Bela Padilla on putting down roots in London
It has been almost two years since Bela Padilla decided to relocate to London. And while the adjustment period was challenging at first, the actress feels happy that, slowly but surely, she’s finally finding her footing.
“I was like a 7-year-old kid, trying to relearn things. I didn’t know where it was safe to walk at night, things like that… But I’m starting to put roots down, marking my favorite things like libraries, gyms and cafes. I’m setting my routines,” she told reporters at her recent press launch as the newest endorser of the beauty and wellness brand Dear Face.
And it helps that Filipinos are virtually everywhere in the world. In her neighborhood alone, she has already spotted three Filipino groceries.
“I’m always in the Pinoy supermarkets, so much so that the owners already know what I usually buy. The Filipinos there are super sweet. Everyone has been nice,” she related.
London is one of the most expensive cities in terms of cost of living. But thankfully, Bela said, she has always been mindful of how she spends her money.
“I worked hard every day. I didn’t have time to spend my money. I didn’t even have the time to go to the mall and shop for myself so I was able to save up… I’m happy about that,” said Bela, who also has investments in food businesses. “I don’t put all my eggs in one basket. And I still act and do movies. Those things sustain me.”
One of the biggest driving forces behind Bela’s decision was the nonrenewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise. Amid all the uncertainties, she figured it was for the best that she find a space where she could feel secure once again. And because she holds dual citizenship (Filipino and British), the UK was the most logical choice.
“I was affected… People were able to make a decision without meeting the people whose lives they were changing forever. I felt that if we couldn’t be protected on a basic scale, it didn’t feel safe. I wanted to find a place where I could be completely safe, where they don’t pull the rug under you and say, ‘Sorry, wala ka nang trabaho,’” she related.
These days, Bela flies to the Philippines only when there are new acting projects or product endorsements like Dear Face’s collagen and probiotic drink Beauty Milk. As someone dealing with PCOS (Polycystic ovary syndrome) and hypothyroidism, Bela said her health has become one of her top priorities.
“I work out every day, I eat clean, I don’t smoke and I no longer drink. But I have noticed it has been getting harder for me to lose weight. Turns out, I have hypothyroidism… As we mature, we have to be more mindful about our intake. I’m careful with my diet not only to make myself look aesthetically good, but to also improve the quality of my life,” she said.
The 32-year-old actress also stressed the importance of self-care.
“You have to take care of yourself to be able to take care of others. That’s a fundamental thing. We Filipinos like to take care of our families and friends, but you can’t pour from an empty cup,” Bela said.
Bela, who also writes and directs films, will stay in the country to finish a script she has been developing with Adolf Alix Jr. and shoot a movie with JC Santos. She has also been offered to do soap operas, but said she couldn’t connect with the material.
“Nothing speaks to me yet… Because of the pandemic, we have lost a lot of time and loved ones. And I don’t want to invest time on a project that won’t help anyone, or that I can’t learn from. I don’t want to sound snobbish, but that’s my thinking at the moment,” she said.
Is it hard juggling life in the UK and career in the Philippines? Thanks to technology, her situation has become manageable.
“The pandemic made me feel that the world is small, that we don’t have to be locked just in one place. You can be based anywhere and completely functional somewhere else,” she pointed out.
Bela doesn’t know how long she will stay in London. But for now, the important thing is that she’s enjoying her life. “I enjoy what I’m doing. I enjoy the company of the people around me,” Bela said. “Even if there are challenges here and there, I try to overcome them the best way I can. I try to be positive amid everything.”