Jennylyn Mercado learns from her mistakes
Jennylyn Mercado glowed as she gamely answered every question we had for her when we finally met her recently. She admits, “I’ve changed a lot, and my working relationship with people is much better now. Suplada ako dati—and it was hard for me to keep a lid on it, because I was young and immature. But, we learn from our mistakes.”
The 25-year-old former “Starstruck” champ says that she’s learned to lighten up and enjoy wholesome banter with the people around her: “Luis (Manzano, her boyfriend) has taught me to take things in stride. There are no dull moments with him, kasi palabiro s’ya—ang gaan n’yang kasama! He’s a positive presence in my life.”
Jennylyn is no longer at odds with her past—and we’re not just talking about her career missteps or her failed romances with Dennis Trillo and Patrick Garcia, with whom she has a 4-year-old son, Alex Jazz, who’s fortunate to have a protective and doting mother in Jen.
Unlike Jazz, Jennylyn wasn’t as happy or as lucky at age 4. While her biological mother was working abroad, she had to endure an abusive stepfather—who allegedly burned her skin with cigarettes!
The lovely singer-actress recalls, “The scars of abuse haunted me all the way through high school. But, I was a fighter even then. I drew strength from the support of my Mommy Lydia, the sister of my biological mom, who fought for me!
“Some victims think they’re too weak to fight back, but you’ve got to stay strong—you can’t give up! Always look forward to more positive things. Kung kinaya ko, there’s no reason why hindi kakayanin ng iba!”
These days, Mercado is happy to be a member of Gabriela, the leading woman’s organization that’s teaming up with Monique Wilson and the New Voice Company to espouse One Billion Rising—the global campaign (initiated by “The Vagina Monologues” playwright, Eve Ensler) that calls for gender equality and aims to end violence against women.
The Philippines will “strike, rise and dance” with a star-studded song-and-dance concert on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14 on Tomas Morato Ave., Quezon City.
Other than showing support for her anti-violence advocacy, how else will Jennylyn celebrate V-Day? She replies, “It doesn’t matter what Luis and I do. We’re both busy (she’s in the cast of GMA 7’s “Indio,” while Luis hosts a number of game shows for ABS-CBN). What’s important is that we celebrate it with each other—at mabati namin ang isa’t-isa on that special occasion. Mababaw lang ang kaligayahan ko (laughs)!”
Wasn’t she intimidated the first time she met Vilma Santos (Luis’ superstar mom)? She gasps, “My knees were shaking, at hindi ko alam kung paano tatayo o saan s’ya titingnan— kasi, importante sa akin na tanggap ng ibang tao ang anak at pamilya ko! —But, she’s wonderful! Whatever makes Luis happy, she’s all for it.”
We liked the finely nuanced portrayal she turned in as tycoon Manny Pangilinan’s grandmother, in the 2010 MMFF entry, “Rosario.” Is she willing to make mistakes, like the movie’s flawed heroine, to get the love she thinks she deserves?
Without skipping a beat, Jennylyn answers, “Yes—because true love can survive—against all odds!”