Heart Evangelista was on home court. Surrounded by TV creatives, talent managers, makeup artists, publicists and a huddle of entertainment editors, she was every bit relaxed and genuinely happy to be in what others deem to be the bubble that is show business.
Admittedly, even if she has faced a good number of difficult controversies throughout her 18-year career, Evangelista will always feel safer in the industry where she grew up.
“Wala namang nag-papatayan sa showbiz di’ba?” said the 31-year-old actress, who in the last several months has found herself in the thick of yet another controversy-ridden—and sometimes violencefilled—sphere that is politics.
As everyone knows, Evangelista is married to Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero who is currently running for the second-highest elected position in the land. Since exchanging “I do’s” in February 2015, what had been an easy-enough transition for the actress to wife and senatorial spouse has intensified both in pressure and expectations, especially with Escudero leading the surveys as the winnable candidate for vice president.
“My days have gotten pretty heavy with the campaign and the elections coming up,” Evangelista went on to acknowledge at an intimate gathering organized by GMA Network for her upcoming prime time series, Juan Happy Love Story with Dennis Trillo. “I had no idea just how much stress a situation like this can bring kasi noon dala ko lang sarili ko.”
Juggling her showbiz commitments, her artistic ventures as the painter Love Marie Ongpauco, and her wifely duties, Evangelista has been shuffling from GMA, her home-based studio, to campaign sorties all around the country in order to strike a balance between the life she has always had, with the far from usual obligations a newly married woman has with a husband in public service.
“To most, it looks appealing when you put together an artista and a politician, but it’s really hard work; and I’m just grateful that Chiz—no matter how people around me say that there has to be limitations in what I can or should do now as his wife—has always been the one telling me to be true to myself and my craft as an actor and an artist.”
She is sure for one that there will be many raised eyebrows once Juan Happy Love Story begins airing on May 16, what with its storyline “naughtier and wilder” than anything she has done on TV and the movies before.
“Everyday feeling ko nagkakasala ako sa set kasi hinahalikan ko si Dennis Trillo!” she joked about playing the actor’s wife, Happy, on the series. Trillo, on the other hand, portrays the role of Juan in what the show’s creators describe as a “very relatable” love story of a newly married couple, yet presented in a highly unique narrative that is “peppered with sexiness, romance and comedy.”
“But seriously an artist you always have to do something different, something more adventurous, para iba naman ang mabigay mo sa mga manonood sa iyo,” Evangelista explained after enjoying a hearty laugh. “And Chiz is the first one to understand this because he is a very open-minded person. Nagpapa-kuwento pa nga siya kung ano nang nangyayari kay Happy and Juan in the rare times we get to spend together these days.”
The senator’s wife declared she has come to accept that just like in showbiz, one can never please everyone in a politician’s circle, as well as his supporters.
“There will always be detractors and bashers, but I believe that Filipinos in general don’t mind that I continue to be an artist even if I married a senator,” Evangelista expressed with confidence. “And like I always say, to be able to do our own thing individually is great for our relationship as husband and wife, and hopefully in time that’s what the rest of the people will see.”
The Manila Times, picking up on Juan Happy Love Story’s premiere date, pointed out to the actress that there is a very huge possibility that by the middle of next month, the counted votes from the May 9 elections may designate her as the wife of the Vice President-elect.
Has she already imagined herself in a such a position; and if she has, how does she see her life changing all over again?
“To be honest, I haven’t really thought about it,” Evangelista quickly replied, her famous face, giving away signs of anxiety. Gathering her thoughts, she began, “I think Chiz will continue to encourage me to be myself, but I can’t deny that there will be so much pressure to be in that position.
“As early as now, there are people saying that if he wins, there are things that I can no longer do or opinions I can no longer say. But thankfully, I’m very lucky that my husband has been protecting me from all of that from the very beginning; which gives me the confidence to believe that nothing should change in the way I am.
“On the other hand, I know that to be given that platform of influence comes with a lot of responsibility, and I hope that if the time comes, I will be able to do more in helping others beyond what I am able to do now as an artist.”
Evangelista, who has always involved herself in charitable endeavours throughout her career [her foundation, Heart Can, has been a decade-long supporter of Thalassemia International Association in the Philippines, raising funds for children afflicted with the rare respiratory disease, among others], said she will make she uses the stature as the vice president’s wife to make a change in other people’s life rather than her own.
Letting out a little giggle as she wrapped up her thoughts on her imminent possibility, Evangelista confided that ironically there are a good number of people who have been changing the way they treat her these days. For naturally, even as she has detractors, there are those who would very much like to be on the good side of the wife of the future vice president of the Philippines.
“Sila nalang yung mag-change,” quipped one of showbiz’ forever darlings, with her mega-watt smile. “At the end of the day, and no matter what they say, I am proud of my past, because some five years ago, I didn’t like who I am. But I like myself now and I’m proud of the person I’ve become.”
Now why indeed would Heart Evangelista want to change all that.