Rica Peralejo has lived most of her life under the spotlight. The public saw her grow up on the small, initially as a child star in ABS-CBN’s popular youth oriented variety show Ang TV in 1992 and then through her teens as GMA Network’s T.G.I.S. in 1995.
Between making television shows—more than 30 of them during her entire career—Peralejo also transitioned into making an equal number of movies, even shedding her wholesome image for more daring roles as she approached adulthood.
Baring quite a lot of skin in such movies as Balahibong Pusa, Tatarin and Sa Huling Paghihintay, she suddenly dropped her sexy image and embraced a life devoted to her Christian faith in the late 2000s.
In an interview with The Manila Times, Peralejo shared how her inner transformation took place: “It was both [a]slow and fast [process]People were inviting as early as when I was 23 years old to become a Christian but at the time, I really found it was something I didn’t really need. I felt like other people needed it but not me. So I continued to live my life the way I wanted too. But two years after that, the same group of friends still kept inviting me [to their church]but in different ways—like taking me to dinners instead of directly bringing me to church. And because they were my friends I’d spend time with them, and then little by little they’d give me the Bible, then take me to gatherings,” she recalled.
“Then one day I found myself in a service and I really felt that was the time when God chose to open my heart. And from then on, it was as if the walls came down and I started to listen more to my Christian friends and read the Bible. Because of the Holy Spirit I understood what it said, and it automatically led me to fall in love with God.”
In 2010, Peralejo married Christian pastor Joseph Bonifacio who helped her further strengthen her faith. They were blessed with a son named Philip Nathaniel four years later, after which time Peralejo chose to give up showbiz after more than two decades and focus on family.
Looking back at her acting career, Peralejo admitted she regretted certain decisions she made, relating, “Yes I do have regrets—I regret many of the things I did not only as a celebrity but even as a person, which were not things that you could be proud of. Of course when I was saved [by the Lord], I really felt bad for what I did, but after I learned His words about salvation and about forgiveness, a person can stand up again. It’s like you know in your heart that you have sinned but you know that God has cleared all that for you.”
The 35-year-old continued, “On the other hand, I also don’t mind that I’ve fallen so low because those experiences contributed to how I came to appreciate God in my life. He said, ‘I have forgiven much, this is why I can love much.’ My mistakes are the reasons why I think I can love the Lord so much because I know how low I’ve fallen. If it not because of what happened, maybe I wouldn’t understand my need for God,” she added.
With her immense faith, the former actress was inspired to write a weekly devotional titled Better than Jewels published by OMF Literature.
In her book, she shares her reflections and insights on God’s Word in relation to everyday life. She covers a range of topics close to her heart such as the joys and trials of motherhood, generosity and gratitude, love and sacrifice, friendship and the hard lessons from her own past.
According to Peralejo, she never planned on writing a book. She however started a devotional series on her blog in 2015, which turned to a monthly endeavour. As her material grew, she simply thought of putting it together as an e-book to give as a gift to some friends. But OMF saw her writings online and got in touch with her with an offer to publish.
“It was something very easy for me to come up with—ideas on how I could teach people about the word of God and how I could probably point them to a really good source of inspiration. But I was like, ‘Okay, I never intended that to be a book.’ I never expected it but that’s how it started. I gave them everything that was on my blog and when they had it, they started editing it, and that’s why we’re here today,” she told The Manila Times.
According to Peralejo—who in fact graduated from the Ateneo de Manila University with a degree in Creative Writing—this opportunity is heaven sent, and a message that she should embrace the chance to inspire as many people as she can with her gift for the pen.