red Dragon”, my character in ‘Wildflower.’ More than anything, Helena just wants to please the long-lost daughter (Aiko Melendez) she hasn’t seen in 30 years.
Zsa Zsa is set to topbill the concert “Beginnings” at the Waterfront Hotel in Cebu on Feb. 10, before she flies to Hong Kong for her Valentine break with Conrad three days later.
Joining the Divine Diva and her special guests Zia Quizon and Robin Nievera in the show are Fr. Jonas Mejares OSA, the Cebu Clergy Performing Artists and the Jeduthun-Bohol Singing Priests (call 0917 433-1178).
During the interview, such was Zsa Zsa’s honesty and forthright candor that we almost forgot we were in a rush to get to the office. If one-on-one interviews were as easygoing and entertaining as that particular chat, a journalist’s job would feel like a relaxing treat more than a perfunctory chore.
Yes, entertaining. In between answers, the singer would casually burst into song. At one point, we even ended up singing a duet with the lovely songstress as we recalled the exquisite melodic beauty of one her signature hits, George Canseco’s “Kapag Puso’y Sinugatan.”
At 53, Zsa Zsa, who owes her lithe, limber and lovely countenance to discipline and dedication to a healthy lifestyle, continues to be a sensational sight to behold.
“I work out two hours a day if my schedule allows it, and I follow a healthy diet that helps me manage acid reflux,” she disclosed.
She demonstrated her diverse taste in music when we asked her to describe how different contemporary songs are from the glorious OPM hits of the ’80s, when she began her ascent to show biz stardom—first, with the Manila Sound-fielding pop group Hotdog, then as a solo artist who would later record such hits as “Kahit Na,” “Hiram,” “Mambobola,” “Ikaw Lamang,” “Point of No Return” and “Sana’y Maghintay ang Walang Hanggan.”
“I started performing professionally in 1983, just as the Manila Sound, which began in the ’70s, was starting to make way for the pop tunes of the ’80s. There were a lot of great songs then, but there are songs now that are just as beautiful.
“When people say, ‘They don’t make songs like they used to,’ I want to tell them, ‘Maybe you should listen to Spotify.’ Marami pa ring magagandang OPM songs ngayon—and one of my favorites is [Mark Carpio’s’] ‘Hiling.’ (She then sings its chorus.) ‘Bakit parang sa ’kin lamang may galit/ Ang madayang tadhanang iyong pansinin…’”
If she were to choose a personal favorite among her signature hits, she said she would readily pick Willy Cruz’s “Kahit Na.” “It was my first hit—and its success was unexpected,” Zsa Zsa explained to us. “At the time, Willy, who was the producer of my debut album (“Am I Your Kind of Woman?”) for Jem/Telesis Records, was commissioned by Viva Films to write a theme song for ‘Init sa Magdamag.’
“When I heard Willy play the first strains of ‘Kahit Na’ on the piano, I begged him, ‘Ang ganda… Pwedeng akin na lang?’ Ako kasi, I fall in love with melodies first before I focus on a song’s lyrics. Although I pay more attention to lyrics when I’m sad, kasi ganun naman tayong lahat ’pag malungkot (laughs).
“Hindi talaga ako pumayag hanggang hindi n’ya binigay sa akin ang kanta—binraso ko (laughs). He just wrote another one for ‘Init.’ So, if you listen to both songs, their melodic patterns are not that different.”
Zsa Zsa was the first choice to play catty Lavinia Arguelles (played by Cherie Gil in the movie) opposite Sharon Cuneta’s Dorina Pineda in the 1985 screen classic, “Bituing Walang Ningning.” Did she regret nixing the offer?
“Not at all,” she quipped. “Sharon and I were best friends, and I couldn’t imagine fighting with her.”
But, Zsa Zsa eventually got the hang of acting, and won well-deserved acting accolades along the way. She mused, “I began to take acting seriously when I was directed by Laurice Guillen in ‘Magkano ang Iyong Dangal.’ That was when I thought ’pag nag-seryoso pala ako, acting was something I could be good at. But, shouting and crying always took a toll on my singing voice. So, I had to choose my acting projects judiciously.”
What does she remember about playing Paula in the stage version of “Ang Larawan”?
“Acting onstage was something I wanted to try. I don’t know if I still have the energy and capacity to do something as bold. The idea scares me,” Zsa Zsa said. “‘Larawan’ was my very first stage production. It was difficult traveling to Quezon City (from Makati) for the rehearsals daily—that’s what immediately comes to mind. Rehearsing for a month was quite a stretch for me, but I found the whole experience fulfilling.
“But, when they were going to restage ‘Larawan,’ I couldn’t commit to it anymore (so Rachel Alejandro had to take over the role). Kasi, at the time, I wasn’t able to properly explain to Teteng (producer Celeste Legaspi, who played Candida) that I was, at the point in time, committed to taking care of Dolphy’s failing health … that he could undergo a bypass operation any time. I just said I had a valid reason I couldn’t talk about.”
“Later, Celeste wrote to me apologizing, kasi parang nagtampo s’ya sa akin. So, when the opportunity to portray socialite Elsa Montes in the musical’s film version presented itself, I grabbed it. Kung si Ricky Davao (who played Tony Javier in the musical) nga, tumawid lang na lasing… Lahat kami in that cast, we were game. I just wanted to be a part of it.”
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