Jennylyn Mercado


THE ACCIDENTAL ARTIST AND THE FAN

I remember the first time I bought Jennylyn Mercado’s CD back in 2005.  I was five hours away from my scheduled flight to Bangkok but had to rush through the heavy traffic to grab a copy at SM Fairview (closest mall in Novaliches where I used to live) and grabbed the very last copy at Odyssey.  I was not just relieved, I was so happy.  Why? Because I am a fan.  I was a part of the multitude of Starstruck fans who texted and propelled a young, quiet singer/guitar player from Las Pinas to the status of Ultimate Survivor in the hit reality talent search.

Six years later, we met and worked together and today, I was interviewing her.  Call that a dream coming true in the biggest sense that none of my closest friends would ever understand.  I guess, in a lot of ways, a part of me has satiated a dream, a Bucket List even, for the same reason that I landed on Pinoy Pop Biz last year and was given the opportunity to write a column.

Jennylyn Mercado is not only beautiful.  She is also a symbol of a true survivor and has been through a lot of ups and downs in her life from the moment she was born.  In my own opinion, I strongly believe that she is a self-made character whose beauty is both God-given and tested.  You should see her in person with no make-up on.  She personifies the kindest and the most charming visage to which her heart radiates in living colour.

“Why did you become an artista, Jen?”  I asked.

Aksidente lang.  I started as a lounge singer.  Then my manager, Tita Becky (Aguila) who was my neighbour, discovered me in a salon and asked me if I can be her talent.  I was a shy teenager back then but I gave it a try, thus, I appeared on print ads and TVCs of SmartMcDonald’sBambini, et cetera.  That started it all.  Then one day, I was asked to audition for a reality talent search.  Back then, reality TV was so in the market cum Extra Challenge, so I was a bit scared that they might do something to me that I couldn’t deliver.  Thank God none of that came about!

Looking back now, I must say that what we started in Starstruck Batch 1 was worth it because the audition lines have changed immensely.  When I auditioned years ago, there were only ten people in the room that day.  I even remember being in the line with my fellow SS mates Rainier, Anton and Alvin that day.  It was an experience I will never forget.  It paved way to a lot of things in my life particularly my showbiz career.  And everything was hindi sinasadya,” she smiled.

A TRUE SURVIVOR IN THE TRUEST SENSE OF THE WORD

Or maybe it was.  Barely a year after Starstruck, Jennylyn’s showbiz career skyrocketed with movies and television shows on her belt, twinned by life’s challenges that fundamentally made her a stronger, more balanced person.  Before she entered showbizness, Jennylyn was a victim of domestic abuse and soon after that, once in showbiz, she has defied and endured accidents, illness, luckless love affairs, intrigues and finally, a brief hiatus from work when she got pregnant.  These and more that could’ve impaired her but didn’t. In fact, like Phoenix from the flame, she came back with a vengeance even more intact and even more picturesque.  A true star.  A life survivor.

“Any plans of going back to school?”

“Yes.  In fact, last year, I enrolled in a culinary school but a show came around so I wasn’t able to pursue it yet again.  I did some home-schooling back in the days but schedules and such did not allow me to complete it too.  My schedule was just tight.  I would still go back to school though.  I still believe that education is very important.  I always tell my young fans to study well because once you get that diploma, it is priceless!”

“Are you competitive, Jen?”  I asked.

“No. At work, I am actually happy-go-lucky.  I believe that one is most effective when working when one is not pressured by competition.  What’s important for me is how I can give justice to every role that is given to me be it a small role or a big role like the one I did in Rosario.  I can probably be cut-throat but only to myself.  It is also a part of my motivation as an actress – being able to push myself to the best that I can be – because I believe in excellence, if not, perfection, in my craft.”  Jennylyn said with discernment.  She also added that Blue Moon andRosario are among her favourite Jennylyn Mercado movies because both are acting pieces and movies that distinguished her as an actress.  Jennylyn also shared that her favourite director is Joel Lamangan and that she idolizes Gina Alajar and Nonie Buencamino.

JENNYLYN’S MONA LISA SMILE

Jennylyn Mercado as the unforgettable ‘Rosario’

It was then when I noticed how Jennylyn’s smile is almost that of Mona Lisa.  Inexplicable and yet earnest.  Lush and sexy and yet child-like.  Cautious and yet unlocked to probers and writers like me.  In her movies, she has told stories and was idolized by many, particularly by youngsters, but it was her own life story that untied the ice that we initially saw in Starstruck Batch 1 years ago.  If one can still remember how a sixteen year old girl that she was then and how detached and uncompetitive she was during the competition but ultimately won the hearts of millions, then one can infuse in his or her head that this smiling Mona Lisa, whose life knew the unsightly and has been through hell and back, can only stand tall and pretty and would continue to inspire her fans for many years to come.  Not only because she can but because she was born to do so.  It was not an accident as she claimed earlier.

“What is your universal advice to your fans?”

“I want to tell them that everything happens in God’s time.  Do not be afraid to discover things about yourself.  Everyone is born special, so, you have to learn to trust yourself and do your best.  Know and recognize what inspires you.  My son is my life and he makes me smile all the time.  I think it is vital that we should all know what makes us happy and then work on it,” she smiled as she said this.

“So you are happy right now, Jen?” I quipped.

“Veeerrrryyyy happy!”  Jennylyn clapped her hand in delight.

And at length, my traditional last question, “How would Jennylyn Mercado be remembered?”

“Someone who is strong, fearless and simple because that is really who I am.” she closed.

The Writer with Jennylyn Mercado

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