MANILA -- He’s 48 and she’s 23 but Maris Racal is not intimidated by the 25-year age difference between her and OPM veteran Rico Blanco.
“It’s really a normal relationship," Racal declared with a sweet straight face in a virtual interview Wednesday, shooting down the main issue about their May-December relationship that has stirred a lot of buzz since March this year. “In their world, people may have opinions about age gap and relationships, but regarding the issue of age, we’re okay, 'di kasi kami naba-bother.”
Racal also shared that her love life is “not a big conversation” in her family. “I told my mom about it, she was first on my list. Surprisingly naintindihan niya!,” she confessed, also expressing relief at the public’s reaction to their unconventional romance. “Inakala ko maraming magagalit pero kabaligtaran ang nangyari!”
From an innocent guitar strumming housemate in "Pinoy Big Brother: All In" 2014 edition, Racal transformed in the public eye as a pretty teenybopper to a woman in love with a man twice her age. But through all that, Racal kept the life-long lesson of "PBB."
“Walang mawawala sa ‘yo 'pag magpakatotoo ka,“ she said. “Kung wala kang pretensions, a lot of people will gravitate towards you. Dala-dala ko 'yan up to now na maging truthful lang,” said Racal at the conference launching her new music video release, a catchy dance rap about break-up entitled “Ate Sandali.”
In a deeper artistic sense, Racal also regards Blanco as a savior of sorts who elevated her music at a time when she was struggling to find a venue for her compositions. “Nahanap ko siya at the right time na marami na akong nagawang songs,“ said Racal who’s now being managed by Blanco’s Balcony Entertainment label.
Arguably it also helped that they were in love with each other.
Blanco, however, allows her to have her space. “He really helps me, in songwriting, music video, guiding me about the right time to release my songs, but at the same time he does not overstep, “ Racal told ABS-CBN News, detailing the dynamics of their partnership. “In the studio, for instance, he just lets me write and finish the song. We respect our boundaries. We have that line that we follow.”
The couple first worked together in the 2019 song "Abot Langit," after Blanco replied to Maris' tweet looking for people to collaborate with. Since then, he produced Maris' 2020 songs "Not For Me" and "Kahit Na Anong Sablay."
Blanco recalled: “After the first time we met and worked together on a song, Maris asked me my opinion of her songs, so she literally got a guitar and sang me her songs on-the-spot, and I was surprised that there were a LOT. So naturally, I wondered why she never had a proper music career -- I was blown away at how she had an entire collection of songs she had written herself on both guitar and piano.”
For “Ate Sandali,” Blanco imbued it with an electronic-pop sound that gave life to a composition that Racal had almost forgotten until she rediscovered it. “Kasi 'di talaga siya type but I realized kung si Lady Gaga or K-pop nadadala tayo sa ibang mundo, so can’t I do the same?" she related.
“It made sense to release music like this now, since it would be really weird to release similar music when I’m older! And it’s a song about empowering women in general -- I literally wrote it during a time when both my sister and I were literally heartbroken, so it’s definitely one of those songs that I hope can also spread the message to all women out there that it’s ok to be heartbroken.”
Blanco can only agree with his love, saying, “It’s definitely her own take on current music but in a way that is respectful -- especially to the foundation of all great pop music from the past from classic artists.”
Racal hopes to do another duet soon with Blanco and possibly a collaboration with SB19.