Love Keeps Her Young

Love Keeps Her Young

Writer: Joanna Lerio | Photography: Doc Marlon | Styling: Nio Manzano | Makeup: Winn Ramos | Hair: Michael Vergara Danid | Production Assistants: Chalton Perez, Lester Becasio

Seasoned actress and now GMA-7 love guru Jean Garcia shares how she recuperates from her demanding work and from the bittersweet life experiences.

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She’s the villain we all hated. As Madam Claudia Buenavista in ABS-CBN’s original Pangako Sa ‘Yo TV series circa 2000, Jean Garcia was the quintessential kontrabida – cunning, ruthless, evil and oh so beautiful. “(Playing Claudia) was stressful because I had to be mad every time and stay late for tapings. But at the end of the day, I felt fulfilled and so I went home with a smile. I even learned to love my character Claudia,” says Jean, reliving those kontrabida days.

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Neoprene dress: Arnold Galang | Crystal earrings: Christopher Munar

While she was well admired for her performance as the eyebrow-raising and tongue-lashing Madam Claudia, portraying such a bad person took its toll on Jean’s pregnancy. On the second year of Pangako Sa’yo, she experienced placental abruption and was bedridden for two weeks. She had to drink five liters of water a day to replenish the lost oxygen for her baby. She had to undergo a caesarian delivery.

“The toughest challenge for me as an actress actually has something to do with reality. I am grateful for finding strength through the support system of my family and friends. Now we share happiness in seeing my once 1 pound and 15 ounce baby “kitten,” with his underdeveloped right lung, now a 13 year old very handsome and healthy Kitaro. While work can be exhausting, at the end of the day, you may feel it is not at all difficult because there are blessings to count,” says Jean.

Jean values the current remake of Pangako Sa’yo as a manifestation of the success that she and the rest of the crew from the original airing achieved. She believes Angelica Panganiban is a good actress in her own right and that she can justifiably interpret Madam Claudia with a Jelly added humor. “It is pointless not to say ‘thank you’ to people who believe ‘nothing compares to the original’ but as I have mentioned before, we must give the chance for Angelica to shine as Madam Claudia.”

Fast forward to today, Jean plays Karina “Rina” Valdicañas/Alexa Robbins, a middle-aged mother of twins in GMA-7’s top afternoon soap The Half Sisters. She’s plays a victim this time – kind, compassionate, selfless but still oh so beautiful.

She also hosts the daily Love Hotline on GMA-7, a reality show where she helps give advice on love and relationships. “We are all aware that it is a great feeling to love and be loved but it also hurts to be rejected or be separated from someone. Any person, of whatever gender, whether rich or poor, young or old have various attitudes in facing problems. As for me, I become stronger in each challenge that I encounter and I am not afraid to fall in love again and again. I am still beautiful, so… why not?” says Jean.

Hosting programs is not new to Jean given her previous stints in Personalan (GMA News TV, 2012), Student Canteen (RPN, 1989) and GMA Supershow (1987). Jean is amused in the diversity of stories in the latest programs.

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Bandage dress with chiffon mermaid skirt: Arnold Galang | Crystal, drop earrings: Christopher Munar

Personalan was presented daily and the stories featured were quite heavy, scandalous and violent of sorts. Yes, I hosted rather stressful stories! Unlike now, we have a lighter approach in Love Hotline which is not only about intimate relationships of girlfriends or boyfriends but also about friends, siblings and family relations. I myself learn from the different stories that we read which may be both inspiring or challenging,” she says of her latest hosting stint. Being hardworking as she is, Jean’s week is loaded with tapings, pictorials and events. She is also expecting another teleserye after Half Sisters and also hopes to have a new film, either independent or mainstream, as well as a “dream cooking show.”

“Aside from acting, that’s really my passion… cooking. I am not schooled or a graduate of any culinary institute but I am ready and confident to share my recipes to the public which I learned from my mother and grandmother”. Chic-chic to family and friends, the multi-awarded actress hails from Pampanga, a province that prides itself of various native delicacies and a distinct way of cooking. “In between tapings, I attend to my new baby, Jean’s Manila in Roces Avenue. (It’s a) restaurant that offers Filipino comfort food that is ‘lutong bahay, lutong nanay’ in a relaxed, old-home setting. We had a soft launch and hopefully, we will have a grand opening soon after we arrange the permits, the trainings of staff, and the completion of our menu”.

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White, asymetrical top and black, knee-length pleated skirt: Arnold Galang | Crystal earrings: Christopher Munar

On weekends, Jean reveals a way to relax: simply being with her family. Believe it or not, Jean is now a lola. She is also happy to welcome baby Athena Mori as another blessing in life from her daughter Jennica and husband Alwyn Uytingco.

Any advice for her daughter and son-in-law? “I don’t think they need my advice because at this point, I see how they take extra care of Athena. I feel how they love her so much. They are hands-on. They don’t even have a yaya and don’t like others to carry her as much as possible. Well, I do take the baby whenever I have the chance. Perhaps I am the type of a spoiler lola”. She giggles at the thought of now being a grandmother. In her 40s, one wonders how Jean retains the energy and flawless skin of youth. “Besides being surrounded by supportive friends and family, I drink plenty of water,” Jean says. Aside from being treated by committed doctors, she says water was a crucial element in saving Kitaro. “I sleep as much as possible and then at least once a month, I do a facial. I also go to the spa and to Gold’s Gym. Actually, sometimes I am not consistent with my beauty regimen. I would like to give the credit of having beautiful skin as something I inherited from my lola.”

“I become stronger in each challenge that I encounter and I am not afraid to fall in love again and again. I am still beautiful, so… why not?”

She added that being contented and having a happy attitude help a lot. “I take one work at a time and focus on it one hundred percent. It’s the same with taking a day off. I give my all to pamper myself. I also take one blessing at a time by thanking the Lord with whom I have a personal relationship with.”

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Peach cocktail dress: Arnold Galang | Infinity tennis bracelet : Christopher Munar

Jean mentions that being worried is a natural feeling.  She explains as an example her worry every time she travels during the wee hours from a provincial location shoot. “But fear is a reality. What is important is to just do what we can do. First, have a nice sleep. Second, have a healthy diet. Third, do exercise. I am not as religious as others but I do grab the rosary while travelling. What is also very important is to balance our mind and heart as key to a stronger self”.

Jean does not deny having roller-coaster relationships in the past but what helps her move on is waking up to appreciate the abundance of true love from her family, friends and fans. The Love Hotline goddess leaves us with this final honey nut cherry note: “There is no perfect relationship but when you love, it should be 50-50-50 percent with the use of the mind and 50 percent with the use of the heart. Otherwise, you are either stupid or just not smart.”

“The tendency when being heart-broken is to feel depressed and feel ugly about oneself. I say the better attitude is to think your only shortcoming is to have loved the other person 100 percent yet you were dumped. Then, it’s totally not your loss so cheer up.”

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