Jennica Garcia gets candid about her weakness in love: ‘Medyo uto-uto po tayo!’
For the first time in her show biz career, Jennica Garcia can finally and confidently, call herself an actor—one who’s worthy of following in the footsteps of her mother, Jean Garcia.
“It makes me happy. I have been in this industry for quite some time, but now I feel like, ‘Ah, susundan ko talaga ang yapak ng isang Jean Garcia!’ It feels good knowing that your talent is appreciated. It makes all the hard work worth it. And I promise to do even better,” she told the Inquirer at her recent launch as the new endorser of the beauty brand Queen White.
A few years ago, much of the talk and headlines about Jennica revolved around her personal life, specifically her failing marriage to estranged husband, Alwyn Uytingco.
But now, look up Jennica’s name on social media and you would see nothing but raves about her stirring portrayal of her character Lala in the hit drama series “Dirty Linen.” And the people’s newfound appreciation for her acting talent not only boosted her confidence, it also inspired her to dream bigger.
“The netizens have no idea how much the show made me stronger and encouraged me to keep on going … I didn’t have big dreams in show biz. I was happy with what was given and simply made sure that I gave justice to the role. I also did it to make a living. I wasn’t as career driven as I am now,” she said.
“You would never hear me say, ‘This is my dream project. I want this or that kind of role.’ Now I’m more willing to try new roles and audition for them,” Jennica added.
Back then, Jennica could put on a baggy shirt, a pair of baggy pants and head out of the house without any makeup. She could shop at Divisoria and no one would give her a second look. That’s why she was surprised when she heard people calling out her name on a recent visit to Myeong-dong, a popular shopping area in Seoul, South Korea.
“Namumukhaan na tayo… I felt like an artista,” the 33-year-old actress giddily said. “I didn’t expect people to fall in love with my character, Lala. It’s so overwhelming, the number of times the character trended online.”
Needless to say, “Dirty Linen” changed the course of Jennica’s life. Not too long ago, she was thinking of trying her luck abroad as an overseas Filipino worker. Now she’s almost done paying for her condo unit. But there’s no better feeling, she gushed, than turning things around and giving her mother monetary gifts.
“I didn’t ask [for money] from her even after I got married. But I knew she would help me if I asked. But now, I know the feeling of giving her an envelope. Ang sarap din sa feeling na nakakapagbigay ka na,” she said.
Her next goal is to get educational plans for her two daughters, Athena Mori and Alexis Severina. “It’s different when you’re not just living for yourself, but for other people. The mindset and drive are different. When I used to say, ‘Di ko kaya,’ then that means I can’t really do something. But now I would say, ‘Di ko kaya,’ and still do it anyway,’” she related.
This sense of determination and grit is something her mom has always had. But Jennica didn’t know that she had it in her, too. “I didn’t know I got this from her. Palaban ang Mama ko. If I feel I’m strong and courageous now, what more [from] my mom? She had me when she was just 19. I was collecting Pokemon cards when I was that age,” she related.
“Despite how our marriage turned out, I still had 11 beautiful years with Alwyn. Naalalayan niya ako. But my mom was never married, so it was literally all just her,” she said of Jean, whose surprise appearance at the said press event moved Jennica to tears.
Jennica and Alwyn have been separated for three years now and are headed for annulment. She’s happily single at the moment and hopes to keep it that way indefinitely.
“It’s difficult to fall in love after three years of being single. As you go along, you learn how to watch movies alone, eat alone, or feed your kids alone. You have more confidence in yourself. I’m like, ‘In fairness to you, Jennica…’ I have moments like that,” she said, adding that she can’t see herself dating someone exclusively. “I’m not looking for it actively.”
But should love find her anew, Jennica thinks she’s now better equipped to protect herself and identify potential red flags.“My weakness is receiving words of affirmation. In other words, medyo uto-uto tayo (we’re gullible)! When we’re told, ‘Ang ganda mo’ (you’re beautiful) or ‘Ikaw lang ang mamahalin ko’ (you’re the only one that I’ll love), ako naman si, ‘Ah, oo nga! Tama nga!’” she said, drawing laughter.
But not anymore. “Now I’m aware of that, ‘O, girl, medyo uto-uto ka!’ So, if someone wants to get to know me, I don’t easily reciprocate. I now know how to weigh a person’s intention: Is it genuine, pure?” she said. Besides, being a single mother makes dating more difficult, Jennica said, because she needs someone who will love and accept not only her, but also her children. “You’re not just looking for a good partner. You ask yourself, ‘Will he make a good father to my children?’” Jennica said.
While she has progressed in terms of emotional healing, she still has a long way to go. “I don’t want to sound arrogant, but ginapang ko ang healing ko. I’m happy I was able to get through mental battles … But I can’t imagine getting married again, giving full trust, giving myself. I don’t know if I would be able to survive a potential heartache.”
“Maybe I still need some more healing,” Jennica added. “I don’t want to make it seem like I got everything together. I want my fellow moms to know that it’s OK to ask for help and that it’s important to recognize that you need help.”
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