Let’s pause for a little sobriety
What was supposed to be a lazy summer weekend has become a time of collective exasperation.
Local Show Town was rocked with a double whammy of very public squabbles involving celebrities—specifically, the bar brawl with former sweethearts Andi Eigenmann and Albie Casiño as protagonists, and the airport altercation between Inquirer columnist Ramon Tulfo and married couple Raymart Santiago and Claudine Barretto.
Inquirer Entertainment turned to the country’s veteran actors for a little sobriety amid the hysterics. The senior stars graciously favored us with their voice of wisdom.
We can’t solve a problem by creating another problem. I’ve experienced being left behind by a plane many times in the past, but when I talked to the airline staff, I was always calm and civil. Even if I felt wronged, I tried to be humble and cool-headed. I guess, everyone is getting hot-tempered these days because of the weather!
We also had our share of showbiz scandals in the past, but we handled things discreetly. Also, we were protected and disciplined by the studio bosses. Mrs. Adela Santiago of Premiere Productions would scold me: “I heard you were in the nightclub until morning.” They never get tired of reminding us that we should conduct ourselves properly in public. It’s not that we didn’t make mistakes; we just didn’t wash our dirty linen in public. I have a simple advice to young stars: Love your work. Respect your profession. Never forget that you owe your fame to the public.
Actually, there isn’t much difference then and now. Scandals also broke out during our time. It’s just that we didn’t flaunt our troubles. We kept things private. It was because we felt that we had a certain responsibility as actors. We were aware that young people looked up to us and we always had to set a good example.
It’s hard to give advice because I never quarrelled with a reporter in my entire career. In my opinion, any misunderstanding can be resolved in a peaceful manner. During our time, the Big Four studios (LVN, Sampaguita, Premiere, Lebran) disciplined their actors. We were told to abide by a strict morality code. Mrs. Azucena Vera-Perez (Sampaguita) would call our attention if we misbehaved. Mrs. Vera-Perez always checked the girls’ outfits before they left for a party.
A young star once asked for advice. I told her: “If you want to last long in show business, you’d better know how to keep secrets.” I also believe that how you treat underlings reflects your true personality. When I am in a mall and a sales lady is cranky, I put myself in their shoes. They’ve been on their feet the whole day and they must be tired. Don’t expect special treatment just because you are a movie star.
Times were different when we were young. In LVN, Doña Sisang (de Leon) took care of us like we were her own children. She taught us to always be friendly and respectful of other people. She would tell us: “Always smile at the fans. If they say something nasty, just turn your back and walk away. Evitar desgusto [Avoid trouble].” I follow her advice until now. If I smile at someone and I get snubbed, okay lang. I shared that tip with my granddaughter Carla Abellana. I told her: “If someone greets you, just wave even if you don’t see the person. Acknowledge the greeting.”
During our time, there were also shocking scandals, like the murder of Lilian Velez in the hands of Narding Anzures. Every generation has its share of violent incidents. It’s human nature. It just depends on how you handle the situation. Every time actors leave their homes, they will be under scrutiny. That’s why today’s kids should think twice. Count to 10 before you do anything. For parents, make sure to know your children’s friends. Spend time with your kids, get to know them. The family support system is very important. When we were young actors, we were sheltered by Sampaguita. Plus, I credit my mother. I wasn’t allowed to go out at night without one of my brothers as chaperon. I was a virgin until I was 26 years old! Now, when I say that, people ask, “Amalia, are you bragging or complaining?”
Normal people have the same troubles. If the scandals involve actors, they are magnified. I don’t think that these actors’ private problems would adversely affect the entire industry. I think the public is smarter now. They might generalize that all actors are troublemakers; that would be unfair. Well, times have changed. I am not surprised that such scandals have become commonplace. In our time, life was simpler.
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