YouTube sensation Zendee meets PDI’s SandyBy Bayani San Diego Jr.
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—She arrived one hour ahead of the appointed time on Tuesday, which turned out to be perfect timing because Zendee Rose Tenerefe, the Filipina YouTube sensation who guested on the US gabfest “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” over the weekend, got to meet Alexandra “Sandy” Prieto-Romualdez, Inquirer president and CEO.
The chance encounter proved instructive because it showed off Tenerefe’s other gift: This wisp of a girl from General Santos City is blessed not only with powerhouse pipes but also with self-confidence. She isn’t easily intimidated—not even by Hollywood or media superstars.
Tenerefe had an animated chat with Romualdez, who had just wrapped up a top-level meeting. Romualdez grilled Tenerefe on the “Ellen” guesting and her brush with international celebrity.
“Are you ready for fame?” Romualdez asked. “Now, people will approach you even in restaurants. Have you practiced signing autographs?”
“My penmanship is not so good,” Zendee, tagged online as “Random Girl,” replied, giggling. “But I feel that I have more friends now. I have pictures taken with them, and I hug them.”
When she was on “Ellen” on Friday (Los Angeles time), she couldn’t help acting like a star-struck fan, she admitted. Unfortunately, she couldn’t take souvenir snapshots with Ellen DeGeneres, host of the popular US show.
“We were not allowed to bring cameras or cell phones backstage,” Zendee said. Ellen and I didn’t get to interact before the show, either, because the producers wanted our first meeting to be spontaneous.”
She said DeGeneres’ eyes were a mesmerizing shade of blue. “She looked like a doll.”
Zendee also felt bad that she didn’t get to have a photo taken with a famous fellow guest, Oscar best actress Halle Berry.
The live-wire 21-year-old told Romualdez: “It was Halle who greeted me first. She was on her way out when she saw me. She said, ‘Zendee Rose, I’ve seen your video on YouTube.’ Then she hugged me for six seconds… I counted!”
She confessed: “At first, I had no idea who she was—we don’t have cable TV at home. But when I realized that I was hugging Catwoman, my knees started to shake.”
“But you’re also a celebrity now,” Romualdez reminded Zendee. “Not everyone can land on the front page of the Inquirer.” (On Sunday, Inquirer published a video grab of Zendee’s “Ellen” guesting.)
After interviews with the Inquirer team, she gamely performed for the staff and young Halloween trick-or-treaters Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” and Adele’s “Don’t You Remember.” Then she crashed the weekly editors’ meeting, where she sang “Saving All My Love for You” a cappella.
The Inquirer presented Zendee with a Guyito, and then with a framed copy of Sunday’s front page. “Ang ganda, Ma (It’s beautiful, Mom)!” she exclaimed as she showed it to her mom, Jinky. Then she looked around and asked, “Could Miss Sandy sign this for me?”
Alas, Romualdez had left the building.
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