Sharon Cuneta: Recharged, refocused
Sharon Cuneta admits that after her TV5 talk show “Sharon: Kasama Mo, Kapatid” was yanked off the air in January, she found time to take stock of things.
“I got to stop and mull my problems… apart from my weight,” she quipped, only half in jest.
Cuneta, dubbed Megastar in local show biz, went about her business, unmindful of the resulting intrigues, including an allegation that she sent feelers to return to former channel ABS-CBN.
“Someone lied,” she said. “Since I left last year, I have yet to talk to my former boss (Gabby Lopez). We are professionals. We never talked or texted about work… certainly not about me returning.”
In May, she went on a two-month vacation to the United States with her family. She squeezed in a concert at Cache Creek, California, that same month and a TV5 Independence Day parade in New York in June.
The breather allowed her “to regroup, refocus and collect myself. I stayed 99-percent stress-free, which is very rare.”
Needless to say, she got the chance to spend quality time with her husband, former Sen. Francis Pangilinan, and their three kids—
Frankie, Miel and Miguel.
“I loved that whole time so much—even more than my yearlong stay in Boston in 1997,” she said. “We went around both the East and West Coasts. Our family was together all the time, almost 24/7.”
In New York, they watched Broadway shows and went sight-seeing. They made time to visit the Boston house that they rented when Pangilinan studied in Harvard.
They fulfilled a long-cherished dream to meet the stars of the US reality show “Cake Boss,” which top-bills baker Buddy Valastro. Mega and her girls Frankie and Miel are loyal fans of the show. “It had long been our plan to visit [his bakery] if we ever found ourselves in Hoboken, New Jersey.”
Cuneta described that family outing as “a super blessed day.” “We first met Buddy’s sister, Maddalena Castano. She was the sweetest! Maybe she had fun with us, too, because, all of a sudden, we found ourselves in their factory and we met the rest of the show’s cast, including Buddy.”
She was a mega-fan that day, to say the least. “I almost cried when I saw Buddy. I think he’s the best baker in the world.” (Cuneta herself dabbles in baking and sells her cakes and pastries in stylist Fanny Serrano’s salon in Quezon City during the holiday season.)
“I’m hung over from that trip; I often wish I was back there,” she confessed. The best part was realizing she could “live far away” from the spotlight. “There’s no price you can put on peace.”
Last long break
It could be their “last long break together,” Cuneta said. “The kids are moving from a local school to one with an American calendar, so I took advantage of that free time with them,” she said.
In a month or so, the kids will be back in school. Sharon, for her part, is currently busy with tapings for the TV5 series “Madam Chairman,” which will premiere in the last quarter of the year.
The show marks a departure for her. She plays Bebeth, a housewife and maker of kakanin (native delicacies) who unwittingly assumes the chairmanship of her barangay.
To prepare for the series, she viewed episodes of the TV5 show “Face to Face,” which tackles barangay issues. She met with chair Concepcion S. Malañgen of Barangay Doña Imelda, Quezon City, where the Alagang Kapatid Foundation had a read-along session with 100 schoolchildren.
Last week was her first taping day. “It was wonderful. I didn’t realize how much I had missed acting. I asked Direk Joel (Lamangan) for drama scenes, but we’re shooting the light-hearted sequences first,” she related.
She had to walk in the rain that first day and fell sick right after, but was raring to go back to the set as soon as she recovered.
“I am so different in this show; it’s a surprise,” she quipped.
The new role reminded her of her “Crying Ladies” character, she said, a swindler-turned-professional wake weeper. “Bebeth is Stella Mate v.2.1—
Stella with a higher purpose in life. She’s a cheerful, but reluctant, leader. She doesn’t know that her heart is big enough for her entire community.”
On her way home from taping, she got stuck in traffic and decided to read the scripts submitted to the Mega Scripts 2013 search in the van. She will award P250,000 to the chosen screenplay, which will be produced as an indie film. “We got lots of scripts via email (email@example.com).”