Couple was former singing rivals
MANILA, Philippines -- Before they became a couple, Charice Pempengco and Alyssa Quijano were former rivals in various singing competitions.
"Nagkakilala po kami noon [sa isang contest], 9 years old po siya, 10 years old po ako," Pempengco told "Showbiz Inside Report" in an interview aired on Saturday.
The 21-year-old singer recalled being friendly with Quijano the first time they met: "Ako po 'yung nagpakilala sa kanya, kasi na-cute-an ako sa kanya, tapos sabi niya, feeling niya ang yabang ko daw."
The two had already faced off several times in amateur singing contests when they, once again, became competitors in the ABS-CBN talent search "Little Big Star" in 2005.
At the time, Pempengco was already 13, Quijano, 12.
Although the two were already well-acquainted by then, they wouldn't meet again until 7 years later when Quijano joined the singing contest "The X Factor Philippines."
During the time when Pempengco "lost communication" with Quijano, the former made waves abroad, when a viral YouTube video of her performing landed her a guesting on the American TV show "Ellen" in 2007.
Following her US TV debut, Pempengco had a string of successes internationally, including a concert tour with mentor David Foster, a widely released album, and a guest appearance on the hit TV musical "Glee."
In the Philippines, her achievements were followed up with a stint as a judge on the local edition of "The X Factor."
It was during the Kapamilya program when Pempengco and Quijano had a chance to resume communication.
Getting the approval of all four judges during her first audition, Quijano landed a spot in Gary Valenciano's stable of talents.
She was merged with other contestants to form the girl group AKA Jam, which, despite losing in "The X Factor," has remained active through performances on local TV.
In May, first reports of Quijano and Pempengco's relationship surfaced, with the two rumored to have eloped. However, this was denied by Pempengco when she first admitted her sexual preference on "The Buzz" early this month.
"Bago po ako mag-come out, kinausap ko po siya," Pempengco told "Showbiz Inside Report," referring to Quijano.
"Ilang beses ko po tinanong sa kanya 'yan. 'Sure ka? Kasi ayoko maging selfish na ako lang 'yung ready.' Dahil siyempre po, since love ko siya, gusto ko rin pong protektahan kung ano 'yung meron siya," Pempengco said.
She added: "Tinanong ko siya nang ilang beses. Pinanghahawakan ko lang 'yung sinabi niya sa akin na, 'Oo, ready ako.'"
Since Pempengco's emotional interview on "The Buzz," both she and Quijano have been open about their relationship, with the latter admitting that they even have a "promise ring."
Charice Pempengco and mom Raquel
The relationship does not sit well with Pempengco's mother, Raquel, however, as the latter bared early this week that she strongly disapproves of Quijano for her daughter.
Raquel, in a press conference, pointed to Quijano as the reason for her daughter choosing to "turn her back" on her family.
The older Pempengco stressed that contrary to public speculation, her estrangement from her daughter does not stem from her disapproval of her sexual orientation, but due to their disagreement over the singer's girlfriend.