Welcome back, G! What got you coming home?
A lot of people ask me that, but it’s actually my husband who convinced me to come home. I mean, we got married here. Prior to meeting me, he had been here twice. And he’s always loved the Philippines. It’s just really me [who wanted to stay there] because, for one, I wanted to raise our children there. We have two children, seven-year-old Sakura Anne Marie, and Kenobi Benjamin, who’s turning five.
Tim and I were on our honeymoon in Tokyo and the cherry blossoms were just coming out. Sabi ko, “Uy, ang ganda ng mga sakura.” Tapos sabi ng asawa ko, “Sakura.” Siyempre iba yung accent. Sabi ko, “Maganda yan!” So yun na. It was so beautiful and it was blooming and we had a very quick love affair, my husband and I. It just describes the beauty of something that blooms so fast. Which isn’t actually a metaphor for our love affair because we’re still together, seven years ongoing. As for Kenobi Benjamin, my husband is a collector of all things Star Wars and Obi-Wan’s his favorite Jedi. I said, “I like Kenobi! “So his nickname is Obi. We wanted to make sure that people didn’t call him Ken so we made his middle name Benjamin. And so Ben. Haha!
Okay, so the husband convinced you to come home. Offers didn’t come into play?
There were a lot of offers but nothing concrete. A new network was asking me to come home, but I wanted to weigh all my options. I wanted to take my time. But what really got me excited wasn’t the work in front of the camera. There’s always work in front of the camera. It’s been kind of a given, though I’ve been very picky about the roles I’d do. But what excited me was the fact that I’d be given opportunity to produce content.
We heard about your documentary.
Viva knew that I finished school when I had signed with them. I showed them my thesis film in college, my short films, and they were very excited about that side of me. True enough, I spent my first month back going all over the Philippines, doing my documentary. I co-produced it with Michael Carandang, a friend of mine from LA. We brought the Basco Bros (LA-based actors, rappers, and one of the pioneering breakdancers in the Bay Area), all five of them here, and brought them to Boracay, Palawan, Davao. I partnered with DOT. I literally hit the ground running and took care of everything—sponsors, everything. It was such a creatively fulfilling endeavor that I’d never experienced when I was in front of the camera.
So you like behind-the-scenes work better than on-cam ones?
When you’re a talent, you get to work and do your job, You have your own responsibility, but overall, you don’t really have any say. As a producer, you start off with a concept, mold it, and it becomes your baby.
While you were doing all this, the husband and kids were…?
…Completely supportive. At first it was difficult for them to understand that mommy is leaving for the weekend because I’ve never really left them. But it was also a time for my husband and I to go all over the place. He was part of the production team so that was really fun.
How is the family adjusting to your life here?
My husband loves it here. I do miss the simple things: Going to the park, getting into the car and driving, the non-celebrity part. That’s a big part of who I am now, hanging out with my children. And I know that in the city, there’s not a lot of opportunity for that. Which is why every chance we get, we go to the province, to Batangas. It’s the same place I grew up in. Taga-Batangas nanay ko.
We’re hearing a lot about the husband. Tell us more about the lucky man.
He’s American pero feeling niya, Pinoy siya. He’s a bit of a historian. When I met him, he had artifacts from the Japanese time. Perang Hapon na Pilipino, he collects them. He’s fascinated with World War II, particularly in the Philippines. He has all the books, he’s just fascinated with the culture.
FOR G TöNGI'S FULL INTERVIEW, GRAB THE AUGUST 2012 ISSUE OF FHM!
INTERVIEW: LOU E. ALBANO
STYLING: SIDNEY YAP ASSISTED BY JILL LAO
MAKEUP: ROBBIE PINERA
HAIR: RAYMOND SANTIAGO
LOCATION: OPUS BAR, NEWPORT MALL, PASAY CITY.
SPECIAL THANKS TO MS. VERONIQUE DEL ROSARIO-CORPUS, VIVA ARTIST AGENCY INC. AND LE CHARMANT NAIL SALON