Janna Dominguez


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By Jon Verzosa

I have seen snippets of ABS-CBN’s Pinoy Fear Factor three years ago, back in Dubai, and found Janna Dominguez to be the real[est] contender because of her flagrant personality and of course, because of her organically beautiful alluring face that even in comedic distortion, can still pull out a rendering perspective that is only, truly hers.  Yesterday, in her fans day held at Teacher’s Village, I came to know not just a prototype of an idol but also, the real person behind the sexy curves.

Of course, she was remembered for being the ‘fastest spider-eater’ in the said reality show and since then, have moved to GMA-7, where we have all been versed in her emergence as an actress, comedienne and host in Beauty QueenParty PilipinasEndless LoveMay Tamang Balita (GMA News TV Channel 11) and playing Maria inPepito Manaloto.  But little did we know, some seven years back, a 14 year old Jamie Ann Quisimbing Angeles was running hapless to tight-fisted modelling gigs and jologs beauty pageants just to provide food in her family’s table.

This is an unpredicted rush of a person’s self-esteem from once being fat to one of the country’s sexiest deity.  This is also story of a girl who grew up in Malabon and had the fortitude and unfussiness of someone much older than her 21 years.

 

Fairy Tales, Courage, Strength, Comedy and Endurance

As per legend, Malabon, where Janna grew up, came from the words maraming labong which means “plenty oflabong“; the edible bamboo shoots that is known to make everyone who eats it physically powerful.

In Pinoy folklore, Malakas and Maganda (Adam and Eve) came out in one of these bamboo trees and so began the definitive life-cycle.  In modern times, the city of Malabon is carded as the local Venice with its yearlong floods and gradual sinking.  I had to segue this burning thought in the writing process of my interview with her because somehow it epitomizes everything that Janna Dominguez had to go through in her path to the big life; fairy tales, courage, strength, comedy and endurance.

“I did not want to be in showbizness as a child,” Janna began, “Noong bata pa ako, I would always look up to the skies, see all the airplanes soaring and I would tell my mom, ‘Magiging stewardess ako balang araw!’ but then somehow, I would look at myself and see how overweight I was, so as a child, there was already that certain struggle to stand up for something that even I was not so sure about. My elders called it in-born strength but back then, it did not feel that way.  I had to deal with bullies calling me names like ‘Baboy’‘Taba’ and ‘Dumbo’ on my own.  It was not easy.  People can be really cruel.  But I would tell myself that this, too, would soon pass up.  I had big dreams of becoming a flight attendant so throughout my childhood; I kept that in mind and snubbed all the pintas.”

 

Janna’s Family and Finding Her Own Space

Deliberately as it seemed to Janna, times became tougher as she reached her adolescence.  Money was scarce and family issues became so mentally strenuous.  Her biological mother left her and lived in Japan and her father married a young woman who later became her stepmother.  In her growing years, she found herself living under one roof with her step-siblings and providing for them as well.  She was already taking up Hotel and Restaurant Management in college but had to stop.

Also, little by little, the baby fats began wearing off without her even noticing it.

 

 

 

Grabe lahat na yata ng mga beauty pageants at mga chipipay na mga modelling gigs sinalihan ko!  I would dash to the MRT, grab any clothes that I can get, either borrowed or from the ukay-ukay, breathed in and did my best to come out as beautiful as I can get.  There have been scares here and there pero iniisip ko talaga ang pamilya ko.  So, after getting my TF (talent fee), even if I was poorly paid back in those days, I would surrender the dough for everyone as indadaan lang ang pera sa palad ko.  Every single penny that I earned from all those raketswent to my family.”

“Somehow,” she added, “I found my own fulfilment in making my family happy. But of course, I also had to find my own space and so I worked hard.  I worked very hard.”

 

The Kind Girl Despite The Sass

As I was talking to Janna, I was consciously aligning myself to her brave lingua franca because her husky voice literally blew me away. Also an invention from the comedy bar clique before she entered showbiz full-time, she was both witty and funny.

She manifests street-smart sass and her correctness overshadows her natural sensuality because being raunchy in speech, she can be reluctant to the advent of kitsch but joyfully turns into an overnight gag.  She was telling her fans,“Huwag po tayong makikipag-away sa mga naninira sa atin.  Hangga’t wala po tayong ginagawang masamaand there’s no truth to what the hecklers are claiming, let there be peace on earth!” she shrieked like a flaming gay man and all her fans guffawed in their delight.

She told me, “Today I am celebrating the third year anniversary of my fans club, the Jannatics, and it is such a thrill.  Actually, I don’t call them fans at all.  I would say they are my tropaka-kosa and my friends.  They have been with me since Pinoy Fear Factor and for the past three years, have stayed with me through thick and thin.  I love all of them dearly.”

 

The Realness of Janna Dominguez

“What for you is the most important thing in your life right now?”, I asked.

She smiled and said candidly, “Being happy.  I mean, I came from humble beginnings and most people would agree with me na mahirap ang buhay, but in own standpoint, I guess it is all about attitude and knowing what you want, even to a point of resistance.  Like love, you have to fight for your life.  There is no one in this world that will stand for you but you alone.  Hindi ka sasaya sa pera lang o sa fame.

“For me, what is important is being where you are in your happiest state.  Everything goes away eventually so as long as you are alive, despite the conditions, live through it happily.  Dati mataba ako pero I did not stop from there.  I knew I could do better and be the best that I can be.  Ten years ago, who would’ve thought that I would grace the pages of FHM Magazine?  Well, just me!” she said, laughing to her own words genially.

“How are you right now?” I asked, so entertained by her sheer slapstick.

She smiled and said, “I am happy and contended. God is good to me and I am grateful. In five years time, I’d like to see myself still in showbiz but already very happy with my own family, a loving husband, kids – all that!  Of course, I would like to see myself finally finishing school.  Something that was temporarily robbed off from me early on.”

And then finally, my proverbial question, “How would you want to be remembered?”

A deep breath and that hearty subterranean laugh and then she said, “I’d like to be remembered as someone who was real enough to show the world the real me especially to the people I love most.  No pretensions.

“Just me.”

 

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