MANILA -- Sharon Cuneta’s two-and-a-half-month stay in the US allowed her to accomplish a lot of things personally, while at the same time, she also gave up certain things that were apparently not meant to be.
Three days after she returned from the US, even while she was still on quarantine, Cuneta gave her nod to a Zoom media conference to promote her latest film, director Darryl Yap’s “Revirginized,” which starts streaming August 6.
In fact, “Revirginized” marks the first Filipino film to be shown in theaters in the US this pandemic.
Cuneta cut her own bangs and fixed her own hair for the media conference while on quarantine. Thanks to a YouTube video, she was successful in cutting her bangs and looking good for the media.
Losing her chance to be in a Hollywood film was truly heartbreaking for Cuneta. Last May, she got a rare chance to be cast in a film with comedian Jo Koy and she was supposed to play his aunt in the movie. However, a false COVID-19 test result prevented her from leaving Manila in time for the shoot in Canada.
“I was only one of the two female leads,” Cuneta told ABS-CBN News. “The cast was all Fil-Am or Fil-Canadians. Ako lang ang artist na ililipad from the Philippines. The project was being backed by Amblin partners, whose boss is Steven Spielberg.”
Her role eventually went to Fil-Am actress Tia Carrere, who was in “True Lies” (1994), “Wayne’s World” (1993) and “Lilo and Stitch” (2002).
“Whatever He [God] gives me, I will accept,” Cuneta said. “He has given me so much and too many blessings. He gave me ‘Revirginized.’ It may not be a Spielberg movie, but it’s something that I’m proud of," she said of her latest film.
“Ate Vi [Vilma Santos] made ‘Baby Tsina,’ Hilda Koronel made ‘Angela Markado,’ Ate Guy [Nora Aunor] made ‘T-Bird at Ako.’ Kilala sila at iba’t ibang roles through the years. I also want to do that.”
Repeatedly fixing her bra strap while answering questions, Cuneta, without batting an eyelash, openly disclosed she had breast reduction while in the US.
“I gained so much weight when I breast-fed Miel,” Cuneta shared. Miel is her youngest daughter, who will turn 17 next month. “After gaining and losing, a lot of it was skin and fat. I didn’t have implants. It was all natural. So recently, I had them reduced.”
She used to be a 40-D and obviously, her chest was no longer that full. “When I had children, I breast-fed and I gained so much weight,” Cuneta lamented. “And when I lost all that weight, imagine the skin and the fat na naiiwan.”
She lost 10 pounds before “Your Face Sounds Familiar” ended last May and before she went to the US. However, she gained those 10 pounds back while she was in the West Coast.
“My daughter, Frankie, calls me thicc,” Cuneta laughed. “When I heard it, I immediately asked, ‘What the heck does that mean?’ I looked it up in the urban dictionary and it means curving in the right places. Not bad. It just means desirable. KC is also thicc.”
While she admitted she and her daughter, KC Concepcion, missed seeing each while they were both in the West Coast, there was no chance for them to be together.
“KC is in L.A. now and I arrived there way ahead of her,” Cuneta allowed. “L.A. is a very big city. She was in L.A. county and I was outside. She was busy and I was busy. When she arrived, halos paalis na ko, so hindi kami talaga nagkita.
“Before I went to the States to lick my wound, KC knew about the project with Jo Koy. Hawak ko na. Nawala pa. It was really the false diagnosis of that laboratory. It was not the fault of those nurses who took my swab test. I got swabbed again after that, ako seven times. Negative naman.”
Now that she’s back in Manila, Cuneta is only pleased to be promoting “Revirginized,” her return to Viva Films after nearly two decades.
“Direk Darryl is one of the directors I respect at this time,” she said of her first-time megman. “He is a lot younger than me. A shot of new blood in the industry. A breath of fresh air who represents Gen Z, the millennials.
“He loves his mom very much, so he’s very thoughtful with his characters who are more senior in acting. I intend to finish his filmography. Bilib ako sa kanya kahit medyo controversial lagi ang work niya. I think people are just momentarily shocked seeing his trailers or the titles of his films.
“He’s a director who also writes his own scripts and has a genius IQ, which isn’t always useful when you’re not creative. He knows how to touch people’s hearts in very different ways that none of us have seen before in other films. I respect his genius and courage because alam niyang may sense.
“I enjoy working with Direk Darryl. I’d like to work with him a million times more. Mabilis siyang mag direct kaya marami kaming magagawa. Ang gaganda ng mga story na nakahanda na para sa akin.”
Total views of “Revirginized” to date are more than 11 million and Cuneta cannot be thankful enough for that success alone.
Even before the trailer for “Revirginized” came out, Cuneta already expected the “violent” reaction of her Sharonians who got used to seeing her essay her usual wholesome roles that she portrayed on the big screen.
“From 'Dear Heart,' I was always the simple, sweet, true, wholesome, beautiful, matino and disente,” Cuneta offered. “But after doing more than 60 movies, I have already earned the right to play around at my age, most especially.”
“A role like this comes along written by the genius of Darryl Yap. Ang mali lang sa mga tao, napapansin lang nila ang mga controversial scenes coming out in the trailer. If you watch his movies, actually, puro kalokohan at the start but in the end, laging may kurot sa puso.”
“Revirginized” is totally out of Cuneta’s comfort zone. “During the shoot, I would often ask, ‘Diyos ko, Direk. Talaga bang gagawin ko ba ito? Pero artista ako, so susundin kita.’ I trusted totally, fully in my director. Tinanggap ko ang project dahil gusto kong gawin, hindi dahil sa kailangan kong gawin.
“I wanted the challenge and I think I got it. I hope I did justice to the role and I hope my Sharonians will give it a chance and try to see beyond just beyond the cursing and other words I don’t normally say, kahit sa tunay buhay.
“When an actor does a movie that is outside his usual genre na ina-abangan ng audience at kinasanayan, that makes the audience appreciate the other skills of the actor and makes the audience miss the usual kind of movies na ginagawa natin.
“This movie is really special to me because the role gave me the freedom to become a totally different person. Halos opposite ng character ko, except for the inner strength. I’m very excited over ‘Revirginized.’”
Starring with her for the first time are Rosanna Roces, who became her good friend after the shoot, with young actor Marco Gumabao and Albert Martinez.
“I enjoy being friends with Marco and with Direk Darryl,” Cuneta said. “I’m very close now with Osang and we constantly keep in touch.
“I am so proud of this movie. I just hope the viewers don’t focus on the cuss words and they don’t get shocked. They were necessary for my character. The usual na mga salitang hindi ko kinasanayan, I hope malampasan ‘yun ng audience at makita nila ‘yung role at puso ng movie.”