Claudine Barretto (left) poses with her niece, 'Mirabella' star Julia, in this photo taken in 2012. Photo from Julia's Instagram page
'Mas magaling si Julia sa akin!'
MANILA - Former ABS-CBN star Claudine Barretto visited her home studio of almost two decades on Monday, four years after she transferred to rival network GMA-7.
The 34-year-old Barretto, who was arguably the most visible leading lady on local TV at the peak of her career, was accompanying her lawyer, Atty. Ferdinand Topacio, to ABS-CBN for an interview on DZMM's "Mismo."
Barretto said she was unprepared when she was invited by co-hosts Jobert Sucaldito and Ahwel Paz to join the interview.
"Biglaan talaga! Hindi ko alam na guest ako! First time ko in a long time," Barretto said. "Sabi ko, 'Prepare niyo naman ako! Sa pelikula, pinapa-motivate.' Ako, wala. Talagang pinababa ako. 'Puwede bang mag-lipstick muna?' Grabe, pero it's so nice to be here."
Topacio added: "Alam mo, she was very apprehensive. Sabi niya, 'Alam mo ba kung kailan ako huling nakatapak diyan? Taon na!'"
During the joint interview, Topacio and Barretto briefly touched on the actress' ongoing legal battle with estranged husband Raymart Santiago, who she has accused of "physical, sexual, psychological and economic" abuse since 2002.
According to Topacio, their camp is "preparing something in court" that he can't discuss in detail in public.
The lawyer, however, said the latest issue has something to do with Barretto and Santiago's finances as a couple.
Barretto, whose last acting project was in 2012, was also asked when she is planning to return to television.
"As much as I want to, mahirap kasi iiwan 'yung mga anak ko at this point," she said, referring to her two children with Santiago and their estrangement from the actor.
"Hindi sa walang offers or anything, it's 'yung safety nila and pinakakailangan, and 'yung emotional well-being nila ang pinakakailangan na tututukan."
For now, Barretto said she is happy to see the blooming career of her niece, Julia, a daughter of her estranged sister, Marjorie. Julia, who recently turned 17, plays the title role in ABS-CBN's "Mirabella," her launching series as a teen actress.
Julia has been vocal of identifying Claudine as her idol.
"Julia can act. Mas magaling sa akin 'yon kasi marunong siya ng comedy, eh! 'Di ba? Drama, may nakuha na siya. May dugo siyang drama, may dugo pa siyang comedy," Barretto said, referring to Julia's father Dennis Padilla, who is a former comedian on TV and in movies.
When told that she did romantic-comedy in the 2002 film "Got 2 Believe," Barretto said, "Matagal 'yon, paulit-ulit ako!"
"Pero si Julia, when I chose her... I really chose her talaga, hinand-pick ko siya for 'Walang Kapalit' (2007 series) [na maging] little Claudine. I'm really, really happy with what's happening to her career right now," she said.
Barretto said she is also proud of her other nieces Dominique, Claudia, and Dani, with regard to their respective achievements at a young age.
"Of course there's also Dominique and also Dani, who's a famous blogger now. And si Claudia, also watch out for the girl because she sings really well and acts very well, too!"