Being relatively new in the industry and the youngest among her castmates (she was only 17 years old when she started doing Bubble Gang) has made Denise Barbacena an easy target for bullying on the popular gag show.
“Siya yung bullied sa group,” said Arra San Agustin, Arny Ross, Chariz Solomon, Jackie Rice, Kim Domingo, Lovely Abella, and Valeen Montenegro collectively. “Alam mo yung tao na masarap i-bully kasi awkward, siya yun.”
Denise, however, was never teased in a rough schoolyard way. It was always a form of sisterly affection—the other ladies often joshing her by coaching her during her skits and helping her make a decision when she needs to pick out an outfit.
“Sabi nila kaya nila ako binu-bully kasi mahal nila ako," the sweet siren explains. "Super frank lang nila, pag sasabihin nila ‘Ano yang suot mo ang pangit, ano yung itsura mo!’ Prangka sila pero super honest naman nila. Hindi ka nila pupurihin na ‘Ang ganda mo’ pero pagtalikod mo ‘Ugh ang chaka naman.’ Ganoon sila kaya siguro nasasabi nila na bully sila. Pero okay lang kasi mga sisters ko sila at naiintindihan ko na para naman yun sa growth ko.”
You know a bond is solid when criticisms are considered constructive—a fact Denise knows all too well. When her Bubble Gang costars poke and prod at her emotions, it serves as her motivation, a practice that has readied her for the intensity of showbiz life. At the end of the day, it has made her a stronger person and a tougher actress. Tough love, indeed.
“Sa kanila ako natutong lumakas at maging confident,” she shares. “Gusto ko mag-thank you sa kanila kasi mahirap na makakilala sa showbiz nung tuturing ka na totoong kaibigan, even like a little sister. Sabi nga nila, yung pam-bu-bully nila ay pagpapakita raw na love nila ako. Naniniwala naman ako. Sisters for life!”
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